Introduction

Noctua originates from a collaboration between the Austrian Rascom Computerdistribution 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.

Noctua has released two more coolers in chromax.black series. This time we are seeing a black edition of their famous NH-D15S and NH-U9S coolers. In this content we will take a look at the chromax.black version of the NH-D15S. The NH-D15S is the high compatible version of the legendary NH-D15. There are two basic differences between NH-D15 and NH-D15S. One is the offset, asymmetrical heatsink design on the NH-D15S and the second is the provision of a single NF-A15 fan as compared to the two fans on the NH-D15. Are there any differences between NH-D15S and NH-D15S chromax.black edition? Except for the black color from head to toe, there is not a single difference there. Even the mounting hardware and the fan clips are in black color. I am not sure about the pricing though as I would expect a price cut on the standard version but not confirmed. So, expect the same performance from the chromax.black edition but with a more neutral/stealth look. We have the same 6 years warranty from Noctua on this cooler.

Item:                   NH-D15S chromax.black

Manufacturer: Noctua

Price:                 $89.90 on Amazon

£82.99 on Amazon.co.uk

These prices are at the time of the review.

Specifications

 

Packaging and Contents

The cooler is shipped inside a cardboard box with a chromax style packing theme. We have tons of information and data printed all around on the main packing box.

The NH-D15S is the high-compatible version of the NH-D15 and it is a chromax.black design.

Noctua is proudly presenting the praise from enthusiasts all around the world for their coolers. The cooler has 160mm height and 150mm depth.

Salient features of the coolers are:

  • black design
  • NF-A15 chromax.black
  • PWM support and Low Noise adapter
  • Asymmetrical layout for maximum clearance
  • Excellent RAM compatibility

The specifications of the unit and the packing list are printed here.

This is the top cover of the packing box.

There is a thick white color Styrofoam pad on the top. We have two boxes inside. One is the accessory box and one has the cooler and the fan in it.

Contents

Let’s take a look at what is provided in the box.

The cooler is packed inside another cardboard box.

There is a brown color accessory box. The packing list is printed on it.

We have:

  • 1x Intel backplate [NM-IBP2]
  • 2x Intel brackets [NM-IMB2]
  • 2x AMD brackets [NM-AMB8]

We have:

  • 4x White color spacers for AMD sockets [NM-APS5]
  • 4x Gray color spacers for AMD AM4 socket only [ NM-APS4]
  • 4x NM-ALS1 Screws for AMD

We have:

  • 4x Black color spacers for Intel [NM-IPS1]
  • 4x NM-ITS1 Thumbscrews
  • 4x NM-IBT2 Bolts for Intel Socket LGA-20xx

We have:

  • Installation guides for the Intel LGA20xx socket, Intel other sockets, and AMD sockets
  • 1x Noctua NT-H1
  • 1x Low Noise Adapter NA-RC7
  • 2x Metal Fan Clips in black color
  • 1x Screw Driver
  • 1x Metal Noctua Case Badge

Closer look

It is time to take a look at the design. We have already reviewed a standard version of the NH-D15S so we will be brief on the chromax.black edition since the design is same. Here is what Noctua is saying about this cooler, “The NH-D15S chromax.black is an all-black version of Noctua’s award-winning NH-D15S premium-quality quiet CPU cooler. Thanks to the same asymmetrical dual-tower heatsink design and single NF-A15 PWM fan, it stays true to the NH-D15S’s successful formula of fusing dual-tower performance with excellent RAM, case and PCIe compatibility. At the same time, the chromax.black version with its black fan 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-D15S chromax.black is a premium choice for customers who seek a highly compatible dual-tower heatsink that looks just as great as it cools.The NH-D15S chromax.black is black from head to toe: featuring a black coated heatsink, black fans with black anti-vibration-pads, black fan clips and black mounting parts, it’s right at home in all-black builds and easy to integrate with other color schemes.”

