Being a member of the Tech Support Forum Hardware team, as well as maintaining the TSF Build Guide , I make sure to only recommend the highest spec computer components that I have found. My recommendations are based on what I personally would use in my system along with known quality brands.

As any computer enthusiast will know, third party processor coolers are a must have for any heavy gamer or overclocking user. As an advocate of air cooled CPUs, there are only a few CPU cooler brands I would recommend to users.

Being the standard for all CPU cooling manufacturers, Noctua is a known premium brand that offers excellent CPU coolers along with ensured quality to back up their products. Based on the award-winning NH-D14 cooler, Noctua has provided me with the newest and greatest NH-D15 CPU cooler. Throughout my review, I will be covering the following topics: the unboxing, design, features, and my final thoughts.


Figure 1 – The NH-D15 allows for high profile memory!

The Unboxing

The first large CPU cooler I ever used was a Cooler Master V8. When I first got the V8 I was stunned at the sheer size of the product. When the NH-D15 was delivered to me, I was stunned again. With its massive size (which is a good thing), it would be nearly impossible to overheat your CPU with this installed.

With the inner side of the box lined with a soft touch foam, the NH-D15 ships to customers safely without damage. After opening the box you will find both the Intel and AMD CPU mounting brackets. The Intel brackets will support LGA 115X along with 2011, whereas, the AMD bracket will only support AM2. Each mounting bracket also comes with its own full installation guide that is signed by the Noctua CEO.

Moving on, there is the Noctua Accessories box that contains everything you could need. As the NH-D15 has an optional second fan, you will find two metal fan mounting clips, four pin fan connector extenders, and one fan power splitter to allow two fans to be powered from the same PWM connector. All of these cables are also fully wrapped for a clean appearance. There are also some metal mounting screws and rubber plugs, Noctua’s premium grade NT-H1 thermal paste, an extended screw driver, and finally, a metal case badge.

As you move down into the box, you find the optional 140mm fan as well as the CPU cooler itself. The optional fan is as premium and robust as anything else in this unboxing. It comes in the standard Noctua color, brown and tan, and has a fully wrapped power cable. The plastic used in the fan is thick and feels strong enough for years of usage. Around all four corners are the rubber bumpers to decrease sound and vibration generated by the fan spinning. More on the fans later in the review.

Finally is the CPU cooler itself and the preinstalled 140mm fan. Made out of an all-aluminum body, the twin tower aluminum fins have a very satisfying feel. The body also supports a six copper heat pipe design that reaches down to the perfectly smooth CPU contact point.


Figure 2 – The NH-D15 mockup on a motherboard.

Design

Noctua is known for their premium products, one reason being their high standard of design. The build quality and quality of their accessories is seen throughout the entire product. Noctua looks at the little things and finds ways to improve them, and this can be seen in the metal case badge with 3M tape and the fully wrapped cables.

Beginning with the dual 140mm PWM fans, Noctua sticks to their one and only color scheme, brown and tan. Although some people dislike the colors, I find them to be subtle, but can see why people who stick to one color scheme may dislike them. Maybe they could offer some new colors for their fans in the future. The construction of the fans is like no other I have ever seen. Typically fans are built with thin plastic to lower weight and cost of manufacturing. The Noctua fans on the other hand are so robust that I could not flex them without breaking them. Having the eight rubber bumpers (four each side) allows users to have quiet 24/7 operation. Finally, we have the fan’s motor operating at a 1500RPM maximum speed, and the fans have a SS02 system with metal bearing shell to offer years of use.

For users that do purchase a NH-D15, make sure to not purchase new thermal paste. Noctua’s thermal paste offers some of the best performance on the market, something that is unheard of with stock thermal paste.

Moving on to the mounting hardware, you find, again, a premium design. As the AMD side of things comes with only two easy metal mounting clips and screws, the Intel side offers an all metal back plate along with two metal mounting clips and screws. The NH-D15 is not a light cooler, therefore, ensuring it doesn’t break or fall while in use, Noctua needs to make sure the mounting hardware can withstand the weight of the cooler.

To finish this section off, we have the design of the cooler. Compared to the NH-D14, the NH-D15 now supports a new fin tower design to adapt to high profile memory. Previously, NH-D14 users had to use low profile memory otherwise it would interfere with the cooler. Noctua has now changed the design to take away fins to allow high profile memory, but it does not take away from the cooling side of things. This can be seen in figure 1. Next there are the six copper heat pipes that span both sides of the towers. I would have liked to have seen thicker heat pipes, but their current size seems reasonable.


Figure 3 – What’s inside the box.

Features

As I mentioned before, the NH-D15 is based off the award-winning NH-D14. The NH-D14 won more than 350 awards making it a highly recommended fan, we even recommend it in our TSF build guide. As the NH-D14 was already a featured backed cooler, the NH-D15 does not lack in that either.

One of my favorite features of the NH-D15 is the compatibility with past and future sockets. Noctua states that when a new Intel or AMD socket is released and it complies with the open SecuFirm mounting bracket, they will provide you with the mounting hardware at no extra charge. I like to reuse hardware when I can, and having a CPU cooler that could last me for many, many years is a great thing to have. Noctua even states they can provide LGA 1366 or LGA 775 hardware if needed.

Not only are you provided with upgraded mounting hardware, but you are also backed by Noctua’s outstanding six year warranty. With both the fans rated at 150,000 hours, users should feel happy knowing their new CPU cooler will last even longer than expected. With nearly all CPU coolers having only a one or two year warranty, Noctua’s step above the rest is outstanding.

With the NH-D15 installed, I held outstanding system temperatures at both idle and gaming speeds. As my CPU is overclocked, my CPU when gaming can output a large about of heat, yet the NH-D15 performed like a charm and held temperatures at a stable and comfortable level.

Finally, here is the unit’s full specifications:

Socket compatibility Intel LGA2011 (Square ILM), LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1150 & AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+ (backplate required)
Height (without fan) 165 mm
Width (without fan) 150 mm
Depth (without fan) 135 mm
Height (with fan) 165 mm
Width (with fan) 150 mm
Depth (with fan) 161 mm
Weight (without fan) 1000 g
Weight (with fan) 1320 g
Material Copper (base and heat-pipes), aluminium (cooling fins), soldered joints & nickel plating
Fan compatibility 140x150x25 (with 120mm mounting holes), 140x140x25 (with 120mm mounting holes), 120x120x25
Scope of Delivery
2x NF-A15 PWM premium fan
2x Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)
Y-cable
NT-H1 high-grade thermal compound
SecuFirm2™ Mounting Kit
Noctua Metal Case-Badge
Warranty 6 Years
Fan specifications
Model 2x Noctua NF-A15 PWM
Bearing SSO2
Max. Rotational Speed (+/- 10%) 1500 RPM
Max. Rotational Speed with L.N.A. (+/- 10%) 1200 RPM
Min. Rotational Speed (PWM, +/-20%) 300 RPM
Max. Airflow 140,2 m³/h
Max. Airflow with L.N.A. 115,5 m³/h
Max. Acoustical Noise 24,6 dB(A)
Max. Acoustical Noise with L.N.A. 19,2 dB(A)
Input Power 1,56 W
Voltage Range 12 V
MTBF > 150.000 h


Figure 4 – My System Temperatures.

My final Thoughts

In the end, I was pleased with the NH-D15 CPU cooler. Even though I have not personally used a NH-D14, I have seen them in action and I feel that the NH-D15 exceeds the NH-D14. Noctua is the standard of CPU coolers and people enjoy what they have to offer. After this review Noctua has won me as a long-term user and I can’t wait to see the next Noctua cooler.

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