Noctua NH-P1 Review (Page 2 of 4)

Page 2 - Physical Look - Hardware, Installation

The Noctua NH-P1 is very clean in appearance with its polished natural silver-colored aluminum. It is fair to note this silver finish is common with older coolers and budget models like the Noctua NH-U12S redux. Newer all-black finishes are sleeker, but I still I enjoy the natural look. The front aluminum plate has the Noctua branding engraved on it. Like many CPU coolers, it is designed with a stack of fins with multiple heatpipes going through the heatsink on each tower. Unlike many CPU air coolers though, the fins are aligned horizontally rather than vertically since this is a passive cooler. The fins are rectangular in shape with curved edges. The entire heatsink unit is made from aluminum along with a copper base and nickel plating.

Looking at the top, we can get a better look at the design of the leading edges of the heatsink fins. Due to its passive performance, the Noctua NH-P1 is clearly built different from other air coolers we have reviewed. For one, it is quite a bit larger with very big fins. They are organized in a rectangular shape, but do not necessarily require the same sort of "leading edge" since you do not need to have a fan attached to the heatsink. All fins are the same size from front to back. The fins are spaced out enough for the included screwdriver to fit in between for installation. The heatpipes are exposed on the heatsink.

There are a total of thirteen fins on the cooler. The spacing between the fins is about 10mm with each fin being evenly spaced out from each other. This widespread distance between fins is to allow heat convection to be as effective as possible. This is also useful for installation as the provided screwdriver can fit with no problem. With some quick measurements and calculations, the total surface area of both fins comes out to around 0.61 square meters. At a total weight of 1.18kg without a fan, the Noctua NH-P1 is heavy for the weight of a CPU cooler. The fins are also quite a lot thicker compared to other air coolers, which can again be attributed to the passive nature of the Noctua NH-P1. A heavy cooler will put more stress on the motherboard, but a good installation bracket can help mitigate this issue. It should be noted the weight of the cooler is also dependent on the material it is made from.

When it comes to dimensions, the Noctua NH-P1 has a height of 158mm, width at 154mm, and 152mm depth. This is about the same as the NH-D15's 160mm specification, which might make the NH-P1 harder to fit inside smaller form factor cases. Six continuous heatpipes can be seen from the base leading up for heat dissipation. The purpose of the heatpipes is to efficiently lead the heat away from its source due to the low heat of vaporization, or phase change energy, of alcohol. The heatpipes are aligned in a manner to spread out the heat in the single array of radiating fins. With a total surface area of 0.61 square meters, the NH-P1 should be able to deliver good heat dissipation theoretically, which I will test on the next page. This CPU cooler is aligned such that no parts of the cooler will be hanging over the PCI Express slot underneath. However, depending on the orientation of mounting, the cooler may hang over the RAM slots. It is, however, possible to avoid this if you orient the cooler with the heatpipe bends hanging over the memory area. As we have mentioned already, this cooler has full compatibility with the modern Intel LGA115x, LGA1200, and AMD AM4 sockets.

The photo above shows the bottom of the Noctua NH-P1. Here, we can see the configuration of the heatpipes with respect to the base. The base is very flat, meaning there should be no problems resting the entire base on top of the processor. Other than some marks left by the sticker that came attached to the base, the surface is clean with no abnormalities. No thermal paste has been pre-installed on the NH-P1 since Noctua provided their own NT-H2 thermal paste for application. The heatsink is made from copper and aluminum. The base and heatpipes are made from copper, which is always a solid choice for heat transfer with thermal conductivity of 401 W/mK. The heatsink fins utilize aluminum for its build, which is lighter than copper. Aluminum fins will generally reduce the weight and thus, reduce the stress on the motherboard. Aluminum does have its trade-offs at a thermal conductivity of 237W/mK, which is significantly less than copper.

The base is electroplated with nickel that sits on top of the copper material. Nickel has a thermal conductivity of 90.9 W/mK, which is much lower than copper and aluminum. Despite the lower thermal conductivity, the electroplated layer is quite thin and will not impact the performance of the cooler, at least not significantly. Nickel and nickel-base alloys can withstand corrosive environments and high temperatures, which proves to be an advantage for devices made for dissipating heat. The reason for this can be traced to the ductility and toughness of nickel. Thus, nickel is chosen for corrosion prevention on this cooler. The result is a longer-lasting cooling that will be less likely to lose its cooling performance over time.

All joints are soldered at the base while the heatpipes are soldered directly to fin stack it goes through, protruding out at one edge. Overall, the Noctua NH-P1 is solidly built. This cooler should be reliable and should last a long time, especially with its nickel-plated base. The fins are uniformly spread, and there is a good amount of heatpipes. We will see how this cooler holds up in the upcoming tests.

While we reviewed the original Noctua NF-A12x25 fans back in 2018, the LS-PWM variant is one that runs at different specifications. This fan has a maximum rotational speed of 1200 RPM, with 55.7 m³/h airflow, 0.82 mmH2O static air pressure, and a maximum noise level of 12.1 dBA. The MTTF is rated at 150,000 hours, which equates to just over 17 years of continuous operation. This fan should be able to work well for this cooler if you decide to not go with passive cooling while still wanting minimal noise. The attachment wires hook on via the outer side of the fan and secure onto the radiator by a two-stage clipping ledge for an easy and secure installation.

The NF-A12x25 LS-PWM fan can be mounted on the NH-P1 using two wire clips each. This fan does not come pre-installed onto the NH-P1 and in fact, is not included with the NH-P1 at all, so you will need to purchase it separately. Rubber dampeners can be seen on the fans to reduce noise and vibration when in operation. Raised edges on the fins are what keep the clips in place when mounting the fans. This also makes it so the fans can be removed with ease just by attaching or detaching the clips from the fins.

The installation process was very simple. Noctua recommends using your stock motherboard backplate if using an AMD processor, which saves some time and effort, even if just a little. The standoffs were easy to install with four screws and some large plastic washers to help hold them in place. Please note that an included backplate will be required for Intel users, although I imagine this is not any more trouble.

Like with most coolers, two mounting bars are included for installing the cooler onto the motherboard. Plastic spacers can be installed once the backplate is mounted for the mounting bar to rest on. Both the Intel and AMD mounting bars can be mounted in either orientation. The screws are tightened into the backplate with plastic spacers in between. Once this is finished, you can jump into installing the heatsink after applying some thermal paste to your CPU.

After applying the NT-H2 thermal paste provided by Noctua, it is time to install the cooler itself. It is advised to place a small dot in the middle followed by a four-dot square pattern when applying thermal paste to AMD CPUs. As mentioned earlier, the fans do not need to be removed when installing the cooler, which is convenient. A screwdriver is included in the packaging, which can fit through the fin cutaway in the smaller tower. From here, the screws can be tightened in an alternating fashion. I would recommend using the included screwdriver for this installation as accessibility to the screw can be limited for many different screwdrivers. If you plan to passively cool your system, then you would be finished at this point. If you choose to attach a compatible fan, then the process is still very simple, only needing to attach the fan via hooks.

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