By: Jonathan Kwan
June 5, 2020
A few months ago, a friend of mine traveled to Europe with his family and in-laws and came back right before the travel ban came in effect. I have to admit it was quite adventurous for him to hit up all the COVID-19 hotspots right when everything was just about to hit its peak in the old world, but I will have to throw in a plot twist and say that is actually not the main point of my story today. After he came back from Europe, he told the exact same story for the next three months in almost every group meeting we interacted over Zoom. As a result, I have heard the story -- I kid you not -- a total of nine times; and if you think I may be an exception, a bunch of friends also heard the story as many times as I have as well. I have heard it so many times, I could literally repeat most of his story word-for-word. The problem is while the story was quite interesting the first time, repeating the same thing over and over again made it go from interesting to... well, a bit less than uninteresting. If telling the same story repeatedly ruins its novelty, how about repeatedly making variants of the same heatsink? Noctua apparently thinks not. Back in 2014, we reviewed the Noctua NH-D15, which was no doubt one of the best air coolers in its time. A year later, we reviewed the NH-D15S, which was a slightly modified version of the original for improved compatibility. A whopping six years later, I got yet another NH-D15 for review, the NH-D15 chromax.black. As its name suggests, it comes in a sleek matte black finish, but otherwise it is the same thing. Is it as good today compared to other products as it was back in the days? Read on to find out! Also, fun fact: The NH-D15S was also the last heatsink I reviewed.
Our review unit of the Noctua NH-D15 chromax.black arrived in a brown corrugated cardboard box from the company's headquarters in Vienna, Austria. And in case you ask, my friend who went to Europe did visit Vienna on his trip. I know because I have heard the story nine times. The medium sized box was wrapped in lots of blue "RASCOM" tape, as it always has been in the past. After making its trip across Europe and most of North America with the Atlantic Ocean in between using UPS Saver, the package arrived in pretty good condition to us here in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. They also got us a sweet Noctua hoodie from their merchandise store. I could not resist but to get it in classic Noctua brown.
The chromax.black series is a lineup that finally comes in something other than the classic Noctua brown, and the packaging of the NH-D15 chromax.black reflects this new color scheme -- sort of. I have also included the Noctua brown sweater in the shot just for kicks. The box has a black background, but you cannot shake off the hint of Noctua brown on the side; making sure you will never forget this is still a Noctua product. The layout is also updated for a more 2020 look. The product name, Noctua NH-D15 chromax.black, can be seen prominent displayed in white text at the top, while a short three-line product description in blue is printed immediately below. A photo of the heatsink in three-quarters view occupies the majority of the space. At the bottom, you will find the CHROMAX by Noctua branding. Noctua's logo is on the right hand edge. Meanwhile, feature highlights and product specifications are on the remaining sides of the box.
Before we move on, let us take a look at the specifications of the Noctua NH-D15 chromax.black, as obtained from the manufacturer's website:
Socket compatibility: Intel LGA2066, LGA2011-0 & LGA2011-3 (Square ILM), LGA1200, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1151, LGA1150 & AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+ (backplate required), AM4
Height (without fan): 160 mm
Width (without fan): 150 mm
Depth (without fan): 135 mm
Weight (without fan): 980 g
Height (with fan): 165 mm
Width (with fan): 150 mm
Depth (with fan): 161 mm
Weight (with fan): 1320 g
Material: Copper (base and heat-pipes), aluminium (cooling fins), soldered joints & nickel plating
Max. TDP: see CPU compatibility list
Fan compatibility: 140x150x25 (with 120mm mounting holes), 140x140x25 (with 120mm mounting holes), 120x120x25
Scope of delivery:
- Black NH-D15 heatsink
- 2x NF-A15 HS-PWM chromax.black premium fan
- 2x Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)
- 4-pin PWM Y-cable
- NT-H1 high-grade thermal compound
- Black SecuFirm2™ Mounting Kit
- Noctua Metal Case-Badge
Warranty: 6 Years
Model: 2x Noctua NF-A15 HS-PWM chromax.black
Max. rotational speed (+/- 10%): 1500 RPM
Max. rotational speed with L.N.A. (+/- 10%): 1200 RPM
Min. rotational speed (PWM, +/-20%): 300 RPM
Max. airflow: 140,2 m³/h
Max. airflow with L.N.A.: 115,5 m³/h
Max. acoustical noise: 24,6 dB(A)
Max. acoustical noise with L.N.A.: 19,2 dB(A)
Voltage range: 12 V
MTTF: >150,000 h
Out of the box, you will be greeted by three more boxes. All of them are raw corrugated cardboard boxes, and are printed and labeled in black ink to show you what is inside. The biggest one of them holds none other than the NH-D15 chromax.black heatsink itself, which already has one NF-A15 HS-PWM chromax.black fan pre-installed. A second NF-A15 HS-PWM chromax.black is included in a separate box. The smaller box holds the mounting accessories with everything nicely separated into their own bags placed in separate partitions. The black SecuFirm2 mounting kit allows the Noctua NH-D15 chromax.black to work with Intel's LGA20xx, LGA1200, and LGA115x sockets, as well as AMD's AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+, and AM4 sockets.
Accessories tagging along include two low noise adapters, Y-split cable, screwdriver, second set of fan clips, and a case badge. As always from the company, the included bundle is not just about the heatsink itself. It is also about the included excellent high performance fans and thermal paste. Cooling fans such as the NF-A15 HS-PWM chromax.black are not exactly cheap when you buy them separately in retail, and two are included in the package. The NH-D15 chromax.black also ships with a 3.5g tube of Noctua's excellent NT-H1 thermal compound, which we had reviewed back in our August 2008 shootout. I am surprised they did not include the newer NT-H2 though.
One manual is included for each socket type -- LGA 20xx, LGA 115x, and all AMD -- for a total of three installation posters. The instructions are concise and clear. Noctua has always led the game in clear instructions and great accessories organization. It makes life just that much easier with the accessories very cleanly distinguished for each application as aforementioned.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware; Installation
3. Test Results