Noctua NH-D15 review: This old classic is still king of air coolers

The undisputed king of air cooling for your CPU.

The Noctua NH-D15 looks like it’s been around since the first PC and we’re just looking at the famous CPU cooler. Air coolers like the NH-D15 are ideal for PC designs where all-in-one coolers may be too expensive, radiators are too large, or are not necessary for the system’s intended use. Air coolers are usually inexpensive yet can handle power hungry processors from AMD and Intel. Noctua is one of the biggest brands in the air conditioning space and the company’s NH-D15 is the coolest in terms of heat output.


We’ve used the Noctua NH-D15 in the past and recently picked it up for this review. We’ve found the NH-D15 to be easy to install on both Intel and AMD systems. It’s also good for cooling the chips, as long as you’re not using an Intel Core i9 or AMD Ryzen 9 CPU. Overclocking is possible with low-end chips, though mileage may vary depending on how many fans are nearby and how much air can be pushed through the chassis. It is cheap compared to other air conditioners but it is worth asking if you want the best one.

Noctua did not provide XDA with a copy of the review and the company has not intervened in the published content.

Noctua NH-D15 9 / 10

The Noctua NH-D15 is one of the most powerful coolers on the market. It can handle high performance CPUs and despite its size, it gets the job done. Oh, and it comes in a wonderful brown color.


  • Fast heat
  • Low noise
  • Price


  • Rich
  • There may be licensing issues
  • Struggle with CPU enthusiasts

$110 at Amazon $110 at Newegg

Price, availability, and specifications

The Noctua NH-D15 may be one of the best processor coolers, but it’s not the most expensive, compared to AIO liquid coolers. The NH-D15’s MSRP is $110, but we’ve found it on sale year-round for a discount if you’re lucky. CPU coolers have been around for at least a decade, which is a testament to Noctua’s technology that this model is still compatible with today’s CPUs. We’ll delve into the specifications of the Noctua NH-D15, but this is one CPU cooler and even our media doesn’t do it justice.

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Close it

Inside are three boxes. One has a second fan, the other is additional, and the third cooler is another fan already installed. The goodies box includes the necessary buttons and screws to connect the NH-D15 to most AMD or Intel boards. There are quick start notes and a long Allen key. Noctua also sends a Y-joint to the two blades and two linear resistors to reduce the speed of the spinning blades for smoother operation. It is worth noting that reducing the speed of the NH-D15 will affect the cooling.


  • Intel: LGA1700, LGA1200, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1151, LGA1150, LGA2066, LGA2011-0, LGA2011-3
  • AMD: AM4, AM5


160 mm


980g per


Copper, aluminum


220 W


6 years

For Intel, the NH-D15 will work with sockets between LGA1700 and LGA2011-3. For AMD, both AM4 and AM5 sockets are supported, allowing this cooler to be used on any motherboard available. The maximum height of 160mm means careful consideration when choosing a PC case. Not all cases support such long CPU cooling. Noctua backs its CPU cooling with a comprehensive six-year warranty for added peace of mind.

Design and appearance

It’s beautiful… in its own way

The Noctua NH-D15 is an air-cooled dual-tower heatsink with six heat pipes. Noctua tried to improve memory and acceptance by cutting some bottom fins on both sides, but it is still possible to encounter problems with large device designs. All structures are well designed and built with very little in the way of errors or defects in the design. The lower part of the heatsink tower is made of copper with nickel. Everything has an unpainted metal finish.

It’s when we get to the two included fans that we see Noctua writing front and center. The two 140mm NF-A15 fans have Noctua beige and brown either we love or hate the company. They feature SSO and can spin at speeds up to 1500 RPM. The cables mentioned above can reduce this speed to 1200 RPM, which also reduces the exhaust noise. Noctua makes some of the best fans on the market and it’s easy to see design elements like blade ridges to improve airflow and performance.

Close it

There’s no oil paste pre-installed from the factory, but Noctua includes a small tube of its own NT-H1 oil paste which should come in handy if you need to re-install the cooler later. One of the two fans is already installed between the two towers and the second one can be quickly connected on either side using the included hardware. Unlike other CPU coolers, Noctua includes its own motherboard that should be used with both Intel and AMD processors. Installing the Noctua NH-D15 is a straightforward process and takes only a few minutes.

