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Thread: Noctua NH-D15S

  1. #1
    Xtreme Reviewer
    Join Date
    Apr 2011

    Noctua NH-D15S


    Since we already presented three Noctua CPU coolers, then it's time on the NH-D15S, which is a refreshed version of the already well-known cooler. The revamped variants, dubbed, were introduced at the tail end of 2019 and promise the "same signature quiet cooling performance with a sleek stealth look." Fans might view the alternate colour as blasphemy, but we disagree- the all-black model of the NH-D15S is beautifully made, and the time that Noctua has taken in introducing this model was evidently well spent. Everything including the fans, anti-vibration pads, fan clips, heatpipes and fin arrays has been given the all-black makeover, as too have the mounting parts. The NH-D15S is designed to tackle a common and annoying problem that typically haunts large, high performance air coolers, which is a lack of clearance for DIMM slots on the motherboard. This is of course caused by interference from the large fin stacks. RAM modules with tall heat shields, such as the Patriot Viper Series and Corsair Vengeance and Dominator modules, can present some clearance challenges. You have to either use a smaller cooler or maybe reduce the number of RAM modules in the system. There are certainly slim style coolers available (Noctua offers several models), but what you often gain in real estate you sacrifice in cooling capacity. Today we will review the NH-D15S and see what it brings to the table. This cooler has a list price of $99.99 and is equipped with a six-year warranty. Let's look at it in more detail.

    For in-depth technical information on any of the product, please visit the Noctua product page for more information.

    Packaging & Contents

    The Noctua NH-D15S comes shipped in one of the biggest boxes I have seen for air coolers. As previously seen in the Coolers, we have an identical box design and presentation. The front has a visual depiction of the actual heatsink with bold branding.

    A description of the cooler is also printed on the upper side, with the name of the cooler found on the right edge.

    On the back we have an in-depth presentation of the main selling points of the Noctua NH-D15S

    On the left side, we have a more detailed list of the specifications which allows consumers in a retail environment to see exactly what they are getting etc.

    A short paragraph on the right side details the cooler and some features.

    The cooler and the included accessories are packaged in individual cardboard boxes. In terms of protection, there are thick soft foam pads placed around the CPU cooler & accessory box. The protection offered by the packaging is very good, the foam is soft and is present on all sides of the cooler.

    In the box is a cooler, a sticker with Noctua logo, thermal grease, low-noise adaptor, one fan, mounting kits for all popular desktop platforms, and a screwdriver. Pretty much everything we may need to install our new cooler.

    A Closer Look

    The Noctua NH-D15S is a dual-tower-style cooler and is structurally similar to the D15. The NH-D15S includes one NF-A15 140mm PWM fan, which comes installed to the cooler as shipped. The cooler measures 165x150x135mm and weighs 1150g with a single NF-A15 140mm PWM fan attached.

    The cooler certainly looks impressive, with two huge cooling towers that are going to do a great job of shifting heat from the CPU. The paint/colour Noctua use seems a lot more subtle than some of their rivals. I've seen black CPU coolers where the black coating is so thick, it may as well have been dipped in paint. This is ultra-sleek, it's just black metal and it looks gorgeous. Even the little details, such as the fan clips, the anti-vibration mounts, and the springs are all jet black.

    Noctua's NF-A15 premium quality quiet fan (140mm PWM) complies with Noctua's AAO (Advanced Acoustic Optimization) standard and features sophisticated aerodynamic design measures, such as Flow Acceleration Channels.

    Measuring 140x150x25mm, the NF-A15 uses the second generation SSO2 full metal bearing, which is machined from solid brass for a longer lifespan and improved fan blade stabilization. The motor magnet is placed closer to the axis of the fan blade shaft- again, for improved stabilization in combination with the new metal shell.

    The NF-A15 PWM has removable rubber vibration dampers to keep vibrations to a minimum. The back side of the motor contains Noctua's custom designed PWM IC, which incorporates SCD (Smooth Commutation Drive) technology to reduce noise at very low fan speeds, as the NF-A15 fan can run as low as 300 RPM. The fan clips are easy to use and firmly secure the fan to the fin stack. The fan cable is covered in a flexible rubber sleeve.

    As you can see, the left and right sides of the cooler are symmetrical, with two large cutaways on the bottom that will help prevent any conflicts with your ram modules. This means we can have a mostly thicker cooling tower to allow for better heat dissipation, while not having to sacrifice larger RAM modules.

    The build quality is superb throughout, with a flawless finish from every angle. There's a set of grooves on each side of each tower, allowing you to mount the fan on either side of either tower. Since there are extra fan clips included, you could easily run this cooler with three fans although I suspect that one will be more than enough for most. The heat pipes pass right through each tower and come out a little at the top. There's a small Noctua logo stamped on, giving some subtle branding that doesn't spoil the overall aesthetics.

