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Noctua NH-D14 SE2011

Tom's Hardware's 2011 Gift Guide: Part 1, For System Builders


When it comes to comparing your PC with Santa Claus, two similarities may apply. First, you like to fly silently. Forget those jingling bells. When was the last time you heard Santa’s sleigh cruising under full load, eh? Exactly. At the same time, does Santa outfit his rig with water? No way, none of that fancy post-reindeer gadgetry for the Chubby Red Rider. If he can’t go on air, he stays home.

Likewise, Noctoua’s LGA 2011-friendly NH-D14 is legendary for helping you achieve the same two qualities: silence and air cooling so powerful it can practically appear at midnight in every single time zone. Some of this silence comes from Noctua’s Smooth Commutation Drive (SCD) enhancement, which minimizes noises caused by torque pulses as one stator coil transitions to another during fan rotation. Smoother coil transitions mean less noise. It also helps that the cooler comes with two Low-Noise Adapters—essentially modified power adapters that allow the fans to run at lower voltages than the default 12 V. Be sure not to use these if more processor cooling is required.

Also in play here is Noctua’s use of its own SSO-Bearings in its fan. SSO-Bearing design involves magnetically centered, self-lubricating bearings that allegedly surpass other ball, sleeve, and liquid bearing designs in both low noise and reliability. According to Noctua, SSO-Bearings are why the company can spec a 150 000-hour MTBF and warranty the fan for six years.

The two fans (one 140 mm and one 120 mm) in the SE2011 version support fully automatic PWM speed control. The smaller fan mounts in between the two sets of aluminum radiator fins while the other clips on the outside for lateral airflow. Maximum airflow at 1300 RPM without the low-noise adapters is 110.3 m³/h. With the adapters at 900 RPM, this maximum drops to 83.7 m³/h. Top acoustical noise output is 19.8 and 13.2 dB(A), respectively. The base and six heat pipes are copper with nickel plating.

If you’re hoping for a new Core i7-3900-series processor under the tree, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better LGA 2011-based air cooler for your top-end holiday monster than the NH-D14 SE2011.

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