Review of the server cooler Noctua NH D9DX i4 3U

A good server cooler is a rarity, because the main thing for industrial PC builders is a low price, and since the noise level in servers is of little importance to anyone, it is easier to take a conventional extruded radiator with plate fins and put it on it a fan with a speed of 10 thousand rpm - and it will work.

However, if you are building a NAS in a 3-4U chassis on server components, or building a workstation or open rack server in the same room as your staff, then you need a quiet, powerful and most importantly - a compact cooler, and you're in luck if you can install a liquid cooling system in the case. And if not, then of all the options, only Noctua products remain. This renowned manufacturer of Hi-End enthusiast coolers creates various cooling solutions for Intel and AMD server processors. Each Noctua cooler is a work of art, and the Noctua range includes small masterpieces for both 2U servers and 3U-4U chassis.

The NH-D9DX i4 3U model is interesting because it is compatible with Intel Xeon E5 processors with LGA-2011 Square ILM and Narrow ILM sockets, the cooler does not cover the memory slots, therefore it is compatible with any DIMM modules. Airflow is generated by a 92mm PWM fan and vibration-reducing rubber pads, and the heatsink area is large enough to drain heat away from the average CPU even if the fan on the cooler breaks and only the front ones work.

By default, NH-D9DX i4 3U has one fan with dimensions 92x92x25mm in section, between two arrays of ribs. Such an installation, on the one hand, eliminates any problems with clearance, when something rests, for example, on memory modules or VRM heatsinks, and on the other hand, it allows you to install as many as three fans, if necessary. But studying the forums shows that even two fans for a given cooler is already a luxury, and the maximum that can be achieved with this method is an extra 5-6 degrees, which is not relevant for a server processor.

Much more important is the noise level, which determines whether the NH-D9DX i4 3U can be installed in a workstation for CAD/Video applications? As a rule, even OEMs in such configurations install liquid cooling systems, but often they just say: humble yourself, it cannot but make noise.

Here we have the minimum rotational speed of the blades fixed at 400 RPM, and the fan can stop if the motherboard supports this feature. To protect against vibration, rubber pads are installed, although this is not as important in a 92-mm fan size as in a 120 and 140-mm caliber. In our test computer, the constant operation of the cooler was maintained at 600 RPM, and the cooling system was not audible against the background of the power supply. The declared MTBF resource ( what is MTBF___1000 hours) 6 year warranty based on fan reliability.

The second important point is the cooling of the motherboard batteries by the cooler. Here it should be borne in mind that NH-D9DX i4 3U can be installed only in one position relative to the socket, and on our motherboard its flow was directed towards the memory modules, although it would be more correct to rotate it 90 degrees to cool the network 10 -gigabit chip and heatsink on VRM. Of course, Noctua could have foreseen such a possibility by making a more complex mount, but for the sake of versatility, it used the SecuFirm 2 mechanism, developed for server processors. The NH-D9DX i4 3U cooler can be installed on LGA2011, LGA2066, LGA1366 and LGA1366. Note that to be compatible with the LGA1366 socket, the motherboard must have a threaded backplate. By the way, for compatibility with AMD processors with socket AM4, the manufacturer has a set of NM-AM4 mounts, which you can order in Russia or on Ebay.

The base of the cooler is perfectly polished, which is not surprising - this is the norm for Noctua. The four heat transfer tubes are curved with a U, and their ends are closed with caps.

Of course, the main advantage of this cooler is its height, which is only 110 mm, which makes it possible to assemble quiet and compact workstations in HTPC cases and in 3U rack storage systems.

In the kit for the cooler you will receive not only a syringe with NT-H1 thermal grease, a set of fasteners for Intel sockets, but also a 4-pin down adapter Noctua NA-RC7 based on a resistor of 51 Ohm. All motherboards for Socket 1366-2011 v4 have a PWM fan speed control for a long time, so adding an extra element to the cooler power circuit is a dubious prospect, it would be more useful to complete the cooler with a Noctua NA-SYC1 PWM splitter, especially since the installation of two fans implied by the design of this cooler. A syringe of thermal paste is enough for 2 cooler installations, so it is better to save it, especially since this is one of the best thermal interfaces that money can buy today: it not only conducts heat well, but also does not dry out over the years, so for the heat sink of the server don't worry.

Testing

A computer with the following configuration was used for testing:

Testing

  • Processor - Intel Xeon E5-2603 v4 (6C 15M L3, 1.7 GHz)
  • Motherboard - ASRock Rack EPC612D4U-2T8R
  • Memory - 16 Gb DDR4 ECC Reg
  • 4x Seagate Savvio 10K6 600Gb
  • 3 system fans 120x120x25 mm @ 1400 RPM
  • VMware vSphere ESXi 6.7
  • Windows 10 x64 (6 cores, IOMMU, Hardware Assisted Virtualization, IOMMU)
  • OCCT

The diagram below shows the operation of the cooler in three modes: with automatic adjustment (the motherboard did not consider it necessary to raise the speed above 600 rpm), when the fan stopped and at maximum speed.

Test results

With such results for a 65-watt processor, there is no danger of overheating even if the fan stops.

NH D9DX i4 3U Features

  • Platform: Intel LGA2066, LGA2011-0 & amp; LGA2011-3 (Square ILM & amp; Narrow ILM), LGA1356, LGA1366 (with Xeon backplate)
    • Dimensions without fan (HxWxL): 110 x 95 x 110 mm
    • Dimensions with fan (HxWxL): 110 x 95 x 110 mm
    • Weight without fan: 428 g
    • Weight with fan: 531 g
  • Material:
    • Base - Nickel Plated Copper
    • Heat transfer tubes - copper
    • Plates - Aluminum
  • Fan:
    • One NF-A9 PWM with dimensions 92x92x25 mm
    • Possibility to install a second fan with dimensions 92x92x25 mm
    • Rotor Suspension - SSO2
    • Minimum rotation speed - 400 RPM
    • Maximum rotation speed - 2000 RPM
    • Constant rotation speed with L.N.A. adapter - 1550 RPM
    • Power - 1.2 W
    • Maximum capacity - 78.9 m & sup3;/h (46.5 CFM)
  • Maximum noise level:
    • 22.8dB @ 2000 rpm
    • 16.3dB when using L.N.A adapter
  • Manufacturer's warranty - 6 years

Conclusions

An excellent cooler that demonstrates from its own experience that cooling server processors can be quiet and efficient. For increased fault tolerance, you can install a second fan on it, but our tests show that the 65W processor will not overheat even when the main fan stops. The Noctua NH-D9DX is a great buy for both workstation builders and enthusiasts who build powerful computers for file storage and virtualization.

Unlike closed coolers of the Dynatron R24 type, the "turret" type design from Noctua better withstand stopping its own fan and can even work for some time due to the powerful flow of the server's front fans, without leading to CPU throttling, but of course this moment strongly depends on the server case.

Noctua official website - www.noctua.at

Mikhail Degtyarev (aka LIKE OFF)
08/20/2018

Read also: