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.
As seen on the last page, the NH-D14 performs exceptionally well. But I cannot also stress the overall quality as well. The lack of sharp edges was surprising as I have been cut by most heat sinks of this design during the install process while I was left without even so much as a scratch after this install. All fins were solidly mounted with no rattles or looseness. There was no perceivable noise from vibration of the fans either as the included isolators did their job well. Even the bends of the heat pipes are precise and without blemish.
Another feature I feel deserves a mention is the Intel mount design. I find that most companies would rather stamp out multiple sizes of back plates and retainers rather than engineer a design that is adaptable. Not only is the NH-D14 adaptable to multiple Intel sockets, it can do them all with a single back plate and a single set of retaining brackets. They are simple to install and work very well.
As for the AMD socket, current AMD based motherboards come with a solid back plate installed and the AM2/AM3 design is the same so Noctua wisely designed around that. A quick swap of the retaining brackets and you are set to go.
The one glaring flaw in the design is obvious: the sheer size. You are pretty much forced to have a large case and you must be running low profile memory if your memory slots are anywhere near the CPU socket, which is the case for most current motherboards. While it is hard to really hold this against the NH-D14, this fact MUST be kept in mind when contemplating its purchase.
To me, you absolutely get what you pay for. Coming in at ~$89.99 US, it is very competitively priced especially when you consider what you get for your money. It is probably the most effective cooler currently available on the market so it does warrant your consideration if you are in the market for a high-end offering.
Anyway you look at it, all designs have trade-offs. All-in-one water cooling solutions are quiet and effective yet lack any sort of upgrade path or customisation. Smaller air coolers do not have the capacity for high overclocks on quad-core processors that we are all gravitating towards. Noctua chose the route of sheer size and did a great job with the final product. I have been on the fence about it, given its pricing, but I do feel that this is the current top dog in the air cooler world, so it justifies our Editor’s Choice award for excelling on all fronts (except size!).
- Competitively priced.
- Exceptional quality.
- Superb performance.
- Well engineered mounting hardware.
- This thing is HUGE.
- Fans can be noisy when not using the included silencers.
- Fan color scheme is love it or hate it.
Noctua NH-D14 CPU Cooler
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