Introduction

Noctua originates from a collaboration between the Austrian Rascom Computer distribution Ges.m.b.H. and the Taiwanese cooling specialist Kolink International Corporation, pooling more than thirty years of experience in the development, manufacturing, and marketing of high-end cooling components. Established in 2005, Noctua took international silent enthusiasts’ hearts by storm and quickly developed into one of the most acclaimed suppliers of premium quality quiet cooling products. Today, Noctua is present in more than 30 countries across the globe and working with several hundred sales partners. Chosen by noise-conscious PC users, system integrators and industry clients alike, Noctua has become synonymous with impeccable quality, excellent customer service and class-leading quiet cooling performance.

About the time that Noctua has finally released their all-black color scheme versions of award-winning air coolers. They have released chromax.black edition of NH-L9i, NH-U12S, and NH-D15. The peculiar thing about these coolers is that everything from mounting hardware to fan clips to heatsinks to fans are black. Why it took them so long to finally produce something which has been requested over and over again? Let us answer this question. Noctua has been soldering the fins to the heat pipes for consistent performance over a longer period of time. This presented to them a challenge on finding the optimal material which can be coated on the soldered components that does not impede the performance yet provides the same consistency over a longer period of time as without coating. The production process was difficult to combine with the coating. It took a lot of time and engineering work to find an appropriate coating material and production process that gave Noctua satisfactory thermal performance and consistent visual appearance. Finally, it is done.

The new NH-D15 chromax.black is identical to the regular model except for the color: Featuring black coated heatsink, black fan with black anti-vibration-pads, black fan clips or fan screws and black mounting parts, they are literally black from head to toe. Coming from thoroughgoing optimizations of the coating material and process, the chromax.black models provide the same, renowned quiet cooling performance as their regular, non-coated counterparts. Noctua has sent us their all-black edition of the coolers for the review and today we will take a spin on their NH-U15 chromax.black edition cooler. This is their premium 140mm, dual-tower heatsink design. It is bundled with the NF-A15 HS-PWM chromax.black fans to provide the utmost cooling performance at silent levels.

Item:                    NH-D15 chromax.black

Manufacturer:   Noctua

Price:                 $99.95 on Amazon

£89.99 on Amazon.co.uk

These prices are at the time of the review.

 

Specifications

 

Packaging and Contents

Noctua has changed the color scheme and design of their all-black coolers. This is as expected since they have been using a different color scheme for their chromax series of the products and accessories. The main packing box is made of cardboard box and it is in black color background.

The cooler model is printed on the top left. Noctua brand logo is printed on the far right at the bottom. There is a picture of the cooler as well in the middle. CHROMAX by Noctua is printed at the bottom right.

There is a picture of the cooler on the top left side. The model of the cooler is printed up top. CHROMAX by Noctua is printed at the bottom left.

The model of the cooler is printed in vertical layout on the left. Salient features are highlighted in the main section. There is a picture of the heatsink which overlaps to the other side of the packing box. The dimensions of the cooler are pictorially printed at the bottom.

The specifications of the heatsink and the fan are printed on the left side. The UPC and EAN labels are printed at the bottom. The clearance and compatibility of the heatsink are printed as well.

Salient features highlight are printed here.

Opening the box will show the brown-colored accessory box placed on the top.

Removing the accessory box will show two boxes having the cooler and the second NF-A15 HS-PWM chromax.black fan nicely tucked inside the main cardboard box container.

Accessories

Following is provided in the box: –

  • 2x NM-AMB8 Mounting Bars
  • 4x NM-ALS1 Screws for AMD
  • 4x NM-APS4 Plastic Spacers for AM4
  • 4x NM-APS5 Plastic Spacers for AMD
  • 2x NM-IMB2 Mounting Bars
  • 4x NM-IBT2 Bolts
  • 4x NM-ITS1 Thumbscrews
  • 1x NM-IBP2 Backplate
  • 4x NM-IPS1 Spacers
  • 1x NT-H1 Thermal paste
  • 1x Screw Driver
  • 2x NA-RC7 LN Adapter
  • 1x Y Cable NA-YC1
  • 2x Metal Fan Clips
  • 1x Metal Noctua Case Badge

