All the current-era games and software are heavy in nature. So, the computer elements that we used to tackle these are very fast and use reasonable power to run those applications. In the process, the produces a lot of heat that increases the temperature and affects the overclocking and performance. Among the computer components, the CPU or processor acts as the main brain and its lag can disturb the system’s overall efficiencies. But the best Noctua CPU cooler can help the chip run at an optimal pace.
Noctua is as famous in the cooling market as AMD and Intel are in the CPU market. It has been in the field for years having a major market share to its name. No doubt, it has given its users a long list of coolers names that are perfect to control the temperature and heat. In addition, the most famous aspect of this brand is that it manufactures high-quality products but at a reasonable price. So, if you want to purchase a CPU cooler, the Noctua coolers must be your priority.
In reality, there are so many coolers in the market from the brand that users often get confused regarding choosing one. Moreover, with the passage of time, several new technologies and terminologies are becoming a part of the field that further increase the hardship. That’s why we have written this article to help the people make the right decision. We have tested tens of coolers but selected only eight since they performed really impressively. Check all these and select one according to your usage.
Quick Shopping Tips
Form factor: We recommend that you check your cooler’s compatibility before ordering. The RAMs with RGB lighting or those which come equipped with a heatsink on top tend to have high-profile modules, and cannot fit into most air-based coolers properly. So, make sure yours can be installed correctly. To mark this factor check, correctly visualize the cooler size and match it with the memory modules and other elements that are connected to the system.
Socket compatibility: There are times when you buy a cooler, but can’t connect to your motherboard because it has an incompatible socket. This seems like a wasted purchase. As such we have added this factor as number one looking into its importance. To ensure that everything goes well, you must check the motherboard’s socket and match that with the socket given in the CPU cooler.
What type of cooler do you really need?
The most famous types of cooling systems are air-based and liquid. Air-based uses fans to move hot air away from the system, while liquids-based or AIO coolers use some liquids like water to do this–these liquids are compressed at higher pressure to remove the heat. An AIO is way more effective than an air-based one but is pricier in comparison. If you can work out with an air-based one then it’s okay but I prefer an AIO cooler.
Noise: Do not overlook the noise your PC will make when you are building it. You don’t want loud noises coming from its cooling system interrupting when you’re playing some games or doing some professional work. So, if possible try to have a cooler with a maximum of 30dB noise level. Anything about this level will distract you from your actual work and may affect your productivity which is something nobody likes.
Is it enough?
This factor is the most important one in this guide. There is a particular processor’s TDP value and it’s the power consumption that can occur when operating at peak levels. In contrast, a CPU cooler’s maximum heat production indicates how much it could handle during those times and manage by its design. The rule of thumb is that the cooler’s TDP must be either equal to or lesser than the processor’s value.
The Best Noctua CPU cooler You Can Buy Today
Noctua NH-U12ABest Pick
The first product on this list is the Noctua NH-12A which is one of the four CPU coolers in the 5th generation NH-12 series. We have compared it with the other products in the series and the market in terms of performance and price. Well, it wins the title of the best value Noctua CPU cooler with its jaw-dropping cooling efficiency at a quite reasonable price. In addition, if we compare it with its brothers from the stack, this one has more features, higher speeds, and is an all-rounder cooling solution.
Comparing its structure, the brand has embedded a pair of industrial-grade PWM-based 120mm fans that can rotate at a speed of 2000 rpm. Interestingly, it has only a 22.6 dB rated noise level, and you won’t even be able to hear it. It has seven heat pipes, a premium-grade soldered interface, and a tough build to be with us for a long time. If you love to build a black system, there might be some bad news for you–-it has a sort of unattractive beige and brown color combination.
Remember, there is a factor in the buying guide section regarding socket compatibility. Well, this one uses a wide range of socket compatibility, including AM4 and AM3 for AMD and several Intel’s LGA sockets to connect. Overall, it has all the required features and specifications to cool the chip effectively and be the best Noctua CPU cooler. Moreover, its 100% RAM compatibility feature allows the cooler to properly sit on possibly all types of RAM modules without causing any trouble.
