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

The Noctua NH-D15 feels like it has been around since the very first PC and we’re only just getting around to reviewing the popular CPU cooler. Air coolers such as the NH-D15 are great for PC builds where a liquid all-in-one would either be too expensive, the radiator too large, or it’s simply not required for what the system will be used for. Air coolers are usually more affordable yet are still able to tame even the more power-hungry processors from AMD and Intel. Noctua is one of the big brands in the air cooling space and the company’s NH-D15 is a serious cooler for expelling heat.

We’ve used the Noctua NH-D15 in the past and have recently taken it for a spin for the purposes of this review. We have always found the NH-D15 to be easy to install on both Intel and AMD systems. It’s also excellent at cooling the chips, so long as you’re not using an Intel Core i9 or AMD Ryzen 9 CPU. Overclocking is possible with lower-end chips, though mileage may vary depending on how many case fans are at hand and how much air can be pushed through the chassis. It’s a little pricey compared to other air coolers but it’s well worth the asking price if you’re after one of the best.

The Noctua NH-D15.


Noctua NH-D15

The Noctua NH-D15 is one of the most powerful air coolers on the market. It can handle high-performance CPUs and while it’s large, it gets the job done. Oh, and it comes in a stunning brown color.


  • Thermal performance
  • Low noise
  • Value


  • Heavy
  • May have clearance issues
  • Struggles with enthusiast CPUs

Price, availability, and specifications

Everything included with the Noctua NH-D15

The Noctua NH-D15 may be one of the best air coolers for processors, but it’s not terribly expensive, at least when compared to AIO liquid coolers. The MSRP for the NH-D15 is $110, but we’ve found it on sale throughout the year for less if you’re lucky. The CPU cooler has been available for at least a decade, which is a testament to Noctua’s engineering that this particular version is still relevant with the CPUs of today. We’ll dive into some of the specifications of the Noctua NH-D15, but this is one hefty CPU cooler and even our own media doesn’t do its size justice.

Inside the packaging are three boxes. One contains the second fan, another the accessories, and the third the main cooler with the other fan already installed. The box of goodies include the necessary brackets and screws for attaching the NH-D15 to most AMD or Intel motherboards. There are handy quick-start manuals and a long Allen key. Noctua also ships a Y fan splitter for the two blowers as well as two in-line resistors to lower the speed of the spinning blades for quieter operation. It’s worth noting that slowing down the speed of the NH-D15 will impact the cooling performance.

  • Intel: LGA1700, LGA1200, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1151, LGA1150, LGA2066, LGA2011-0, LGA2011-3
  • AMD: AM4, AM5
Height 160 mm
Weight 980 g
Materials Copper, aluminum
TDP 220 W
Warranty 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 just about any available motherboard. A maximum height of 160mm means careful consideration should be taken when picking out a PC case. Not all cases will support such a tall CPU cooler. Noctua backs its CPU cooler with a full six-year limited warranty for added peace of mind.

Design and features

It’s gorgeous … in its own way

Noctua NH-D15 with its heatsink box

The Noctua NH-D15 is a dual-tower heatsink air cooler with a total of six heat pipes. Noctua attempted to improve memory compatibility and clearance by cutting out some of the lower fins on either side, but it’s still possible to encounter issues with larger kit designs. The entire construct is well-designed and built with very little in terms of obvious deviances or flaws in manufacturing. The base plate of the heatsink tower is made of nickel-plated copper. Everything has a metallic styling with no paint applied.

It’s when we get to the two included fans do we see Noctua branding front and center. The two 140mm NF-A15 fans have the Noctua beige and brown we’ve either come to love or hate from the company. They have an SSO bearing and are capable of spinning at speeds up to 1500 RPM. The aforementioned in-line resistor cables are capable of reducing this speed to 1200 RPM, which in turn reduces the level of noise emitted. Noctua makes some of the best fans on the market and it’s easy to spot design elements such as the blade ridges to improve airflow and performance.

No thermal paste is pre-applied at the factory, but Noctua does include a small tube of its own NT-H1 thermal paste that should come in handy if you need to reinstall the cooler in the future. One of the two fans is already installed between the two towers and the second can be quickly attached to either side using the included clips. Unlike other CPU coolers, Noctua includes its own backplate that should be used with both Intel and AMD systems. Installing the Noctua NH-D15 is a straightforward process and takes a few moments.

