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Thread: Noctua NH-L9a-AM4

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    Noctua NH-L9a-AM4

    Introduction

    Just about four years ago we posted a review of one of Noctua's latest coolers, the low profile NH-L9a, which is designed to work exclusively with AMD's AM2(+), AM3(+), FM1, and FM2 processors. For those running an AMD Ryzen processor, don't worry, Noctua has something for you as well. This review is going to take a closer look at Noctua's NH-L9a-AM4, where the lower case "a" suffix indicates that this is the AMD variation, but this time is an AM4 Version. This little cooler is also available in an Intel version, dubbed NH-L9i.



    Before taking a closer look at the NH-L9a-AM4, let's take a look at some of the technical data taken from the official product page on the Noctua website...




    Packaging & Contents

    On the front of the packaging, we have Noctua's usual dark brown and white colour scheme. Also present is the model number and a small list of the coolers features. This cooler in particular is compatible with AMD's AM4 series.



    Displayed on the rear of the box, is more information regarding the cooler in a multitude of different languages which includes English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese and Chinese. The inclusion of Chinese in my opinion is good, as the world?s most spoken languages are covered. In the bottom right hand corner, there is a picture illustrating the measurements of the NH-L9a-AM4 itself.



    Spinning the box around we land on this panel next that delivers three charts. These charts cover the full specifications of fan and the cooler body, but also covers the scope of delivery.



    For further information on the cooler, they have printed this on the side of its packaging giving you the detailed features of the NH-L9a-AM4.



    Upon opening the box, I was greeted with a very well presented layout which consisted of different compartments, one for the mounting screws, one for the fabulous Noctua NT-H1 thermal paste, a fan resistor to change the power of the fan (which makes it quieter), the NH-L9a-AM4 cooler itself and a hard backed Noctua badge. In the top of the box there is an instruction manual.





    A Closer Look

    Taking a first look at the NH-L9a-AM4 cooler, some would say it looks too small. Personally this would be a perfect solution for those looking for a very low profile cooler. It's so small I can literally wrap my big hand all around it.



    Looking at the NH-L9a-AM4 from the side, it really is apparent how small and dainty this cooler is.



    The Noctua logo is etched into the metal which is a nice touch and everything looks very compact and in my opinion, stylish.



    Moving around to the other side of the cooler, you will notice that the fins are nicely placed and quite dense. This will help with the elimination of heat transfer.



    The fan colour keeps in tradition with Noctuas beige like presence which some love and some hate, me being slightly on the fence as I prefer performance to design.



    The fan comes provided pre mounted to the cooler by the way of 4 screws. This not only saves time, but once again shows that Noctua are serious when it comes to providing the full package.



    Flipping the heatsink allows for us to see the 68 aluminum fins, and 2 thicker steel end plates, that wrap around the heatpipes. The fan mounts to brackets that are folded over from the end plates, and the holes seen above are threaded to accept the included screws.



    Flipping the cooler over provides a better look at the two heatpipes used to further aid cooling. The heatpipes run from the CPU core contact area out to the far edges of the cooler - something like a mirror image of the letter J.



    From the bottom we also see the mounting bracket which will work with AMD AM4, AM2(+), AM3(+), FM1, and FM2 processors, as well as the sleeved power lead whcih terminates in a 4-pin PWM connector.The copper base is completely nickel plated with the heat pipes running through the coolers aluminum fins.



    The fan, has the classic Noctua color combo, of light cream and bright brown. It is a 14mm-thick, 92mm NF-A9x14 PWM fan which is capable of up to 2500 RPM operational speed with an airflow rate of 57.5 m3/h and acoustic output of 23.6 dbA.



    Do notice the micro-dimples inside the fan frame that disturb the air, and even adding angled grooves in the blades lead to more air speed, pressure, and with less noise.



    The 92mm fan is a fan that Noctua paid a lot of attention to. Just as it has on its other cooling solutions, Noctua have buried lots of engineering tricks into the frame and blade construction in order to maximize airflow, pressure and silence. So, while wicking the heat? you will not hear this cooler. That is important in HTPC's that will in use in quiet cinema types of environments.




