Small-sized CPU coolers are always a challenge to design and produce. Usually, you have to choose between small volume and reduced cooling abilities or increase volume/mass and get higher performance rates. Noctua has followed both ways with the NH-D9L and NH-U9S products. While both products are in the market for a long time, we did want to test them, since many users prefer to build small-factor systems, where such CPU coolers can be found very useful.
The Noctua NH-D9L is a product designed to have full 3U rack compliance with very low height, a central 92mm Noctua fan, and a complete retail package. The mounting mechanism was very easy to perform and we like the way Noctua designs its product and offers free support for older (and perhaps newer) sockets like the Intel LGA 775/1366. In terms of performance, you should expect much better performance compared with Intel/AMD stock CPU coolers, however, due to dimensions and volume, cannot compete with bigger CPU coolers, even with its Noctua "brother" the NH-U9S. The compatibility list is very good with most motherboards and Noctua, as always, offers a massive compatibility list on their website for users to view before buying.
Passing to the bigger brother, the Noctua NH-U9S we were surprized by its performance/package since manages to give really good performance for normal loads, especially when paired with an additional Noctua NF-9 PWM fan. After all, Noctua has already a second set of mounting clips for a second fan and if you plan to buy the NH-U9S you need to get a second fan for sure. The mounting mechanism is again Noctua SecuFirm 2, even this time it uses slightly different motherboard plates compared with the NH-D9L since both products have different designs and mounting orientations.
Build quality for both products is top notch as expected and...as you also might be expected are their retail prices as well. The Noctua NH-D9L costs around 62 Euro/USD, while the NH-U9S costs around 73.00 Euro (including VAT). Noctua products always had the premium price and we understand why, Noctua always backs their product with new "free" mounting mechanisms for future sockets, and the 6 years of warranty compared with other manufacturers do add to the overall retail price value.
As this review, we must not forget the very good Noctua NF-A9 PWM 92mm rotating fan that adds a lot to the performance of both products. Its retail price is 20 Euro/USD so adding a second fan to the NH-U9S will bring up the total value, however, performance would be much better.
Concluding this review, we have to congrats Noctua for giving users many different options and products to choose from. We did ask for both products to review/test them, since we did have a project in-house that will use both of them, to cool down a Small Factor PC system from a known manufacturer, that had a very terrible stock cooling performance. Great work from Noctua and we hope that both products will get support also in the future with new mounting mechanisms for future Intel/AMD sockets.