I believe that the name of the cooler at hand may be a bit familiar to all of those out there that like, support and use Noctua products. And if I have to be fair, you’re quite right – this is an enhanced version of the all popular, small yet effective CPU cooler Noctua NH-L9a and its name is Noctua NH-L9x65. The last one bit of the name is actually the coolers’ height. It was about time I tested the cooler and write the article, so all of you can enjoy it.
Before I begin I just want to make a slight clarification from the very start as this is a cooler with the purpose of being effective at cooling a CPU installed inside what we call HTPC (home theater PC) and SFF (small form factor) cases. Usually, those types of machines do not generate that much amount of heat, nor do they need to as their main goal is to be used mostly as multimedia devices. Of course, multiple other applications are possible as at today’s market the HTPC gaming is becoming more and more popular.
The official disclaimer by Noctua for Noctua NH-L9x65:
Caution: The NH-L9x65 is a highly-compact low-profile quiet cooler designed for use in small form factor cases and HTPC environments. While it provides first rate performance in its class, it is not suitable for overclocking and should be used with care on CPUs with more than 84W TDP (Thermal Design Power). Please consult our TDP guidelines to find out whether the NH-L9x65 is recommended for your CPU.Noctua
Here is the test and review of Noctua NH-L9x65 small form factor CPU cooler.
Like Noctua products usually go with their packaging this one is no different than the others, at least not that much if we don’t count the product picture at the front side of the package.
|Noctua NH-L9x65 front side||Noctua NH-L9x65 side of packaging|
Typically for Noctua, the box is white/brown and there are blue elements here and there. On the frontal side you will find a glance of the product inside, just to make you curious. On the top right front corner there is an award badge in gold.
The name of the cooler is written vertically, but please don’t bend you neck too much as this name can be found at least three more times around the box. On the side of the package there are multiple languages written as well as precise technical specifications regarding the product inside the box.
|Box opened||Lurking from underneath the carton|
Product packaging from Noctua is always superb, this small package doesn’t make any exception. All of the contents are nicely covered in recycled carton and very snug, so no moving around is present while shipping. That enabled the contents to be free of damage and nice and tidy.
And this is the view, which I got after I took both the cooler and the accessories pack out of the carton bed.
As always, let’s start checking what is inside the accessories pack.
NOCTUA NH-L9x65 ADDITIONAL ACCESSORIES
Usually with bigger and higher end coolers Noctua included separate boxes with accessories, containing leaflets with installation steps and so on. This time, most likely due to the cooler being more on the budget side of things, all of the additional accessories are placed inside a bigger than usual carton box with three compartments. Each one of those had some goodies inside, relevant to their purpose. All of the parts were carefully packed in the standard transparent plastic bags with glued end and even here the attention to details is admirable. Thank you Noctua for another well-packed product of yours.
I took all of the boxes out of their protective package and arranged them for a photo.
The standard Noctua NH-L9x65 package offers:
- Black metal plate required for all Intel sockets
- 2 x front silver plates for all Intel sockets
- A set of four plastic tubes to stay between the motherboard and the front plates for LGA 115x sockets
- A set of 4 nuts to fasten the front plate to the 4 long bolts
- A set of 4 LGA 2011 screw pillars for LGA 2011 socket
- Intel LGA 115x installation manual
- Intel LGA 2011 installation manual
- 2 x front silver brackets for all AMD sockets
- A set of four plastic tubes to stay between the motherboard and the front plates for all AMD sockets
- A set of four long bolts to fasten the AMD mounting kit to the original AMD backplate
- AMD installation manual
- A Noctua NT-H1 premium thermal compound syringe
- 1 x 4-pin PWM Low-Noise Adapter (L.N.A.) sleeved in black
- Noctua Metal Case-Badge
- A screwdriver to install the cooler on every modern socket
- 1 x NF-A9x14 PWM premium fan
If I have to say a couple of words about the quality of the additional accessories and the installation kit – brilliant. Keeping thing simple and using the same mounting kit is usually the way to go and making the parts mostly metal – you have a win-win situation. Both manuals are informative enough, backed up by pictures and additional help if you need it. Mounting kit used here is the Noctua SecuFirm 2 compatible with all modern sockets and it is designed to provide the best possible contact between CPU and copper plate for the utmost efficiency during operation.
Now that I’ve covered the additional accessories, let’s proceed further with the actual cooler examination, starting with the heat sink.
NOCTUA NH-L9x65 HEAT SINK STRUCTURE
As I mentioned in the beginning of the article this small piece of metal can be used mainly in the business of HTPC/SFF where ITX motherboards are common. Due to its limited cooling performance above certain TDP of the CPUs that is, not because you cannot install it elsewhere. Noctua recommends using a well ventilated case, especially for some CPUs out there.
