Low-profile Noctua cooler courts Mini-ITX users

Mini-ITX systems have become more attractive over the years for a number of reasons. The selection of boards and cases has improved dramatically, for example. Processor TDPs have fallen, as well, making it easier to cool the chips in small enclosures with relatively little airflow. Finding a quiet CPU cooler that fits inside a tiny Mini-ITX chassis can be difficult, though. Stock heatsinks are a little on the noisy side, and so are the low-profile models meant for servers.

At the Computex trade show earlier this year, Noctua showed us prototype coolers designed specicially for cramped Mini-ITX applications. Those prototypes have now become retail products: the NH-L9a and the NH-L9i. Both coolers stand just 1.46″ (37 mm) tall: 0.91″ (23 mm) for the heatsink and another 0.55″ (14 mm) for the included fan. The L9a is sized for AMD sockets, while the L9i is an exact fit for Intel ones. Neither cooler branches out from the socket area, so they shouldn’t conflict with adjacent memory or expansion slots.

As one might expect, these coolers have limitations. They’re designed to dissipate only 65W, which means you shouldn’t strap one to AMD’s new FX processors. The NH-L9x series should be pretty quiet, though. The associated NF-A9x14 fan features rubberized mounting points, a magnetic bearing, a custom PWM controller, and a host of little touches intended to improve airflow and reduce noise levels.

Like Noctua’s other products, the NH-L9x series doesn’t come cheap. Expect to pay $48 for the coolers, which should be available starting today. Six-year warranty coverage is included, which at least makes the price tag a little easier to swallow.

Comments closed
    • demani
    • 7 years ago

    First thing I thought looking at this was ” I used to have a Rubik’s snake in that color scheme…I wonder where that is…”

    Regardless of value proposition, it’s nice to see something not flashy but still nice to look at. I know it means nothing in terms of performance. But still-nice to see someone says “y’know, we don’t have to use black plastic for this.”

    • internetsandman
    • 7 years ago

    If you’re going for an ITX performance build, I think the best option is to find a case that supports a self contained liquid cooler. Silverstone has one in their Fortress Mini, though for some reason it’s not tall enough to support high-powered graphics cards in terms of their length (until someone makes a GTX 670 without the massive extension for the fan). Are there any other good ITX cases with LC support like that? An H60 or H80 would be in an entirely different class to diminutive air coolers

      • Airmantharp
      • 7 years ago

      This would be fine if you limited the system to mild overclocking with no extra voltage. The hard part in these systems though is keeping them cool, quiet and clean over time- and that’s where the integrated water-coolers really win. Crank the clocks as high as the system can handle, and the heat still gets dumped out of the case. Make sure you have more intake than exhaust and have good filters on those intakes, and you have a clean case.

      Of course, your next problem is going to be one of price vs. performance vs. heat dissipation- it’s real hard to pick AMD in a situation where there are limitations other than price. Intel wins here.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 7 years ago

    It would need to radically outperform the stock heatsink to be worthwhile. The tallest stock heatsink I know of for <=65W TDP CPUs is Intel’s at 50mm (or less), and they are pretty quiet even at full speed. How many cases can’t use the stock heatsink by 12mm of clearance?

    • Chrispy_
    • 7 years ago

    Ohhai there sexy. I bet you are very quiet. I want you [i<]bad[/i<].

      • helix
      • 7 years ago

      You want quiet in bed?? Thanks for sharing that with us. I guess.

        • internetsandman
        • 7 years ago

        It’s a nice change of pace from the usual complaints he’d hear

          • Chrispy_
          • 7 years ago

          …and here was me thinking that people with [i<]giant[/i<] tower coolers were overcompensating... 😉

            • shaq_mobile
            • 7 years ago

            its not the size of your fan, but how fast you spin it ;p

            • shaq_mobile
            • 7 years ago

            i think i just weirded myself out.

            • Chrispy_
            • 7 years ago

            I think I know why too! :O

            OH GOD THE INTERNET IS A HORRIBLE PLACE (though I couldn’t live without it).

            • internetsandman
            • 7 years ago

            That’s why we go for water cooling 😀

    • blitzy
    • 7 years ago

    I have to say that I was really impressed with the quality of my noctua, (nh-d14 i think), really well made, sturdy and great instructions. Installed very easily and mounted firmly in place as it should, easy to remove as well. You could even see that a lot of thought had gone into the packaging. Credit where credit’s due, nice job Noctua 🙂

    • jensend
    • 7 years ago

    On a related subject, the A10-5700 is now showing up at retailers (not yet at newegg, but several other places), so there’s actually a decent 65W cpu to use with the NH-L9a.

      • Derfer
      • 7 years ago

      Finally! Now all we need is the mini-itx boards and FM2 will start to make sense.

    • drfish
    • 7 years ago

    These would get announced the day after I order a Coolemaster GeminII M4 for [url=https://techreport.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=33&t=83983<]my new HTPC.[/url<] I think I will still be happy with my choice as long as it fits... I'd still rather have used the Big Shuriken 2 though - but I know it wont fit.

      • Deanjo
      • 7 years ago

      Great little cooler (the Coolemaster GeminII M4). Kind of a pain to mount but works fine otherwise.

        • drfish
        • 7 years ago

        I might have to get a little creative mounting it anyway – that’s my biggest unknown of the entire build – will I have clearance enough to install the hard-drives behind the motherboard with the HSF bracket back there too… That’s the reason the BS2 won’t work…

    • Voldenuit
    • 7 years ago

    $48 is a lot to spend on a cooler for a CPU that is probably going into a HTPC box. For a typical HTPC CPU, this can easily be 50% of the cost of a CPU, maybe even more.

      • tay
      • 7 years ago

      Yeah I’ve bought aftermarket coolers since the Pentium Pro. I doubt I’ll buy one again. Just overspend a bit on the cpu and undervolt/underclock to keep it quiet.

      • Bauxite
      • 7 years ago

      ITX already jacks up the price of boards and cases all else being equal, no surprise there.

      Noctua’s stuff isn’t cheap, but it is good and they keep supporting newer sockets with mounting kits. Hell, most of the changes are just pin count/key anyways. Unless the keep-out area of sockets changes a lot, a good heatsink will outlast any cpu, you can replace the fan later too.

      You can find good sales once in awhile, e.g. I’ve seen their flagship NH-D14 for $60 several times, and it wipes the floor vs lot of the sealed all-in-one watercoolers.

      • Farting Bob
      • 7 years ago

      Unles you are obsessed about quietness or getting the best temperature you can it doesnt make much sense to stray from the retail cooler for such a build, but ive always liked the idea of a powerful, quiet and tiny miniITX build that can still do some gaming. This sort of cooler would be ideal.

      • Vasilyfav
      • 7 years ago

      $48 is more than 50% more of the newly price reduced AMD’s APU dual core line up.

      • ludi
      • 7 years ago

      Depends on the intention, though: are we talking about the cheapest possible box, or the smallest and quietest possible box? IMO these are neither the same goal nor the same target market.

    • Machupo
    • 7 years ago

    The Gelid Slim Silence iPlus dissipates the same amount of heat in the same footprint with only 28mm of height (fan included), and it’s only $30.

    • eitje
    • 7 years ago

    hello nurse.

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