Noctua NH-D15S Review (Page 1 of 4)

By: Jonathan Kwan
July 17, 2015

According to the US Department of Labor, if you are working in an indoor environment in the summer, the air conditioner should be set at 76F or below, with humidity between 20% and 60%. Now, for everyone else in the world that uses a real system of measurement, also known as the metric system, this will be 24.4c. Why is it important indoor workplaces are kept within this range? Well, for one thing, it is the law. But even if it was not the law, I am sure most reasonable employers -- especially those in the professional environment -- will be happy to oblige. A healthy and happy employee will be more productive. Try doing accounting work or designing a car when it is hot and humid inside, haha. On the other hand, it is important not to take cooling to the extreme. According to the same law, the minimum temperature standard -- although this is probably related to heating in the winter, rather than cooling in the summer, but regardless of which -- is 68F, or 20c. Recently, my friend visited Taiwan and Hong Kong, and she said she set the air conditioner at 19c, because it was too hot outside. Clearly, my friend did not understand human beings have an optimal operating temperature, so I told her to might as well sit in a freezer to simulate a Canadian winter instead. ("The freezers in Hong Kong are mini sized," she said. "I am not that mini you know!") Is there such thing as setting the temperature too low? For human beings, definitely. But how about computer processors? Generally speaking, for any normal, sustainable method, the cooler, the better. Today, we will take a look at the newest big daddy of all air coolers, the Noctua NH-D15S. Evolved from the NH-D14 and NH-D15, both mega-sized heatsinks that took air cooling to the extreme, but often criticized for blocking RAM and PCIe slots, the NH-D15S promises to retain the same epic performance, all without the epic interference. Was Noctua successful? Well, let us find out.

Our review unit of the Noctua NH-D15S arrived in a brown corrugated cardboard box from the company's headquarters in Austria. 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, the package was a little bit beat up, but everything inside arrived safely, thanks to an abundance of recycled packing material inside. For the last little while, Noctua has been shipping things to us using UPS Standard rather than regular postal service -- so rather than taking three weeks, it now gets to us here in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in one week. Traveling with the NH-D15S was the NH-C14S my colleague Aaron Lai will be reviewing next week.

Retaining Noctua's fundamental predominantly burgundy color scheme, the NH-D15S' packaging ensures Noctua-ness never goes missing, despite the changes in design. Its updated layout for a modernized look was first seen in the company's NF-P12 PWM packaging since early 2012, and is identical to the Noctua NH-D15 and Noctua NH-U14S. If you see them all next together at a retail store, no member of the family will look or feel out of place. While some people may not be big fans -- no pun intended -- of the Noctua color palette, it is hard to argue against its overall clean and distinguished appearance when placed on the shelves at your favorite local retailer. As you can see in our photo above, the packaging is sleek yet practical; at first glance, you are not going to miss the product name, what it is, and a short list of feature highlights.

Before we move on, let's take a look at the specifications of the Noctua NH-D15S, as obtained from the manufacturer's website:

Heatsink Specifications
Socket compatibility: Intel LGA2011-0 & LGA2011-3 (Square ILM), LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1150 & AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+ (backplate required)
Height (without fan): 160 mm
Width (without fan): 150 mm
Depth (without fan): 135 mm
Height (with fan): 165 mm
Width (with fan): 150 mm
Depth (with fan): 135 mm
Weight (without fan): 980 g
Weight (with fan): 1150 g
Material: Copper (base and heat-pipes), aluminium (cooling fins), soldered joints & nickel plating
Max. TDP: see TDP guide
Fan compatibility: 140x150x25 (with 120mm mounting holes), 140x140x25 (with 120mm mounting holes), 120x120x25
Scope of Delivery:
- 1x NF-A15 PWM premium fan
- Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)
- Fan clips for second fan
- NT-H1 high-grade thermal compound
- SecuFirm2™ Mounting Kit
- Noctua Metal Case-Badge
Warranty: 6 Years

Fan specifications:
Model: 1x Noctua NF-A15 PWM
Bearing: SSO2
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)
Input Power: 1,56 W
Voltage Range: 12 V
MTBF: > 150.000 h

Out of the box, you will greeted by two more boxes. Both of them are in raw corrugated cardboard color, 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-D15S heatsink itself, which already has one NF-A15 PWM fan pre-installed. A second NF-A15 PWM is not included, but can be purchased separately. The smaller box holds the mounting accessories, with everything nicely separated into their own bags placed in separate partitions. The SecuFirm2 mounting kits allows the Noctua NH-D15S to work with Intel's LGA2011 and LGA 115x sockets, as well as AMD's AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, and FM2+ sockets. Accessories tagging along include one low noise adapters, screwdriver, second set of fan clips, and a case badge. No fan Y-splitter cable is included. The NH-D15S also ships with a full sized tube of Noctua's excellent NT-H1 thermal compound, which we had reviewed back in our August 2008 shootout. As always from the company, the included bundle is not just about the heatsink itself -- it is also about the included excellent removable high performance fans and 'stock' thermal paste. Cooling fans such as the NF-A15 PWM are not exactly cheap when you buy them separately in retail, and one is included in the package.

One manual is included for each socket type for a total of three installation posters; one for each socket type. The instructions are concise and clear. With the accessories very cleanly distinguished for each application as aforementioned, it makes life just that much easier. I just wish more manufacturers will learn from Noctua, haha.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware; Installation
3. Test Results
4. Conclusion