Noctua NH-D15 – Test and Review

Before I start writing the article and later doing the tests for the latest CPU cooler added in the Noctua portfolio, I believe I should pay some tribute to one of the most famous coolers on the market worldwide for the past few years –  Noctua NH-D14. A cooler which was released back in 2010 and meant to provide superior performance/noise level/build quality/package accessories/price balance and I should say, job done… A cooler which was main cooling unit for many gamers and enthusiasts worldwide, providing cool and stable performance helping them to achieve many good emotions while gaming or overclocking. And now 4 years later, the guys from Noctua finally introduced a CPU cooler made to continue the NH-D14 legacy and to be honest I am very excited to check what the Noctua NH-D15 has to offer to me and everybody who has decided to buy this product.

So let’s get started…

The front side of the package The side/back of the package
IMG_9220 IMG_9221

Noctua NH-D15 arrived to me in a pretty massive and at the same time pretty standard package for all of the products in the company portfolio made entirely of carton and painted in black/white/brown forming the very distinctive for the company colour scheme. The package itself features some technical details regarding the product on the front side and as usual the full technical specifications and the additional information regarding the technologies used in this cooler are on the side panels in several languages.

A package which looks pretty nice but for now let’s put it aside and check the contents inside of it.

IMG_9223

After I opened the Noctua NH-D15′s package, the first thing to notice were the typical for the latest coolers released for the past year, 3 smaller boxes made of recycled paper holding separated all of the additional accessories in an AMD box, Intel box and Common parts box and as usual all of them have labels and pictures of what is inside. Pretty helpful to be honest. But let’s continue digging inside the box. Beneath the 3 smaller boxed there was a very thick protective high density foam and right after that the cooler packed in a separate carton package again made of recycled paper and right next to it the second fan in additional carton packaging made of recycled paper. And here I should say, so much paper used just to provide the product to the customers in perfect condition. Good job, Noctua…

And this is what the product looks like packed in the carton boxes.

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And here is what the cooler itself looks like inside its protective box. Pretty nice I should say!

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So first things first and let’s check what is inside the 3 small boxes holding the additional accessories.

After I took all of the accessories from their packages and carefully arranged them for taking some pictures this is the view I got.

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The standard package features:

  1. Intel mounting kit featuring a black metal backplate, front brackets and several bolts, nuts and installation manual. All of the parts together are forming the SecuFirm2™ Mounting Kit
  2. AMD mounting kit featuring two front brackets, 4 bolts, 4 tubes and installation manual.
  3. A Noctua NT-H1 premium thermal compound syringe
  4. 2 x 4-pin PWM Low-Noise Adapters (L.N.A.) sleeved in black
  5. Y-PWM splitter cable sleeved in black
  6. 2 x additional metal fan clips for installing a second fan
  7. The legendary Noctua Metal Case-Badge
  8. A screwdriver to install the cooler on every modern socket
  9. 4 rubber dumpers for installing on one of the fans for reducing the vibrations if there are any
  10. 2 x NF-A15 PWM premium fans

As usual, for the company pretty extensive package content. Very nice,  but I believe the time to check out the cooler structure has arrived.

Noctua NH-D15 as every other modern cooler on the market is made of three major components which I am going to describe one by one and check all their features in this article and they are: the two-tower heatsink, the cooling fans and the mounting kit.

As usual let’s start with the heatsink.

Heatsink:

Noctua NH-D15′s heatsink itself is made of nickel plated copper contact plate, 6 x Ø6mm nickel coated copper heatpipes and typical for the company without direct contact with the processor, and of course aluminum fins grouped together forming the two towers setup as the cooling surface. The overall cooler dimensions are 165 mm (H) x 150 mm (W) x 135 mm (D) and weight of 1000g without the fans and dimensions of 165 mm(H) x 150 mm(W) x 161 mm(D) and weight of 1320g including the fans. Pretty serious dimensions to be honest.

As usual let’s start with the contact plate since it has the most important role.

IMG_9248

Being meant to replace the NH-D14 cooler and to be one of the best coolers on the market with extreme high build quality of the heatsink, Noctua NH-D15 offers a very big, absolutely perfect, without even a small or any visible defect, milled contact plate made of  pure copper with nickel coating, with a mirror effect holding in line the 6 x symmetrical nickel plated Ø6mm copper heatpipes made to pass through, transferring and dispersing the heat from the central processor unit to the aluminum fins.

IMG_9241

All of the heatpipes are passing through the inner side closer to the center of the cooler for maximum fin usage and heat dispersions. They cover a bigger space of the aluminum fin stack because on the outer/bottom side the fins are cut so the cooler doesn’t block any VRM heatsinks or DRAM slots. And by mentioning the aluminum fins stack, let’s check what NH-D15 has to offer.