The dimension of the cooler is 160x150x135mm (HxWxD). This dimension is the same with or without the fan as this cooler comes with a single NF-A15 chromax.black fan. The weight of the cooler is 1150 g with the fan. The cooler is compatible with Intel LGA2066, LGA2011-0 & LGA2011-3 (Square ILM), LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1151, LGA1150, LGA1200 and AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+ (backplate required), AM4 sockets. The cooler has 6 years warranty from Noctua. This is a dual-tower configuration with one fan.

The top fin of the heatsink has the Noctua brand logo and name printed in the middle. We can see the terminating tips of the heat pipes. Everything about this cooler is in black color. The complete fin assembly is soldered with the heatpipes. In stock configuration, 1x NF-A15 HS-PWM chromax.black fan is installed. The top view is giving us the hint on the fins geometry and design. We have V shape notches on both ends of each tower. They help to reduce airflow resistance and noise. There is a curvature in the middle of each tower. Take care when handling the cooler as it is a fingerprint magnet and those prints don’t look good on such a beautiful cooler.

The front and the rear sides are identical. Taking a look at the front side of the heatsink, the cooler is fully black from top to the bottom. The heatsink comprises 45 aluminum fins which are black coated and nickel-plated per tower. There is a step design on the heatsink. We have 38 fins on the top stack and 7 fins in the lower stack. This is done to give maximum clearance to RAM (Up to 65mm) without the fan. Since this cooler comes with a single fan, we know that 65mm is the RAM clearance anyway. The fin stack is less dense. The symmetry of the heat pipes inside the fin stack is identical to the original design. All the heat pipes are going inside the fin stack at equal distance.

Take a closer look at the base of the cooler. One can see that the heat pipes are implemented in an offset manner. What does this mean? The heat pipes are installed such as they are accrued on the right side as compared to the more spacing on the left side. This is what is meant by asymmetrical and offset design. This gives the maximum clearance for the PCIe slot. But it has considerations which we will see in the Installation section. There is a distance of 67mm from the center of the base to the right side and an 83mm distance from the center of the base to the left side. Keep in mind that my reference is coming from the above picture.

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. 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-D15S 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 a large surface area for maximum heat dissipation. The heat pipes seem to be having a 6mm thickness. The offset design is only on the base of the cooler. Once the heat pipes are inside the fin stack there is no offset design.

The copper base has an approximately 38mmx39mm size. It is nickel coated and 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 fan with this cooler. This fan has dimensions of 140x150x25mm and it is using Noctua’s legendary SSO2 bearing. The fan has 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 fan, 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. There is a sticker pasted in the center with the 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

 

Noctua has provided two black clips in the accessory box for the second NF-A15 HS-PWM chromax.black fan. There is a low noise adapter cable labeled NA-RC7 included as well that will lower the rotational speed hence reducing the sound level.

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.

The rest of the steps are:

  • 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 fan to the heatsink using the black fan clips.
  • Connect the PWM connector of the fan power cable to the 4-pin PWM fan header on the motherboard.
  • This will complete the installation.
Clearance

The NH-D15S chromax.black is the high-compatibility version of the NH-D15/NH-D15 chromax.black.

This cooler comes with a single fan. We have a minimum RAM clearance of 65mm. In case you would opt to install a second fan then we have a RAM clearance of 32mm with a second 140mm fan or 52mm clearance with a 120mm fan.

The width of the cooler is 150mm. we have a 67mm+83mm offset design on the base of the cooler which has considerations. When installing the cooler in the recommended configuration. The cooler will protrude towards the top of the chassis which may result in removing fans depending upon the clearance from the chassis. I remember when this cooler was installed in Phanteks Evolv ATX, I had to remove top 120mm fans to install this cooler in that chassis. This should not be an issue for the full towers or the spacious mid-tower chassis. This thing would vary from chassis to chassis. There is no incompatibility with respect to the PCIe slot in the recommended configuration.

