A good CPU cooler is an essential part of your PC system. It helps to keep your processor cool and to function correctly.
It can make a big difference in the performance and life of your computer. If you are a gamer or do heavy-duty computing, you need a good quality CPU cooler to keep your system running smoothly.
There are many different CPU coolers on the market, so I will talk about the best one I have found and why it’s worth its value.
My recommended cooler is the Noctua NH-D15 chromax.black. Not only will it serve to be the best premium air CPU cooler, but it will also be perfect for those of you that love gaming and performing CPU-intensive tasks.
Why I chose an air CPU cooler
I feel confident in recommending this as the best air CPU cooler because I recently purchased one for my gaming rig.
I’ll get down to sharing my system specs with you and all of my cooling figures. But first, let me explain why I chose this specific cooler.
With my previous computer getting a little older and not keeping up with the latest AAA gaming titles I wanted it to, I decided it was time for a new computer, built from the ground up, with no comprises when choosing each component.
I previously ran a liquid cooling system and felt it was time to test out some air cooling. So I chose to go with the best air-cooling CPU cooler I could get my hands on.
So far, I haven’t felt any disappointment since crossing over from water cooling. In part, it is the fact that I’m no heavy overclocker.
After choosing a reasonably sized computer case, I felt I wouldn’t have any size restriction from the CPU cooler. So purchasing the larger-sized CPU cooler wouldn’t have any chance to stop me from closing the lid of my case.
Keeping the CPU cool is very important. A CPU that runs too hot and an inadequate CPU heatsink can cause the computer’s internal temperature to rise.
So that’s another reason to purchase a top-of-the-line CPU cooler like the Noctua NH-D15 chromax.black.
I also wanted a good CPU for gaming. So I settled for an AMD Ryzen 3950X.
Keeping this processor cool when playing the latest games and working on some 3D renderings was the highest priority.
So now you know where I was going with the whole thing. I also added an NVidia RTX3090 graphics card with a Corsair AX1600i 1600 Watt Titanium Certified fully modular power supply.
After spending all the money on this system, I couldn’t install any CPU cooler that I didn’t think was up to the task, even if I wanted to do some overclocking later.
So now that you know why I chose this cooler, let’s move on to some of the figures, shall we?
Why I chose the Noctua NH-D15 chromax.black
Firstly, let us compare some specifications between some of the best air CPU coolers.
|Noctua NH-D15 chromax.black||Gamerstorm Deep Cool Assassin III||Corsair A500||Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO|
|Max. Noise||24.6dB(A)||29.5 dB(A)||36dB(A)||36dB(A)|
|Max. Number of Fans||2||2||2||2|
|Full Dimensions||150 x 135 x 165 mm / 5.9 x 5.3 x 6.5 inch||161 x 140 x 165 mm / 6.3 x 5.5 x 6.5 inch||96 x 136 x 159 mm / 3.7 x 5.3 x 6.2 inch||120 x 80 x 159 mm / 4.7 x 3.1 x 6.3 inch|
|Fan Bearing||SSO2||Fluid Dynamic Bearing||Magnetic Levitation Bearing||Sleeve Bearing|
|Max. Rotational Fan Speed||1500 RPM||1400 RPM||2400 RPM||2000 RPM|
|Max. Airflow||82.4 CFM||90.37 CFM||75CFM||82.9CFM|
|Total Weight with Fan||1320g (2.9lb)||1464g(3.2lb)||1460g(3.2lb)||569g (1.2lb)|
|Supported Sockets||Intel LGA2066, LGA2011-0 & LGA2011-3 (Square ILM), LGA1200, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1151, LGA1150 & AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+ (backplate required), AM4||Intel LGA2066/2011-v3/2011/LGA1200/1151/1150/1155/1366 & AMD AM4/AM3+/AM3/AM2+/AM2/FM2+/FM2/FM1|| Intel 1200, 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156, 2011, 2011-3, 2066 &|
AMD AM4, AM3, AM2
|Intel LGA2066, LGA2011-v3, LGA2011, LGA1200, LGA1366, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1151, LGA1150, LGA775 & AMD AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2+, FM2, FM1|
As you can see from the comparison table, the NH-D15 cooler is one of the quietest you will find on the market today for its cooling performance.
It also supports a wide range of CPU sockets which means you won’t be as limited to a limited CPU range.
Good airflow while keeping things quiet
It’s one of the major factors that drew me to this specific cooler. Offering a good airflow rate while keeping everything running as quietly as possible takes some investment into the initial design and refinement.
It’s not the easiest thing to try and strike a balance in, and Noctua has certainly paid attention to it.
So what does this mean for you? Essentially, having a good airflow rate means that enough air passes through the fan, and the heatsink sections provide you with better cooling in one aspect of air CPU coolers.
Other designs and material factors come into play that can reduce the cooler’s efficiency.
By that, I mean how good the CPU cooler is at dissipating the heat away from the CPU and transferring it to the essential areas that the fan cools down.
This is an important and technical topic and requires a dedicated article to cover the subject adequately.
But the amount of air passing through the array of fins is a very important factor in cooling down a heatsink. So, if the cooling is sufficient and quiet, you are getting the best of both worlds.