The front/side of the aluminum stack The heatsink seen from the top
IMG_9235 IMG_9250

Noctua NH-D15 is made as a twin tower radiator with absolutely identical tower structure with dimensions of 165 mm (H) x 150 mm (W) x 50 mm (D) each and overall dimensions of the radiator of 165 mm (H) x 150 mm (W) x 135 mm (D) and weight of 1000g without the fans. Every tower of the cooler offers 45 nickel coated aluminum fins, 1mm thick with 2 mm fin gap. The 45th ( top) fin is not only for performance but is also used to hold the engraved Noctua logo and boost the overall appearance of the cooler.  Pretty usual structure for the Noctua products I should say. Very thick fins with big fin gaps which require not very powerful but very quiet fans to keep the product cool.

The twin symmetrical towers The towers seen from the bottom
IMG_9237 IMG_9239

And here comes the interesting part. The first 7 fins counted from the bottom are 1/3 cut from the outer side so the cooler doesn’t block and of the VRM heatsinks or DRAM slots on the motherboard and according to Noctua if the cooler is used with Intel 2011 socket or inside a system with memories cooled by taller heatspreaders the best possible setup will be with just one fan installed in the middle between the two towers. Of course, whether the fan will manage keeping the heatsink cool we will find out a bit later. And by saying fans let’s talk about them.

Cooling fans:

IMG_6719

The standard Noctua NH-D15 package offers two Noctua NF-A15 PWM fans with dimensions of 140 x 150 x 25 mm of course painted in the typical for the company colours, which for the round frame is light pink, while for the propeller and the rubber dumpers it is brown. Fans made to be installed on a cooler heatsink 150mm width. The fans themselves feature the patented Noctua’s AAO (Advanced Acoustic Optimization) technology for boosting the overall performance, Flow Acceleration Channels  leading to increased performance and focusing the air while decreasing the noise level from the air passing through the propeller and SSO2  bearing offering nice and smooth operation of the fan for a long time. With all these features the fans are made to operate at maximum speed of 1500 (+/- 10%) revolutions per minute, with maximum airflow level of 140,2 m³/h at maximum noise level of 24,6 dB(A). And here maybe you noticed that these fans are a bit faster and providing a bit better airflow according to the official Noctua NF-A15 PWM. Nice!

Before I continue with the tests I will have to install the fans and prepare the cooler for installation on the motherboard.

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And these are the accessories needed so both of the fans can be installed on the cooler.

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After I installed the first fan, in the middle of the radiator and between both the towers using the two metal clips I noticed two things which are very important.

First when the fan is installed there is a gap between the fan and the front tower. And here I started wondering, why is it like this? Is it meant to provide the option for this radiator to work with 38mm fan? After I measured the thickness of the gap, which is 9mm it seems a 38mm fan can’t be installed in the middle of the heatsink… Then why is this gap left there ?

The second thing, which kinda made me smile is that when the fan is installed in the middle of the cooler it moves the air beneath the towers and boost the cooling for the elements around the socket and most important the VRMs, too. A feature which will definitely help for every socket and especially for the hot VRMs of the AMD motherboards.

So, the first fan was added to the radiator and let’s install the second fan.

And this is what the cooler looks like with the fans installed.

The two fans The two fans with the Y-splitter
IMG_9259 IMG_9261

As you can see from the picture above, when both of the fans are installed on the radiator the overall dimensions of the cooler are pretty serious and I am 100% sure that most of the parts around the socket will be covered by the cooler, including the memories. And here is the moment to mention that if the motherboard is working with low-profile or normal DRAM memories the cooler is compatible but the front fan should be lifted a bit over the memories. Unfortunately, if taller memories are used, the front fan will be almost impossible to be attached.

And since I am talking about installation, let’s proceed with the article and prepare the mounting kit.

Mounting kit:

After I spent a couple of hours checking the heatsink and the fans structure I believe it is about time to check the mounting kit. According to the official technical details, the cooler is compatible with:

  1. Intel sockets: LGA2011 (Square ILM required), LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1150
  2. AMD sockets:  AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+ (the original motherboard backplate will be required)

Of course, for doing the tests I will use the AMD brackets and these are the parts needed so the cooler can be installed on the motherboard:

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First thing to do as always is to open the installation manual, read the instructions carefully and pick up the right accessories for the actual socket…

And after that to prepare the backplate before attaching it to the motherboard.

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In this case there is nothing much to prepare, since the backplate is the original provided with the motherboard and all I should do is install it and fasten the front brackets.

