Face-Off: The Kraken X61, Reserator 3 Max Dual, And NH-D15

Noctua NH-D15

I love that big air coolers are so easy to manage via motherboard firmware. No additional software is needed; today's platforms continuously monitor temperatures and fan speed. The ones we test with are even able to control the fans, adjusting rotational velocity down to the quietest level needed to maintain a preset thermal ceiling.

The NH-D15 itself is a creation of beauty and majesty, towering 6.4” above the CPU and covering roughly the footprint of a mini-ITX motherboard. Noctua ships it with enough hardware to fit both versions of LGA 2011, all versions of LGA 115x and all AMD motherboards that include a four-hole backplate on the factory retention bracket. Previous high-end sockets require additional back plates. Check with Noctua for availability.

The NH-D15’s solid copper base is polished to a semi-smooth finish prior to nickel plating. The finish is almost perfect for keeping thermal compound in place without requiring a thick film of the stuff. I could go on with specs like soldered-on fins and six heat pipes, but I’d rather focus on test results than pontificate about how those things will affect them.

LGA 2011 installations thread bundled standoffs into the motherboard’s integrated support mechanism. LGA 1150 users will find an included backplate with studs and spacers to accomplish the same task, while owners of AMD CPUs are stuck threading individual screws through their board’s original backplate and Noctua’s spacers. The standoffs or spacers are topped with cross brackets that are held in place by knurled cap nuts.

Did you spot the studs that protruded from the cross bracket two photos above? Spring-loaded nuts clipped to the cooler’s factory-installed bracket (three images above) thread over those studs. The springs provide very firm pressure to assure level seating of the cooler base against the CPU’s heat spreader.