Noctua NH-U9B SE2 Review Page: 1

Introduction

This summer we have reviewed CPU cooling solutions in all shapes and sizes from a just as varied number of manufacturers. Unsurprisingly there are some that we particularly liked and some that we didn't. Thus far Noctua is a brand that has never disappointed us, so when we were asked to review another one of their products we were more than happy to oblige. Today we will be reviewing an existing offering, but has very recently been refreshed; the NH-U9B SE2.


Yes, I know - yet another brand who insists on code names for products. I'm not sure what's so wrong about naming a cooler “The FLAGSHIP offering”, “The QUIET offering” and “The COMPACT offering”. Self describing names help the end user understand the significance and purpose of a particular product but sadly many brands don't quite appreciate this.

The NH-U9B is part of Noctua's family of Tower coolers, which sport U shaped heatpipes (hence the U in the name). It is however the smaller of the two tower coolers and can only support 92mm fans; hence the 9 in the product name. Finally, this particular version of the NH-U9B adds support for the recent LGA1156 socket and also comes with two 92mm fans for enhanced performance – the SE2 in the name denotes this.


Now that we're done deciphering the product's name, let's discuss specifications.

 

ManufacturerNoctua
ModelNH-U9B SE2
Socket CompatibilityIntel Mount
LGA775/1156/1366
AMD Mount
Socket AM2/AM3
Heatpipe Count4 x 6mm Heatpipes
Heatsink Dimensions (mm)

(H)125mm X (W)95mmX (D)75mm

Fan Dimensions
92 x 92 x 25 (mm) each
Fan Speed
1000-1600rpm
Weight

460g

Material

Copper Heatpipes, Aluminium Fins, Nickel Plating


Standing at 12cm in height, the NH-U9B is among the shortest tower based heatsinks. While it isn't quite suitable for small form factor style machines, it is likely to work very well in most ATX chassis and with it's small footprint from a base level, it should also suit most motherboards too.

Photoshoot time.



Noctua NH-U9B SE2 Review Page: 2

Packaging & Initial Impressions


The NH-U9B's packaging follows Noctua's standard theme of maroon on black. The front of the box reveals one of the heatsink's two 92mm fans. Opening the box from the top reveals two further containers inside.

Noctua NH-U9B SE2     Noctua NH-U9B SE2

One box contains the heatsink's accessories, the other contains the NH-U9B itself. As far as accessories are concerned, you are provided with two separate mounting kits (1 x AMD, 1 x Intel), two fans and an instruction manual.

Noctua NH-U9B SE2     Noctua NH-U9B SE2

The cooler itself directly resembles its bigger brother, the NH-U12. It features a dense fin structure and four (albeit not direct contact) heatpipes. All in all, the U9B manages to offer a large workable surface area, particularly thanks to its larger depth.

Noctua NH-U9B SE2     Noctua NH-U9B SE2

The fans are mounted by means of small metal clips, which link with indents in the heatsink as shown below.

Noctua NH-U9B SE2     Noctua NH-U9B SE2

The quality of the base is very reasonable; while not a shiny finish, it is flat and scratch free. The general build quality is to a high standard; levels beyond similar sized heatsinks such as the Arctic Freezer Pro. That said, its price tag and target audience is different.

The installation process is intuitive enough and results in a very tight fit. All in all we spent just under ten minutes fitting the NH-U9B.



Noctua NH-U9B SE2 Review Page: 3

Testbed

Intel Core i3 530 @ 2.93GHz 1.20V | 3.60GHz 1.25V | 4.00GHz 1.30V
Biostar TH55XE
4GB Kingston HyperX DDR3-1866 C9 Memory
nVidia GeForce GTX 460 768MB GDDR5
Be Quiet Dark Power Pro 750W
Noctua NH-U9B Heatsink

Windows 7 Home Premium x64


Temperatures

Following an extensive period of idle operation, we ran Prime95's Large FFTs test until a maximum and consistent temperature was determined. The test was repeated at three different clockspeeds and voltages and with either single and twin fan operation.

Our tests have shown that that the Noctua NH-U9B is more than capable of cooling a heavily overclocked dual core processor. While the second fan in push-pull configuration failed to drastically reduce temperatures, its addition did not excessively contribute to overall system noise.

The temperatures themselves are reasonable however not among the best of the coolers we have recently tested. However, it should be mentioned that the U9B was tested on a different Core i3 530 in a room with a different ambient temperature, which will inevitably have an impact on results. As such, I choise to not compare the results directly with other Core i3 530 tests.

It would seem that temperatures are not entirely the cooler's strong point, however noise levels are a major strength due to the included fans. Let's conclude.



Noctua NH-U9B SE2 Review Page: 4

Conclusion


I believe that it is safe to say that Noctua have produced yet another high quality offering.

The NH-U9B is a universal CPU heatsink that will cool your processor quietly and without consuming huge amounts of space. It is easy to install and is also backed by a stunning 6 year warranty, in the event that it decides to malfunction in a spectacular manner.

Our testing leads us to believe that the cooler is best suited towards lower heat consumption processors if your intention is to overclock; our Core i3 530 was kept at bay at 4.00GHz 1.30V however we're not quite sure that a fully fledged Core i7 Quad Core would remain as cool at a similar operational voltage and clock frequency. For those that don't intend on overclocking, this particular cooler will suit any processor up to and including the Core i7 970/980X Hex Cores for quiet operation.

The only major downside is the cooler's price. Weighing in a £45 means that it sits in the same territory as high end 120mm compliant coolers such as the Prolimatech Megahalems, however the Noctua offers a better accessory set, which includes two high quality fans.

All in all, another potent offering from Noctua. A great buy for those who care about silence however the keen overclockers may want to consider investing a further £10-15 on more capable (but larger) offerings.

The Good
- Quiet operation
- Easy Installation and Tight Fit
- Universal socket mounts

The Mediocre
- Pricing

The Bad
- None 

Thanks to Noctua for the NH-U9B-SE2 on test today, you can discuss our reults in the forums.