✓Wide-range socket compatibility
✓Provides the best value
✓140mm performance in 120mm size
✓Improved thermal performance
✗Beige and brown color scheme
Noctua NH-D15Staff Pick
The Noctua NH-15 is another impressive air-based cooler on this list based on the previous-generation NH-D14, which is quite well-known among enthusiasts. It is a perfect combination of sound-less operations, flagship features, and adequate cooling performance. It’s obvious that an air-based cooler can’t provide cooling efficiency as the AIOs but this one can provide almost the same performance. It becomes the best overall Noctua CPU cooler with incredible thermal efficiency.
There are two 140mm high-class fans in its build that can move with a 1500 rpm speed and can produce 24.6 dB maximum noise. In addition, a pair of low-noise adaptors is given to not let the noise coming out of the system. A well-designed aerodynamic layout is combined with high-quality built material to ensure durability and effective heat dissipation. Other than that, the brand has used nickel plating, properly soldered joints, copper-made base, heat pipes, and aluminum fan fins to support the functionalities.
It has the SecuFirm 2 mounting system that enables us to easily connect it with a wide range of sockets including AMD’s AM4 and AM3 plus the majority of Intel’s LGA sockets. However, there are some downsides to this cooler as well. It’s 165mm with-fan height and 150mm width can cause fitting issues with the taller RAM modules. To solve this issue, you need to have memory sticks with smaller diffusers or without RGB lighting. Other than that, we found it quite healthy in cooling.
✓SecuFirm2 mounting system
✓Two Low-Noise Adaptors
✓NT-H1 thermal compound included
Noctua NH-U12SBudget Pick
Noctua is known for launching matchless products and its NH-U12S stipulates the same brand’s specialty with a lot of customization options. It’s a top-quality 12cm version from the brand’s advanced and classic U-series cooler stack. Since it’s a single-tower air-based CPU cooler, it has only one fan to fulfill the basic users’ needs. If you need something more than just a one-fan format, you can utilize the given fan clip and the extra set of custom anti-vibration pads to assemble another fan.
If we unfold it inside out, it has the same 120mm NF-F12 Focused Flow fans that we have seen in many of the brand’s famous cooling kits. In addition, the fan can automatically vary its speed between 1200 and 1500 rpm with PWM support. The low-noise adaptors play a key role to reduce overall operational noise and other sounds. Overall, it’s the best air-based Noctua CPU cooler with superb static pressure stability, low noise, and impressive build quality.
As far as quality matters, the cooler is submerged in nickel plating, cleanly soldered joints, tough build, and the brand’s NT-H1 thermal compound. If we look at its form factor ratio, it can accommodate a wide range of high-profile RAM sticks without causing any issues. On top of that, the SecuFirm 2 mounting system enables us to easily fit it into the system. Sadly, it comes with the same beige and brown color scheme as the Noctua NH-12A, which may be a good thing for you but not for me.
✓Wide-range socket compatibility
✓A second fan can be added
✓Provides the best value
✗Beige and brown color scheme
Noctua NH-D15 Chromax black
Finally, we have the Noctua NH-D15 Chromax black on this list that has a strong set of advanced technologies. It stands toe-to-toe against several AIOs in terms of performance and even if it doesn’t beat them it can reach the almost same level. You can use this best Noctua CPU cooler either in one-fan mode or shift that to a dual-fan mode depending upon what you have and what you need. Remember that it has 32mm clearance for RAM modules in dual-fan mode and 64mm in single-fan mode.
The cooler features dual NF-A15 140mm fans fitted on a structure with sophisticated airflow and aerodynamics. These can run with a 1200 to 1500 rpm speed while producing a 24.4 dB noise. Interestingly, when we put the low-noise adaptors in their place, the rated noise is reduced to only 19.2 dB which is barely hearable. Also, these PWM-powered fans further stabilized the noise level since they can automatically adjust their speeds according to the situation.
