Best CPU Cooler – AM3 Review

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Noctua NH-D14

If someone asked you what’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Noctua, many would say (other than expensive!) quiet cooling. It’s rather surprising that Noctua has released a cooler that looks like the dogs bollocks, but not just any dog, a dog with a serious rage temperament with a pair bulls bollocks! Looking at it, you know it’s going to be a cooling beast and reminds this reviewer of Thermalright’s IFX-14, another top cooler rather overshadowed by the TRUE. You know once an enthusiast gets a hold of one, he/she will remove both Noctua fans and strap 3 high performance fans on there for the ultimate cooling solution for air.

The NH-D14 makes use of the tower design, but instead of a single tower, it has two large fin arrays interconnected with a total of six heatpipes to increase the cooling performance.

Instead of two fans of the same dimension, you get a single 120mm NF-P12 and a single (new) 140mm NF-P14 FLX used in a push/pull configuration. This thing is huge. The pictures don’t do it justice! It measure 160mm tall and 140mm wide. So be aware when installing into your case.

What’s great is that the cooler is pre-assembled with the fans in place for anyone new to the game of CPU Cooling, and comes ready with the mounting brackets for the new SecuFirm2 mounting kit already installed on the heatsink, thus lessening the install time for you. Noctua follow the same path as Thermalright & Prolimatech with their Intel mounting, but go one better and support AM2/AM3 with it too. A great all in one solution.

Installing the kit was a breeze for AMD. Since half the work is done for you, all you need to do is remove the stock motherboard retention bracket and attach 2 brackets screwed into the backplate. Sit the cooler on top and screw it in with the attachments already installed. Simple, but very effective!

The base on the cooler is smooth. Not to the glossiness standard of the other too coolers, but the base seems flat, which is the most important part.

Out of the big box you get a bag with the AMD components, a bag with the Intel components, and a third bag that includes shared components. What you get in the shared components bag is a tube of Noctua’s finest thermal paste NT-H1, a metal case badge to show your support, screws to mount the fans to your chassis, vibration isolators that accomplish the same function, a Y-harness to connect both fans to a single header and the Low Noise and Ultra Low Noise fan adapters.

What we weren’t expecting was the noise. As most people know, we associate Noctua with how quiet they are, but when we fired the cooler up, it makes quite a bit of noise for a Noctua cooler. That’s not to say it’s loud, just not to common Noctua standards. It’s all down to the 140mm P14 fan in the centre. The noise it makes is the air resistance when the P14 is pushing air through the other end of the cooler. This is a rather minor concern though.

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