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Noctua NH-L9a Low Profile AMD CPU Cooler
Author: Jason Kohrs
Manufacturer: Noctua
Source: Noctua
Purchase: Amazon.com
Comment or Question: Post Here
Page: 1 of 4 [ 1 2 3 4 ]
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February 26, 2013

Noctua has made a name for themselves with their high quality CPU cooling solutions, many of which have proven themselves in reviews at Bigbruin.com. While many have implemented the tried and true heatpipe tower design, a few have featured a cooling fan mounted horizontally to make the overall height smaller and allow them to fit in to smaller cases. Nothing we have seen from Noctua - or any other CPU cooler manufacturer in recent history - has been as compact as the two new coolers Noctua has released for use in HTPCs and small form factor systems.

Promo Image

The promotional image above shows the Noctua NH-L9a, which is to be covered in this review. The lower case "a" designates this as an AMD cooler, and there is a similarly styled cooler called the NH-L9i for Intel coolers which will be covered in an upcoming review. The low profile array of fins and slim fan reminds me of a rackmount server cooler, but even before using this cooler I imagined that Noctua had applied their experience to make the cooler perform near silence instead of the deafening roar you might expect in a server.

Before taking a closer look at the cooler provided for review, let's take a look at some of the technical data on the cooler and the included fan, as taken from the official product page on the Noctua site.

Cooler Features and Specfications:

Socket compatibility: AM2(+), AM3(+), FM1, FM2
Height (without fan): 23 mm
Width (without fan): 114 mm
Depth (without fan): 92 mm
Height (with fan): 37 mm
Width (with fan): 114 mm
Depth (with fan): 92 mm
Weight (without fan): 390 g
Weight (with fan): 465 g
Material: Copper (base and heat-pipes), aluminium (cooling fins), soldered joints & nickel plating
Fan compatibility 92x92x14mm, 92x92x25mm
Scope of Delivery:
    NF-A9x14 PWM premium fan
    Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)
    NT-H1 high-grade thermal compound
    SecuFirm2 Mounting Kit
    Screws for 92x92x25mm fans
    Noctua Metal Case-Badge
Warranty: 6 Years

Fan Features and Specfications:

Fan Model: Noctua NF-A9x14 PWM
Bearing: SSO2
Max. Rotational Speed (+/- 10%): 2500 RPM
Max. Rotational Speed with L.N.A. (+/- 10%): 1800 RPM
Min. Rotational Speed (PWM): 300 RPM
Max. Airflow: 57.5 m/h
Max. Airflow with L.N.A.: 40.8 m/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
MTBF: > 150,000 h

One thing not listed above is that the cooler is designed for processors with a maximum thermal design power (TDP) of 65W. While there are plenty of processors out there that come in under this value, many of AMD's processors in particular are rated above this value. Configuring a testbed to accomodate this limit was a challenge in this review, and in the end we had to go back to an Athlon X2 5400+ (dual core 2800MHz) which is rated for 65W.

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