Question Deciding about CPU Cooling - Noctua NH-D15 vs Arctic Liquid Freezer II 240

Boberg

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Dec 26, 2015
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Hi everyone.

I'm having a hard time deciding what CPU cooling I should get for my PC build. It's the first PC I'm building, and as a result I'm a bit confused by all aspects to consider.
I've already ordered the Arctic Liquid Freezer II 240, but I'm having second doubts. Should I go for the Noctua NH-D15 instead? It's available from a local store close to me, so I could pick it up easily.

I've read quite a bit about the Noctua being easier to install and requiring little to no maintenance, while the Arctic Liquid Freezer is a bit more complicated to get in place and runs the risk of leakage and more maintenance. So I'd love to hear your input on the two.

My current build is as following:
Case - Fractal Design Define 7 Compact
CPU - Intel Core i7 13700K 3.4Ghz 54MB TPM: 150W
Motherboard - ASUS Prime Z790-A WIFI
RAM - Kingston 32GB (2x16GB) DDR5 4800MHz CL38 FURY Beast
SSD - Corsair MP600 PRO LPX 1TB M.2 2280 Storage size: 1TB Reading speed: 7100 MB/sec Writing speed: 5800 MB/sec PCIe Gen4 x4
PSU - Corsair RM850e 850W Wattage: 850W

So to clarify my questions:
Would both be sufficient for the i7 13700K?
Would it be harder to install one or the other with the case I've purchased? It's also worth noting that the case has no mesh, so the airflow is probably not the best.
I've also check the available height over the motherboard, but I'm still a bit unsure if they would fit.

Any feedback on this would be highly appreciated. Thank you in advance!
 

Phaaze88

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I've read quite a bit about the Noctua being easier to install and requiring little to no maintenance, while the Arctic Liquid Freezer is a bit more complicated to get in place and runs the risk of leakage and more maintenance.
The Freezer doesn't require any more maintenance than the D15. AIO/CLCs are intended to be cheaper, and less maintenance alternative to custom loop. What's inconvenient about them is when the pump fails or the loop clogs... and since they're 'maintenance-free', you're left with having to throw the thing out(keep the fans that still work), and get a brand new cooler.

Would both be sufficient for the i7 13700K?
Depends on how you will use the cpu.
Games? Won't matter at all.
Rendering or other all core workload? D15 would bow out first without reigning in the cpu power limit. Freezer should handle it a little better, but will also succumb to the high power draw.
Likely need a 360 or 420mm if you don't want to power limit it, but 13th gen cpus react well to power limits; you don't lose much from applying one.

Would it be harder to install one or the other with the case I've purchased? It's also worth noting that the case has no mesh, so the airflow is probably not the best.
No.
Your note about airflow makes my earlier note about power limits more prominent.

I've also check the available height over the motherboard, but I'm still a bit unsure if they would fit.
D15: 165mm, clears 30mm tall ram.
Define 7 Compact: 169mm
Fury Beast DDR5: 35mm
D15 will not fit in the commonly seen position:

Instead, you would do the following:
... and remove the rear 120mm case fan; it's just too close.


Freezer II is well within the clearance specs up front, but I am against installing radiators against non-meshed panels - or in this case, the door closed.
Up top will also be fine; Fractal has the mounting bracket offset towards the side panel, instead of centered. More clearance away from the motherboard.
 

Boberg

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Dec 26, 2015
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The Freezer doesn't require any more maintenance than the D15. AIO/CLCs are intended to be cheaper, and less maintenance alternative to custom loop. What's inconvenient about them is when the pump fails or the loop clogs... and since they're 'maintenance-free', you're left with having to throw the thing out(keep the fans that still work), and get a brand new cooler.


Depends on how you will use the cpu.
Games? Won't matter at all.
Rendering or other all core workload? D15 would bow out first without reigning in the cpu power limit. Freezer should handle it a little better, but will also succumb to the high power draw.
Likely need a 360 or 420mm if you don't want to power limit it, but 13th gen cpus react well to power limits; you don't lose much from applying one.


No.
Your note about airflow makes my earlier note about power limits more prominent.


D15: 165mm, clears 30mm tall ram.
Define 7 Compact: 169mm
Fury Beast DDR5: 35mm
D15 will not fit in the commonly seen position:

Instead, you would do the following:
... and remove the rear 120mm case fan; it's just too close.


Freezer II is well within the clearance specs up front, but I am against installing radiators against non-meshed panels - or in this case, the door closed.
Up top will also be fine; Fractal has the mounting bracket offset towards the side panel, instead of centered. More clearance away from the motherboard.
Thanks for the thoughtful reply! Great information for me.

I've decided to go with the Noctua NH-D15 as a start. I do quite heavy music production with a large amount of samples, so the CPU is quite critical for me. But I'll start with using a power limit and see how it works out.
Would it be possible to add another fan after I've added the Noctua NH-D15? I plan to do as you say, put the Noctua in the top and remove the rear 120mm case fan. I then suppose I could I add another fan somewhere else or atleast upgrade one of the case fans to something more powerful? Then I can better judge how well it works with the Noctua NH-D15 and see what more I would need.
 

Phaaze88

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Would it be possible to add another fan after I've added the Noctua NH-D15?
Yes, but whether it helps or not will yet to be seen - more fans is not always more better. Diminishing returns is a thing.

upgrade one of the case fans to something more powerful?
Needs to be balanced/adjusted to your hearing comfort zone, after which you might not notice any major improvements.
 

Boberg

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Dec 26, 2015
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Yes, but whether it helps or not will yet to be seen - more fans is not always more better. Diminishing returns is a thing.


Needs to be balanced/adjusted to your hearing comfort zone, after which you might not notice any major improvements.
I see. Thanks for the information! I'm new to this so diminishing returns was not something I thought of, but that seem logical.

I'm still planning to do as you suggested with the Noctua NH-D15, moving the 2nd fan to the other side. I'm just wondering, except removing the rear case fan, will it affect the performance of the Noctua NH-D15 in any way?
 
I see. Thanks for the information! I'm new to this so diminishing returns was not something I thought of, but that seem logical.

I'm still planning to do as you suggested with the Noctua NH-D15, moving the 2nd fan to the other side. I'm just wondering, except removing the rear case fan, will it affect the performance of the Noctua NH-D15 in any way?
You'd have to experiment to get an accurate answer, but fiddling with the stock fans on a Noctua may make less difference than you hope or expect. Guessing under 5 degrees.

You might get more bang for the buck by deciding you can tolerate a higher noise level....higher RPM. Noctua fans are known for low noise, but as I recall the stock fans are variable speed but not high RPM. Noctua does make some high RPM fans, but you'd have to buy them separately.
 

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