You can use the SecuFirm 2 multi-socket mounting system to fit the cooler at its specified location without taking much time. Performance-wise, for all the users who take their CPU’s performance to next level, this is the best Noctua CPU cooler for overclocking and a perfect fit for you. Most importantly, this cooler has a black coated heatsink, black fans, black anti-vibration pads, black fan clip, and black mounting pads to be a perfect match for black systems.
✓Wide range of socket compatibility
✓Six copper-made heat sinks
✓Noise reduction up to 19.2dB
✗Maybe pricier for some uses
✗Unsuitable for some RAM kits in dual-fan mode
We have already seen some of the masterpieces, NH-U12A and NH-U12S, from Noctua’s famous U-series. They were great in terms of impressive performance and value. To keep up things further, the Noctua NH-U14S is here. It shares several characteristics with the NH-U14 but has some exceptions as well. It’s the 14cm single-tower version with several victory titles and recommendations from past buyers. If you want a compact and high-quality cooler with impressive thermal management, this cooler is for you.
Its structure contains an NF-A15 140mm fan supplied with the NH-U14S PWM support so the fan can vary its speed automatically. In addition, the fan speed can automatically vary between 1200 to 1500 rpm according to the temperature conditions. The cooler features a round frame following the brand’s AAO standard, intelligently designed aerodynamics, and low noise level with the help of low-noise adaptors. Moreover, there is an NT-H1 thermal compound to speed up the process of heat dissipation.
Another good reason to buy this item is its 52mm slim-shaped body that allows all the RAM modules to properly sit below. On top of that, the pro-grade SecuFirm 2 multi-socket mounting system enables this best Noctua CPU cooler for ATX cases to be compatible with a wide range of CPU sockets like AM4 and LGA2011/LGA2066. As I mentioned, it’s a single-fan cooler but you can connect another fan as well with anti-vibration pads and given fan clips.
✓Excellent cooling performance
✓Compatible with all the kits
✗Unattractive color combination
Noctua NH-U9S Chromax black
Noctua has uncovered two coolers in the Chromax black series and one of them is the NH-U9S Chromax black which is a black edition of the famous MH-U9S cooler. Bothe the cards, the original and black version, share several features but with different color combinations. So, you can say it is another version of the NH-U9S with a more neutral look and the same amazing performance. It’s the best Noctua cooler for ITX cases because of its compact size and 100% RAM compatibility aspect.
It features a 92mm compact heat sink design along with an NF-A9 PWM fan. No doubt, it’s a successful mixture of strong cooling performance without turning a normal situation into a noisy one and outstanding RAM and PCIe compatibility. The fan’s speed varies between 1550 rpm to 2000 rpm while producing a maximum 22.8 dB noise that reduces to 16.3 dB after the application of low noise adaptors. Since it carries the SecuFirm2 multi-socket mounting system, its installation is very easy.
Some other reasons to buy this cooler are the high-grade NT-H1 thermal compound and a straight 6-year manufacturing warranty. Its design is famous among enthusiasts so let’s take a look at it. You will get a black fan, a black heatsink, five 6mm black copper-made heat pipes, and every other component in black color. Structure-wise, the heatsink has 44 aluminum fins along with three small columns with V-shape notches on the cooler’s sides to enhance the airflow.
✓Eye-catching all-black look
✓No clearance issues
I’m very excited to review the Noctua NH-C14S because of its unique design compared to the other cooler on this list. It’s the successor of the award-winning NH-C14 and has an elite-class C-shaped top-flow design rather than the conventional top-flow design. Such a design enables us to use a variety of cooling mechanisms and orientations. Like, when you install the fan on the top, it provides a 70mm height for the RAM module that can go up to 115mm if you place the fan underneath the fins.
