Noctua NH-L9a-AM4: Compact CPU Cooler for Mini-PCs Reviewed
Noctua is one of the best-known cooler and fan manufacturers – and not without reason. This is because the products are usually convincing due to their high cooling performance. Since we have just built a Mini-ITX build in the Kolink Rocket, we have combined this with a test of the Noctua NH-L9a-AM4. The low-profile cooler has been optimized for use in Mini-PCs that do not offer space for high CPU coolers. If the small CPU cooler of AMD’s AM4 platform could tame our Ryzen 5 2400G on an ASUS ROG Strix B450-I gaming motherboard, you can find out below.
Inhaltsverzeichnis / Table of contents
Scope of Delivery
The CPU cooler is delivered in an absolutely high-quality packaging that is fun to unpack. In addition to the cooler and mounting material on the AM4 socket, the delivery also includes NT-H1 thermal paste, a short, comprehensible manual, a backplate, a low-noise adapter and a Noctua sticker. The fan is already mounted on the heat sink, so you can start immediately.
|Height (without fan)||23 mm|
|Width (without fan)||114 mm|
|Depth (without fan)||92 mm|
|Height (with fan)||37 mm|
|Width (with fan)||114 mm|
|Depth (with fan)||92 mm|
|Weight (without fan)||390 g|
|Weight (with fan)||465 g|
|Material||Copper (bottom and heatpipes), aluminum (cooling fins), soldered & nickel plated|
|Max. TDP||see CPU compatibility list|
|Scope of delivery||
|Price||€ 49.90 *|
|Model||Noctua NF-A9x14 PWM|
|Max. Speed of rotation (+/-10%)||2500 RPM|
|Max. Speed of rotation with L.N.A. (+/-10%)||1800 RPM|
|Min. speed of rotation (PWM, +/-20%)||600 RPM|
|Max. Flow rate||57.5 m³/h|
|Max. Volume flow with L.N.A.||40.8 m³/h|
|Max. Noise generation||23.6 dB(A)|
|Max. Noise generation with L.N.A.||14.8 dB(A)|
|Power consumption||2.52 W|
|Operating voltage||12 V|
|MTTF||> 150,000 h|
The Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 is small and compact. And that’s what it has to be for its purpose. Nevertheless it is extremely high quality processed and we could not find any workmanship defects.
While the base plate and the two heatpipes are made of copper, the cooling fins are made of aluminium. To prevent the metals from attacking each other, the metals were nickel-plated. Despite its small size, the cooler weighs 390 g and is therefore extremely massive.
A typical Noctua fan in brown/beige is mounted on the heat sink. This is screwed and not, as with other coolers, only attached with clamps. Thus it sits very tightly, but can also be replaced without problems. A second fan cannot be mounted.
To prevent the fan from transmitting vibrations to the radiator body, it is decoupled with rubber spacers. To further reduce the volume of the already very quiet Noctua NF-A9x14 PWM fan, a low-noise adapter is also included, which reduces the maximum revolutions per minute from 2500 to 1800. This reduces the volume from max. 23.6 dB(A) to 14.8 dB(A). Of course, the cooling capacity also drops accordingly.
The rubber-coated connection cable of the fan is relatively short, but therefore just right for use on Mini-ITX mainboards. We were able to connect the fan to the ASUS ROG Strix B450-I Gaming without any problems.
As already mentioned, we installed the Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 in a small Mini-ITX-PC. The following components were used:
- Asus ROG Strix B450-I Gaming Mainboard*
- AMD Ryzen 5 2400G Processor*
- Kolink SFX-350 Power supply – 350 Watt*
- Crucial Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB RAM – 16 GB, 3.000 MHz*
- Crucial P1 500 GB SSD*
- Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 580 4G Graphics Card*
Before we could start installing the Noctua NH-L9a-AM4, we had to remove the AMD stock cooler. In addition, the backplate of the mainboard must be removed, because the Noctua cooler has its own backplate. If you are also upgrading to the Noctua NH-L9a-AM4, don’t forget to clean the CPU, in our case the AMD Ryzen 5 2400G, and remove all residues of the previous thermal compound.
Now that we have cleaned the mainboard of the legacy loads, we have applied the NT-H1 heat conduction paste supplied. A small, pea-sized drop in the middle of the processor is sufficient for this.
Then we put on the Noctua NH-L9a-AM4, we didn’t have to remove a protective film before. Now carefully turn the mainboard and fix the backplate on the backside with the screws also supplied. We tighten the screws by hand and then tighten them with the screwdriver. To avoid unbalance, we always screw alternately crosswise until all screws are tight.
Last but not least we connect the 4-pin cable of the PWM fan to the mainboard.
Altogether the assembly is kept super simple, no fiddly Mounting-Kits must be attached. Nevertheless, the radiator is bombproof. We didn’t have any problems with the RAM or VRMs on the motherboard, because Noctua paid attention to a high compatibility.
Volume and Cooling Capacity
You will have noticed from the components that we have not installed a high-end system in the Kolink rocket. Nevertheless, the AMD Ryzen 5 2400G generates a lot of waste heat, which has to be cooled by the Noctua NH-L9a-AM4. This is not easy, especially in the small room, but the Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 masters it.
To heat up the processor, the processor was loaded with Prime95 for 15 minutes. The temperature was then read while the fans were running at maximum speed. The room temperature was about 20 degrees. For comparison we have listed the AMD Stock Cooler.
|AMD Wraith Stealth Cooler||79°C|
|AMD Wraith stealth cooler + 80mm case fan||77°C|
|Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 + 80 mm case fan||74°C|
The processor temperatures with the Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 are significantly lower than with the AMD Wraith Stealth cooler. But not only that: the volume is also significantly lower. The Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 remained amazingly quiet despite 2500 revolutions per minute.
Resume of the Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 Review
As always, the quality of Noctua is convincing. Starting with the workmanship up to the workmanship of the product. Everything is absolutely perfect. We particularly liked the simple installation of the radiator.
The Noctua NH-L9a-AM4* is ideal for compact Mini-ITX systems, where large coolers don’t have room, due to its good cooling performance and low volume. If more space is available, it is of course advisable to use larger radiators, as these can of course dissipate more heat.
Value for Money
Despite its small size, the Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 delivers a solid cooling result at low volume.
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