Hardware Reviews

Noctua NH-L9a-AM4: Compact CPU Cooler for Mini-PCs Reviewed

First Impression

The Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 is small and compact. And that’s what it has to be for its purpose. Nevertheless it is extremely high quality processed and we could not find any workmanship defects.

While the base plate and the two heatpipes are made of copper, the cooling fins are made of aluminium. To prevent the metals from attacking each other, the metals were nickel-plated. Despite its small size, the cooler weighs 390 g and is therefore extremely massive.

A typical Noctua fan in brown/beige is mounted on the heat sink. This is screwed and not, as with other coolers, only attached with clamps. Thus it sits very tightly, but can also be replaced without problems. A second fan cannot be mounted.

To prevent the fan from transmitting vibrations to the radiator body, it is decoupled with rubber spacers. To further reduce the volume of the already very quiet Noctua NF-A9x14 PWM fan, a low-noise adapter is also included, which reduces the maximum revolutions per minute from 2500 to 1800. This reduces the volume from max. 23.6 dB(A) to 14.8 dB(A). Of course, the cooling capacity also drops accordingly.

The rubber-coated connection cable of the fan is relatively short, but therefore just right for use on Mini-ITX mainboards. We were able to connect the fan to the ASUS ROG Strix B450-I Gaming without any problems.

Assembly

As already mentioned, we installed the Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 in a small Mini-ITX-PC. The following components were used:

Before we could start installing the Noctua NH-L9a-AM4, we had to remove the AMD stock cooler. In addition, the backplate of the mainboard must be removed, because the Noctua cooler has its own backplate. If you are also upgrading to the Noctua NH-L9a-AM4, don’t forget to clean the CPU, in our case the AMD Ryzen 5 2400G, and remove all residues of the previous thermal compound.

Now that we have cleaned the mainboard of the legacy loads, we have applied the NT-H1 heat conduction paste supplied. A small, pea-sized drop in the middle of the processor is sufficient for this.

Then we put on the Noctua NH-L9a-AM4, we didn’t have to remove a protective film before. Now carefully turn the mainboard and fix the backplate on the backside with the screws also supplied. We tighten the screws by hand and then tighten them with the screwdriver. To avoid unbalance, we always screw alternately crosswise until all screws are tight.

Last but not least we connect the 4-pin cable of the PWM fan to the mainboard.

Altogether the assembly is kept super simple, no fiddly Mounting-Kits must be attached. Nevertheless, the radiator is bombproof. We didn’t have any problems with the RAM or VRMs on the motherboard, because Noctua paid attention to a high compatibility.

Volume and Cooling Capacity

You will have noticed from the components that we have not installed a high-end system in the Kolink rocket. Nevertheless, the AMD Ryzen 5 2400G generates a lot of waste heat, which has to be cooled by the Noctua NH-L9a-AM4. This is not easy, especially in the small room, but the Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 masters it.

To heat up the processor, the processor was loaded with Prime95 for 15 minutes. The temperature was then read while the fans were running at maximum speed. The room temperature was about 20 degrees. For comparison we have listed the AMD Stock Cooler.

Cooling Temperature
AMD Wraith Stealth Cooler 79°C
AMD Wraith stealth cooler + 80mm case fan 77°C
Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 77°C
Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 + 80 mm case fan 74°C

The processor temperatures with the Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 are significantly lower than with the AMD Wraith Stealth cooler. But not only that: the volume is also significantly lower. The Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 remained amazingly quiet despite 2500 revolutions per minute.

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Simon Lüthje

I am co-founder of this blog and am very interested in everything that has to do with technology, but I also like to play games. I was born in Hamburg, but now I live in Berlin.

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