Noctua NH-D15S Review (Page 3 of 4)

Page 3 - Test Results

Our test configurations are as follows:

CPU: Intel Core i5-4690K (Stock settings)
Motherboard: Gigabyte G1.Sniper Z87
RAM: Patriot Viper 3 Series Black Mamba DDR3 16GB (2x8GB)
Graphics: Gigabyte Radeon HD 7870 2GB
Chassis: SilverStone Kublai KL05B-W
Power: SilverStone Strider Gold S ST85F-GS 850W
Storage: SanDisk Ultra II 240GB; Western Digital Blue WD5000AAKS 500GB
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional x64

Compared hardware:
- Noctua NH-D15S
- Noctua NH-D15S (LNA)
- Cooler Master Nepton 240M
- Noctua NH-L9x65 (Single/LNA)
- Noctua NH-L9x65 (Single)
- Noctua NH-C14 (Dual)
- Noctua NH-C14 (Single/Bottom)
- Noctua NH-C14S (Top)
- Noctua NH-C14S (Bottom)
- SilverStone Tundra TD03-E
- SilverStone Tundra TD02-E
- Intel Stock

All tests were run in our custom built computer to best reflect real life performance. The computer remained in the same location in the same room throughout all tests. The room temperature in our testing lab was around 21c. Stock thermal paste respective to all coolers were used to rate its performance; all pastes were given a proper amount of time for them to fully settle. The fans on all heatsinks were directly connected to the motherboard's 4-pin connector. Computer was turned on and idling for at least one hour for the idling tests. High CPU load results were obtained using the Prime95 in-place large FFTs test with four worker threads for a minimum of ten minutes or until the temperature was deemed stable.

The Noctua NH-D15S is practically the same cooler as the original Noctua NH-D15, except with an offset fin stack relative to the heatsink base. With the same surface area, the performance of both heatsinks should be nearly identical. Therefore, I have chosen to test the NH-D15S with its corporate S-series cousin, the NH-C14S, along with an array of water coolers from SilverStone and Cooler Master my colleagues Brian and Preston recently tested. Also present on the list was the original NH-C14, and a low profile NH-L9x65 cooler. As always, an Intel stock cooler is present to serve as a baseline reference.

As you can see in our charts above, the Noctua NH-D15S performed pretty well in our idle test. It tied all the other performance Noctua coolers in its best configuration, and we have recorded no CPU temperature difference between having a low noise adapter or not. This 27c figure was bested only by the trio of water coolers, which included the Cooler Master Nepton 240M, SilverStone Tundra TD02-E, and SilverStone Tundra TD03-E; a rather unsurprising statistic. Compared against the Intel stock cooler, the NH-D15S was only three degrees better. Why was the gap so small? Well, the truth is the processor is not generating a whole lot of heat to begin with in the first place. Since the idle test is not a good indicator of a CPU cooler's true performance potential, let us look ahead into the load test results.

In the load test, the Noctua NH-D15S delivered truly exceptional performance. Keeping the Intel Core i5-4690K at 51c with the fan spinning at full speed was more reminiscent of a closed loop water cooler than an air cooler. Even with the LNA adapter, it only lost three degrees. This was very impressive, considering the outstanding SilverStone Tundra TD02-E was the only other system in this test that was able to produce better result than the NH-D15S. Meanwhile, the Nepton 240M and TD03-E both came in behind the Noctua flagship. The NH-D15S was also significantly better than the NH-C14S. At this point, the Intel stock cooler had difficulty keeping up, with the CPU sitting at a sizzling 80c. If you have a high TDP or overclocked processor, it will definitely widen the gap even more in favor of the Noctua NH-D15S.

While this is very subjective, I am quite a picky person on noise, and the loudest component in my entire system are usually my noise optimized Noctua fans. On a scale from 0-10 where 0 is silent and 10 is the loudest, I would rate the NH-D15S equipped with a single NF-A15 PWM to be at 4.0/10 acoustically with fan running at full speed. This was the same rating I have given to the NH-D15. However, when your computer is idling or under nominal loads -- where it is probably going to spend most of the doing -- the PWM fan slowed down was almost inaudible. There was no noticeable turbulence noise associated with this cooler, indicating a well optimized fin array design. Noctua products has probably the best noise profile in the industry, and the NH-D15S was no exception. Overall, in terms of sound emissions, the Noctua NH-D15S is an unquestionably excellent choice for quiet PC enthusiasts.

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