Well, this feature allows us to connect a wide range of all types of RAM sticks making it suitable to use in HTPC cases. It uses an NF-A14 140mm PWM fan that can automatically control its speed according to the load and temperature. The fan’s speed varies from 1200 rpm to 1500 rpm, and we can use low-noise adaptors to get quieter operations. Its impactful aerodynamics not only makes it the best Noctua CPU cooler for airflow but the best in terms of thermal performance.
Some other impactful features include NT-H1 thermal compound and a pro-grade SecuFirm2 multi-socket mounting system like most of the coolers on this list. Most of the cooler’s structure has a shiny silver color with a fan having a beige and brown color combination. In addition, there are six nickel-plated heat pipes sitting between the copper base and aluminum top. Overall, the NH-C14S is a great cooler breaking the conventional design trends and setting a whole new record in thermal management.
✓Easy to install
✗Appealing color combination
Noctua NH-L9i Chromax black
At the end of the post, we have this awesome Noctua NH-L9i Chromax black which is an updated all-black version of the brand’s original NH-L9i. The most impressive aspect of this card is its crazy 37mm profile height. This is the reason why we call it the best compact Noctua CPU cooler with the smallest height of all the others given on this list and only 95mm footprint diameter. No doubt that it’s the perfect match for SSF and HTPC builds with a mini-ITX motherboard.
If we check the cooler’s inside structure, there is one NF-A9x14 fan id given with PWM support. In addition, it can automatically vary its speed like the other PWM fans to effectively tackle the temperature without causing much noise. Remember, the fan can run at any speed between 2500 to 1800rpm, and the given low-noise adaptors make the setup nearly silent even in full-speed conditions. Moreover, the NT-H1 thermal compound is used in this cooler which is a pro-grade TIM solution to boost heat dissipation.
As far as compatibility matters, the smaller height can make the 100% RAM compatibility statement true plus SecuFirm2 mounting provides a wide range of socket connections. Since it’s a Chromax black version, every given component in this cooler is black–slim 23mm heatsink is black along with black heat pipes and a black fan. Interestingly, the NH-L9i’2 fins are soldered with the heat pipes so don’t lose their thermal performance with time. Overall, it’s the best Noctua CPU cooler with pretty much every feature you may need for cooling.
✓Easy to install
✓Thermal paste included
✗Incompatible with Intel’s 65+ TDP chips
If you want to keep your computer cool and fast, then the best Noctua CPU cooler is what you need. The brand has been around for years with an impressive track record of providing high-quality products at reasonable prices which makes it one choice that should not be overlooked by any means possible. Since there are so many options in the market, it has become hard to select one. Moreover, with the passage of time, new technologies and terminologies are becoming a part of this field which further increases confusion.
That’s why we have written this post to help our users in making the best decision regarding choosing a cooler. You must read the buying guide section to understand all the technologies, terminologies, required features, and important specifications before going to market. Moreover, there are eight different Noctua CPU coolers in this along with their in-detailed reviews and pros and cons. Remember, there are some chromax.black variants that are only different because of their all-black look than the original versions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is the best air-based cooler?
Noctua NH-L9i chromax.black is a great air-based CPU cooler for all types of processors and RAM kits. The brand has done a great job to design this compact masterpiece with excellent thermal management and quiet operations. In addition, thermal paste is there to enhance heat dissipation.
Do I need a cooler for my CPU?
A short answer to this question is yes. The CPU acts as the main brain and its lag can disturb the system’s overall efficiencies. If there is a high-quality processor in the system, it may produce heat under full-load conditions. But an excellent CPU cooler can help it run at an optimal pace.
What is the best Noctua cooler?
The Noctua NH-15 is a well-known CPU cooler among enthusiasts with record-breaking air-based cooling performance. It uses SecuFirm2 mounting system to connect a wide range of sockets without producing much noise due to a pair of low-noise adaptors. In addition, the NT-H1 thermal compound further enhances the heat dissipation.