Noctua is a well-known and respected company in the world of competitive CPU coolers, and it offers you devices that are optimized for low noise and high efficiency. Their latest product for the AMD Ryzen processors, the NH-L9a-AM4, is a true stock performer with minimal noise levels.
The NH-L9a-AM4’s minimalistic dimensions provide excellent compatibility with almost all the AM4-based systems. Compared to the other line of coolers from Noctua, the NH-L9a-AM4 utilizes a proprietary mounting system and not the regular Secu-Firm2 mounting system.
Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 Review – What’s in the Box?
The NH-L9a-AM4 comes in a nice stylish package yet is made just like every other cooler package around. It’s just a bit smaller since this cooler doesn’t really take up a lot of space. The company has maintained their black and brown front with white trimmings for a while, but we really think that its design is good and quite attractive in its own way.
When you open the box, you’ll get to see almost every item included in the box; this is compared to the other Noctua coolers that we’ve tried and tested. The device is placed right at the center and mounted on thick foam, while on its left, you’ll find a low speed fan adapter, as well as a full tube of thermal paste on the right.
The company includes all the necessary mounting hardware, as well as all the accessories that are necessary to install and setup the NH-L9a-AM4 into the system. What’s included in the package are the fans, a thermal compound, and the motherboard & fan mounting hardware. If you want to have a cooler and even better board mounting, Noctua included a very informative instructional sheet to use the device with the AMD AM4 sockets.
Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 Review
The NH-L9a-AM4 cooler from Noctua is generally a low-profile device that was designed with both compatibility and performance in mind. It comes stocked with a 92-millimeter fan, horizontal radiator that’s between the base plate and fan, as well as nickel-plated heatpipes made of copper.
Its built-in heat pipes are made from copper which are necessary for heat transferring to the aluminum radiator and optimizing heat absorption from the CPU’s base plate. The aluminum radiator is designed to promote excellent transferring of heat coming from the heat pipes to the mode of air. The thin nickel plate that encases the heat pipes and base plate provides great scratch and corrosion resistance. This is without restricting heat transfers between the cooler’s parts.
The NH-L9a-AM4 utilizes the new NFA9x14 fan that provides increased air pressure and quiet performance simultaneously. The cooler has a smaller size yet has no issues when it comes to installing even on the ITX motherboard. The NH-L9a-AM4 utilizes the brand new NFA9x14 fan which provides a quiet network and increased air pressure simultaneously.
The device fits perfectly and both sides of the PCB do not display any issues. This is because the backplate is quite similar to the stock AMD’s which is why there aren’t any issues on the AM4 motherboard. The cooler’s base is made from copper and is also nickel-plated. And as expected from Noctua, this cooler has excellent contact with the CPU.
The NH-L9a-AM4 has a radiator made with a fin density of 16 fpi and has a thickness of the regular 120-millimeter system fans. There are two U-shaped built-in heatpipes that are necessary for maximizing heat dispersal via the radiator. These are pressed to the CPU base plate’s upper surface while redirecting the heat along its shape to the outer portion of the radiators. To help in transferring the heat to the radiator fins, as well as to add enough rigidity to its structure, each of the heatpipes are soldered to each aluminum radiator fins.
Thermal grease coming from the cooler is of high-quality, and you won’t find anything this good in the market. Noctua continues to include the NT-H1 tube to all of their coolers, whether these are the cheaper or more expensive models. This is because all of their products are of top quality.
Now let’s move onto the device specifications. This NH-L9a-AM4 is a low-profile and extremely small cooler which makes it an excellent device for even the smallest PC cases. It only measures 37 millimeters high which already includes the 23-millimeter thick heatsink, and the 15-millimeter thick NFA9x14 low profile fan.
With the heatsink’s small footprints, there won’t be any overhanging of the fan or heatsink over the RAM slots. This offers you with more options, as well as increased flexibility when it comes to RAM module choices. The heatsink features copper heatpipes & base, nickel plating, aluminum cooling fins, and soldered joints. Its overall weight is just 465 grams which already includes the fan. NH-L9a-AM4 is highly recommended for APUs / CPUs that need a 95-Watt TDP, but the company does not suggest that you overclock using this specific cooler. Additionally, the NH-L9a-AM4 comes with a good six-year warranty from Noctua.
Revised for the AM4 Socket
The orginal NH-L9a for previous sockets have received numerous recommendations and awards from hardware magazines and websites. With that, Noctua revised their cooler for the AM4. It has the same heatsink design, offering low profile cooling performance for APUs and CPUs from Ryzen.
37-Millimeter Low Profile
Since the low-profile NF-A9x14 fan and the slim 23-millimeter heatsink has a thickness of only 14 millimeters, the cooler stands 37 millimeters tall. This makes it the best choice for small form factor cases, as well as compact HTPCs which offer limited clearance for CPU coolers.
Total RAM Compatibility
This cooler’s design is compact and it completely complies with the socket keep-out zones which AMD specified. With that, neither the fan nor the heatsink overhang the RAM so it gives the cooler easier access to the slots. You will also not need to worry about it being compatible with tall memory modules.
A lot of low-profile coolers make use of larger heatsinks and fans to provide adequate cooling performance. However, these large units protrude and block the socket zone, making it difficult or impossible to reach the connectors that are close, especially when the ITX motherboards are small. With its compact design, the NH-L9a-AM4 offers easy access to all the parts.
Premium NF-A9x14 PWM Fan
The highly optimized premium NF-A9x14 fan has the exclusive AAO frame and aerodynamic blueprint from Noctua. It supports PWM for completely automatic control on its speed, and it also keeps the cooler silent.
The LNA or Low-Noise Adaptor reduces the maximum speed of the PWM fan to 1800 rpm. With that, near-silent setups utilizing CPUs that have lower than 65W TDP can be achieved.
Customized Secu-Firm 2 Mounting
The NH-L9a-AM4 features a customized Secu-Firm 2 mounting system for Ryzen’s AM4 socket. This allows the heatsink to be arranged from behind the motherboard, thus, making setup easier.
Professional Grade NT-H1 Solution
Noctua’s NT-H1 thermal compound is a TIM solution that offers less thermal resistance, ease of use, as well as high reliability. It is also the best choice for enthusiasts and overclockers around the world.
Using the Product
Regardless of the fan that we connected to the NH-L9a-AM4, both devices reached their maximum speed during our PWM tests. It isn’t really a big deal since fans from Noctua don’t really make a lot of noise compared to your typical fans with the same size.
The NFA9 (optional) is barely audible at 1,500 rpm which even barely registered on our decibel meter at just 40 centimeters above the ambient room noise.
Just as we expected, the NH-L9a-AM4 from Noctua was still really quiet. We did hear a faint sound that wasn’t really much of an issue since it was very tolerable anyway. With that, the NH-L9a-AM4 performed excellently and we’re giving this device a solid thumbs-up for it.
It’s easy to compare the thermal performances of different coolers but when it comes to low profile coolers, these are made to address the problem with space limitations. Since Noctua’s design team has released the NH-L9i for Intel years ago, they delivered another excellent product for Ryzen processors earlier this year, and this is the NH-L9a-AM4.
When creating a miniature build, there is always a compromise on hard drive bays, optical drives, PCIe slots, graphics card choices, as well as the CPU cooler. If you need a low-profile cooler that is silent, we highly recommend Noctua’s NH-L9a-AM4 for you.