Noctua NH-U9S chromax.black Cooler Review: Best Cooler for Small Form Factor PCs
The Noctua NH-U9S chromax.black is the all-black version of the award-winning NH-U9S cooler. It was released late last year along with the NH-D15S chromax.black cooler – both sporting an all-black construction which is perfect for all-black and non-RGB builds. Like the standard NH-U9S, the chromax.black edition cooler also uses an NF-A9 PWM fan which has proven quietness of operation. The cooler offers outstanding memory clearance and PCIe compatibility making it ideal for small form factor PC builds. It comes with a tube of Noctua NT-H1 thermal paste and is covered with a 6-year warranty.
To learn more about the NH-U9S chromax.black CPU cooler, please visit Noctua.
The Gaming Stuff would like to thank Noctua for sending us this sample to review. Check out our unboxing and review video below.
- Award-winning NH-U9S cooler: one of the best 92mm coolers on the market.
- chromax.black design: a black coated heatsink, a black fan with black anti-vibration pads, black fan clips and black mounting parts, it is right at home in all-black builds and easy to integrate with other color schemes.
- Color-customizable using optional NA-SAVP5 anti-vibration pads (available in black, blue, green, red, yellow, white)
- 100% RAM compatibility with its compact 95x95mm footprint
- 100% compatibility with PCIe cards on mini-ITX
- NF-A9 premium fan
- Dual fan ready using the extra set of fan mounting clips for users who want to achieve even better cooling performance by adding a second, optional NF-A9 PWM chromax.black.swap fan
- SecuFirm2™ multi-socket mounting system
- Compatibility with past and future sockets
- Noctua NT-H1 thermal compound
- Soldered interface between heatpipes and fins
- 6-year manufacturer’s warranty
|Socket Compatibility||Intel LGA2066, LGA2011-0 & LGA2011-3 (Square ILM), LGA1200 LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1151, LGA1150 & AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+ (backplate required), AM4|
|Heights (Without Fan)||125 mm|
|Width (without fan)||95 mm|
|Depth (without fan)||68 mm|
|Height (with fan)||125 mm|
|Width (with fan)||95 mm|
|Depth (with fan)||95 mm|
|Weight (with fan)||618 g|
|Material||Copper (base and heat-pipes), aluminium (cooling fins), soldered joints & nickel plating|
|Scope of Delivery||Black NH-U9S heatsink|
NF-A9 PWM chromax.black premium fan
NA-RC7 Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A)
NT-H1 high-grade thermal compound
Black SecuFirm2™ mounting kit
Black fan-clips for second NF-A9
Noctua Metal Case-Badge
|Model||Noctua NF-A9 PWM chromax.black|
|Max. rotational speed (+/- 10%)||2000 RPM|
|Max. rotational speed with L.N.A. (+/- 10%)||1550 RPM|
|Min. rotational speed (PWM, +/-20%)||400 RPM|
|Max. airflow||78.9 m³/h|
|Max. airflow with L.N.A.||62.6 m³/h|
|Max. acoustical noise||22.8 dB(A)|
|Max. acoustical noise with L.N.A.||16.3 dB(A)|
|MTTF||> 150.000 h|
The chromax.black series comes in a black packaging design as well. Technically, everything about the chromax.black series is simply the incorporation of the all-black design which appeals to non-RGB builders and those that dislike Noctua’s signature brown colors.
Noctua did a very good job making the NH-U9S chromax.black all black, only the base is devoid of the all-black coating. Even the fan clips, heat pipes, and mounting hardware are all black. Noctua did not specify if they used powder coating or anodizing but it seems to be very durable and resistant to scratches unlike the powder coating in most PC cases. I tried scratching the mounting bracket with the included screwdriver and the coating got barely scratched.
Testing and Performance
I’ve tested the NH-U9S chromax.black and compared it with other popular Noctua coolers that are ideal for small form factor PC builds namely the NH-L9a and NH-L12S. These are best-in-class CPU coolers for mini-ITX and HTPC builds. I used a Ryzen 7 1800X processor and an ASRock X470 Taichi Ultimate motherboard for this test. I was only able to use one memory stick due to the HyperX Predator DDR4 (first-generation) having very tall heatsinks. Populating more DIMM slots would pose a problem in mounting the NH-L12S CPU cooler.
- Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 1800X
- Motherboard: ASRock X470 Taichi Ultimate
- Cooler(s): Noctua NH-U9S chromax.black | Noctua NH-L12S | Noctua NH-L9a AM4
- Memory: 1x HyperX Predator DDR4-2666 8GB
- GPU: ASUS Dual Radeon RX 580 4G
- PSU: SilverStone SX750 SFX 80PLUS Platinum
- Storage: Transcend 256GB SSD
- Operating System: Windows 10
I will be using AIDA64‘s CPU stress test feature to test the load temperatures of the processor after a 10 minute period. The average temperature will be taken, the room temperature is around 20~21°C. I’m using an open testbench to remove airflow restrictions present in cases. This setup gives the coolers the best-case scenario of having no airflow restrictions.
Based on the test conducted, the NH-U9S chromax.black offers very similar performance as the larger NH-L12S that uses a 120mm fan but the NH-U9S packs more heatpipes. Nevertheless, the NH-U9S delivers superb cooling performance even for an 8-core processor running at 100% load.
If you are planning to build a small form factor gaming PC without RGB lighting – the Noctua NH-U9S chromax.black is the perfect cooler for you. Let me first start by highlighting the all-black coating of the cooler. Noctua gave the chromax.black edition an all-black design not just to the cooler but also to the NH-A9 PWM chromax.black cooling fan and mounting hardware. Even the fan’s power cable comes with a black sleeve and black PWM fan header connector. Indeed it is a very stealthy cooler. The cooler’s small footprint offers excellent memory clearance as well unlike the NH-L12S wherein tall memory heat spreaders become a problem. The NH-L12S is cheaper at $54.95 (in Amazon) but has memory and PCIe clearance restrictions but is an ideal choice for slim HTPC builds with very limited height clearance. The NH-L9a is the smallest but if you prefer better cooling, the NH-U9S is the best. If you don’t like Noctua’s signature brown color, the chromax.black edition is now available.
As expected from Noctua, the NH-U9S chromax.black can tame even the hottest multi-core processors like the eight-core Ryzen 7 1800X running at 100% load in room temperatures of 20~21°C.
The chromax.black edition of the NH-U9S is definitely more color-neutral compared to the standard version. Its all-black construction gave it stealth which is a huge plus for builders that dislike any form of RGB lighting on their PCs.
The NF-A9 PWM is very silent even at high RPMs, the room’s A/C is more audible even with the open testbench setup. Noctua fans are known for its silent operation and this is an aspect the brand really dominates.
Ease of Use (Excellent)
Noctua’s SecuFirm 2 mounting mechanism is probably one of the simplest and straightforward CPU cooler mounting mechanisms out there. Furthermore, Noctua included everything you need to mount the cooler with the bundled screwdriver. Noctua even printed a separate user’s manual for each supported CPU socket for Intel and AMD and supported HEDT platform.
I could only think of a very few alternatives for the NH-U9S chromax.black when it comes to small form factor PC builds. There aren’t many CPU coolers using the 92mm fan form factor. Also, most compact coolers using 92mm fans only come with four or fewer heat pipes while the NH-U9S comes with five. It may be on the expensive end for its class but it sure is way ahead for its class when it comes to its cooling performance.
The maintenance-free operation plus the compact footprint of the NH-U9S chromax.black truly makes it a must-have cooler for small form factor PC builds wherein all-in-one liquid coolers with their massive radiators or larger CPU air coolers using 120mm fans are not viable options. It is also the perfect cooler for stealth builds without RGB lighting. Furthermore, it comes with a 6-year warranty and a tube of NT-N1 thermal paste that can give you three or more reinstallations. Noctua also gives you a pair of spare fan clips if ever you plan to add another NF-A9 PWM fan to improve cooling performance.