Final words and conclusion
Final Words & Conclusion
Noctua is a company that has grown a name based solely on their quality products and after sales support. I mean, let me throw an example at you. If you purchased a Noctua cooler say 2-3 years ago and are missing the mounting kit for a new socket design, mail them... and you will receive a kit with no questions asked. Also, have you ever heard / seen a complain about anything Noctua related? Yeah, me neither. And then the end users that have purchased a Noctua product, they often state (and I quote this from our forums) they never want to change to another brand again, as they like the product that much. For me personally, I don't think I have ever have tested one product from them that I didn't like. As such it should be no surprise that this sentiment remains the same for the product as tested today.
We stated a couple of times already that Noctua could really use a change in their color schema in regards to their products. It has nothing to do with the quality product they offer, but the brown/beige colors simply are not in line with today's high-end preferred and colored products. Now, there is some good news on this front, as Noctua recently launched optional fans with a new color schema, read about that here. It will be interesting to see if Noctua will release new SKUs of their cooling kits with these fans as well. Anyhow, what I noticed is that despite the colors the end-users will look the other way and accept the brown/beige color schema simply because of the fact that they purchase a quality performance yet silent cooler, that matters more. We do understand the dilemma at hand for Noctua though, Gigabyte uses Blue, ASUS ROG used Red and each company really has their own house color design and thus trademark for company branding.
By releasing the NH-D15, Noctua again places a very high end cooling product onto the market that will lure in aficionados that refuse to go for liquid cooling. That said, it didn't make much of a difference performance wise in comparison to the NH-D14, but we also realize that for heatpipe coolers versus the processor used they probably can't gain much more performance anyway. With that knowledge in the back of my mind I think that the D15 places a little more focus on silence with the new fans, RAM compatibility e.g. more clearance in-between the radiator surface area and high-profile DIMMs, combined with the best in-class heat-pipe flagship performance. And it has to be stated, you'll have a tough time finding a better performing heat-pipe based product than the NH-D15.
We have our motherboard PWM controlling the fans. For the NH-D15 a simple rule applies, combined with one or two fans the sound levels are just not an issue. Under normal operation the unit is totally silent, more silent than your run of the mill liquid cooling solutions. I can write an entire paragraph about this, but let's just call it what it is and get it over with, the noise levels are simply really good and thus extremely silent, even with two fans in push-pull configuration noise should not be an issue whatsoever unless you force the fans to say, over 80% RPM.
Noctua flagship products are not cheap. The NH-D15 costs EUR 89.90 / USD 99.90. Mind you that is a suggested price. You can shave off another ten bucks for each cooler once they are available in good volume at e-tail. But please do keep this in mind, each EURO is well spend, this is a quality product that offers sturdy yet easy installation. It offers great performance yet remains silent. Next to that, Noctua's after sales support is top notch as well, alongside a six year warranty.
I do not think we have ever had to be negative about a Noctua product, and that ain't gonna happen with the NH-D15 either. It is a solid and high quality product that manages to cool at levels that remain best in class when we talk about air based heat-pipe cooling. This is a high-end performance cooler. Now, what we noticed is that compared to the NH-D14 the performance levels really are not all that different, but we do need to factor in the CPU being used today -- the Core i7 3770K, it is the worst processor to cool. However, the design has been improved a little giving more space for high-profile DDR3 memory modules and sure, improved noise levels. Albeit I should probably refrain from using the word 'noise' whatsoever, as the cooler remains very silent. Just hook the fans onto your motherboard CPU fan headers and select 'normal' cooling levels in the BIOS. Then even when you overclocked your processor, you'll have a hard time hearing this product.
The mounting kit is really good and has hardly changed over the years, it is very sturdy and easy to install. Sure, the motherboard will need to come out, but the mounting design and ease of use in installation is just great. Even a Philips screwdriver is included in the kit. Performance is excellent, the noise levels are extremely low. And if you can't PWM control the fans, small resistor wires (low noise adapters) are included to force the fans to a maximum of 1200 RPM. The looks and aesthetics, well you either love or hate the Noctua colors I guess, there is nothing in-between. We would really like to recommend Noctua look into aesthetics more, these coolers end up in high-end systems and I for one would love to see some sort of black edition.
Low noise levels and very good performance make the NH-D15 a winner, now sure... it is a bulky product to use inside your system, however if your stomach turns around with liquid cooling, this is the next best thing in line really. The product can be found in the stores as we speak and is covered by a 6-year carry in warranty.
Thumbs up to Noctua, albeit that is starting to sound a little repetitive :)