Noctua NT-H1

Noctua NT-H1 Thermal Compound

Today, here at Verdis Reviews, we have a product with a huge number of awards, accolades and praise. Despite not being the most glamorous part of a PC, this product is vital to the cool running of your computer. Introducing the Noctua NT-H1 thermal compound; will it be able to live up to its high reputation as one of the best thermal pastes on the market? Let’s find out…

Company Background – Noctua

Noctua aims at establishing a new level of quality and performance “Designed in Austria” through paying attention to the users’ needs in a market burdened with all kinds of frills and furbelows and providing sound-optimised premium components, which serve their purpose in a smart, precise and reliable manner.

Features

  • Excellent performance
  • Maximum ease of use & efficient dosage
  • Top-performance right from the start
  • Excellent long-term stability
  • Not electrically conductive, non-corroding
  • Suitable for compressor cooling

Specification

  • Volume: 1.4ml (for at least 15 applications)
  • Specific Gravity: 2.49 g/cm³
  • Colour: grey
  • Recommended storage time (before use): up to 2 years
  • Recommended usage time (on the CPU): up to 3 years
  • Peak operating temperature: -50°C to +110°C
  • Recommended operating temperature: -40°C to +90°C

Contents & Packaging

The 1.4ml syringe of thermal compound comes with quite extensive packaging for simply a small tube of paste which consists of a cardboard backing and a sheet of moulded plastic around it. The cardboard is in the usual Noctua colour scheme of reds, browns and blues and gives the manufacturers the ability to display the full list of features alongside the obligatory product and company information.

The other side shows these features in several other languages and in more depth but also includes a set of usage instructions and the specifications.

Note that from the back it is evident that the plastic cover just clips around the cardboard so it’s easy to get the tube out without having to destroy the packaging because it’s completely sealed.

There aren’t any accessories with the tube of paste which is somewhat surprising as many other similar products all include an applicator. However, this is down to the fact that Noctua believe the best application method is just to put a blob of the paste on the CPU and then move the heatsink a little to spread it. This is how we apply thermal compounds at Verdis Reviews and so whether or not a spreader is included is fairly inconsequential.

The Product – Noctua NT-H1

Similarly to the packaging, the tube is in matching colours to almost all of the Noctua range. Highlighted in white atop of this is the Noctua logo and ‘NT-H1’. On one side of the tube, there are a few safety instructions such as avoid contact with eyes and keep away from children – not that many people will be getting their children to help build their PC!

 

The tube itself is about 10cm long and contains 1.4ml which Noctua says is enough for at least 15 applications. Obviously this depends on how much you use per application though. Whilst 15 applications don’t sound like a huge amount, it is quite a lot if you consider that you don’t really need to change your CPU cooler or other coolers that much.

At the end of the tube there is a small black cap on the end so as to stop the compound drying out on the end and bunging up the syringe.

The paste itself is a dark grey-silver colour with quite a thick viscosity; thus using the spreading technique to apply it is quite hard and so Noctua’s preferred method is definitely a wiser choice.

Noctua also state that the paste will last for two to three years before requiring re-application – certainly not bad but the GELID GC1 Compound supposedly lasts for ten years so not quite as good durability.

Looking a little closer at the main features, it is evident that the paste is electrically non-conductive – useful in that fact that you can accidently spill some of the paste and just wipe it off not having to worry about any short circuiting occurring. Moreover, unlike Arctic Silvers’ well known burn-in time of approximately 200 hours, NT-H1 has no such time and should run at peak performance right from the off.

Another useful feature of the NT-H1 thermal compound is that its peak operating temperature is from -50 to 110.Therefore, it can run effectively almost anywhere in the world.

Installation

The Test Setup:

ProcessorIntel C2D E5550 Dual Core 2.33GHz
MotherboardGigabyte S-Series GA-73PVM-S2H
Graphics CardXFX 8600GT
MemoryCorsair XMS2 PC6400 (2x 1GB)
Hard DriveHitachi HDT7250 (250GB)
OSWindows XP Pro 32bit

Installation, or rather application, is a very simple process involving removing the previous thermal compound by and then placing a small blob – approximately 4-5mm – of the NT-H1 paste on the CPU.

Then, the CPU Cooler (I am using the stock Intel cooler) is placed on top and the heatsink should be turned back and forth a few times in order to spread the paste.

Finally, press down the pins into the holes of the motherboard and connect up the 3-pin cable.

Testing

Methodology

The way in which testing is carried out on thermal compounds here at Verdis Reviews is very similar to cooler testing; we take an average temperature reading of the CPU under both idle and load states.

Each sample is given a three day burn-in even if it is not required to ensure all tests conducted are on an even playing field. The cooler employed for all testing will be the Stock Intel Cooler (copper base version).

For idle testing, the test setup is left resting for half an hour and then a reading is taken every ten seconds for a minute. Then an average reading is calculated.

For load testing, two processes of CPU Burn-In are used loading the processor to 100%. Readings are taken in the same way as idle testing.

The ambient temperature was 19 degrees Celsius and for comparison purposes we will be comparing the NT-H1 to the OCZ Freeze and GELID GC1 thermal compounds.

Results

Cooling

 

As you can see, at idle state Noctua’s NT-H1 paste is marginally lower than the GC1 compound but is roughly the same. However, at load state there is a bigger difference (0.5°C). This may not sound particularly big but this is fairly significant as thermal compounds simply transfer heat from the CPU to the heatsink by helping create a good contact between the two surfaces and so any decrease in temperature is impressive. These small decreases in temperature are also particularly relevant to overclockers looking to lose every degree possible.

When compared to the OCZ Freeze, NT-H1 comes out on top at both states; this highlights the great performance of the compound and the OCZ paste is a know performer. Thus, as NT-H1 is beating well performing pastes, it must be a very good product in order to do this.

Cost
In monetary terms, a 1.4ml tube of the NT-H1 compound will cost you about £5 for 15 applications which works out about 33p per application. This isn’t too expensive but you can cut costs a little choosing the GELID GC1 paste. That said, the little extra spent for the NT-H1 gives a little extra performance.

Conclusion

From this review, it is evident that thermal pastes do not cause a great deal of difference in temperature and so for the general user, it is not overly important which one you use.

That said, overclockers and gamers looking to optimise cooling in every way possible will certainly look at which compound they use as. Consequently, Noctua’s NT-H1 would be a great buy for any overclocker or gamer is it gives the best performance especially at load states over other good competitors.

The only slight downside is the price which, when compared to other pastes, is a bit higher but I’m not talking a great deal extra – probably an extra £1 so it’s hardly a fortune and does gives that bit extra in terms of performance.

Overall, this is a great product from Noctua and definitely lives up to its high reputation. Therefore, to all you overclockers and gamers I would recommend NT-H1.

Pros

  • Great performance
  • Easy to use
  • No burn-in time
  • Sub-zero Cooling
  • Electrically non-conductive

Cons

  • Slightly more expensive

 

Thanks go to Noctua for providing the thermal compound for review.

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