Opening up the NH-D14, I was pleasantly surprised to find an extremely detailed, yet simple set of instructions for the applying the cooler. Applying the Noctua NH-D14 was actually a much more simple (and painless) process than the Intel XTS100H, however, it took twice as long; approximately 12 minutes from start to finish.
Each and every component feels nicely secured and extremely durable. The application process was really well thought out. I especially liked the inclusion of the L-shaped Philips screwdriver and the NT-H1 thermal compound.
The main competitor for the Noctua NH-D14 is the Cooler Master V6 GT I reviewed as part of the heatsink roundup when Intel’s Sandy Bridge CPUs launched earlier this year. Costing roughly $20 less than the Noctua NH-D14, it’s almost equally huge and turned out to be one of the coolest heatsinks tested. For secondary comparisons I’ve also added our resident Intel XTS100H cooler. The rest of the testbed consists of an Intel Core i7-2600K (running at stock 3.4GHz), G.Skill RipJaws X DDR3-2133 4GB, Gigabyte P67A-UD7, WD VelociRaptor 300GB with Windows 7 Ultimate, all of which is powered by our Cooler Master 1200W Silent Pro Gold PSU. For overclocking the CPU, I raised the maximum multiplier in the BIOS to x47 (with the FSB already set at default to 100MHz) at 1.45v resulting in a total speed of 4.7GHz. The ram automatically switched to 2134MHz at 1.660v. Temperature readings were taken from Core Temp.
The Noctua NH-D14 performs great on all accounts, but it’s interesting to see the overclocked results. At 4.7GHz, the NH-D14 keeps the i7-2600K very cool at 33°C while idling, although Cinebench R11.5 seemed to put more stress than I thought, pushing the temperatures to 68°C. This was more than I expected as Prime 95 ran at a comparatively cooler 63°C. Still, keeping an i7-2600K at 4.7GHz below 70°C under full load is no small feat.
The incredible thing is that the Noctua NH-D14 remained just as silent during the load tests as it had been during idle state, in both stock and overclocked situations. It was about just as audible as the nimble XTS100H, a far cry from the Cooler Master V6 GT.
The Noctua NH-D14 is one of the more interesting CPU coolers I have reviewed in a while. On the one hand it is extremely efficient and effective at its job, but it comes at a cost. And I’m not talking about the $90 price tag either. This thing is huge, and if you have already purchased memory modules with big heatsinks, like our Kingston HyperX T1, then you’re out of luck. Still, nothing comes easy in this world. I would back the NH-D14 completely based on its operational prowess, just make sure to check out the aforementioned compatibility list for a headache-free installation process.