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Noctua's low profile NH-L9i heatsink stands 36mm tall so it will fit into the smallest of small form factor chassis. The NH-L9i is designed to cool Intel socket LGA115x (1155/1156/1150) processors only, which is a departure from the one-size-fits-all approach we're used to from heatsink manufacturers. The focus on one CPU socket does allow Noctua to cut down on modifications to the heatsink that would otherwise be necessary to accommodate both Intel and AMD platforms. It also makes installing the Noctua NH-L9i very straight forward. There is just one mounting bracket, all you need is access to the rear of the motherboard and a screwdriver.
The Noctua NH-L9i heatsink weighs 420 grams and is built around a large, triangular copper base plate, two 6mm diameter copper heatpipes and aluminum fins. Every part of this heatsink has been nickel plated so all the joints are soldered to maintain low thermal joint resistance.
Within its compact 36x95x95mm volume, Noctua have managed to squeeze in a 15x95x95mm fan into that operates at 2500-1800RPM. The fan creates little to moderate noise and incorporates several elements aimed at quieter operation. Noctua's NH-L9i heatsink installs onto Intel socket LGA1155/1156/1150 processors only. It it is not compatible with AMD processors. Retail price is pegged around $44 USD at Newegg.
Noctua use a triangular shaped copper base plate running down the middle of the heatsink which helps deflect exhaust airflow out of the heatsink and also does away with the dead spot behind the fan motor. This is a clever method Frostytech first witnessed being used by heatsink manufacturers in 2002, see: ToCools and Thermalright or Dynatron.
To maintain the compact 95x95mm footprint of the NH-L9i heatsink, Noctua have embedded the curve of the two 6mm diameter heatpipes into the body of the cooler. These parts are obscured when the fan shroud is attached.
The two 6mm diameter heatpipes work to conduct heat from the central, triangular copper base plate of the heatsink out to the edges of the aluminum fins, while largely leaving the space between the cooling fins unobstructed.
Mounted on top of the Noctua NH-L9i heatsink is a Noctua NF-A9x14 PWM fan. Noctua have added special bumps and texturing to the impeller blades and fan frame to improve fan performance. While it's difficult to tell what impact these subtle features make, there's no mistaking the small patches of rubber which cushion the heatsink fins from the fan frame and cut down on errant vibrational noise.
Heatsink Installation and Hardware
The Noctua NH-L9i heatsink only ships with a bracket for Intel LGA115x (LGA1150/1156/1155) CPU sockets. The bracket is pre-attached but will require access to the back of the motherboard to install.
In addition, Noctua supply a tube of NT-H1 thermal compound and a PWM fan speed reducer which drops the speed to 1800RPM.
FrostyTech's Test Methodologies are outlined in detail here if you care to know what equipment is used, and the parameters under which the tests are conducted. Now let's move forward and take a closer look at this heatsink, its acoustic characteristics, and of course its performance in the thermal tests!
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