The plastic tubes The front brackets fastened
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And here is something which I really want to say: Noctua NH-D15 is one of the biggest coolers on the market with the simplest and easiest mounting kit on the market. All I can say is great job, Noctua. Very, very nice…

And this is what the heatsink with the middle fan looks like installed the motherboard:

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The complete cooler installed on the motherboard…

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Massive…. Just massive…

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And this is what the cooler looks like with the two fans installed on the motherboard. As I mentioned before the front fan is lifted a bit and covering the RAM slots and the memories installed. Maybe you’ve already noticed how the 7 bottom 1/3 cut fins don’t block the first two RAM slots, so for taller memories the front fan should be removed.

With the cooler installed on the motherboard I believe the time for tests has arrived, but first let’s check my testing rig:

Test rig:

CPU: AMD Vishera FX-8350

  1. At standard frequency 4.020 MHz (at 1.344V)
  2. At low overclock frequency of 4.220 MHz  at 1.380V)
  3. At medium overclock frequency of 4.420 MHz (at 1.416V)
  4. At high overclock frequency of 4.720 GHz (at 1.440V)

Motherboard: GigaByte 990FXA-UD3

Video card: 2 x Gigabyte GV-R927XOC-2GD

Memory: 2 x 4GB Geil Black Dragon 1866 MHz

Hard drive: Kingston SSD SV100S264G

Case: SilverStone Raven RV-03

Power supply: Antec HCP-750W

Cooler: Noctua NH-D15

Thermal paste: Noctua NT-H1

Fan mounted:

For this test and review I am going to use the standard NF-A15 PWM fans working at 1500 revolutions per minute providing maximum airflow level of 140,2 m³/h at maximum noise level of 24,6 dB(A).

The tests were conducted in a closed system with:

  1. 2 x SilverStone AP181 – 180mm fans on the bottom panel putting fresh air in and spinning at about 1200 rpm
  2. 120mm fan behind the motherboard cooling the socket and spinning at about 1000 rpm.
  3. Room temperature of about 18 degrees.

Both of the SilverStone AP181 – 180mm fans were connected together to the chassis 1 connector and were rotating at maximum speed.

Testing procedure:

I will install Noctua NH-D15 and do stress tests at standard frequency of 4.020 GHz (at 1.344V), at low overclock frequency of 4.220 GHz (at 1.380V),  at medium overclock frequency of 4.420 GHz (at 1.416V), and at high overclock frequency of 4.720 GHz (at 1.440V) first using only one of the fans installed between the two towers of the cooler and later stress tests at standard frequency of 4.020 GHz (at 1.344V), at low overclock frequency of 4.220 GHz (at 1.380V),  at medium overclock frequency of 4.420 GHz (at 1.416V), and at high overclock frequency of 4.720 GHz (at 1.440V) with both fans installed on the cooler working at maximum speed.

And this is what the CPU cooler looks like when installed inside the case and ready for testing..

One fan with left panel open One fan with left panel closed
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Two fans with left panel open Two fans with left panel open
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And this is how the cooler operates when some load on the processor running at medium overclock frequency of 4.420 MHz (at 1.416V) is applied:


Now let’s check out the test results:

Noctua NH-D15 1 FAN@4020MHz 1.344V Noctua NH-D15 2 FANS@4020MHz 1.344V
Noctua NH-D15 1FAN@4020MHz 1.344V Noctua NH-D15 2FAN@4020MHz 1.344V
  Noctua NH-D15 1 FAN@4220MHz 1.380V Noctua NH-D15 2 FANS@4220MHz 1.380V
Noctua NH-D15 1FAN@4220MHz 1.380V Noctua NH-D15 2FAN@4220MHz 1.380V
  Noctua NH-D15 1 FAN@4420MHz 1.416V Noctua NH-D15 2 FANS@4420MHz 1.416V
Noctua NH-D15 1FAN@4420MHz 1.416V Noctua NH-D15 2FAN@4420MHz 1.416V
  Noctua NH-D15 1 FAN@4720MHz 1.440V Noctua NH-D15 2 FANS@4720MHz 1.440V
Noctua NH-D15 1FAN@4720MHz 1.440V Noctua NH-D15 2FAN@4720MHz 1.440V

All of the test results have been summed up in the following charts:

Results T

And the fan speed during the tests:

Results R

With the test results added to the article it is about time to share my conclusions.

1. Noctua NH-D15 performance:

After I spent a few hours unpacking the extensive package of the cooler and all of the additional accessories needed for normal operation, arranging them for taking pictures, installing the cooler and finally after I’ve finished testing I can say that Noctua NH-D15 is one really interesting and impressive product deserving to replace the legendary Noctua NH-D14 and continue its legacy.

