Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 – Optimized for Sandybridge E processors

Posted Feb 15, 2012
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Noctua is the Ferrari of air cooling for computer processors. Not only do their products do the job amazingly well, they are well crafted too. Their top of the line air cooler the NH-D14 (introduced in late 2010) ranks as one of the best air cooling solutions on the market today.

The prowess of its performance is such that even today Noctua does not feel the need to update its design characteristics. Instead they offer an upgrade path to all existing NH-D14 owners so that the cooler can be used with the latest Sandybridge-E series of processors. Apart from the upgrade Noctua also sells a variant of this cooler which works with LGA 2011 motherboard.

Today we’ll be looking at Noctua’s NH-D14 SE2011, an out of the box solution for LGA 2011 based processors and motherboards

Cooler Facts

Compatibility LGA 2011
Design Dual tower
Heat Pipes 6 Nickel plated (6mm thick)
Air Flow Front to back
Fans 2 Fans. 140mmx1 (NF-P14), 120mmx1 (NF-P12)
Accessories Low Noise Adapters (LNA),  NT-H1 thermal paste,  Secufirm 2
Weight 900grams (without fans), 1.24KG (with fans)
Dimensions 160x140x130 (h x w x d) mm

Packaging

Rather than reusing the old NH-D14, the SE2011 comes in a box specifically designed for the new platform. The compatibility with the LGA 2011 socket is highlighted not only in the name but also around the box.

A sticker on the box also mentions this fact.

Heat Sink

The design of the heat-sink has not changed since the days of the original NH-D14. For an in depth look at the characteristics of the heat sink please read our review of the original here.

The heat sink features dual tower design which are similar in construction, but is not symmetrically placed with respect to the heat sink base. The ‘rear’ tower is connected to the base with slightly longer heat pipes and thus is shifted away from the base as compared to the front tower. This places the rear tower closer to the exhaust fan improving airflow dynamics from the cooler.

Each tower is made up of 42 Aluminum plates with a total heat dissipation area of 1.18m2. The presence of notches on the edges of the heat plate further improves heat dissipation as well as reducing airflow resistance. Each tower is traversed by 6 heat pipes which run in line through the heat plates. They are soldered to the base. The base and the pipes are Nickel plated. The base of the cooler is ever so slightly convex which should improve contact with the heat spreader on the processor.

Fans

Noctua bundles two fans with the D14, which also carry over from the original design. The 140mm NF-P14 mounts between the two towers using metal clips. To reduce noise, the towers feature silicon pads on which the fan rests. The 120mm NF-P12 mounts on the front tower using similar metal clips and rests on silicon pads as well. Both fans features Vortex Control Notches, Smooth Commutation Drive Technology and SSO bearings to reduce noise and improve airflow.

The default speed of NF-P14 is 1200 rpm, while that of NF-P12 is 1300 rpm. Noctua bundles ULN Adapters for both fans that can reduce this speed to 900 rpm. This reduces the noise generated by the fans from 19dbA to about 13dbA. 

Thermal Compound

The cooler ships with Noctua’s own NT-H1 thermal grease. The tube contains about 1.4ml of the compound which is good enough for about 15 careful applications.  This compound is different from the ubiquitous Arctic Silver 5 in 2 ways:

I. It is non conductive

II. It does not need a burn in time

Thermal compounds do not have a significant impact on cooling performance. None the less, as the NT-H1 is non-conductive, those with a shaky hand or first timers will do damage if they accidentally apply excessive amounts of thermal paste and make contact with base metal.

Instructions & Accessories

As you will see, installing a cooler on a LGA 2011 motherboard is much easier as compared to other Intel platforms. The instructions that come with the cooler are one of the best (like always). Easy to understand text and figures make installation a breeze.

As has already been mentioned the cooler comes with NT-H1 thermal compound and LNA cables. Noctua also bundles a nifty screw driver as well as a plastic Noctua badge with the cooler. 

Installation

Intel’s LGA 2011 platform comes with a pre-mounted back plate. This simplifies the installation of the cooler. It is now possible to install the cooler with the board in the chassis. The Secufirm2 LGA 2011 edition comes with mounting bars which are affixed to the socket via offsets and nuts.

The heat sink is then secured to the mounting bars with screws. This completes the installation process.

The center fan must be installed after the heat sink is screwed in.

It is possible to install RipJaws-Z in the memory slots that are over hung by the front fan. The diminutive Kingston memory has no trouble fitting in. 

Testing

Coolers Noctua NH-D14, Intel LCS RTS2011
Processor Intel 3960X
Motherboard Asus P9X79 Pro
Memory G.Skill RipJaws-Z 2133MHz (4×4 GB)
Video Nvidia GTX 480
Power Supply Thermaltake ToughPower XT 775
Case Xigmatek Pantheon
Ambient (room) air temperature 18C
Testing Pattern Prime 95 Blend Test@Stock@4.3GHz (Over-clocked)Average temperatures across 6 Cores
Recording Software HW Monitor

 We’ll test the NH-D14 with and without the LNA. The results labeled ‘H’ (high) do not utilize LNA, while ‘L’ (Low) results do.

CPU-Z

Results

It is difficult not to be wowed by the results, but at the same time one should not expect anything less from Noctua.

 

The cooler handily beats Intel’s liquid cooling platform that the company (Intel) recommends for over-clocking this particular line of processors.

Conclusions

Like its predecessor the NH-D14 SE2011 performs brilliantly. It produces results that are the best among the tested products. The owners of the previous generation of NH-D14 can simply acquire the 2011 upgrade kit and they will be good to go as well. Noctua includes everything in the box including a Philips head screw-driver. The price of the product is well justified considering its stellar performance and the goodies that Noctua provides with it.

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