Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 Review (Page 1 of 4)

Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 Review

By: Aaron Lai
August 28, 2020

As with many things you learn when you are young, my dad taught me how to ride the bicycle. I first started with a small red tricycle when I was a toddler and moved to a regular bicycle as I got bigger. I went through the typical phases of having training wheels and removing them soon after. Most of the bikes I had were hand-me-downs from my sister, so I had the unfortunate time of riding around on a white and pink bicycle. Thankfully, this was just a short time in my life and I grew taller than her. However, even my current bike is a hand me down from my father. A few weeks back, I finally brought my bike to my new place so that I could ride around the neighborhood. I still really enjoy riding a bike. Even though a car is faster, leaves you less sweaty, and can carry more than just yourself, there is something novel about riding a bike to go places. It might just be the simplicity of the machine, the wind in your face as you zoom down a hill, or the fact you can stop whenever just to take a look at your surroundings. All in all, as much as I may like driving and going places quickly, I also like returning to a simpler method of traveling. Nowadays, cooling options for CPUs are either liquid or air cooling. While a lot of people like the benefits or appearances of a liquid cooler, whether a custom loop or an all-in-one, there is something to like about the simplicity of a hunk of metal and a fan attached to it. Obviously, there is more engineering involved to air coolers than what I described, but a fan and heatsink is the simpler cooling option. Today, we have the Noctua NH-L9a-AM4, which is a very short and compact air cooler. How does it perform, and can it keep up despite its smaller size? Let us read on to find out!

Today's review unit of the Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 arrived from Noctua's offices in Vienna, Austria. Traveling with UPS and their Worldwide Saver shipping, this box arrived in good condition. There were a few dents and bumps around the box, but nothing too concerning. As always, Noctua sent us their products in a Noctua-marked box. Inside, they packaged a few air pockets with our review samples to cushion any bumps or knocks it might face while in transit. In addition to the NH-L9a-AM4 we received today, Noctua also sent over the NH-L9i, which I will be taking a look at in the coming weeks.

As we saw on the NH-U12S and NH-D15, Noctua has redesigned their retail containers for this lineup, and the same theme can be seen on the NH-L9a-AM4 we have today. The top left side of the box shows the product name, with a few features described underneath. These three points all refer to the small size of the cooler, as it has a 37mm height profile, and a 100% compatibility with RAM and PCIe cards. Otherwise, you can see a scaled down image of the cooler on the right side of the box. These retail boxes still look very much like a Noctua product should, but I do like the difference in appearances that Noctua emphasizes in their lineup. Otherwise, around the back we have several more features and specifications for the heatsink and the fan attached.

Speaking of which, I have grabbed the specifications from the manufacturer's website for your viewing pleasure:

Cooler Specification
Socket compatibility: AMD AM4
Height (without fan): 23 mm
Width (without fan): 114 mm
Depth (without fan): 92 mm
Weight (without fan): 390 g
Height (with fan): 37 mm
Width (with fan): 114 mm
Depth (with fan): 92 mm
Weight (with fan): 465 g
Material: Copper (base and heat-pipes), aluminium (cooling fins), soldered joints & nickel plating
Max. TDP: see CPU compatibility list
Fan compatibility: 92x92x14mm, 92x92x25mm
Scope of delivery:
- Black NH-L9a-AM4 heatsink
- NF-A9x14 HS-PWM premium fan
- NA-RC7 Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)
- NT-H1 high-grade thermal compound
- Black SecuFirm2™ AM4 mounting kit
- Black Screws for 92x92x25mm fans
- Noctua Metal Case-Badge
Warranty: 6 Years

Fan Specification
Model: Noctua NF-A9x14 HS-PWM
Bearing: SSO2
Max. rotational speed (+/- 10%): 2500 RPM
Max. rotational speed with L.N.A. (+/- 10%): 1800 RPM
Min. rotational speed (PWM, +/-20%): 600 RPM
Max. airflow: 57,5 m³/h
Max. airflow with L.N.A.: 40,8 m³/h
Max. acoustical noise: 23,6 dB(A)
Max. acoustical noise with L.N.A.: 14,8 dB(A)
Input power: 2,52 W
Voltage range: 12 V
MTTF: > 150.000 h

I would not blame you if you expected several cardboard boxes to appear inside the retail container, but the Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 comes in a single cardboard cutout, with a foam cutout on top to hold the accessories. As you can see, we have the CPU cooler with the fan attached in the middle of the box. The foam cutout holds accessories like the mounting screws, low noise adapter, Noctua case badge, and a tube of Noctua NT-H1 thermal grease. It is a shame that we still have yet to see their newer NT-H2 with their coolers yet, but hopefully they will answer our pleas soon. There is a set of longer screws included, and this is actually so users can install 92mm fans that are 25mm thick, as opposed to the 14mm fan that is currently mounted here. Finally, the black SecuFirm2 AM4 mounting kit included allows the Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 to work with AMD's AM4 sockets. If you are looking for an Intel version of this cooler, you will need to purchase the NH-L9i instead. Full compatibility with processors and their specified thermal design power can be found through Noctua's website. In addition to all this, Noctua has included a manual to show you how to install the cooler. The instructions are very clear and make installation quite a bit easier.

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