Installing the cooler in the other way around maximum offset clearance going towards the top of the chassis will have enough room on the top without any clearance issues.

Installing the cooler with offset clearance towards the top of the chassis would block the PCIe slot.

Testing Methodology

Following test bench has been used: –

  • Asus Rampage V Edition 10
  • Intel i7 6850k
  • CORSAIR VENGEANCE RED 16GB @ 2666MHz
  • Colorful GeForce GTX 1050Ti Vulkan
  • Samsung 840 EVO 250GB SSD
  • Cooler Master MWE 650W Gold
  • Custom open-air test bench

The software used for testing and monitoring include:

  • Asus Real Bench v 2.56 (Intel)
  • Real Temp GT v 3.70 (Intel)

Here is the settings table for testing:

OC Clock (MHz) 4000
OC Voltage (V) 1.21
Turbo Boost Disabled
C-States Disabled
Speed Step Disabled
Thermal Paste Noctua NT-H1
Test Run Time 60 minutes
Idling Time 15 minutes
Fan Speed Tested using Integrated Hub on the radiator at Auto/PWM

Manually set to run at 100% speed.

Auto PWM using CPU Fan Header

 

We are using Noctua NT-H1 thermal paste for coolers testing. Using the same thermal paste for all coolers would ensure standardization. Delta temperatures are reported on the graphs. 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, the temperature sensor of the die. 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.

Let’s take a look at the results.

100% PWM Cycle

Auto PWM

The NH-D15S chromax.black has performed well. It is sitting close to the NH-D15 with 1.05°C difference.

Acoustic

The sound meter was showing the noise level of the Noctua NF-AF15 HS-PWM chromax.black to be 44 dB(A) with an ambient sound level of 32 dB(A).

Conclusion

Noctua has released two more chromax.black series coolers. This time we have NH-D15S and NH-U9S in the chromax.black edition. We have taken a spin on Noctua NH-D15S chromax.black which is simply a black edition of their award-winning NH-D15S. This is a dual-tower cooler with 140mm sizing. The dimension of the heatsink is 160x150x135mm (HxWxD) with a fan. The weight of the cooler is 1150 g with the fan. The cooler is compatible with Intel LGA2066, LGA2011-0 & LGA2011-3 (Square ILM), LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1151, LGA1150, LGA1200 and AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+ (backplate required), AM4 sockets. 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 a stepped design with a lower step having 7 fins and the 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 the Noctua brand logo and name. The copper base is mirror finished and has a dimension of approximately 37x39mm. The mounting plate is already installed on the base module of the cooler. It has two spring-loaded screws which are used to secure the heatsink to the mounting hardware.

The NH-D15S chromax.black is following the offset, asymmetrical design which is coming from the base in the way the heat pipes are installed. This makes a room of 83mm from the offset side while leaving 67mm on the other side making up a total of 150mm width. We have a RAM clearance of 65mm in a single fan configuration. If the user opts to install a second fan then depending upon the fan size the RAM clearance would be 32mm and 52mm for the 140mm and 120mm fans respectively.

The Noctua has provided an NF-A15 HS-PWM chromax.black fan. This fan has a maximum speed of 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 fan has a 4 pin PWM connector. The cable’s length is approximately 202mm. Noctua has provided their Secu-Firm-II mounting hardware making the installation of the cooler super convenient. The cooler supports the AM4 socket out of the box as mounting hardware is provided for this socket.

The price of the Noctua NH-D15S chromax.black at the time of this review is $89.90/£82.99. In our testing, the cooler has performed very well and coming close to the NH-D15 level with a better noise output (being a single fan cooler). The Noctua NH-D15S chromax.black should be on your wish list if you are more concerned about the compatibility and still want a similar performance level to the NH-D15.

We are thankful to the Noctua for giving us the opportunity to review their NH-D15S chromax.black CPU air cooler.