For detailed breakdown of TDPs and CPUs, please refer to the official website of Noctua: TDP guidelines
This model, unlike its predecessor is taller and more performance oriented, however it maintains almost the same low profile. That feature or should I say design decision allows the cooler to offer 100% RAM and PCIe compatibility on Intel based ITX mainboards. Furthermore, it is really easy to work with due to being lightweight and not overhanging on the socket.
Please, have a look at the two DVTests articles here as you will be more familiar with the L-series of Noctua coolers: NOCTUA NH-L9I TEST AND REVIEW and NOCTUA NH-L9A TEST AND REVIEW !
Single 92mm fan is used for efficient cooling of the relatively small heat sink, which is in its terms connected to heat pipes, finishing off with the contact plate responsible for the hardest job of actively and efficiently transferring heat to the right place.
In the below thoughts I will be taking a closer look at the heat sink structure.
|Contact plate||Side view of the L-shaped cooler|
The contact plate of Noctua NH-L9x65 is perfectly milled, nickel coated contact copper plate, that has physical dimensions of 38 x 40 mm. It is the home of 4 Ø6mm nickel plated heat pipes that run from two directions, meeting in the middle of the heat sink. Rest of the SecuFirm 2 mounting kit components are attached to the contact plate. There is no contact between the CPU and heat pipes, due to the nature of the contact plate used in this cooler and this results in a nice, premium view of the whole package as there is no copper showing from underneath the contact plate. According to me, this is the more efficient way than using direct touch heat pipes, where the heat pipes are actually serving the role of a contact plate.
Let’s have a look at the fin stack in that compact heat sink.
Beginning with “it is compact” and ending with “it is small”. Those are the things I can say about the heat sink. And a few other really, but man this this is small. Design-wise it reminds me of a snake circling around its prey. NH-L9x65 has physical dimensions of Height (without fan) 51 mm x Width (without fan) 95 mm x Depth (without fan) 95 mm. All of this comes in at 340 g (without fan) and 413 g with the included fan installed. The cooling heat sink block has 50 aluminum fins and at the side you will find Noctua’s logo.
That package is cooled by one 92 mm fan, but more on that below:
|Fan brackets||Noctua NF-A9x14 fan|
Noctua NH-L9x65 is designed to operate with 92mm fan that is also included in the package and there is no option of adding a second fan to the configuration due to size and other restrictions. The fan has dimensions of 92 mm x 92 mm x 14 mm and the cooler is also compatible with a non-low profile fan or that is 92 mm x 92 mm x 25 mm in terms of dimensions. Fan frame is square and features the typical for the company color scheme along with several other goodies on the side.
NF-A9x14 PWM is equipped with a frame that features AAO (Advanced Acoustic Optimisation) and Noctua’s proprietary Stepped Inlet Design and Inner Surface Microstructures, both of which further refine the fan’s performance/noise efficiency. The fan propeller features Flow Acceleration Channels that increase the airflow output, reduce the noise output and at the same time keep performance to a maximum. For the movement of this fan, Noctua has used SSO2 bearing type, that most of the company’s users are familiar with and it offers a long lifespan of about 150.000 h or more. PWM technology used here is designed by Noctua – NE-FD1 PWM IC that integrates Smooth Commutation Drive (SCD) technology all leading to the fan operating quietly at low speeds and overall it has better torque distribution.
All of those features and improvements allow the fan to rotate at (+/- 10%) 2200 RPM when on full speed, producing airflow level of around 50,5 m³/h at a maximum noise level of 19.9 dB(A).
To install the fan onto the heat sink you’ll need the two included metal clips, which allow secure attachment.
And this is what the cooler looks like with the fan installed.
With the fan ready to be installed, let’s check the mounting kit and proceed with the tests. According to the official technical details, the cooler is compatible with:
- Intel LGA2011-0 & LGA2011-3 (Square ILM), LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1151, LGA1150
- AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+ (backplate required)
To do the tests I will use the typical for Noctua Intel brackets and these are the parts needed so the cooler can be installed on my motherboard:
As always, first thing to do is to check the Intel installation manual, read the instructions carefully and pick up the right accessories for the actual socket. Noctua is famous for their easy installation kit and even if you wanted to make a mistake, it’s a really tough job to mess up here.
In the case of Intel kit I will need the parts on the photo, beginning with the black, metal back plate which has holes for the nuts behind the Intel socket, so alignment is not an issue.
It all comes down to a couple of simple steps and if you don’t know how to install a cooler on a motherboards, please refer to the manual as it is informative enough and even contains photos which you can use as a guide. The backplate has to be aligned, then insert the black plastic tubes (spacers), cover them with the Intel brackets (different holes correspond to different sockets) and tighten all of that with the nickel plated nuts up until they stop.
Last but not least is to add the thermal compound onto the CPU cover and secure the heat sink to the already mounted kit.
