by William Kelley on April 26, 2010 in Cooling
A huge computer chassis deserves a huge CPU cooler, and when you need one of those, Noctua delivers. With its NH-D14, the company seems to have had the goal of delivering the largest cooler possible that could still fit on most ATX motherboards, but with that size comes extremely good performance even low noise levels.
To assure that our results are as accurate as possible, all of our CPU cooler testing is performed under highly-controlled conditions. Our test chassis is kept in a near-steady 20Â°C ambient environment, with readings taken before and after testing with a standard room thermometer. After we boot up our machine, we allow Windows to settle itself down for 10 minutes to stabilize processes that might be running in the background. Once the PC is completely idle, we record the current CPU temperature as that in our results.
BIOS settings are verified prior to each run, and to help with quick switching of our various profiles, we make use of the motherboard’s ability to store multiple configurations. We primarily use two for our testing here – stock speed, of 2.67GHz, and also a maximum overclock, of 4.01GHz. Stock settings were achieved by using “Load Optimum Default”, and storing those as our stock profile. The maximum overclock was obtained after extensive testing and tweaking to insure it was stable. The BCLK was raised to 191MHz. The CPU’s vCore was raised to 1.400v, and the IMC voltage was raised to 1.30v. The RAM is run at 1.6V and does overclock with the CPU during overclocking testing.
For our monitoring and temperature reporting, we use Everest Ultimate Edition 5, from Lavalys. It allows us to grab the results from each one of the cores, and the CPU has a whole, so we believe it to be indispensable to our toolkit. To help push our Intel Core i5 750 to its breaking-point, we use OCCT Linpack testing. The reason is simple: it utilizes LINPACK. After much testing with various “stress testers” in the past, we’ve found that running a multi-threaded tool that supports LINPACK, such as OCCT (and also LinX), pushes both AMD and Intel CPUs like no other. This results in higher temperatures than others (like Prime95) can muster, and also greater power consumption.
Because our test machine is equipped with 4GB of RAM, we set OCCT to use 90% of the available memory, and then set the test to run 1 hour total. With the help of Everest, the CPU’s various temperatures are recorded throughout all of the testing, and also for a minute after the test ends. The maximum recorded temperature found in the results file is labeled as “Max” in our results.
Installation was straight-forward and simple enough by following the included directions. The first step is to mount the back plate by pressing in the bolts through the appropriate holes in the back plate for the socket you are using and then slide it through the backside of the motherboard. Then it is time to install the mounting bars on the face of the motherboard using the supplied thumbscrews and spacers. Be sure to put them in the correct orientation for your particular application.
I very strongly suggest dry fitting the heat sink before applying the thermal paste as you will need to be certain you have proper clearance with the memory modules and video card. I, for one, was forced to rotate the fans 180 degrees from the way they were shipped to allow them to pull through the cooler out towards the rear of the case.
I also had severe interference with my memory modules due to their above average size from the heat pipes on the Reaper modules. I was not only forced to run them in the last two slots causing the system to default to single channel mode, I was even forced to slightly bend them to clear the NH-D14. While I did have plenty of room between the cooler and my video card, this is another documented issue with this model that must be addressed should the fan clips come to close your graphics card, as this could cause severe damage if the fan clips were to contact here.
As you can see, 2 DIMM slots were completely covered which would necessitate low profile memory modules. Also take note of the fact that even the third slot is still crowded by the bulk of this cooler and you must make sure you have the room. I also recommend you triple check the clearance between any side panel fans that may be installed in your particular case. This did not apply to our test chassis as there are no side panel fans, but I guarantee that more than ½ the models out there that do have included side panel fans will have clearance issues. Gigantic is definitely the acronym of the day when it comes to the NH-D14.
Once everything is installed it was time for testing:
After the dust settled from all of my testing, there was no doubt that we had one top notch high performance air cooler installed in our test machine. The NH-D14 performed VERY well and with excellent acoustics to boot. Temperatures were well within the levels of safety and sanity. While it was slightly noisy when run at 100%, once you install the included Ultra Low Noise adapters you will get a dramatic drop in noise levels without sacrificing much in the way of cooling power. Noctua has always done a great job in regards to noise levels vs. air pressure and once again we are given top quality fans that do their job very well.