The cooler itself is one pretty massive construction made of copper, nickel, aluminum and plastic made to provide the best possible performance/noise level/build quality and appearance balance. A cooler made to combine the best performance/silence balance for the regular users and the best performance for the enthusiasts. After I saw the results which I achieved with my really power hungry AMD FX8350 at all of the test frequencies, I believe it will definitely handle keeping cool every processor working at default or overclocked frequencies with full load.

Apart from that and very typical for the company, the cooler is perfectly designed to provide the best possible performance, when working only with just one fan. Of course, the second fan is made just to slightly improve the overall performance, but it is not necessary to be used. And I believe my test results entirely support my statement.

2. Noctua NH-D15 appearance:

First thing which crossed my mind after I installed Noctua NH-D15 is “What the heck!”. The cooler was above everything around the processor. A really huge metal/plastic mass made with one purpose only. To keep the processor running cool and quiet no matter at what frequency it is working and no matter what it is doing. Even though I am not a big fan of the Noctua colour scheme I can say that the cooler looked really impressive and eye catching inside my case.

According to my review, I think that Noctua NH-D15 deserves the following reward:

Best-Perf-Silence1

Official price (MSRP) for Noctua NH-D15: 89.90 euro

Official warranty: 60 months

I thank Noctua for the test sample.

Noctua NH-D15 – Test and Review
9 Total Score
Very good compatibility/ performance/ noise level balance

Performance
10
Noise level
10
Compatibility
9
Additional accessories
10
User Rating: 4.08 (7 votes)

Dobrin Krastev is the owner, reviewer and newsman of www.DVTests.com with more than 15 years' experience in personal computers, server and storage systems, UPS, peripheral devices and software. Passionate about testing and reviewing, AMD overclocking using AM3 990FXA and AMD FM2 A85X test systems and building modding projects.
10 Comments
  1. Reply KrishB 15.12.2015 at 3:34

    Really thoughtful of you to test the setup with both 1 fan and 2 fans. Many of us might have to sacrifice the front fan due to RAM space.
    Great job overall!!!

    • Reply Dk_vr 15.12.2015 at 13:36

      Hello and thank you for the comment.

      Well I try to provide the most accurate test results with all possible setups.
      Especially for Noctua the difference between setup with one or with two fans it is very small like overall one or two degrees.

  2. Reply PFFF 02.10.2015 at 10:02

    Utter bullshit, i have this cooler and same cpu, on default without without any overclock it goes over 60C with OCCT

    • Reply Dobrin Krastev 02.10.2015 at 10:47

      Before I reply to you and provide you some assistance I would like to advise you to use more appropriate way of communicating. I allowed this comment only because I saw you need help with this cooler.

      I want to ask you several questions because you started criticizing directly the test results.

      1. What is your setup. Please provide me a full details of your system.
      2. What is your ambient temperature. The voltage, which is set to be provided to the processor. What are the fan speeds? What is the thermal compound, which you are using?

      Best Regards

      P.s. If you are willing you can write to me directly an email. You can find it in the about us section.

  3. Reply Mr. Yaz 30.03.2015 at 15:15

    Sensational, very in-depth and overall quite useful review since i’m in the process of picking among the top cooling systems (NH D15 and Corsair H105) within their respective categories and i’ve been quite baffled as to where i should “go”.

    • Reply Dk_vr 21.04.2015 at 12:25

      Hello and sorry for the late reply.

      Thank you for the good words and I am really happy that this review was helpful in your choice.

  4. Reply Vijender Singh 17.07.2014 at 12:57

    Great Work. I think this only link where AMD FX 8350 with Noctua D15 testing results found. Everthing in your Review. (CPU Overclocking setting, Cooling Performance)

    so

    The ever Best , it will found on Review

  5. Reply Stuen4y 13.05.2014 at 15:19

    The king is dead. Long live the king?!? Humour on the side, it is a stunning performance and once again thought about even the smallest details from Noctua. This is why you pay the premium. I am looking forward to see the other high end coolers you have stashed and ready to be tested fight with this behemoth for the crown of CPU coolers.

  6. Reply milce 29.04.2014 at 10:39

    Wonderful performance , great review and perfect job Dobri 🙂 Once again Noctua show some real power !

  7. Reply Dimcho 28.04.2014 at 13:15

    Some people don’t like Noctua’s brown color, but IMHO it look great, especially on such a massive cooler 🙂 Thumbs up for the review. Special thanks for the picture where the cooler has its two fans, and the one, covering DIMM slots – as the previous flagship (D14), this one also has some problems with tall heat-spreaders, which is good to know. I not surprised by Noctua’s excellent performance/noise ratio, definitely this is an awesome cooler for (almost) any taste.

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