Just be sure to check the maximum height clearance for a CPU cooler inside your PC case as this is one large beast.

Cooling performance

This is one powerful CPU cooler

Close up of the Noctua NH-D15 logo

To put the Noctua NH-D15 to the test, we tried using it with an Intel Core i9-13900K and AMD Ryzen 9 7950X to see how far we could push this air cooler. It’s very powerful with a high thermal capacity but even the NH-D15 struggled to prevent both the Intel Core i9 and AMD Ryzen 9 from thermal throttling when pushed hard. It wasn’t terrible and running games was perfectly fine, but this does mean you’re losing out on utilizing the processor as designed by the chipmakers. For the highest tier of CPUs, we’d always recommend the best AIO liquid cooler.

We decided to run an Intel Core i7-13700K with the same NH-D15 and saw positive results without touching any settings in the BIOS to undervolt or limit the processor’s boosting capabilities. Bearing in mind this CPU cooler was originally released in 2014, it performs remarkably well with the latest AMD and Intel processors, so long as you keep your expectations in check. Even with such a beefy air cooler attached to the Core i7-13700K, we managed to surpass 90C when running Cinebench but failed to see any serious thermal throttling, which is precisely what we want to see with desktop CPUs.

The Core i7-13700K was comfortably running at 35C idle and 74C on average when playing a variety of PC games. This cooler is great for gaming but we’d recommend against installing one inside a system that’s to be used for content creation. The Noctua NH-D15 is rated at around 220W for maximum TDP, but the cooler will struggle with processors that draw this much power. An AMD Ryzen 9 7950X or Intel Core i9-13900K at full load will be too much for the Noctua NH-D15 to handle, even at stock settings.

The sweet spot for this CPU cooler is AMD Ryzen 5 and Intel Core i5, which also leaves some room for overclocking.

The processors run well, but thermal throttling will take place, which reduces the amount of performance available through lower clock speeds. It’s pointless spending multiple hundreds on a flagship processor only to not be able to fully use it. Overclocking is out of the question altogether and we would advise against doing so with an AMD Ryzen 7 or Intel Core i7 chip. The sweet spot for this CPU cooler is AMD Ryzen 5 and Intel Core i5, which also leaves some room for overclocking. An AMD Ryzen 5 7600 ran at just 57C for gaming and hit 84C when pushed hard in stress testing.

Should you buy the Noctua NH-D15?

Noctua NH-D15

You should buy the Noctua NH-D15 if:

  • You don’t plan on overclocking your CPU.
  • You don’t wish to use an Intel Core i9 or AMD Ryzen 9 CPU.
  • You have adequate clearance inside the PC case.

You shouldn’t buy the Noctua NH-D15 if:

  • You have a 175W TDP (or higher) CPU.
  • You have a compact PC case or larger RAM modules.
  • You plan on configuring some overclocking values.

The Noctua NH-D15 is one of the best air coolers money can buy right now. It may have been around for a good few years, but that’s a testament to how good it is at handling modern processors. Whether you’re building a PC with AMD or Intel, the Noctua NH-D15 will likely be compatible with the socket. We wouldn’t recommend pairing one with an AMD Ryzen 9 or Intel Core i9 processor, but anything below these product stacks would be perfect with the NH-D15. This is also a great prick for those who don’t plan on overclocking their system.

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

To be able to handle such a TDP rating, Noctua had to make the NH-D15 big and the height of 160mm may limit what PC cases can be used. Taller RAM modules may also have an issue with clearance (or lack thereof) when installed alongside the NH-D15. Having such a large surface area allows the cooler and its two massive fans to radiate and exhaust heat away from the CPU. For PC cases or system builds where an AIO liquid cooler cannot be used or simply doesn’t make sense, an air cooler such as the Noctua NH-D15 is one of the best CPU coolers to buy.

The Noctua NH-D15.
Noctua NH-D15

The Noctua NH-D15 is one of the most powerful air coolers on the market. It can handle high-performance CPUs and while it’s large, it gets the job done. Oh, and it comes in a stunning brown color.