Noctua has always been one of the best brands when it comes to air cooling in the desktop PC sector. The Austrian cooler manufacturer offers a wide range of coolers for all common CPU sockets. The company does not exclusively rely on a so-called tower design, but also offers corresponding models as a top-flow variant. The latter, however, is aimed more at small and compact cases, since coolers in a tower design occupy a lot of space in the PC case.
The Noctua NH-D15 is a dual-tower cooler with six heatpipes that are cooled by two 14 cm fans. The assembly of the cooler in our AM5 test system is quite simple. Everything necessary is included in the scope of delivery. However, if you have already owned a Noctua NH-D15 before, you can just get the matching mounting kit for the AM5 socket from Noctua. Fan Cooler
The workmanship of the cooler is very good and of high quality. For this review, we tested the Noctua NH-D15 in the Chromax Black version. Alternatively, the model is also available in a nickel-plated version, which also includes the fans in the familiar Noctua brown color (see picture).
The dimensions of the Noctua NH-D15 are very large and this requires an equally large case so that the CPU cooler can fit without any problems.
For this test, we used the air cooler in an open test bench setup on our Streacom BC1 V2 Open Benchtable.
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The Noctua NH-U12A is also a tower cooler with six heatpipes. However, the cooling surface area is significantly smaller compared to a Noctua NH-D15 with only two 12 cm rotors being used for the fans. The installation of the Noctua NH-U12A on our Gigabyte X670E Aorus Master went smooth without hiccups. An AM5 mounting kit is included with the cooler and can also be reordered if necessary.
The workmanship of the Noctua NH-U12A is excellent and the cooler also feels very high-quality. Compared to the NH-D15, the NH-U12A is much more compact. That being said, it is still essential to pay attention to the compatibility in terms of installation depth in the case. In the open setup on our Streacom BC1 V2 Open Benchtable, we faced no restrictions in this regard.
As already mentioned with the Noctua NH-D15, the NH-U12A is also available in a nickel-plated variant with the familiar Noctua fans in the familiar brown tint (see picture).
In the test, both air coolers performed quite well on our test system with an AMD Ryzen 9 7900X. For a direct comparison, we have also included test results with an AiO (Alphacool Eisbear Aurora 360) and a custom liquid cooling loop with an external MO-RA3 420 Pro radiator. The performance differences, if any, are only tangible at best. Often, we move here in such small distances that it is possible we are looking at results within margins of error.
Nevertheless, we see a somewhat clearer difference in recorded temperatures with Prime95. Due to the fact that the AMD Ryzen 9 7900X is a real hothead, the two air coolers and also the AiO cannot prevent the processor from reaching the maximum temperature of 96 °C. However, with a power consumption of about 220 W, we are also clearly above the manufacturer's specifications of 170 W in this case.
On average, the two Noctua air coolers perform at an identical level at just under 93 °C. The fans seem a bit louder in the open test bench compared to installation in a case.
With the Noctua NH-D15 and the Noctua NH-U12A, we have two excellent CPU coolers that can cope with today's powerful processors. The performance of the two coolers is almost identical and neither of them could gain a clear advantage in our tests. We were rather surprised at how well the two review samples performed compared to an AiO.
Visually and haptically, there are no points of criticism. The workmanship is perfect and impeccable. Though this is to be expected for a price of about €115 per unit as Noctua ranks in the absolute premium class — you can get an AiO with a 360 mm radiator for this price.
The Noctua NH-D15 and the Noctua NH-U12A convince with very good performance in our testing and are in no way inferior to a 360 mm AiO.
Case compatibility has to be mentioned as a limitation, however, since both tower coolers have a high installation height (165 mm for the NH-D15 and 158 mm for the NH-U12A).
Users who don't mind the added height and do not necessarily want to install an AiO in their system will be rewarded with a quiet CPU cooler when using either the Noctua NH-D15 or the Noctua NH-U12A, which have no problems in cooling the CPU reliably under typical gaming loads.
The present review sample was given to the author by the manufacturer free of charge for the purposes of review. There was no third-party influence on this review, nor did the manufacturer receive a copy of this review before publication. There was no obligation to publish this review.
Coolair Ultra The Noctua NH-D15 is currently available on Amazon or Notebooksbilliger.de for €120. The Noctua NH-U12A, on the other hand, costs €130 and is available on Amazon and Notebooksbilliger.de.