The award winning air cooler, Noctua NH-D15, is finally in our hands for us to test out – this time, the chromax.black version, which Noctua took years before making it into fruition.
With that said, we’re here to actually find out how the NH-D15 performs in its black stealth beauty, as well as how and why it was marketed as being an AIO killer in the first place.
What’s in the box?
Noctua’s Chromax product line packaging is unique unlike other Noctua products, which comes in the usual white/dark brown box. Now, as we unboxed it, we found some accessories and products included on the cooler itself.
In the box:
• 2x Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)
• 4-pin PWM Y-cable
• Fan clips for the second fan
• NT-H1 thermal compound
• Mounting screws/screwdriver
• Black SecuFirm 2 Mounting Kit
• Mounting Guides
• Noctua Metal Case Badge
• Black NH-D15 heatsink
• 2x NF-A15 HS-PWM chromax.black premium fan
It also includes a 6-year full manufacturer warranty, in case you get trouble with the fan.
Design and Build Impressions
Based on the award-winning NH-D15, the black version of the said Noctua cooler comes in pure black fashion, with exception of the base being silver. Everything, from the aluminum fins and heatpipes, up to the fans, clips, screws and SecuFirm 2 mounting kit, all comes in black.
Of course, we all do swear here by Noctua’s SecuFirm 2 mounting protocol, which we find absolutely brilliant since it makes mounting these large, bulky CPU coolers easy AF. It just depends on your case space on how will you mount it.
Here’s an image how it looks like on one of our test systems at the office.
Just like the NH-D15, its base plate is composed of six copper-based, nickel-plated black coated heatpipes laid out on a U-shape design inside the aluminum black coated fins, which in effect, dissipates heat away from your CPU. The included NF-A15 PWM chromax.black fans effectively help the fins being cooled at an excellent rate.
It’s no secret though that the build of the cooler tower is undeniably sturdy. The heat-sink’s fins don’t bend easily and the clipping solution works really well, and the heat is transferring very well from the CPU to the cooler and out.
Socket compatibility: Intel LGA2066, LGA2011-0 & LGA2011-3 (Square ILM), LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1151, LGA1150 & AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+ (backplate required), AM4 (NM-AM4 mounting kit)
Height (with/without fan): 160 mm
Width (with/without fan): 150 mm
Depth (with/without fan): 135 mm
Weight (without fan): 980 g
Weight (with fan): 1320 g
Material: Copper (base and heat-pipes), aluminum (cooling fins), soldered joints & nickel plating
Max. TDP: see CPU compatibility list
Fan compatibility: 140x150x25 (with 120mm mounting holes), 140x140x25 (with 120mm mounting holes), 120x120x25
Cooling Fan Specifications
Model: Noctua NF-A15 PWM chromax.black (2x)
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
MTTF>: 150.000 h
Our test system for this is my current system which uses a non-standard motherboard (using an old Dell Precision T5500 motherboard) equipped with Intel Xeon X5675 six-core processor @3.06GHz with a TDP of 95W. This is in order for us to get an idea of how this cooler will perform on a more heat-generating CPU, such as an Intel Xeon, and it is currently our available test system on hand, since our AMD Ryzen system had a problem with temperature readings that we decided to scrape it out on our current reviews.
We also used the ID-Cooling AuraFlow X 360 and Cooler Master ML120 RGB AIO liquid coolers to compare against the NH-D15, as well as other Noctua CPU coolers such as the NH-U12S chromax.black and NH-L12S and NH-D15S, which we have in inventory.
Our tests are conducted in an air-conditioned room with around 28°C room temperature. All the coolers are re-tested repeatedly using the NT-H1 thermal compound provided by Noctua and are averaged after 2 successful 15-minute runs, in order to properly get the results.
Based on our test runs, the Noctua NH-D15 can be easily declared the winner among all coolers we had on this series of test. While the results are seemingly near with the NH-U12S, the NH-D15 benefits from the larger surface area, although we’re surprised to see that the results were that close enough for it to be compelling for those folks who want to save space.
The test data are gathered using HWMonitor 1.4, and the max, load & idle data are both averaged from 2 successful 15-min stress tests from AIDA64 with each cooler.
At max loads, the NF-A15 PWM fan is slightly audible but not to the point that it’ll annoy you to some extent. I really wanted to measure the sound levels for our tests, but we haven’t got our hands on a new sound pressure tester yet.
Seeing the results of how the Noctua NH-D15 perform, I was quick to realize why this air cooler is being sworn by many as the best air cooler today and one of the legendary. And now coming in a black color which would be more aesthetically-friendly, the NH-D15 chromax.black edition is surely worth buying if you are into (a) silence (b) great performance and (c) potential overclocking.
If you have the space on your build and want an air cooler which screams top-notch quality and performance – this is a no-brainer recommendation.
Compatibility-wise, Noctua had it supported even with older processors out there, making it an appeal, even to the old system’s owner who doesn’t want to upgrade. Noctua will even send you an upgrade kit for free in the future in case you need it and the cooler still supports the new processor/socket. Also, that 6-year warranty is something that Noctua is really proud of.
No complaints here, and I’m more than delighted to recommend it to everyone else. With that said, we’re really impressed that we’re giving the Noctua NH-D15 chromax.black our ‘Editors’ Choice Award’.