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Just make sure you check the height of the CPU cooler inside your PC because this is one big beast.

Cool to do

This is a powerful CPU cooler

To test the Noctua NH-D15, we tried using it with an Intel Core i9-13900K and an AMD Ryzen 9 7950X to see how we could push this cooler. It’s very powerful with high thermal performance but even the NH-D15 struggled to keep the Intel Core i9 and AMD Ryzen 9 from stuttering when pushed hard. It wasn’t bad and the gaming experience was pretty good, but that means you’re not going to be able to use the processor as much as the chip makers intended. For high-end CPUs, we always recommend AIO liquid cooling.

We decided to run an Intel Core i7-13700K with the same NH-D15 and we saw good results without affecting any changes in the BIOS to limit or reduce the processor’s capabilities. Bearing in mind that this cool CPU was released early in 2014, it performs very well with the latest AMD and Intel processors, as long as you keep your expectations in check. Even with such a cooler installed in the Core i7-13700K, we managed to exceed 90C while running Cinebench but we didn’t see much heat, which is what we want to see with desktop CPUs.

The Core i7-13700K was running smoothly at 35C idle and 74C average when playing various PC games. These coolers are great for gaming but we recommend not installing one inside a system that can be used for production. The Noctua NH-D15 is rated at around 220W for maximum TDP, but the cooler struggles with processors that draw this much power. An AMD Ryzen 9 7950X or a fully loaded Intel Core i9-13900K will be more than enough for the Noctua NH-D15 to handle, even on desktops.

The sweet spot for this cool CPU is the AMD Ryzen 5 and Intel Core i5, which leaves some extra room.

Processors will run smoothly, but overheating will occur, which will reduce the amount of work available through the lower clock speed. It’s pointless to spend several hundred on a brand name processor that you can’t use it to its full potential. Overclocking is not necessary at all and we can advise not to do this with an AMD Ryzen 7 or Intel Core i7 chip. The sweet spot for this cool CPU is the AMD Ryzen 5 and Intel Core i5, which leaves some extra room. The AMD Ryzen 5 7600 ran at just 57C in gaming and hit 84C when pushed hard in the stress test.

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Should you buy the Noctua NH-D15?

You should buy the Noctua NH-D15 if:

  • You are not planning on overclocking your CPU.
  • You don’t want to use an Intel Core i9 or AMD Ryzen 9 CPU.
  • You have enough permission inside the PC case.

You should not buy the Noctua NH-D15 if:

  • You have a 175W TDP (or higher) CPU.
  • You have a small PC case or large RAM modules.
  • You are planning to fix some overclocking conditions.

The Noctua NH-D15 is one of the best air conditioners you can buy right now. It may have been around for a few years, but it’s a testament to how well modern processors work. Whether you’re building a PC with AMD or Intel, the Noctua NH-D15 can be socket compatible. We wouldn’t recommend hooking one up with an AMD Ryzen 9 or Intel Core i9 processor, but anything under those specs would be perfect with the NH-D15. This is very painful for those who do not plan to overclock their system.

The Noctua NH-D15 is one of the best air conditioners you can buy right now.

In order to handle such a high TDP, Noctua had to make the NH-D15 bigger and the height of 160mm could limit the PC cases that can be used. Longer RAM modules can also have issues with clearance (or lack thereof) when placed alongside the NH-D15. Having such a large area allows the cooler and its two large fans to illuminate and dissipate heat away from the CPU. For PC cases or machine builds where an AIO liquid cooler can’t be used or doesn’t make sense, an air cooler like the Noctua NH-D15 is one of the best CPU coolers to buy.

Noctua NH-D15

The Noctua NH-D15 is one of the most powerful coolers on the market. It can handle high performance CPUs and despite its size, it gets the job done. Oh, and it comes in a wonderful brown color.

$110 at Amazon $110 at Newegg

Categories: Reviews