Noctua NH-D15 review

With its 140mm fans and huge heatsink array, the NH-D15 offers top-notch cooling on par with large AIO liquid coolers while remaining whisper quiet.

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The Noctua NH-D15 is a beefed-up version of the Noctua NH-D14, a cooler that has long been the daddy of 120mm air coolers, offering fantastic cooling at low noise levels. The NH-D15 has a similar design but uses two larger 140mm fans and has a whopping six heatpipes.

As you’d expect from a modern cooler, it’s compatible with both AMD Socket AM5 and Intel LGA1700 out of the box, so will work on any modern CPU, as well as many old ones. Its large fans and huge heatsink allow it to offer great cooling at lower noise levels than smaller heatsinks, but should fit in most PC cases.

At Custom PC, we’ve been reviewing CPU coolers since 2003, and we test each one on both AMD and Intel CPUs so you can be assured of how they work for your chosen platform. We report both the temperature and noise level of the coolers during our tests, so you can also see at a glance which provides the best balance of cooling performance and noise for your needs. You can find our full CPU cooler test methodology on our how we test page.

Noctua NH-D15 design and dimensions

With a height of 165mm, the NH-D15 should fit in the vast majority of cases, but it pushes the limits of many, so make sure to check your case cooler clearance. One other thing you’ll need to check is the height of your memory modules. With both fans installed, the outer one will overhang your motherboard’s memory slots and clearance is just 32mm.

This will rule out many tall memory models with RGB lighting or large heatsinks, though several of our current choices of best memory will work fine. The fan can be adjusted upwards a little, but will increase the cooler height further and reduce airflow through the heatsink too.

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To cut down on cable clutter, Noctua includes a splitter cable so you can power both fans from a single header on your motherboard. There are low noise adaptors too that work to cut the fan speed if you don’t mind slightly less airflow for an even easier time on your ears.

As usual with Noctua products, the packing, instructions and build quality of the NH-D15 are fantastic, in part justifying its $110 price tag.

Noctua NH-D15 installation

Installation of the NH-D15 is simple on all sockets with which it’s compatible. LGA1700, which comes with no standard installation parts, requires the supplied backplate and topside brackets. On AMD systems you’ll need to remove the two plastic brackets around the CPU socket on your motherboard. Then you use the AMD backplate from your motherboard with the cooler’s components to secure the heatsink.

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Noctua NH-D15 Intel LGA1700 temperature

With fans at full speed the average temperature across all eight P-cores of our Core i7-13700K was 87°C using Cinebench’s multi-threaded 10-minute stress test to load all cores. You’ll see much lower temperatures in games and in shorter workloads, but it’s clear the NH-D15 can handle extended multi-threaded workloads even on Intel’s high-end CPUs. Using the included low noise adaptors saw that temperature rise by two degrees, but be sure to add one to the end of each fan for the full noise-reduction effect.

Noctua NH-D15 AMD Socket AM5 temperature

In our AMD system dealing with a Ryzen 9 7900X, the temperature hit 93°C at full speed, but this is to be expected since Ryzen 7000 CPUs do run hot at stock settings and there isn’t much you can do to cool them down short of delving into your motherboard’s BIOS. Adding in the low noise adaptors saw this rise three degrees to 96°C so we’d suggest allowing the cooler to ramp up to full speed when needed if you want peak performance from your AMD CPU.

Noctua NH-D15 noise level

At full speed the fans are certainly noticeable, and you won’t want to sit next to your PC for hours under high CPU loads. However, it’s far from ear-splitting and with the ultra-low noise adaptors installed the sound drops noticeably to a mild thrum. As soon as the CPU takes its foot off the accelerator, the fan speeds fall to very quiet levels and even in games it was barely noticeable.

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Noctua NH-D15 Pros and cons

Pros

  • Excellent cooling
  • Great build quality
  • Low noise

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Severely restricts memory choice
  • Very tall

Noctua NH-D15 specs

The Noctua NH-D15 specs list is:

Intel sockets supported LGA1700, LGA1200, LGA115x, LGA2066, LGA2011
AMD sockets supported Socket AM4, Socket AM5
Dimensions with fans (W x D x H) 150mm x 161mm x 165mm
Fans 2 x 140mm
Stated noise 27dBA
RGB lighting No
Extras Fan splitter cable, speed reduction cables

Noctua NH-D15 price

The Noctua NH-D15 price is $110, making it very expensive for an air cooler, but if you want excellent cooling for low noise without using liquid cooling it’s one of the best options.

Price: Expect to $109 (£99).

Noctua NH-D15 review conclusion

There are several issues to be aware of with the Noctua NH-D15. Its maximum height may be too much for smaller cases and the second fan will severely restrict memory choice too. Then there’s the issue of its very high price. You could buy four decent-performing air coolers for this cash or a similarly-performing and more flexible AIO liquid cooler.

However, its stellar cooling combined with low noise levels and the fact you don’t need to worry about pump failure or leaks make the Noctua NH-D15 perfect for those that also want a well-made, reliable and maintenance-free cooler

Have you opted for a massive air CPU cooler like this one or do you prefer the cleaner look of an AIO cooler? Let us know your thoughts on the Custom PC Facebook page, via Twitter, or join our Custom PC and Gaming Setup Facebook group and tap into the knowledge of our 400,000+ members.

We’re still working on our best CPU cooler guide but in the mean time you can check out our choice of the best CPU for gaming.

Noctua NH-D15 rating

Supremely low noise for the cooling performance this air cooler offers, but it comes at a cost for your wallet and memory compatibility.

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