Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 CPU Cooler Review

By on December 15, 2011
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Powerful, cool, and most importantly, quiet.

Good: Extremely quiet; Performance as good as liquid cooling while overclocked; Great airflow for surrounding components
Bad: Huge size; Low fan speeds may post error in some motherboards during startup
Price: AED 350
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.

Now, the two supplied fans are PWM compatible, so pretty much every X79 motherboard can take care of them automatically. However, the NH-D14 SE2011 does like to go down to 300rpm when the CPU is idling, so during POST (and even within BIOS) you may get a “CPU Fan Error”. For instance, I encountered this error on all the ASUS X79 motherboards tested, but Gigabyte, ECS, MSI and even Intel didn’t make a fuss over this. The easiest solution to this is to set minimum CPU fan RPM to 300rpm; alternatively just increase the fan speeds in the BIOS.

With that out of the way, let me show our testbed.

For comparisons I have used the Asetek made RTS2011 Liquid Cooler that Intel will be supplying. This is pretty much the same model as the one Asetek made for the recent AMD FX-8150 octa-core CPU.

I used Core Temp to record the idle and load temperature on the i7-3960X, taking an average of the highest and lowest recorded temperature of all 6 cores. For ‘Idle’ temperature I left the PC running for 15 minutes after a fresh restart. For ‘Load’ temperatures I ran Prime95 using “In-place large FFTs” for 15 minutes.

As a final note, I would like to say that ‘Idle’ means the CPU was downclocked automatically to 1.2GHz, and under ‘Load’ the CPU was Turbo’ing up to 3.9GHz.  When I overclocked the system, I set the Intel Core i7-3960X at 4.6GHz with 1.42v on Core CPU Voltage. Both ‘Idle’ and ‘Load’ tests were run for the same 15 minutes duration. Once again, while overclocked the CPU idled at 1.2GHz, but under load the speeds went up to 4.6GHz.

Before we move ahead, keep in mind that the fans were set to automatic usage in BIOS, and the NH-D14 SE2011 actually runs from 800-1,300rpm. The RTS2011LC run from 800-2,200 rpm.

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From auditing to editing, I now test and analyze the latest gadgets and games instead of the latest financial statements. Both jobs are equally intense and rewarding. When I'm not burning up hardware in the name of science, you'll find me nuking in DOTA 2 or engineering in TF2.

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