For a lot of fans, Austrian firm Noctua represents the top of PC Cooling. Recognized for top-tier cooling designs just like the NH-D15S, in addition to its distinctive brown followers, Noctua has earned and maintained a loyal following since its founding in 2005. With its concentrate on quiet followers and succesful, typically high-end, coolers, the corporate has typically landed on our listing of greatest CPU coolers.
However as a substitute of specializing in large metallic tower coolers just like the NH-P1, immediately we’ll be having a look at 5 of Noctua’s small type issue (SFF) CPU coolers. You wouldn’t all the time wish to pair these smaller coolers with top-end CPUs, we’ll be testing them with Intel’s Core i9-13900K to see simply how a lot – or how little – they’ll deal with in immediately’s world of thermally demanding processors.
Overview of the Coolers
As is apparent to anybody who has constructed a compact PC, SFF circumstances can have many constraints – and are available many sizes. As such, all of the coolers we’re taking a look at right here have been designed for various situations. When constructing an SFF laptop system, you’ll want to pay attention to limitations brought on by the case you’re utilizing, the heatsinks of the motherboard you’re utilizing, and/or the peak of your RAM. As I discovered throughout testing, what may go nice in a single SFF case could also be absolutely incompatible in one other.
The NH-L9x65 is the second-smallest cooler we’ll be testing for this story. It’s much like many different compact top-down air coolers however encompasses a thicker heatsink and 4 heatpipes, as a substitute of the usual two for coolers of this sort. It stays throughout the Intel beneficial 95x95mm footprint, which signifies that you’ll have full compatibility on any motherboard regardless of how compact it’s elements are.
In some ways, the NH-D9L is a miniature model of Noctua’s NH-D15S. The NH-D9L operates like a typical desktop cooler, with a single fan in the midst of the cooler pushing the warmth away from the reduced-size dual-tower heatsinks. It’s absolutely RAM and PCI-e suitable with all Intel ITX motherboards, and most AMD-based motherboards.
The NH-L12S was designed for circumstances with peak limitations, with a complete peak of solely 70mm when the slim fan is put in beneath the heatsink fins. Its fan may be put in both beneath or beneath the heatsink. When the fan is put in on the prime of the heatsink, it’s absolutely suitable with tall RAM, as much as 48mm in peak.
NH-L12 Ghost S1 Version
The NH-L12 Ghost S1 Version is a revised model of the earlier cooler, that has been revised to suit smaller areas, specifically designed for the Louqe Ghost S1 laptop case. The adjustments embody a decreased peak in comparison with the NH-L12S; it’s solely 66mm tall as a substitute of 70mm. The size of the heatpipes has additionally been shortened, and they’re on a narrower angle. Lastly, it has a smaller 92mm fan as a substitute of a 120mm fan on the usual NH-L12S.
The L9i-17xx is essentially the most “fundamental” of the coolers we’re testing immediately. Its compact heatsink has solely two heatpipes and a complete peak of simply 37mm, making it superb for the slimmest and most space-constrained environments. As such, it provides 100% RAM and PCI-e compatibility on all motherboards. We examined the Chromax black mannequin, however when you favor Noctua’s conventional brown and beige, the L9i-17xx is on the market in these colours, as nicely.
Testing Methodology and SFF Constraints
Fashionable high-end CPUs, whether or not Intel or AMD, are tough to chill in intensive workloads. Previously, reaching 95C+ on a desktop CPU may need been a trigger for concern – however with immediately’s processors, it’s thought-about regular operation. Related conduct has been current in laptops for years as a consequence of cooling limitations in tight areas.
That mentioned, SFF coolers aren’t designed to deal with the total energy of CPUs like Intel’s i9-13900K or Ryzen 7950X, and when utilizing one the CPU will doubtless attain TJMax (the utmost temperature earlier than throttling happens) in lots of workloads. So if I have been to use the identical requirements I exploit for traditional cooler testing to SFF coolers, most of them would merely fail.
These compact coolers are designed to offer satisfactory cooling energy in space-constrained environments, and as such many SFF builders favor to make use of lower-power CPUs like AMD’s Ryzen 5 7600 or Intel’s i5-12400. Nonetheless, for immediately’s testing, we’ll be pairing them with Intel’s i9-13900K to see simply how a lot – or little – these coolers can deal with. However we’ll even be testing with totally different energy limits, which is able to inform us quite a bit about how these coolers will carry out with lower-end CPUs.
We’ll be evaluating these coolers based mostly on their efficiency in 3 metrics:
1. Most noise ranges
2. Most cooling efficiency
3. Noise normalized outcomes with a 95W Energy Restrict.
These coolers will probably be examined in Silverstone’s SUGO 14 SFF case, which I selected for its versatility and options, together with a 5.25-inch optical drive and full-size PSU help.
|CPU||Intel Core i9-13900K||Row 0 – Cell 2|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte B660i Aorus Professional DDR4||Row 1 – Cell 2|
|Case||Silverstone SUGO 14||Row 2 – Cell 2|
|PSU||Silverstone HELA 1300R Platinum||Row 3 – Cell 2|
Initially I had deliberate to incorporate comparability outcomes right here from Noctua’s rivals, together with BeQuiet’s Shadow Rock LP and Iceberg Thermal’s IceFLOE T95. However I bumped into compatibility points which prevented this.
The B660i Aorus Professional motherboard has tall heatsinks for each the motherboard’s VRMs and for the NVMe SSD slot. Because of this, the heatpipes of BeQuiet’s Shadow Rock LP have been blocked by the heatsinks of the motherboard, regardless of which route I tried to put in it.
I additionally tried to put in Iceberg Thermal’s IceFLOE T95, however the mounting bars alone pushed in opposition to the DDR4 reminiscence sticks, making it incompatible. Putting in the cooler additional would have pushed the RAM modules much more, a recipe for instability at greatest.
After encountering these points and discovering it unusual that I didn’t run into comparable issues with Noctua’s coolers, I reached out to a Noctua consultant. He identified that the corporate works intently with motherboard producers in addition to Intel and AMD to make sure broad compatibility, whereas additionally noting that the expansive vary of the corporate’s compact coolers lets builders select the best choice for his or her particular system.
Noctua additionally maintains a Compatibility Centre database that permits you to test whether or not a given cooler is designed to work with particular CPUs, motherboards, circumstances, and RAM.