    Every millimeter of the contact plate is taken up by all six extra thick heat pipes, with pass through both sides of the block and through both towers for optimal cooling performance.

    The contact plate is huge, and polished to a mirror finish to ensure a clean contact with your CPU of choice.

    Installation Process

    Noctua coolers have some of the best mounting kits in the business, as they're very durable and usually very easy to install. Just pop the universal backplate on the back of the motherboard, which takes literally a second.

    Add the four plastic spacers. Place the Intel or AMD brackets on the top, then tighten then into place with the included thumbscrews.

    Place the cooling tower and then screw it down in to the bracket. The whole process takes just two or three minutes.

    The fan clips in easily enough too, and once that's done, you?re ready to rock. In this orientation, the cooler prevents any conflicts with the first PCI slot, which could be vital dependent on your motherboard's configuration. This way around, you get absolutely amazing ram clearance, so you really get a lot of choice on how you set up the cooler and the rest of your system.

    As you can see, that huge cutaway on the left and right sides is going to reap big benefits for those with tall RAM modules.

    Test System & Methology

    Test System:

    Cpu:Intel Core i7-6700K@4.4 GHz.
    Motherboard:Gigabyte G1.Sniper Z170
    Memory:16Gb Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 2666Mhz
    Graphics Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB SC2
    Power Supply: EVGA SuperNova 1200 P2
    Storage Drive: 3TB Seagate Barracuda
    Boot Drive: SSD 850 PRO 2.5" SATA III 2TB
    Chassis: Dimastech Bench Table Easy V2.5
    Windows 10 64-bit


    CPUID HW Monitor 1.23
    CPUID CPU-Z 1.65
    Prime 95

    I am testing the performance as follows:

    Ambient temperatures are kept at 23C throughout my tests.
    The CPU Fan is set to 100% to eliminate inconsistencies as a result of PWM control.
    Idle temperatures are obtained after booting the PC and idling on the desktop for 30 minutes.
    Load temperatures are obtained after running Prime 95′s for 30 minutes.


    Noctua is one of the best air cooling manufacturers in the world and that immediately shows in our stock clocks benchmarks, with some of the best results we've seen from any air cooler on the market. Low idle temperatures and amazingly low load temperatures that best many other products with ease- the numbers speak for themselves.

    When overclocked, we're obviously putting a lot of strain on the cooler, but it still puts up some impressive figures, beating out many other air coolers and performing well enough that I'd be comfortable running this overclock and cooler full time.


    Another staggeringly good result here, with virtually silent performance from the cooler, although I wouldn't have expected anything else from a Noctua fan, as you can see, they dominate the charts for super quiet performance. You have to get so close that the fan blades are hitting your ears before you're going to hear this thing. A truly stunning result overall.

    Final Thoughts

    The best improvement for enthusiasts is probably black paint. The NH-D15S is a really popular cooler, and a large group of users was waiting on a black version for a long time. I'm sure it made many users happy even more than the high performance, which is already a "standard" option for Noctua coolers. The price difference in-between the D15 and D15S is roughly 10 bucks, the difference .. one fan. So you need to weigh yourself if the money really makes the difference. That said, with one fan the performance definitely stays where it needs to be yet the product does become more silent. I say more silent as the D15 with two fans also already was silent. However if one fan is enough (which it is) and you gain better noise levels and a smaller better-looking cooler, then heck why not ? The D15S still has plenty left for a nice tweak/overclock on the processor. It comes with a proper design, is easy to install and offers plentiful space for your DIMMs, even full height. Noctua's well-known SecuFirm2 multi-socket mounting system makes the installation a breeze. If you have ever installed a Noctua cooler with the SecuFirm2, you know what I mean. There are two key factors that determine the success of a cooler. One is a properly designed heat sink that can effectively transfer the heat away from your CPU and into the fin stack, and the other is a fan that can efficiently move air through the fin stack. The NF-AF15 140mm fan effortlessly handles this task. And really I have to mention the often overlooked packaging. Noctua cuts no corners in the packaging department and ensures that your cooler will be in pristine condition when you open the box. The hardware is also cleanly packaged for easy identification during the installation.

    In my own opinion, the NH-D15S is the better cooler when compared to the NH-D15. The better expansion-slot clearance allows it to fit into far more builds, which gives it a wider appeal. That and the fact that users can still slap a second fan on for maximum performance without issue certainly doesn't hurt either. Noctua has once again proved that you really do get what you pay for. The Noctua NH-D15S may be priced in line with many large water coolers, but it can still keep up with them in terms of performance and it outperforms almost everything on the market in terms of acoustics and compatibility.

    Last edited by testman78; 11-21-2020 at 12:14 PM.



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