Closer look

Let’s start with what Noctua has to say about their cooler. “The NH-D15 chromax.black is an all-black version of Noctua’s award-winning flagship model NH-D15 premium-quality quiet CPU cooler. Thanks to the same proven dual-tower heatsink design and NF-A15 PWM fans, it stays true to the NH-D15’s successful formula of rivaling the performance of all-in-one water coolers while maintaining superb quietness of operation. At the same time, the chromax.black version with its black fans and black coated heatsink combines these assets with a sleek stealth look. Topped off with the renowned SecuFirm2™ multi-socket mounting system, Noctua’s enthusiast-grade NT-H1 thermal compound and a full 6-year manufacturer’s warranty, the NH-D15 chromax.black is a deluxe choice for both overclockers and silent enthusiasts who seek an elite-class heatsink that looks just as great as it cools.”

We have already reviewed the award-winning NH-D15 in detail. Click here to check it out. We will be giving a brief overview of the Noctua NH-D15 chromax.black since it is identical to the original cooler with the exception of the color. The NH-D15 chromax.black is a 140mm dual-tower cooler. It features 6 copper heat pipes which are black coated and nickel-plated. The base is mirror finished and nickel-plated. The two NF-A15 PWM chromax.black fans offer the similar functionality as the tan and brown version. Let’s start with the content.

The dimension of the heatsink is 160x158x135mm (HxWxD). This is without the fan. With fan, the dimension is 165x150x161mm (HxWxD). The weight of the heatsink alone is 980 g and it is 1320 g with the fans. The cooler is compatible with Intel LGA2066, LGA2011-0 & LGA2011-3 (Square ILM), LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1151, LGA1150 and AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+ (backplate required), AM4 sockets. The cooler has 6 years warranty from Noctua. The is a D-type cooler meaning it has dual-towers.

The top fin of the heatsink has Noctua brand logo and name printed in the middle. We can see the terminating tips of the heat pipes. One can clearly see that the top fins and the tips of the heat pipes are in black color. The leftmost and right most heat pipes terminating holes clearly indicate that fins are soldered with the heat pipes. In stock configuration, 1x NF-A15 HS-PWM chromax.black fan is installed in the middle.

Taking a look at the front side of the heatsink, one thing is visible that is all-black color from top to the bottom. The heatsink comprises of 45 aluminum fins which are black coated and nickel-plated per tower. The fin stack is less dense. The symmetry of the heat pipes inside the fin stack is identical to the original design. The heat pipes displacement inside the heatsink can be seen in the picture. The heatsink is designed in a stepped manner. There are 38 fins on the top step whereas there are 7 fins on the lower step. This stepped design gives this cooler a RAM clearance of up to 64mm. Please, note that this clearance is coming from the heatsink only. With high profile RAM, the fan’s height would need to be adjusted which will increase the overall height of the cooler. All the heat pipes are going inside the fin stack at equal distance.

The left and right sides of the heatsink are identical. This is where the fins are joined. The extreme ends of the heatsink have grooves which are where the metal black color fan clips are attached to install the fans to the heatsink. There is a fingerprint on the left tower. These black color coolers are a fingerprint magnet. Handle them with care accordingly. The overall design element is coherent and symmetrical like the original design. The overall geometry of the heatsink allows for better airflow and effective heat dissipation.

The Noctua NH-D15 chromax.black has 6x copper heat pipes which are also black color coated. The heat pipes are going inside the heatsink at a regular interval in each tower to maximize the point of contact with the fin stack hence covering the large surface area for maximum heat dissipation. The heat pipes seem to be having 6mm thickness.

The copper base has 38mmX40mm size. It is nickel coated and the mirror finished. There is no warning sticker pasted on the base out of the box. There is a transparent cover that is used to protect the base while shipping.

The mounting plate is already installed on the base of the cooler. It is installed using 4 screws that are visible on the base side. The plate can be removed by taking out the screws. The plate has two spring-loaded screws on both ends.

