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Having forged their reputation on amazing performance, exceptional quality, and ultra-low noise levels, Noctua stands out as a premier manufacturer of PC-cooling products. Not everyone is the fan of Noctua Color Scheme but only the top tier of hardware enthusiasts that settle on nothing but the best find it the perfect blend of performance and decency.
With AMD’s Ryzen launch we were brought a new socket (AM4) so Noctua decided to release three Special Edition coolers just for it. These include the NH-D15 SE-AM4, NH-U12S SE-AM4, and NH-L9x65 SE-AM4. We are reviewing Noctua NH-D15 Se-Am4 today. This cooler has a dual-tower, dual-fan design featuring six copper heat pipes, two NF-A15 140mm fans, and Noctua’s SecuFirm2 mounting system so installation should be pretty easy.
Previously, On PGR we’ve reviewed Noctua Coolers and there is one thing for sure, Noctua does not fail to impress. Of all the coolers I have tested from Noctua, each one has been distinct in its performance. Each cooler has give more of what has been expected from it. Slight drawbacks, if any, are compensated with the cooling performance and low noise levels. Noctua is one hell of a choice when it comes to CPU Air Coolers.
We’d like to thank Noctua.at for providing us with the review sample of the Noctua NH-U12A. The Noctua NH-U12A is not available in Pakistan at the moment but we’ll surely update this review if it arrives in Pakistan.
Without further ado, let’s dive straight into the review!
|SOCKET SUPPORT:||AMD: AM4|
|HEATSINK:||Material: Aluminium (Fins)|
Copper (Heat pipes)
Dimensions: 135 mm x 150 mm x 165 mm
Heat pipes: Ø6 mm
Weight: 1320 g (w/fans)
|FAN:||Model: NF-A15 PWM|
Dimensions: 140 mm x 150 mm x 25 mm
Fan Speed: 300 – 1200 RPM (PWM)
Fan Airflow: 68 CFM (Max w/LNA) 82.5 CFM (Max)
Fan Noise: 19.2 dBA (Max w/LNA) 24.6 dBA (Max)
|FEATURES:||Dual tower design|
Low-Noise adapter included
SecuFirm2 mounting system
100% RAM compatibility on AM4
Soldered interface between heatpipes and fins
Noctua NH-D15 SE AM4 comes is a huge cardboard box which is very durable to protects the components inside.
Inside the box, we found the cooler very well protected, placed below layers upon layers of thick cardboard packaging. The supplied mounting hardware and extra items can be found in a smaller, compartmentalized cardboard box.
On the back side, there are some highlighted awards and achievements Noctua has been crowned with. These are pretty amazing to see how much Noctua NH-D15 SE AM4 is inspiring.
On the other sides of the box, you can see some more info about the features, as well as specifications listed in 8 languages.
On the other side, there is the name of the cooler along with the specifications of the PWM fan supplied with the cooler. This is a four pin PWM fan which is software controlled to achieve a custom curve if necessary.
Opening the box, we get the cooler itself with one fan attached to it. The other fan is placed and packed safely in another box. There is also a box which includes all the parts to mount and set up the cooler once it is out of the box. In total, there are 3 boxes, including the cooler, a fan and the stuff to mount and set up the cooler right out of the box.
Everything is placed in a box of recycled cardboard protected with seals and covers. You get the mounting brackets for CPU socket, screws and bolts, some standoffs and a thermal paste as well. Noctua’s SecuFirm2 mounting system includes everything necessary for the installation of the NH-D15 SE AM4 on AMD’s latest AM4 socket.
Common parts supplied for mounting include:
- 2 x NF-A15 PWM premium fan
- 2 x Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)
- NT-H1 high-grade thermal compound
- SecuFirm2 Mounting Kit
- Noctua Metal Case-Badge
- Phillips Head Screwdriver
The design of the NH-D15 SE-AM4 unique due to how the heatsink towers are designed. Connected to the side of each of the massive heatsink fins are six nickel-plated copper heat pipes. These help transfer the help from the bottom and up into each of the heatsinks. The unit is comprised of copper (base and heat-pipes), while the cooling fins are made out of aluminum. The construction of the unit is very solid and neat.
Big, metallic, heavy and pretty imposing, the NH-D15 SE-AM4 is beast of a heatsink. I actually got scared for my motherboard for a bit. What makes this heatsink special is that the mount is designed specifically for AMD AM4 motherboards. No special amount is needed. Of course, there is an Intel variant that also works on AM4 boards as well (NH-D15).
The base of the cooler is extremely unique keeping in view the shine and the build quality. The base of the cooler that makes contact with the processor is split into two parts. The bottom half of the base is made out of nickel-plated copper, maximizing the heat transfer rate from the CPU to the heat pipes. It is extremely well machined, perfectly flat and smooth. The top half serves only as a mechanical support and is made out of aluminum, while the mounting bracket is nickel-plated steel. This ensures efficient heat dissipation and cooling performance.
This cooler is designed as a dual-tower cooler so you have two aluminum heatsink towers. If we look at the cooler from the side we can see that the heatsink stacks are thinner towards the bottom. This is for better compatibility with memory if you only plan on using a single fan.
