I'm just a small-time guy working a normal job as a physician assistant. My passion is building PCs and testing/reviewing PC hardware.
Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 CPU Cooler
Hello everyone, Will here. Today I am bringing you a review of the Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 CPU cooler. In this review, I put the NH-L9a through a battery of tests from CPU stress testing with Prime95 and Intel Burn Test along with multiple consecutive runs of Cinebench and a long six-hour gaming session on Destiny 2 at maximum graphical settings. For comparison, I used AMD’s included Wraith Stealth Cooler on the Ryzen 5 2600 processor. So, how did the Noctua stack up? Well, let’s find out.
First up, the specifications. The Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 cooler is very small and low profile, making it a perfect fit for even the smallest of computer cases. It measures at just 37mm in height, which includes a 23mm-thick heatsink and a 14mm-thick NF-A9x14 low profile fan. With the small footprint of the heatsink, there is no overhang of the heatsink or fan over the RAM slots, which gives you more options and greater flexibility at RAM module choices. The heatsink has a copper base and heat-pipes, aluminum cooling fins, and soldered joints and nickel plating. The cooler weighs just 465g with included fan. The NH-L9a is recommended for CPUs/APUs that call for a 95 watt TDP and Noctua does not recommend overclocking with this cooler. The NH-L9a cooler comes with a six-year warranty from Noctua.
What's Included in the Package?
- Single NF-A9x14 PWM premium fan
- Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)
- NT-H1 high-grade thermal compound
- SecuFirm2 AM4 Mounting Kit
- Screws for 92x92x25mm fans
- Noctua Metal Case-Badge
Installation and Build Quality
In my install of this cooler, I had no issues. The cooler’s included instructions made installation a snap. As promised by Noctua, this cooler had plenty of clearance for RAM as it did not overhang and I was able to install the G.Skill TridentZ with ease and plenty of workspace left to install other components. The Secufirm2 mounting system was straightforward and allowed exceptionally easy installation of the cooler. The cooler felt extremely sturdy and compact and there was no concern or worry about possibly bending any of the cooling fins.
Test System and Testing Methods
The test system for this comparison is my trusty Ryzen 5 2600 system. The Ryzen 5 2600 was not overclocked this time given Noctua’s recommendation. Preliminary testing showed extensive overheating and shutdown no matter which cooler was used. So, in these tests, the Ryzen 5 2600 will be run at stock speeds and at stock voltages. The RAM in the system is the G.Skillz TridentZ 16GB kit of RAM clocked at 2267MHz in dual channel configuration (2x8GB). The graphics card used is the EVGA GTX 1080 Ti SC2 edition. The system is housed inside the Fractal Design Node 202 HTPC/Mini-ITX case with 2 Thermaltake Riing12 fans in intake configuration over the graphics card portion of the case. Powering the system is the Silverstone SX650-G, 80+ Gold rated 650-watt power supply.
For testing, I chose four test sets. First, I tested the coolers in 10 consecutive runs of Cinebench. This was followed by the Intel Burn Test with the maximum settings and was run for 30 minutes. I then followed that up with Prime95 stress test with small EFTs for one hour. Finally, I played Destiny 2 on maximum settings at 4K for six hours on a normal gaming session. I recorded all of the temperatures through minimum and maximum temperatures reported by Hardware Monitor. All tests were run while at an ambient temperature of 22.2 degrees Celsius (~72 degrees Farenheit). Note that all testing temperatures will be noted in degrees Celsius.
Temperature Benchmarks and Acoustics
So, let’s take a look at the results now. The idle temperatures on the Wraith Stealth cooler were within tolerance ranging from 47.1 degrees to 47.4 degrees while the Noctua NH-L9a ranged from 41.5 degrees to 42.5 degrees. That is a substantial difference in idle temperatures and is significant at nearly 12% difference. As for testing the maximum temperatures, first up is the Cinebench testing of 10 consecutive runs. The Noctua NH-L9a beat out the Wraith Stealth cooler substantially, dragging the Wraith by roughly an 11 degree difference. The Wraith cooler was fairly weak here, hitting a maximum of 88.9 degrees while the Noctua held up quite nicely hitting a maximum of 77.8 degrees. In Intel Burn Testing, the Wraith Stealth cooler hit a maximum of 90.5 degrees and proceeded to crash, not allowing me to finish the test while the Noctua hit a maximum of 75.3 degrees. In Prime95, the Wraith Stealth cooler reached a maximum of 90.3 degrees while the Noctua again blew it away reaching only 80.6 degrees. Finally, in the dedicated gaming session, Destiny 2 at 4K had the Wraith Stealth reaching 88.7 degrees while the Noctua NH-L9a hit a maximum of 81.9 degrees.
So, now for the acoustics. Well, there is not a lot to say here. The Stealth ramps up really fast and is quite audible pretty much for the duration of any use session. The Noctua remains very quiet throughout but is still audible though not so bad that I want to rip my eyeballs out. Most of this noise issue could be from the size of the case and the vented section right over the CPU compartment so, in a different case, the noise may not be quite as audible. Again, the low amount of sound emitted is very tolerable and is whispers compared to the Stealth.
Conclusion and Final Thoughts
So, there you have it. The Noctua NH-L9a is an impressive upgrade over the stock AMD Wraith Stealth cooler. Given the $40 price tag, this cooler is definitely a great alternative to the AMD Wraith Stealth for a quieter, more stable platform in a mini-itx/HTPC system. This is a cooler that I would absolutely recommend without reservation specifically for these “travel” mini-itx systems or home theater PC systems.
Fractal Design Node 202 Travel Gaming PC featuring Noctua NH-L9a
Thanks for Stopping By
Thanks for stopping by and checking out this review of the Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 CPU cooler. Leave a comment below and don’t forget to vote in the poll. Check back often for more reviews and updates. Thanks again and have a great day!
Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 CPU Cooler
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.