    Installation Process

    You start by removing the stock heatsink retention brackets. There are two screws holding each bracket in place and are normally held down by the large metal reinforcement plate on the back of the motherboard.



    Put the heatsink onto the CPU and the supplied NM-ABP4 backplate to the rear side of the motherboard.



    One more thing I should point here is that coolers like this one improve much more the airflow by cooling not just the processor but the memories and the VRMs around the socket.



    Now stick the mounting screws through the holes of the backplate and fix the cooler. Perform 3 turns on each screw, then repeat until all are fully tightened.




    Installed - Memory Clearance


    The cooler is designed to maximize fin density in the limited space around the CPU socket. It will not overhang the capacitors, RAM or VRM's on the surrounding edges of your CPU socket.




    Test System & Methology

    Test System:



    Cpu:AMD Ryzen-1700
    Motherboard: ROG Crosshair VI Hero
    Memory: 16GB Mushkin
    Graphics Card: Sapphire HD 6970
    Power Supply: Antec HCG 750W
    Boot Drive: Ocz Vector
    Storage Drive: 3TB Seagate Barracuda
    Boot Drive: Ocz Vector
    Chassis: Dimastech Bench Table Easy V2.5





    Software:

    Furmark
    CPUID HW Monitor 1.23
    CPUID CPU-Z 1.65

    I am testing the performance as follows:

    Furmark is run for 10 minutes and then the average maximum temperatures as recorded by CPUID HWMonitor are noted.The average temperature across the cores is taken on our processor.Please keep in mind that this test is brutal and not even close to real-world load (especially not that constant for that amount of time), so not many CPU coolers are expected to pass this test but the ones that do are exceptional. Celsius temperatures are used and i keep the ambient at 22 (+/- 1) degrees for all testing.Acoustic measurements are taken 10cm horizontally away from the CPU cooler with the VGA fan disabled,hard drive in idle and power supply isolated.


    Temperature

    With the stock clocks running on the 1700, I loaded up the CPU, and I found the NH-L9a-AM4 is more than capable of keeping this CPU cool. In tighter spaces it will need assistance from chassis fans.




    Noise Level

    All I was getting was an ever so mild hum coming from the cooler and registering at 41 dB for this test. There really is no need for the L.N.A. to be used, but it was nice of them to include it as an option on low TDP CPUs, where silence is important.




    Conclusion

    To wrap things up, let’s first talk about the aesthetics of the Noctua NH-L9a-AM4. If you know the Noctua brand, then you will know that the tan and brown are Noctua’s trademark colors. While the color isn’t everyone’s favorite, we have come to really enjoy it. If you happen to have one of your buddies come over and glances into your computer and see the cooler, they automatically know that its a Noctua cooler. The NH-L9a-AM4 continues with the excellent built quality and a quiet operation that we have come to love and expected from Noctua. Make no mistake, the NH-L9a-AM4 is not meant for extreme overclockers. Its low profile design and small foot-print is meant to be used in slim profile PC and HTPC systems. It is designed for compact systems that need decent cooling performance and low operational noise level. From a performance outlook, we were pleasantly surprised from its performance in such a small form factor. While Noctua didn’t recommended any overclocking with this cooler we feel that it has the capacity to handle a decent mild overclock.In addition to the performance and near silence, the NH-L9a-AM4 was extremely easy to install. The whole process took less than 5 minutes and I would have to agree with the description of the installation found on the Noctua site where they call it "child's play".



    There isn't much negative to say regarding the NH-L9a-AM4. The main thing to remember is that the maximum TDP supported by this cooler is 95W, so you have to make sure your processor is a match before choosing this cooler for your system.At the price point of EUR 39.90 / USD 39.90, we initially felt it was priced a little high for such a small cooler however, after our testing results we feel that it’s well worth the price. On top of that, this cooler carries a 6 year warranty which is excellent for a CPU cooler. The Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 deserves our Well Done Award.

    Last edited by testman78; 04-24-2018 at 05:28 AM.

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