Noctua NH-D14 CPU Cooler Review
Features and Cooler Design
Courtesy of Noctua
- 6 heat pipe dual radiator design
- Dual NF-P14/NF-P12 fan setup
- Asymmetrical design for high compatibility
- Excellent component cooling
- SecuFirm2™ multi-socket mounting system
- NT-H1 thermal compound
Noctua constructed the NH-D14 CPU cooler from both copper and aluminum to maximize the cooling potential of the unit by taking advantage of the unique cooling-related properties of those materials. Copper is very good at absorbing heat, while aluminum is very good at dispersing heat to a different medium. Therefore, the copper-based CPU base plate and heat pipes absorb the heat while spreading it along the pipe length. The aluminum radiators then transfer the heat from the heat pipes to the air flowing through tem. To protect the copper from unnecessary harm (such as accidental scratches, oxidation, or corrosion), Noctua chose to nickel-plate the copper surfaces. The nickel-plate is thin enough to minimize adverse effects to the copper's heat absorption capabilities while adding a more durable finish to the cooler. The cooler's twin radiators were designed with a fin density of 11 fps (fins per inch), allowing for great heat dissipation potential when combined with the width of the air flow channels. However, effective dissipation requires higher pressure fans to keep the air flow viable through the entire width of the dual radiator structure.
Seen from the side, the NH-D14 cooler's twin radiators are each approximately double in depth of a standard fan (being 25mm) with a seam along the mid-point in-line with the heat pipe pass-through point. There is sufficient spacing between the dual radiators to accommodate up to a 150mm fan (as long as it is no more than standard 25mm thickness). The heat pipes form the structural U-shape of the cooler, providing both structural integrity and dual heat dissipation paths to the unit. The interfacing between the heat pipes and aluminum fins is cleanly done with no solder or manufacturing residue apparent.
Noctua designed the radiator towers in the typical rectangular shape, with grooves along the outside walls for the fan mounts and removable plastic channels along the inside to brace the fan against to prevent the blades colliding with the radiator fins. The plastic mounts can be moved to either side of either tower, giving a multitude of fan mounting options. The faces of the radiators have been serrated most likely to increase air turbulence as the air passes through the radiator fins to aid in heat dissipation. All embedded heat pipes are capped at both termination points to seal against leakage and ensure that the heat pipe medium remains under pressure for optimal heat transfer from the base plate to the radiator fins. The heat pipes are soldered in place to maintain stability and ensure optimal copper to aluminum interfacing.
The NH-D14's base plate is a large nickel-plated copper construct consisting of an upper and lower plate. The plates sandwich the six heat pipes and are held together with four screws along each of the outer edges of the bottom plate. The CPU contact point in the base plate has been ground and polished to an almost-mirror finish to ensure optimal mating with the CPU surface. Notice that the base plate has a built-in hold down plate for mating the cooler to the CPU mounting bracket. The hold down screws are held in place with locking washers and have been hollowed out to accept the screws integrated into the CPU mounting bracket.
To hold the cooler firmly mated to the CPU surface, Noctua integrated two hold down screws into the cooler's base plate. These screws have tension springs attached and are held in place with locking steel c-washers. The insides of the screws are hollow so that they act as nuts for the embedded screws in the CPU mounting bracket.
Mounted to an ATX form factor Z87-based board, the cooler's front radiator comes right up to the edge of the board memory slots, with the front fan overlapping the slots closest to the CPU. However, the front fan can be moved up or removed entirely to account for space related issues. The back radiator overlaps the VRM heat sink above the CPU. While use of overly large components could cause space related issues, Noctua developed the NH-D14 with enough height to accommodate most configurations. Further, the cooler can be rotated 90 degrees so that the radiators are flush with the PCIe slots and the case upper panel.
When mounted and assembled, the center fan has a portion that sits underneath the radiators. This allows air to blow underneath the radiator, promoting airflow through the surrounding components such as the VRM heat sinks. The cooler hold down screws can be seen with the springs compressed to hold the cooler firmly in place.