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Noctua NH-D15S CPU Cooler Review

Absolutely one of the best.

Noctua’s award-winning CPU cooler NH-D15 now had its toned-down version, the NH-D15S, with the difference being the latter having only one fan instead of two.

Ticking all of the boxes, they said the NH-D15S performs just like its predecessor, but since we don’t have the D15 to compare it to, we’ll just compare it with some other aftermarket CPU coolers around the market, so that you’ll have an idea how it performs.


What’s in the box?

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Noctua’s regular product packaging is really distinctive and identifiable to the brand easily, so points for that. Now, as we unboxed it, we found some accessories and products included on the cooler itself.

Accessory box:

• Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)
• Fan clips for another fan
• NT-H1 thermal compound
• Fan and mounting screws/screwdriver
• SecuFirm 2 Mounting Kit
• Mounting Guides
• Noctua Metal Case Badge

Photo from Noctua

It also includes a 6-year full manufacturer warranty, in case you get trouble with the fan.


Design and Build Impressions

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The geniuses at Noctua could have easily over-engineered this cooler to their liking, but have kept it modestly the same with its predecessor NH-D15. Basically, from mounting this bulky cooler which is admittedly hard for some other coolers out there, the SecuFirm 2 system is really one of the best options out there.

One of the systems that I used for this testing isn’t really the usual system you’d found on most homes. A Dell Precision T5500 motherboard with the LGA1366 socket (provided that you’ll use the separate NM-i3  mounting kit that Noctua graciously provided us as well for the purpose of this review) proved to me that despite the irregular conditions and layout of its motherboard, this cooler will function and fit your system really well.

Not really that tight, eh?

Mounting the cooler is pretty easy. After putting the appropriate backplate to your motherboard as well as mounting brackets and screws, the only thing you’ll have to do next is to mount the cooler and screw it using the supplied special screwdriver to tighten it down on its place. The only struggle that perhaps I had on this was mounting the fan afterward due to my case’s tight space. After that, I started enjoying low temps and a silent environment.

The cooler’s base plate is composed of six copper-based, nickel-plated heat pipes laid out on a U-shape design inside the aluminum fins, which in result, effectively dissipates heat away from your CPU. The included NF-A15 PWM fan effectively help the fins being cooled at an excellent rate.

The build of the cooler tower is undeniably sturdy. The heatsink’s fins don’t bend easily unlike other coolers and the supplied fan, of course, all bear the Noctua quality. I’ll just have to give my second thoughts about Noctua’s consistent fan color-scheme that might not fit most builds nowadays.


Specifications

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Cooler Specifications

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): 1150 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

The included NF-A15 PWM fan. The cooler can use two of these to make it perform like the NH-D15.

Cooling Fan Specifications

Model: 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
MTTF>: 150.000 h


Performance Test

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Our test system for this is my current system which uses a non-standard motherboard (using an old Dell Precision T5500 motherboard) into a standard ATX case from Trendsonic, 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.

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A similarly-specced AMD Ryzen 3600x (95W TDP, stock speeds) inside the ASUS ROG Helios case is also used as another side-comparison system. We also used the ID-Cooling AuraFlow X 360 and Cooler Master ML120 RGB AIO liquid coolers to compare against the NH-D15S.

Our tests are conducted in an air-conditioned room with around 25°C room temperature. All the coolers are tested repeatedly using the NT-H1 thermal compound and are averaged after 3 successful runs, in order to properly get the results.

Based on our test runs, the Noctua NH-D15S easily smacked down even the big 360mm AIO from ID-Cooling that is also currently on our test labs. Ridiculously, we even decided to include the 120mm AIO from Cooler Master in order for us to see further how this cooler can easily beat the heck out of many AIOs, if not all, and if you do have the luxury of space on your computer case.

The test data are gathered using HWMonitor 1.4, and the peak / idle data are both averaged from 3 successful 15-min stress tests from AIDA64.

At max loads, the NF-A15 PWM fan is slightly audible but not to the point that it’ll annoy you to some extent. It’s still silent AF, as the S on its model name refers to being ‘SILENT’, after all. 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.


Conclusion

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Despite toning it down to just one fan, the NH-D15S proved to be a champ at most use cases, again, if you have the luxury of space on your build. With a price of around a hundred dollars, this cooler might seem to cost you a fortune but if you are obsessive with silence and want better cooling performance even on some intensive overclock situations, this cooler won’t let you down.

Compatibility-wise, I’m glad that 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, in fact, we’re currently using it as the main cooler on the aforementioned Intel system, and the editor is more than delighted to recommend it to everyone else. With that said, we’re really impressed that we’re giving the Noctua NH-D15S our ‘Editors’ Choice Award’.

Revealed | EDITORS’ CHOICE AWARD

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