May 12, 2015

REVIEW: Noctua NH-L9x65

Noctua is known for their high performance yet silent air coolers. Their well known monster of a cooler the NH-D15 is one of the best performing air coolers on the market, as long as space is not a concern. For those with actual space constraints in their case, there's the NH-L9x65. This is Noctua's update for their NH-L9i which was their previous slim cooler designed for HTPCs (Home Theatre PC) and mini-ITX cases.


The cooler comes in the traditional brown and white Noctua box with the key features and specifications listed on the box.

Inside is the accessory box which includes everything you need to get started as well as the cooler itself protected in it's eco friendly packaging. The accessory box includes Noctua's SecuriFirm2 mounting system for both Intel 115x/2011x and AMD systems, a low noise adapter, a metal Noctua badge, a tube of Noctua's NT-H1 thermal interface material, a screw driver, and illustrated instruction manuals.

The Cooler

While the newer NH-L9x65 has a thicker fin array than the previous NH-L9i, it does still maintain a slim form factor measuring in at 65mm tall, 95mm wide, and 95mm deep with the fan. Noctua states that the cooler is the same hight as low profile expansion cards which helps its compatibility with and small form factor or mini-ITX chassis.

The fins on the cooler span the entire length of the cooler with cutouts which allow access to the two mounting screws. Like most slim form factor coolers, the fan faces downwards which also helps cooler the VRM components near the CPU socket.

On the bottom of the heatsink we find the four heatpipes which meet with the nickel plated copper base.

A Noctua NF-A9x14 fan is included with the cooler and has a thinner design than standard fans while still featuring Noctua's AAO frame and SSO2 bearings. It has a noise rating of 23.6dB and max airflow of 33.6CFM.

The fan is held on with two tool-less mounting clips. During my testing I found that I needed to remove one of my two sticks of ram to mount that fan on the cooler as there was not enough space between the two to install the clip.


The SecuFirm2 system makes installation very simple. For Intel systems, simply align the extremely thick backplate with the three holes on the back of the socket and it should smoothly slide into the motherboard. for Socket LGA 2011, simple screw in the included risers into the built in backplate on the motherboard. Once the backplate is installed, flip the motherboard over and place the black risers onto the screws jutting out and screw in the top brackets with the curves facing away from the centre. All that's left is to screw it all down with the four thumb screws and you're left with an extremely secure platform to mount the heatsink onto. With the SecuFirm2's extremely thick backplate, there will be little-to-no flex on the motherboard when the cooler is installed.

You will need to remove the fans to install the heat sink onto the brackets, but Noctua makes that easy with their tool less clips. Use the included screwdriver, or your own, to screw the two screws on the cooler to the brackets. The included screwdriver clears the top of the heat sink nicely and gives you a nifty tool to throw into your tool bag if you ever need it. The black springs ensure that the correct pressure is placed onto the CPU, so just simply keep screwing it in until it stops.


Test Configuration:

Motherboard : MSI Z77A-UD65

CPU: Intel Core i7 3770K (OC @ 4.6GHz)

Memory: Intel Extreme Masters 2x4GB 1866MHz

GPU: Gigabyte Radeon HD 6950 2GB

PSU: Corsair CX600

Software: Intel Burn Test v2.53, CPU-Z Version 1.60, RealTemp 3.60

*Temperatures were measured using RealTemp with an ambient room temperature of 27 degrees Celcius and the system was left to idle or run on full load for 10 min before temperatures were taken.

** Noctua's ND-H1 thermal paste was used for all testing

Despite its small form factor, it still performs reasonably well. We did not include overclock tests as the cooler failed under our standard overclock.

For our noise test the fan was set to it's maximum speed and the dB meter was placed 30cm from the cooler. At 47dB the cooler is not loud at all and wont be noticeable in a HTPC.


With small form-factor PCs becoming more popular, the market for low-profile coolers grows as well. While there are many available on the market, many of them still retain the downsides of small coolers. 

For such a small cooler, it performs extremely well and has a very small noise output which is rare for coolers with small fans. Not surprisingly it failed out overclock tests as it wasn't designed for that in mind. While you wont be setting world records for overclocks with this cooler, it is still more capable than the stock Intel cooler and you will be able to get a small overclock if wanted. 

The Noctua colour scheme we are accustomed to seeing may not appeal to some people, but the slim cooler will be hidden out of sign in a small case so it is not a big concern. The fan can be replaced with another slim fan which may affect performance negatively or one of Noctua's Industrial PPC fans which will of course increase it's size.

With all things Noctua, the cooler doesn’t cheap, it retails for $55.99 USD . With that price though, you do get an exceptional 6-year warranty from Noctua as well as free upgrade kits for when new sockets come out that weren’t originally supported with the cooler. There is even a screwdriver included with the cooler so you won’t have to look for anything when you’re installing the cooler. Noctua’s Securifirm system is also one of the sturdiest mounting systems I have encountered. The NH-L9x65 is a great little cooler which I would highly recommend for a slim computer.

Martin Tam is an editor and the Director of Video Production at [blank]’s Universe. He is also a technology enthusiast that particularly enjoys computers and photography. He enjoys breaking things and sleeping in his spare time.