And this is what the heat sink looks like installed on the motherboard:
|Heatsink seen from the top||Heatsink seen from the front/side|
The complete cooler installed on the motherboard…
|Cooler seen from the top||Cooler seen from the front/side|
As you can see from the pictures above, with the heatsink installed on the motherboard the cooler is not blocking any of the DRAM slots and can be used even with memories with taller heat spreaders. Clearly as Noctua states there is vast amount of space between the cooler and the first PCIe slot, which is excellent result and provides 100% compatibility with no interference at all.
And this is what the cooler looks like installed on the motherboard and inside the case ready for testing.
|Noctua NH-L9x65 installed||Noctua NH-L9x65 inside the case|
Noctua NH-L9x65 looks quite cute if I have to say, even more so it is almost invisible in a medium tower case.
Since the cooler is installed and ready to face the tests, I believe it is time to check my testing rig and continue the article.
NOCTUA NH-L9x65 TESTS
With the L-type cooler installed, the time to check my testing rig has arrived.
- CPU: Intel i5-4670K
- At standard frequency 3.400 MHz (Voltage set to Auto when not OC-ing)
- At low overclock frequency of 3.900 MHz (at 1.20V)
- At medium overclock frequency of 4.300 MHz (at 1.23V)
- Motherboard: ASUS Maximus VII HERO Z97
- Video card: MSI AMD R9 280X GAMING 3G
- Memory: Kingston Hyper-X SAVAGE 8 GB, Dual channel, 1866 MHz
- Solid State Drive: Intel 530 Series, 120 GB
- Hard drive: Western Digital 640 GB Black Series
- Case: Silverstone Kublai KL05
- Power supply: Corsair RM750 W
- Cooler: Noctua NH-L9x65
- Thermal paste: Noctua NT-H1
For the test I will be using the supplied 1 x 92mm fan and will test the cooler at maximum RPM.
The tests were conducted in a closed system with:
Three 120mm case fans:
- Aerocool 2 x 120mm case fans, serving as front intakes, rotating at ~ 1200 RPM.
- Aerocool 120mm fan, serving as rear exhaust, rotating at ~ 1200 RPM.
Room temperature of about 21-22 degrees Celsius.
And here I want to describe my testing method.
I will install Noctua NH-L9x65 and do stress tests using Prime95 AVX software with constant load on the cooler for 14:30 minutes with custom settings of minimum FFT size (in K of 128), max FFT size (in K of 128) and Run FFTs in place at standard frequency of 3.4 GHz (Voltage set to Auto when not OC-ing) and low overclock frequency of 3.8 GHz (Auto Turbo Boost) with Intel Speed Step technology turned OFF. Due to the nature and purpose of this cooler I will not be highly overclocking the CPU as it is not recommended, nor it would be fair for the cooler’s statistics.
Now let’s check out the test results:
|Noctua NH-L9x65 @3.4, Load||Noctua NH-L9x65 @3.8, Load|
All of the test results have been summed up in the following charts:
And the fan speeds during the tests:
I believe the time to express my feelings and thoughts regarding the product has arrived.
1. NH-L9x65 performance:
The whole package that this compact and cute cooler provides is awesome and is right where it needs to be in terms of performance/price ratio. Although there may be competitive coolers that provide better or similar performance, the fact that this is a Noctua one deserves recognition and attention.
NH-L9x65 is definitely a replacement that serves its purpose and completely fills the shoes of its smaller siblings. Performance-wise it is able to keep up with a hot CPU even at Turbo Speeds making it a beautiful and logical decision for your setup. Of course, as I said if this setup is oriented in the range of HTPC/SFF. It can provide good heat dissipation, although for myself the temperatures were a bit high for normal daily usage, for example when browsing or watching a movie 50 degrees of Celsius is reachable (at standard fan profile from the MB fan header). I find myself looking at the temperature readings too much, which is a concern. Nonetheless, this is a scenario where the likelyhood of this CPU to fall in is around zero.
Noise is almost inaudible with this one most of the time however you may find yourself looking at the case at times when the small, but powerful fan is spinning at around 2500 RPM to keep up with the heat output. Hands down this is a very silent cooler, suitable for the environment it is built for.
It is always nice to see new additions of CPU coolers coming to the market and on top of that to deserve the end users’ attention and money. This cooler falls right where it is needed, so next time you want to build a small case for your living room and watch high-quality content – seek no more than Noctua NH-L9x65
2. NH-L9x65 appearance:
When reviewing coolers by Noctua I have to say that there is not much to be said about their appearance, because they follow the exact same color scheme and design-wise change depending on the market they need to be popular at. I really like what this small piece of cooling material looks like and am quite fond of it. I even might keep it to build a home NAS server, just to be on the safe side when it comes to keeping the CPU cool. It also looks quite nice I have to say, just because it is so compact and symmetrical. Lovely addition to any HTPC case!
According to my review, I think that Noctua NH-L9x65 deserves the following reward:
Official price (MSRP) for NH-L9x65: $52.90
Official warranty: 60 months
Special thanks to Noctua for providing us with a test sample.