Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 Review

The air-cooling giant, Noctua, is back releasing an SE2011 version of the NH-D14 cooler targeted at users who want to cool their Intel Sandy Bridge-E CPU’s.  The main difference from the NH-D14 is that the Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 uses the Secufirm2 locking mechanism to support the new Intel LGA2011 CPU’s.

 

 

Noctua was founded in 2005 and their headquarters are located in Austria. They specialise in silent PC cooling products and until now they have successfully combined great performance with reduced noise levels.

Let’s take a quick look at Noctua NH-D14 SE2011’s specs and features, taken directly from Noctua’s website:

 

Package and contents

 

 

The Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 comes in a hard cardbox, in the classic colours of all Noctua products. At the front side we can find some of the basic features of the cooler. In the upper-right corner there is a note that implies that the cooler is LGA2011 compatible.

At the sides of the box and at its back we can find detailed descriptions of the fan’s specifications and features, and a brief description of the cooler in various languages. At the top of the box there is a Noctua logo.

As usual, Noctua has paid special attention to packaging. Literally everything is kept securely inside cardboard boxes. The actual is cooler is totally protected during shipping by using three protective boxes, one middle for the body and another two that are used as lids at the cooler’s top and bottom corners.

 

A Closer Look – Accessories

 

 

Upon opening the top box that came with the package, we found out that Noctua has done an excellent job once again in organizing the contents. There are two separate small plastic bags, which are entitled Common Parts and Intel Set. Of course, there is an installation manual. Noctua has even included a screwdriver to install the cooler which is very nice.

In the common parts bag, we find a set of Ultra Low Noise adapters to reduce the fans’ speed to keep them at low noise, a Y-Split cable that helps in connecting both fans in one slot, an NT-H1 thermal paste compound, as well as a nice Noctua metallic sticker.

In the ‘Intel Set’ bag we will find the necessary hardware to mount the cooler on an LGA2011 socket. As you can understand from the parts, it is not something difficult to do.

Within the supplied instruction manual, you will find step by step directions to install the cooler. Everything is explained simply with schematics.

 

A Closer Look – The NH-D14 SE2011

 

 

Following the same successful  dual tower NH-D14 design, the NH-D14 SE2011 looks massive. The build quality is solid and you can tell that by the time you hold the cooler in your hands. The fin density is optimized for maximum heat dissipation and increases the heatsink size.

At the top side of the cooler we can see the how the dual fans are placed and the nicely encraved Noctua logos. There is a total of six heatpipes running through each tower with enough space between them.

At the above pictures, you can take an idea of the size of the cooler and how it looks like when looking from a side view.

 

A Closer Look – The NH-D14 SE2011, Continued

 

 

Instead of direct contact heatpipes, a nickel base is used to make contact with the CPU.   Using the Secufirm2 locking system, installation is a piece of cake. This system ensures optimal pressure levels to the CPU without any risk of damaging it thanks to the springs. To install the cooler, all you have to do is screw the supplied mounting brackets into place and afterwards screw the heatsink onto them.

At the above pictures, we can see the total of six heatpipes running through the heatsink’s body and ending up on the base plate.

 

A Closer Look – The Fans

 

 

The cooler utilises two cooling fans which are perspectively placed in the middle of the two towers and at the outer side of the heatsink. In the middle of the towers we find the 140mm NF-P14 PWM and at the outer side the 120mm NF-P12 PWM. The fans are secured to the heatsink using metal clips and have rubberized edges to avoid vibrations. We see no real reason to change these fans as they provide maximum cooling efficiency while remaining silent thanks to their special blade design, called Vortex Control Notches by Noctua. The fan blades are not straight, but curved as you can see from the pictures.

 

Test Setup and procedures

The machine on which we tested the cooler was:

Processor: Intel Core i7-3960X
Motherboard: MSI X79A-GD45
RAM: Corsair XMS3 8GB DDR3-1600 Kit (2 x 4GB)
VGA: TwinTech GTX 570
HDD: Corsair Force 3 120GB SSD SATA3
PSU: CoolerMaster Silent Pro M1000 RS-A00-AMBA-J3 1000W Modular
Case: CoolerMaster HAF 912 Plus Midi Tower
Operating System: Windows 7 64-bit Ultimate

Due to the socket being new and our lack of possession of other LGA2011 coolers, we decided to test the Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 with Intel’s RTS2011LC water cooler, which actually is a good challenge for Noctua’s cooler.

All tests were made in a room temperature of 24.1 degrees celsius, with the i7-3960X in two states:

 

  • Stock speeds, @ 3,3GHz
  • Overclocked @ 4,6GHz with 1.41V Voltage


Our methodology included testing temperatures in CPU idle mode, as well as stressing the CPU using the classic Prime95. Note that we ran the fans in full RPM, as performance is what matters in this category.

 

Test Results

 

 

With the 3960X running at stock speed, Noctua manages to outperform Intel’s watercooling solution with the difference being in average three degrees less in both idle and load modes. It sounds impressive, but we were somehow expecting it due to the former NH-D14’s cooling performance.

 

 

With the 3960X overclocked at 4.6GHz, the scene remains the same. The NH-D14 SE2011 manages to efficiently dissipate the additional heat generated by the CPU, with Intel’s water cooling kit falling back about 2 degrees average.

 

 

Verdict

So far, judging from the results, we strongly believe that Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 is the ultimate CPU cooler that one can buy for his new LGA2011 system. It proved to be a giant at our tests, successfully keeping temperatures at low levels in both stock and overclocked frequencies. The fact that it managed better than a water cooler surely means a lot.

Installation was painless thanks to the Secufirm2 system. You may encounter some problems with the fans touching the RAM modules, but thanks to the flexible fan design you can move the fans up and down if needed. During our tests, the cooler did not make much noise even when functioning at full RPM. Even if a user thinks it is noisy, he can adjust it using one of the ULNA cables that are supplied to reduce the fans’ RPM.

Of course, we were expecting the great performance, having tested the NH-D14 at older sockets before. It is needless to say that the build quality is solid.

In the package, you will find everything you need to start setting up the cooler. Costing around 75 euros in Europe, it is surely an amount that will not be spent by anybody, but the user who seeks absolute cooling performance for his CPU will gladly buy this cooler, considering the top performance.

In a nutshell: the best LGA2011 CPU cooler so far.

Pros

(+) Solid build quality
(+) Easy installation
(+) Great performance
(+) Package contains everything you will possibly need

Cons

(-) Price(but you get what you pay for in terms of performance)

 

Thus, we decide to give the Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 our Editor’s Choice award.

 

 

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