I’m not sure what to say other than “WOW!” Noctua absolutely blew me away with this cooler, not only in the simple things like the packaging, but the ease of installation and the performance results were absolutely incredible.
Installation on an Intel 115x platform is as simple as slipping the backplate into place, toss a couple spacers on the standoffs, attach two brackets to said standoffs with thumb screws, put a pea-sized dab of paste on your processor, and attach the cooler. All-in-all that will take you no more than 5 minutes to get the cooler setup.
On the performance side of things, the NH-D15 was fantastic! First off, the fans, while I have no way to measure the noise level, at idle or low loads the fans were whisper quiet. When the fans were spinning faster from high load, they were only slightly audible, with a manufacturer max rating of 24.6 dBA. On the actual performance end, I was very impressed with how it did. In most tests, factory speeds and overclocked, I found that the D15 was better than the previously reviewed air coolers almost every time. There were a couple cases that I noticed the D15 jump into line with the liquid coolers, which is excellent!
Hopefully in a future revision we will see direct-contact heat pipes as a new feature, to see even better performance, but even as-is, this cooler rocks! The only other thing that I’d like to have seen improved is the compatibility with the second fan. My case is wide and my RAM is tall, and I could barely squeeze that second fan in place to exhaust out the rear.
Noctua products definitely are not cheap, nor is the NH-D15 that we reviewed today, but what you get in turn is a high quality product. This cooler will set you back $93.04 shipped on Amazon and comes with an incredible 6-year warranty. Don’t let the price get in the way of extreme performance, though. If you have trust issues with liquid coolers, you absolutely should keep this cooler in mind – the performance achieved and the lengthy warranty contributing largely to this decision.
Legit Bottom Line: Noctua’s NH-D15 may be a pricey for an air cooler, but it sure knocked the socks off of all of the other air coolers we tested, plus it brought itself closer to liquid cooler performance in several tests.