Noctua has supplied their premium NF-A15 HS-PWM chromax.black fans with this cooler. These fans have the dimensions of the 140x150x25mm and they are using the Noctua’s legendary SSO2 bearing. The fans have 7 blades. The anti-vibration pads are in black color as well which can be color customized in 6 colors. The NF-A15 impeller features suction side Flow Acceleration Channels. By speeding up the airflow at the crucial outer blade regions, this measure reduces suction side flow separation and thus leads to better efficiency and lower vortex noise. The frame of the fan is in black color as well and is following the same stepped inlet design with the same inner surface microstructures.

Looking at the backside of the fans, we can see 4-arms assembly holding and securing the fan with the frame. One of the arms has a latch that catches the black color wires. One of the wires was loose from this area and it was making contact with the impellers. I was able to timely power down the PC and sat the cable. There is a sticker pasted in the center with Noctua brand logo printed up top followed by the CHROMAX branding. The power rating of the fan is printed at the bottom.

Here are the specifications of the fan:

Dimension (mm)140x150x25
Speed (RPM)300 ± 20% ~ 1500 ± 10%
Airflow (m³/h)140.2
Noise [dB(A)]24.6
Speed with LNA (RPM)1200 ± 10%
Airflow with LNA (m³/h)115.5
Noise with LNA [dB(A)]19.2
Voltage (V)12
Current (A)0.13A
Power (W)1.56W
MTTF> 150,000 hrs

The fans are using a 4-pin PWM connector.

There are arrow symbols on one of the sides of the frame. These are there to provide a visual aid to the user in determining the direction of the airflow and blades’ spin direction.

Noctua has provided two black clips in the accessory box for the second NF-A15 HS-PWM chromax.black fan. There are two low noise adapter cables labeled NA-RC7 included as well that will lower the rotational speed hence reducing the sound level. NA-YC1 splitter cable is included as well which will allow the user to connect both fans on a single 4-pin PWM header. This y-cable is also customizable in 6 colors. Power cables are sleeved and are approximately 215mm in length.

Installation

The cooler was tested on the LGA-2011-v3 using Intel i7 6850k and Asus Rampage V Edition 10. The installation mechanism is quite simple on this socket.

  • Install the 4x NM-IBT2 bolts on the socket area.
  • Place the 2x NM-IMB2 mounting bars on the bolts making sure that the edges of the bars point outwards.
  • Secure the mounting bars to the bolts using 4x NM-ITS1 thumbscrews.
  • Apply the NT-H1 thermal paste on the IHS.
  • Take off the fan from the heatsink.
  • Place the heatsink by aligning the spring-loaded screws on the mounting plate with the standoffs on the NM-IMB2 mounting bars.
  • Start screwing the spring-loaded screws.
  • Once the heatsink is installed, connect the fans to the heatsink using the black fan clips.
  • Connect the PWM connector of the fans’ power cable to y-cable NA-YC1 and connect it to the 4-pin PWM fan header on the motherboard.
  • This will complete the installation.

Clearance

One would need to check for the clearance with respect to the DIMMs, first PCIe slot and chassis. The height of the cooler is 165mm. Any chassis with a CPU height clearance of 165mm will support this cooler. However, this cooler in its default fan positioning allows for 32mm high RAM. The fan’s height will need to be adjusted upward for RAM with more than 32mm height. This will increase the overall height of the cooler. Keep that in mind for the chassis related clearance. There is enough clearance from the first PCIe slot with this cooler. 32mm is the RAM height clearance if the front fan of the cooler is to be installed in the default position.

 Testing Methodology

Testbed configuration is:

  • Asus Rampage V Edition 10
  • Intel i7 6850k
  • CORSAIR Vengeance 2x8GB @ 2666MHz
  • Gigabyte GTX 1060 6GB
  • Samsung 840 EVO 250GB SSD
  • Thermaltake TP iRGB 1250W PSU
  • Primochill Praxis Wetbench

Following software were used for testing and monitoring.

