Noise Testing and Fitment
Of course, cooling performance is important, but if it drives you insane while doing it you aren’t going to want to keep that cooler in your build right? For this I set up without the top panel and did three tests. I tested the noise levels from 18 inches away. I did this at 100% fan speed and 50% fan speed. Then I used AIDA64 Stress Test with the CPU setting and let the cooler run the stock fan profile. Once at max temperature I used the meter to note the noise level there as well. Basically we can see the loudest the cooler will go and at 50% you get an idea of how that level ramps up. Then I get real-world levels when the CPU is under load.
So how did the four coolers do? Well, this is Noctua’s test to lose, they are known for their low noise levels from the start and you can see it in the results. At 100% fan speed the NH-U9 with its dual 92mm fans was the loudest of the Noctua coolers and the 50% reflected that as well. The U12S was better but the U14S was the best. Under load the U12S was the loudest though, those dual 92mm fans on the NH-U9 keep helping it a lot. The U14S was worlds apart even from the other two Noctua coolers. The Wraith Ripper, on the other hand, was noisy in comparison in all of the tests. Being 9 decibels louder than even the loudest Noctua was impressive considering how decibels scale up. Overall I wouldn’t call the Wraith Ripper loud at all, but I would consider it to be noticeable. The NH-U19 was noticeable at full speed but beyond that you just don’t hear them when you have other noises in your house. For my testing with the Noctua fans, especially the U14S I actually had to go and unplug my refrigerator because it was effecting my testing and it was in a completely different room. You have other ambient noises around you and the U14S just completely blends in.
I also need to address the different sizes of the four heatsinks, you can’t really say that the U14S is the only cooler to buy for example. It depends on the look you are going for, your case and its clearances, and also the memory you are running. Sometimes even the motherboard changes if things will fit. For example my Crush build in the CaseLabs Bullet BH7 is almost the exact same size as the BH8 case, but they added just a touch on the height that finally allows full-sized coolers. That was the difference in be running a big cooler on the X299 CPU and the NH-U9 that I use.
So we know the NH-U9 is the smallest of the coolers tested but just how small is it. Well, it is mostly its height that is small, it comes in at just 125mm tall in total. But the cooler is a lot deeper with a thick heatsink and the dual push-pull fan configuration helping still pack in cooling. That wide cooler is going to go over your memory slots in just about any configuration as you can see below.
The NH-U12S is the next smallest at 158mm tall and it is wider as well, but it is the thinnest when it comes to depth. The extra height helps a lot, but being so skinny it doesn’t even get up over top of the memory on the Zenith Extreme. Even adding a second fan shouldn’t cause any problems.
The largest of the Noctua coolers is the NH-U14S and this is the cooler that I was worried might not fit in the BH8 as it comes in at 165mm tall. It is wider again which also had me a little concerned that it might get close to the video card but neither ended up being an issue. You can see that there was still another full inch above the fan at the top and room to work around the GPU as well, though if the motherboard had its x16 slot at the top, not two slots down that would be an issue. Normally you could just flip the heatsink to be horizontal but because of the rectangle-shaped CPU you can’t flip this one around. Then on the depth the NH-U14S is thicker than the U12S but only by 7mm which wasn’t enough to get it close to the memory slots. It looks like the rear slots might be closer if you add a second fan, however. Especially if you run the same fan which would touch right on the top of the memory if over it.
So the Wraith Ripper by most dimensions is the largest of the four coolers. This is exaggerated even more by the plastic housing covering everything up. The U14S is 4.5mm taller, and 17mm wider, but the 150mm depth is even more than the dual-fan NH-U9 and at the height it makes for a very large heatsink. I have this one listed at fits most tall memory, but not a hard yes. This is because when you look at the Wraith Rippers layout on the bottom corners they have an angle to help with clearance. But it covers the first slot. On the covered part there is some extra room, so medium height memory would be fine or as you can see on my setup. Even with tall memory, if I’m only using half of the slots that inside slot doesn’t get used. The Wraith Ripper is also the only cooler of the four that is decked out in a build matching black and has the addressable RGB LEDs as you can see in the picture below. It’s a great looking cooler, maybe the best looking cooler even.