Review: Noctua NH-D15 Heatsink

Noctua NH-D15 (7)

The insanely popular and award winning heatsink dubbed the NH-D14 took the world by storm, breaking every record before it and offering insane performance while staying quiet. The NH-D14 has been the king of heatsinks since it launched 4 years ago…

The new comer has arrived. Considering how good the D14 was, it seemed destined that only Noctua was capable of beating its performance. The NH-D15 has arrived and it includes adjustments to design that are set to to provide better performance than the previous King. This should be a fun review, so let’s start of with the main features, specs and then move onto photos of the heatsinks and then of course, testing!

  • Based on the award-winning NH-D14

Noctua’s NH-D14 has received more than 350 awards and recommendations from leading international hardware websites and magazines, making it one of the most successful premium heatsinks ever built. With its expanded layout and dual NF-A15 fans, the NH-D15 further improves the D14’s much

  • 6 heatpipe dual tower design

As compared to conventional single tower heatinks, the NH-D15’s fine-tuned six heatpipe dual tower design provides more surface area, better heat-distribution and superior airflow efficiency in dual fan mode.

  • Widened fin stack and expanded heatpipe layout

Compared to the NH-D14, the NH-D15’s fin-stack has been widened from 140 to 150mm and its heatpipes are now spaced further apart, which allows for a more uniform heat distribution over a larger surface area and thus contributes to the NH-D15’s superior efficiency.

  • High RAM compatibility in single fan mode

Thanks to its recessed lower fins, the NH-D15 provides 64mm clearance for tall memory heatsinks in single fan mode, making it compatible with most high end RAM modules on the market. In dual fan mode, the NH-D15 should be used with standard height RAM (up to 32mm).

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

The NH-D15

Noctua NH-D15 (4)Noctua NH-D15 (3)
Noctua NH-D15 (1)
Noctua NH-D15 (6)Noctua NH-D15 (8)
Noctua NH-D15 (5)

The NH-D14 design is no doubt very visible throughout the NH-D15, but we can still see the differences. The Widened fin stack, which brings more surface area, which should in turn allow for better heat dissipation. We also have the cut out on the bottom of each tower, which itself allows for better compatibility with higher RAM modules. No doubt like always Noctua have gone over every last detail to get the best possible performance out of the new NH-D15. It must be noted that the 150mm wide measurements will cause issue with some motherboards and the first PCI-E slot and we suggest checking the Noctua compatibility list to see if it affects your motherboard and if moving your card down a lot is possible, but that comes with the territory in a manner of speaking and compatibility in general with heatsinks/cpu coolers in general, although, this is a new type of issue that we haven’t seen before.

NF-A15 PWM Fan

Noctua NH-D15 (12)Noctua NH-D15 (10)
Noctua NH-D15 (9)
Noctua NH-D15 (11)Noctua NH-D15 (13)
Noctua NH-D15 (14)

The NH-D15 comes with two NH-A15 PWN fans. Unlike there retail fans that Noctua sell, these fans higher rotational speed with 1,500RPM compared to the 1,200RPM on the retail units. These fans have a max airflow rating of 140,2 m³/h and a maximum acoustical noise 24.6 dB(A). Noctua also provide two low noise adapters, which cut the fans max RPM from 1,500 down to 1,200 to obviously lower the noise. We look forward to putting the fans to the test and see how well it performs along side the NH-D15

Testing

Now it’s time to put the NH-F15 to the test. THe NH-D15 comes with Noctua’s again award winning secufirm 2 mounting system which was also featured on the NH-D14 and makes installation of the heatsink an absolutely ease. We have included out test setup specs below and will be doing both stock and overclocked tests to check out the performance on the NH-D15.

Test setup
Intel Core I7 4770k CPU
Gigabyte Z87X-OC Motherboard
Kingston HyperX Predator 2400Mhz
Corsair AX1200 PSU

To assess the performance of a heatsink we simply need to run the CPU at its max and stress it to evaluate the performance of heatsink. we test it using OCCT. The lower the temperature, the better the heatsink/cooler. As we said before, we do two tests with the CPU at stock settings which is 3.9GHz(Turbo) and an overclocked setting which in this case is the 4770k running at 4.4Ghz with a VCore of 1.26V.

We did the same tests on three different heatsinks in the same environment and on the same test bench. First is the Corsair H100i, being the most popular All-In-Cooler on the market, second we have the Noctua NH-D14, being the predecessor of the NH-D15 and lastly of course is the Noctua NH-D15 itself. All coolers were set up with their stock fans with each having two fans and no low noise adapters connected.

Stock Tests

Let’s start of our charts and take a look at the stock results of each cooler. We take the average temperature of the hottest core. A quick note, to get the Delta temperature, simply remove the Ambient temperature from the Highest temperature.

Noctua NH-D15 stock chart

The stock results show the highest temperature on the NH-D15 was 3 degrees under the H100i and 4 degrees under then NH-D14. What should be noted here is that the NH-D15 was practically silent throughout the entire test and the fans were whisper quiet. The NH-D14 fans weren’t loud, but not silent either and lastly the H100i fans were the loudest, but not by much, with the pump audible, but not loud.

Overclock Tests

Heatsinks like this are made for overclocking. We set up the 4770k at 4.4GHz with 1.26V running on the CPU. This isn’t a huge overclock and the extra volts aren’t that much over the stock volts which are around 1.21, however, the increase in temperature should gives us a better idea of performance from the NH-D15. Again, to get the Delta temperature, just remove the Ambient temperature from the highest Temperature.

Noctua NH-D15 overclock chart

Now we can see some higher temps on the coolers with the H100i edging out the NH-D15 by 1 degree, which is within the margins. These temps are pretty evenly matched, but we are seriously impressed with how quiet the NH-D15 was during the test and to be honest, it was silent unless you put your ear next to it, and why would you do that.

Conclusion

Noctua have done it. The have beaten themselves and released a new king and an impressive new king it is. The NH-D15 beats the performance of the NH-D14 and H100i in stock tests and matches the H100i in overclocked tests. Noctua designed the NH-D15 with better performance, but also compatibility with high-profile RAM, which is something the NH-D14 suffered, however the most notable advancement on the NH-D15 is how good the performance is with the stock NF-A15 PWM fans, which kept the NH-D15 whisper quiet throughout all of our tests. It really does tick all the boxes. The price for the NH-D15 is currently set at around €100 and it matches the current price tag of most AIO’s on the market, however, nothing comes close to the silence and ease of mind that is the NH-D15, so we think the price is pretty good.

We love the NH-D15 and the idea of having a heatsink this good and this quiet with a simple install and forget setup, really excites us.  There is only one award for the Noctua NH-D15 and it’s shiny and gold.

geektech gold award

A big thanks to Jakob and Noctua for sending over the NH-D15 for review.

 

Craig O'Sullivan

Creator of Geektech.ie Passionate about Technology and always looking for that next cool gadget or app

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