Some temperature readings from my personal computer
I have installed the NH-D15 chromax.black using Arctic Silver 5 thermal compound. This thermal compound has yielded some of the best results compared with many other transfer pastes I’ve tried on the market.
I have used the ever-reliable Corsair iCUE 5000X RGB mid-tower case for extra reference.
Unfortunately, I had to purchase an extra RGB fan for the rear as I felt the three front fans it came with were lacking. It most definitely needed at least one exhaust fan.
|Average CPU Temperature at Idle||Average CPU Temperature During Cinebench Test|
|107 Degrees Fahrenheit (42 Degrees Celcius)||158 Degrees Fahrenheit (70 Degrees Celcius)|
As this is a new build, I haven’t started any form of overclocking or changing memory profiles or voltages. It is currently set up with a standard preset CPU fan profile in the BIOS.
So the values you are seeing are from an untampered system and pretty much what you can expect when using proper airflow optimization in the case and a good quality thermal compound with this specific CPU.
Things I found about the assembly process
I have used this cooler on an Intel CPU and AMD. I have always found that Noctua provided everything I needed to complete the installation without a hitch.
The heatsink assembly
In general, I didn’t have any difficulty assembling the heatsink and mounting it to my motherboard.
I used the original mounting plate provided with the motherboard, which worked effortlessly with the mounting hardware supplied in the package.
Important: I want to clarify that if you are going to use an AMD CPU, you must make sure that you have the standard mounting backplate that goes under the motherboard and contains two mounting threads. It is the only thing that isn’t provided with the standard Noctua NH-D15 cooler kit.
Most motherboards include it, and it’s simply a matter of removing the plastic mounts on the top of the motherboard before you start the assembly procedure.
The assembly instructions mentioned that you should tighten the mounting screws until they stop.
I disagree and recommend that you only tighten the screws about four turns each. The mounting screws fit through the inside of a coil spring, so you won’t have to worry about the screws coming loose from small vibrations.
This will prevent the motherboard from being flexed too much under the tension of the cooler assembly.
This could save you from causing open circuit copper tracks or other mechanical mischiefs.
Tip: I recommend removing the heatsink every time you transport your computer. The heatsink is heavy and a slight jolt can cause a bend in the heat pipes or cause other damage.
Read How To Know If Your CPU Cooler Is Mounted Properly for more on ensuring proper CPU cooler effectiveness.
The cooling fans
The fans are easy to remove or install with the handy spring mechanism that clips into the fan and hooks onto the fin assembly.
The fan’s position can be easily adjusted by unclipping the two-wire springs and shifting them to where you want. Then, lock the fan back in place by hooking the springs onto the heatsink again.
You have the option to install one fan if you have lower cooling requirements and a second fan to meet more demanding criteria. It’s nice to have this option, especially when the second fan is included in the package.
A few mentions about the operation
As you probably know, keeping your CPU cooler’s airflow direction relevant to your computer’s internal airflow configuration is paramount. In most situations, keeping the air drawn in from the front side and exhausting toward the rear of your case is desirable.
You would rarely see anyone straying from that configuration. So check that the arrows on the fan’s casing show the proper direction.
Fan noise increases slightly when I play a game, but that should be expected. And I’m sure you would be just as impressed as I was when I first took note of the noise level while playing one of my favorite titles.
Even during the most strenuous gaming session, the fan stays at an acceptable noise level, and I mean, it’s quiet!
There is a supplied cable that gives you the option to make it even more silent. But I have found in my own experience that it isn’t required.
While there isn’t much to critique regarding this air CPU cooler, I will mention that its weight and size are substantial.
Although to be fair, it is a necessary evil when offering such good cooling performance.
So even the one negative I could find about it is necessary. So keep in mind that you may come across a time where you would need to remove it to change RAM or replace something on your motherboard.
You can connect the cooler’s fans to the motherboard in two ways.
This won’t matter if you only use one fan, but when you are using two, you can connect each one individually to the motherboard, or you can use the supplied Y cable that joins the two up, which allows both to be controlled like one fan.
Connecting the Y cable to the two fans is easier than using one connector from the motherboard.
This will mean that your fans will spin at the same speed at all times. Therefore, it’s not typically all that useful to set up individual fan profile speeds for each respective fan.
Having both fans act as one means you only deal with the one fan speed profile for both fans.
This will allow for a bit more of an easier and simplistic setup process, which is most often the way to go.
I tried to keep the testing and installation as straightforward as possible to give you the most reliable information.
You will find the installation of this CPU cooler easy, whether you are using an Intel or AMD CPU, and you definitely will enjoy the cooling performance it offers.
It’s the perfect choice for everyone who wants a small amount of overclocking to get most of your money’s worth out of your hardware, but it’s certainly not going to give you the cooling performance that a water-cooled cooler can.
Not to mention the benefit you get from avoiding CPU throttling from a CPU that gets too hot.
It’s all about the system you want for yourself and what you want to get out of it. Personally, some overclocking is fine, but there is only so much I’d like to do with my daily driver type of computer.
An AIO cooler is the obvious choice if you build a system to overclock and get the most out of your hardware.
But for now, this CPU air cooler is doing great, and I’m pleased with the overall performance and low maintenance.
If that’s what you want, I cannot recommend enough that you get the Noctua NH-D15 chromax.black cooler.
Enjoy improving your system, whether it be old or new.