Today we’re looking at the brand new Noctua NH-D15, which despite what the name may indicate, will not sit alongside the NH-D14. Instead, it replaces it as a new model.
The NH-D15 is one of the more hotly anticipated CPU coolers in recent memory. Part of this has to do with just how well the NH-D14 performed. I think what really got people excited though, was the NH-U14S. This single tower cooler, paired up with Noctua’s custom “14cm fan on a 15cm frame” NF-A15 fans, was able to outperform the venerable NH-D14 and in fact all other dual tower coolers it went up against. A lot of this performance was attributed to the new fans as well as an improved heatpipe design.
As you can guess, people immediately wondered what would happen if Noctua came out with a new cooler that combined the fan and heatpipes of the NH-U14S, but in a dual tower “D series” design. Well here it is – the NH-D15.
It certainly looks huge, but then again so did the NH-D14; let’s compare their specs directly:
|Dimensions without Fans||H: 165mm|
|Dimensions WITH Fans||H: 165mm|
|Included Fans||2x 140mm NF-A15||1x 140mm NF-P14||1x 140mm NF-A15|
|Extra Fan Support||1x 120mm |
|Weight (g)||1320 (dual fan)|
1000 (no fan)
|1240 (dual fan)|
900 (no fan)
|935 (single fan)
770 (no fan)
|Max Rated Noise in dB(A)||24.6 (dual fan)|
19.2 (with LNA)
|19.6 (dual fan)|
13.2 (dual fan with LNA)
|24.6 (single fan)
19.2 (with LNA)
|Price||$99 MSRP (dual fan)||$80 (dual fan)||$70 (single fan)
+$25 NF-A15 (dual fan)
We also included the NH-U14S since it is also within the same price and performance range of these two. There are a few interesting things to note.
The NH-D15 is slightly taller, and a full 1cm wider than the NH-D14. This is obviously to accommodate the new NF-A15 fans. If the NH-D14 was already pushing boundaries for your system, this may go beyond it. Thankfully, Noctua does a great job of keeping a compatibility list for the NH-D15, so you can know if you system is compatible at all.
The NH-D15 comes packed with two NF-A15 fans, while U14S only includes a single 140mm fan. This is reflected in the price – while the NF-A15 has a higher MSRP than its sibling, the latter would require an extra expense to achieve peak performance. In this case, the extra cost brings it to about the same price as the NH-D15.
With that out of the way, let’s take a closer look at the NH-D15.
The wider format not only allows the cooler to accommodate the new NF-A15 fan, but also allows Noctua to spread the heatpipes out more. This ensures that heat gets distributed as widely as possible to as much of the heatsink area as possible. Along with what should be a more efficient design, this should be what makes up most of the NH-D15’s performance gains.
Looking at the bottom, we get a glimpse of what heatsink manufacturers often have problems. Too often we have come across manufacturers using flimsy mounting brackets, screws, and springs. That isn’t the case here at all – as you can see, everything is thick and looks very durable. Few if any manufacturers can match Noctua’s 6 year warranty, and this is a big reason why.
Another new feature of the NH-D15 is the recessed fin design at the bottom of each side. This is to accommodate tall memory heatsinks, up to 64mm when used in single fan mode. For dual fan mode, you will use memory modules that are under 32mm in height.
If you have read our memory reviews, you’d know how much we dislike tall memory heatsinks unless used for water or LN2 overclocking. For most uses, they just get in the way. I suppose Noctua had to deal with this problem, which is unfortunate, because even losing 1% of cooling performance isn’t worth it to have stock ram with gigantic heatsinks. Besides, it doesn’t work that well, as we’ll see later in the review.
The NH-D15 comes with a pair of “Low Noise Adapters” to lower each fan’s RPM to 1200 from 1500. In case you only want to use one fan on the CPU cooler, you can install the second on a case with the included mounting grommets or screws. Also, if you don’t have a second CPU fan controller on your motherboard, you can use the Y splitter. Just make sure to install the LNA adapters AFTER the splitter, not before.
On the next page, we’ll cover installation.