Austrian firm Noctua has earned an impressive reputation in just a few years for its designs that offer excellent cooling-to-noise ratios. More recently, the firm translated its technical prowess into an enormous cooler that should, by way of sheer size, be able to outperform most competitors' devices. Roughly 50% bigger than the average “big air” competitor, the NH-D14’s $90 Web price is also around twice as expensive.
A great deal of installation flexibility adds some value to that high price, with support for single or dual fans and a full range of LGA 1156, LGA 1366, and LGA 775, plus AM2, AM2+, and AM3 processors. Noctua also adds two fan resistor wires for manual speed reduction.
An ultra-fine machined finish holds a thin film of thermal compound well, without being prone to the distortion that normally accompanies the polishing process. The NH-D14 appears to have the flattest mating surface of today’s competitors.
Noctua claims many innovations in fan design, but perhaps the most innovative feature of the NH-D14 is its multi-fit LGA support plate. Peeling the center portion of its rubber pad allows the plate to fit perfectly on LGA-1156 motherboards, with full mounting pressure against the motherboard’s integrated support plate relieving pressure from the circuit board.
Two curved brackets adapt LGA sockets from a four-screw to a two-screw mounting. These brackets, along with associated spacers, screws, and nuts, must be installed before the motherboard is placed inside most cases. Installing the sink inside or outside the case is as easy as unclipping the center fan to gain access to those two screws.