This cooler ships with two NF-A15 140mm fans. One is to be mounted in the center of the cooler with the other on either of the sides depending on your setup. This fans make use of an SSO2 bearing and have a max rotational speed of 1500 RPM (+/- 10%), max airflow of 140.2 m³/h, max acoustical noise of 24.6 dB(A). These fans feature the rubber corners which will dampen vibration and they are held on to the cooler using the typical fan clips.
If we take a look at one of the heatsink towers we can see how the heatpipes go up into it in uniform fashion.
Included are two different ways to attach the fans to the motherboard; the PWN y-cable or the low-noise adaptors. The low-noise adaptors drop the maximum spin of the fans from 1500 RPM to 1200 RPM, producing 20 dBA. While using the y-cable allows the fans to spin up to 1500 RPM, pushing 82.5 CFM at 25 dba. Which is still quieter than most libraries or a quiet room. Which begs to ask why even include the y-cable to lessen the RPMs in the first place. I opted to use the y-cable, as I wanted maximum cooling. The only downside to this is that you aren’t able to adjust the fans separately. So here is a deal breaker, if you want better cable management, you will need to use the Y cable.
But the Y cable does not allow you to adjust the fan speeds or make custom fan curves. It does not support PWM function. SO if you are really into PWM functionality, then the Y cable is not for you. But if you think you can live with full control over your CPU fans, then by all means suit your cable management skills and use Y cable to connect both fans.
To begin with, we installed Noctua NH-D15 SE AM4 on the Asus Crosshair VI with Ryzen 7 1700. Mounting is simple – specially with Noctua SecuFirm 2, it is always a piece of cake. It took me a couple of minutes and a screw driver to mount the cooler and I was ready to proceed with the testing and cooling performance.
All testing is done at a room temperature of 26°C (78.8°F) with a 1°C margin of error. It is to be noted that climate of Pakistan is warm and CPU coolers are really pushed to their limits when being tested.
Let’s dive straight into the testing!
Obviously, the main goal of a massive heatsink such as the NH-D15 SE-AM4 is to cool down your processor. Noctua does included their low-noise adapters which are really competitive while testing the temperatures. We will be comparing the NH-D15 SE-AM4 to the Corsair H115i AiO, Noctua NH-U12A, ASUS ROG Ruijen and some other coolers just for the sake of reference.
We used the classic set of software including HW Info/Monitor to control the parameters of the work and most importantly, the temperature. OCCT’s CPU test (Large Data Set, 64 bits, Infinite, the maximum number of threads) was used for the load. After an hour of load, we recorded the results and these maximum/minimum idle/load temperatures are shown in the graphs below. This cooler proved to be grateful for overclocking, and a somewhat weird fan that helps cool the VRM and the noise levels were not what we can call annoying. With CPU under stress test and fans running at 100%, I was still not able to call the noise levels irritating. Though I do not have a very silent ambience but the noise levels were under check and they never surpassed 44 dBA in my testing and I consider those levels as ideal, specially if it is an air cooler with dual fans acting as push and pull. Fan noise testing could not be done accurately, as stated before, because of my noisy ambience but for the sake of giving an idea, 44 dBA was all I could achieve on sound meter with Noctua NH-D15 AM4 with both PWM fans running at 100%. That is really impressive.
Despite the fact the this Noctua cooler is very large and dual tower design, and two fans are simultaneously working in it, which might be a concern for some. In that case, I have seen that with single fan sandwiched between two tower heatsinks, the cooler works pretty well. You just not get adequate cooling if you want to overclock your CPU in that case, but for day to day tasks and during gaming, the single fan works lovely, with an increment of 1-3 celsius on average, which is not a deal breaker here.
When someone asks me about getting a new CPU cooler if they are going the air route I always suggest Noctua as their coolers are proven and on top of that they are always easy to install. With the NH-D15 SE-AM4 you get both of those things. Elegance and performance both packed in a single package. This CPU cooler has an insane cooling potential with ultra low noise levels. This CPU cooler can serve you ideally if you are a hard core gamer. Design, form factor and aesthetics, all kept in balance with this one, makes this one affordable cooling solution if you are into air cooling.
As is the usual with Noctua coolers, the NH-D15 SE-AM4 is exceptionally easy to install with the SecuFirm2 mounting hardware remaining one of the best designs on the market. Not only does it work well but overall build quality is again amazing and covered by an exceptional 6-year warranty. This ensures that once you get your hands on this bad boy, it is not going anywhere soon.
The only thing that the NH-D15 SE-AM4 has going against it, is the size of the cooler and price. It’s huge and won’t fit in most cases. For those cases it will fit in, it may obscure access to motherboard features. In extreme situations, you may need to remove the entire cooler. Then there’s the cost of the unit. I haven’t seen it priced any lower than $90. This puts it around the same price as several AIO units. Still, if you want the best of the best when it comes to air coolers, you be hard pressed to look past Noctua’s D15 SE-AM4.
I have no issue recommending the cooler. It is a deal breaker and the cooling performance leave many AIOs behind. The MSRP is 99.90 EUR/USD, which is quite steep for an air cooler, a 6-year warranty coverage is included though. But at the end of the day, it is still an air cooler no doubt, even so, looking at build quality, performance, noise levels, and warranty. If the cons are to be discussed, It is too big to fit in many cases, and if it does fit, it might hinder the components inside. But still I have no issue recommending the cooler to the enthusiasts.