  • Asus Real Bench v 2.44 (Intel)
  • Real Temp GT v 3.70 (Intel)

Here is the settings table for testing:

IntelStock Voltage (V)1.130
Stock Clock (MHz)3600
OC Voltage (V)1.350
OC Clock (MHz)4300
Turbo BoostDisabled
C-StatesDisabled
Speed StepDisabled
Thermal PasteNoctua NT-H1
Test Run Time60 minutes
Idling Time15 minutes
Fan SpeedManually set to run at 100% speed

 

We are using Noctua NT-H1 on our test benches for all the coolers testing. This will ensure the standardization and mitigate any performance benefit that may come using the supplied thermal paste. Delta temperatures are reported on the graphs (Delta Temp = Average of all cores’ max temps – ambient temp). The testing is done on an open-air bench system. Once inside the chassis, the temperatures are expected to rise and would largely depend upon the optimal airflow inside the chassis.

Not every run of the stress test may yield the same result. This could well be due to many factors like mounting pressure, thermal paste application, varying ambient temperature. Not to mention the silicon differences even among the same category of the chips. Hence, it is pertinent to mention the testing methodology along with the specifics.

For this particular review, we have retested the Noctua NH-D15 using the same methodology. Let’s take a look at the results.

Results

There is a difference of 0.45°C between the Noctua NH-D15 and NH-D15 chromax.black which is marginal.

There is a difference of 0.5°C between the Noctua NH-D15 and NH-D15 chromax.black which is again marginal.

Noise

The sound meter was showing the noise level of the Noctua NF-AF15 HS-PWM chromax.black to be 43 dB(A) with ambient sound level of 36 dB(A).

Conclusion

Noctua has released the all-black chromax edition of their award-winning CPU coolers i.e NH-L9i, NH-U12S, and NH-D15. Since Noctua is soldering the copper heat pipes with the fins, they were on the lookout for the coating material that will not impede the thermal performance over the longer period of time as well as the new production process for this coating. The chromax edition of these coolers is identical to the original coolers with one exception which is the all-black color. All-Black here refers to literally every component/accessory being in the black color be it the heatsink or the fans or the mounting hardware. These coolers from head-to-toe are black.

We have taken a spin on Noctua NH-D15 chromax.black which is simply a black edition of their award-winning NH-D15. This is a D-type cooler with 140mm sizing. The dimension of the heatsink is 160x158x135mm (HxWxD). This is without the fan. With fan, the dimension is 165x150x161mm (HxWxD). The weight of the heatsink alone is 980 g and it is 1320 g with the fans. The cooler is compatible with Intel LGA2066, LGA2011-0 & LGA2011-3 (Square ILM), LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1151, LGA1150 and AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+ (backplate required), AM4 sockets. The cooler has 6 years warranty from Noctua. The cooler has 6 years warranty from Noctua.

There are 45 aluminum fins which are black coated and nickel-plated. They form a less dense stack and are soldered to 6x copper heat pipes which are also black coated to form two towers. The heatsink is stepped design with lower step having 7 fins and upper step having 38 fins. The heat pipes are terminating at the top where their pointy heads are coming out of the top fin plate. The top plate has Noctua brand logo and name. The copper base is mirror finished and has a dimension of 38x40mm. The mounting plate is already installed on the base module of the cooler. It has two spring-loaded screws that are used to secure the heatsink to the mounting hardware.

The Noctua has provided two NF-A15 HS-PWM chromax.black fans. These fans have a maximum speed of the 1500 ±10% RPM. With LNA, this speed is 1200 ±10% RPM. The minimum rotational speed is 300 ±20% RPM. A fan takes input power of the 1.56W at 0.13Awith the 12V DC. The maximum airflow is 82.57 CFM. The maximum acoustical noise is 24.6 dBA. With LNA it is 19.2 dBA. The fans have 4 pin PWM connectors. The cable’s length is approximately 202mm.

The price of the Noctua NH-D15 chromax.black at the time of this review is $99.95/£89.99. The Noctua NH-D15 is listed on Amazon at $89.95. With just $10 above the user can get a cooler with the same footprint and a similar thermal performance but with better aesthetics and neutral color that can be used in any themed build. In our testing, the cooler has performed almost similar to the NH-D15. One hint for the users is that the black color heatsink is a fingerprint magnet. Handle it accordingly.

We are thankful to the Noctua for giving us the opportunity to review their NH-D15 chromax.black CPU air cooler.