Noctua NH-U9B CPU Cooler Review

Posted on Aug 18 2009 - 10:14pm by daniel

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Introduction

In the thermal solutions market, the name Noctua is a highly respected one that is synonymous with a very high build quality and great performance. Their product base is fairly limited though with a total of three different heatsinks but when you can produce products such as the NH-U12P and NH-C12P, you don’t exactly need a huge selection.

Noctua’s flagship model, the NH-U12P is known throughout the industry and with the addition of an LGA1366 mounting kit; it’s moved onto the i7 scene. Perhaps the one downfall of this product is its size and this is where, the third heatsink comes into its own. The NH-U9B, effectively the baby brother of the larger NH-U12P, features the same 4 dual heatpipes but is a much smaller heatsink utilised the 92mm NF-B9 fan. But, how much cooling potential will the heatsink lose in its slimmed down version, let’s take a look…

Features

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Specifications

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Symbolic of the Noctua products, is the slightly unusual packaging clad in a mixture of browns and blues that give the box a distinctive style. A small window on the front peeks inwards onto the NF-B9 fan and of course the features have to be thrown in somewhere; as it is they sit under the product name.

A number of translations occupy a side along with a whole box of awards – well if you’ve got them why not show off!

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The back details the features in much more depth, each with an accompanying picture, and outlines some of Noctua’s special technology – the Blade Technology incorporating the Vortex Cut Notches but we’ll save the more technical details for a little later.

The final side gives a few small mounting diagrams for both LGA775 and AM2 (+).

The accessories are packed into three different bags:

  • Intel 775
  • AMD/AM2
  • Common Parts

This is certainly a good idea as it doesn’t mean you have to hunt through one huge bag looking for the parts you need. The socket bags contain all manner of mounting parts for installing the cooler to a particular motherboard. The common parts bag contains the following items though:

  • Fan clips * 4
  • Noctua NT-H1 thermal paste
  • Anti-vibration rubber strips
  • Low Noise Adapter (LNA)
  • Ultra Low Noise Adapter (ULNA)
  • Screwdriver

The NT-H1 paste and NF-B9 fan are actually products in their own right but are bundled in with the NH-U9B. In regards to the noise adapters, these are Noctua’s alternative to a fan controller; effectively they are just resistance wires which restrict the voltage and thus lower the fan speed.

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As with the NH-U12P, the design utilises four ‘U’ shaped copper heatpipes which transfer the heat from the base to be dissipated through the fin stack. The pipes are slightly offset so as to make full use of the heatsink by transferring heat to all parts of the heatsink as well as being nickel-plated. This is probably as much to do with aesthetics as anything else though making the pipes match the aluminium fins.

noctua-assembled

The ends of the pipes are nicely capped as has become the norm for CPU coolers and an imprinted Noctua logo into the top fin is also evident.

Looking at the other end of the cooler, the four dual heatpipes are soldered into the copper base but do not actually contact the IHS of the processor. Instead a completely flat, machined finish on the base should make for better contact and avoid small gaps caused by the grooves in between pipes found with H.D.T. (Heatpipe Direct Touch) technology.

The tower format design incorporates a series of aluminium fins – quite thick fins in the case of the NH-U9B and reasonably well spaced. This should makes the job of the intake fan a little easier as there is more space for the air to be pushed through.

The static pressure of the 92mm fan – 1.61 mmH²O – should be more than enough to effectively push air through the stack and is actually higher than the 120mm NF-P12 fan.

The Vortex-Control Notches found on the tips of the fan blades help to alter the frequencies of the noise outputs so as to make it less perceptible; for a full review on the NF-B9 click here.

An additional exhaust fan can be mounted to the rear of the heatsink to increase performance using the second set of wire clips included in the package.

Spinning at 1600RPM, maximum airflow of 64.3m³/h is achievable at a volume of 17.6dBA but this can be dropped down significantly using the noise adapters which I expect will be preferable for silent enthusiasts.

In regards to the size of the cooler, it should be a good fit for HTPC systems and other small cases but the fin stack is high enough to keep out the way of any capacitors or other motherboard features near the CPU socket.

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The Test Setup:

Processor AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE C2 @ 3.2GHz, 3.58GHz
Motherboard MSI 770-C45 AM3
Graphics Card Sapphire HD 512MB 4770
Memory OCZ Gold Triple Channel Platinum-10666 6GB (2 x 2GB) @ 1066MHz
Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda 3.0GB/s 7200.10 500GB,
Western Digital Caviar Blue 160GB
Power Supply NOX Apex 700W
Enclosure Antec P183
OS Windows Vista 64-bit

For AMD or AM2+ installation, the first job is two screw the two ‘U’ shaped brackets on to the base of the heatsink.

Then the two mounting brackets screw through the motherboard and into the backplate.

The next step requires the cooler to be placed on the top of the CPU, after some paste has been spread, and then secured by doing up the spring loaded screws into the mounting brackets. It’s best to do each one a few turns then the other and once both are completely tight, the cooler is firmly secure.

The final part of installation involves attaching the fans; stick a strip of the rubber down both ends of the cooler and then secures the fan on top of those with the wire clips. We will be testing a dual fan configuration so we installed dual NF-B9’s.

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Testing

Methodology

At Verdis Reviews, we test CPU coolers by booting the PC up into Windows Vista and then taking temperatures in both idle and load states.

The temperatures are taking using Core Temp and averaging the four core temperatures. For idle testing, we simply leave the PC for 30 minutes and then come back and take the temperature readings. For load, we run prime95 for 20 minutes before taking temperature readings once more.

Thermal results will be recorded with the Phenom II X4 955 BE @ 3.2GHz (stock) and overclocked to 3.58GHz (325×11).

Finally, noise is that final factor that is tested; however, at Verdis Reviews, we are not yet at the stage where we can use high tech sound equipment and therefore, noise testing is left to the human ear – not the most scientific but it gives a good impression of how noisy the cooler is.

Ambient temperature was 18 degrees.

Results

Unfortunately, we only have a comparison with the AMD reference cooler but, as you can see, the NH-U9B drops the temperatures down much further.

In regards, to the dual fan configuration it shaves off another degree at both idle and load; not a hue performance increase but still noticeable.

The overclocked results tell a similar story with the Noctua cooler way ahead and the extra fan taking off another degree at load, but both results are below 60 at 100% load which is certainly impressive.

Noise
The noise levels are reasonable with just a single fan but adding a second does make them more noticeable which would not be ideal for silent enthusiasts and if you are one, I would point you in the direction of the noise adapters which reduce the fans speeds but don’t impact performance too severely.

Cost
The Noctua NH-U9B retails at about £40 – a lot of money indeed but if spent you are guaranteed a great product.

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Conclusion

Noctua has impressed us no end here at Verdis Reviews with their consistent high quality and performance coolers. In this regard the NH-U9B is no different achieving some very solid temperatures despite the smaller build making it ideal for HTPCs and other smaller chassis.

The noise levels aren’t quite as good as the NF-P12 but not too bad and in any case the LNA and ULNA adapters can drop down the fan speeds and noise.

If only the price was a little lower? Yes, Noctua do charge a premium for their products but at least they really are the cream of the crop and in my opinion well worth the little extra as in effect you are getting three products in one: the NT-H1 paste, the NF-B9 fan and the heatsink – great job Noctua!

Pros

  • Good performance
  • Includes NT-H1, NF-B9
  • Very high build quality
  • Compact
  • Dual fan configuration options

Cons

  • On the pricey side

80

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