When it comes to the challenge of creating a tiny little cooler for tiny little builds, it’s always C-type CPU coolers like the Noctua NH-L12. Of course, not all motherboards and cases are made the same – here’s the Noctua NH-U9S, a tower type cooler made specifically with mini-ITX boards in mind.

Just how well does it perform? Well, I guess we’ll find out here.

Unboxing

Noctua NH-U9S box

Again, top quality packaging by Noctua. Absolutely love the way they handle things here – with a thick cardboard box and high-quality printing and embossing all throughout the box itself. It still maintains the same design language, by the way – a signature of Noctua’s brand.

Again, excellent packaging and dampening materials for the cooler!

Let’s first look at the accessories. Noctua has included pretty more than what you’ll need. The entire accessory kit included can mount to Intel’s LGA2011v3, LGA115X, AMD’s AM2 all the way to AM3+. There’s even another set of brackets to mount another fan for the Noctua NH-U9S too! Just make sure you get another NF-A9 PWM fan for your push-pull configuration because they didn’t include a 4-pin Y-cable splitter with the Noctua NH-U9S.

Noctua NH-U9S accessory box
Everything is nicely labeled.

I’m quite disappointed since Noctua didn’t include at least a 4-pin Y-cable splitter so I can mount another 92mm fan on the Noctua NH-U9S.

Noctua NH-U9S accessories
Mounting brackets for both AMD and Intel, a long Philips screwdriver, and installation manuals.

Noctua’s UxS series comes with a different mounting bracket – and that’s certainly something to take note of if you’re planning to get an AM4-based Ryzen build. Not to worry, as you can get a free mounting bracket from Noctua themselves.

Noctua NH-U9S unboxing

Then there’s the cooler itself. It’s encased in a nice set of cardboard, with really ample amount of extra padding with the cardboard itself to minimize damage. So far, these coolers are directly sent to me directly from Noctua themselves – and none of them have any sorts of damage at all.

I absolutely love unboxing Noctua products, by the way.

Design

Noctua NH-U9S pose

The only one word I can describe the Noctua NH-U9S is one word – cute. Yeah, cute. It’s the one adjective that not many PC hardware components will ever have – but I have to grant it to this cooler – here’s why.

Noctua NH-U9S top down

The  Noctua NH-U9S is box-like when a single fan is installed – and I’m not wrong either. On the spec sheet for this cute little cooler, it measures at a fantastic 95mm x 95mm for both width and depth when the fan is installed, while measuring at 125mm tall. It’s actually taller but slimmer when compared to their C-type NH-L12 that we reviewed here. Strapping in another NF-A9 PWM fan will obviously add another 25mm to its thickness.

Noctua NH-U9S pose

Noctua boasts that the cute little Noctua NH-U9S can cool an overclocked LGA115X CPU too – which includes Skylake and Kaby Lake, if you’re wondering. I’m not surprised at all as the Noctua NH-U9S has a total of 5 heat pipes going through the base and flank on both sides of the stack of thick aluminium fins.

Noctua NH-U9S fin stack

The entire cooler itself without the fan weighs in at about 515 grams – which is an important metric for specific heat capacity. Also for comparison with their other cooler – the Noctua NH-U12S.

Installation

Again, simple installation. Follow the manual and you’ll get it done in no time. It literally took me 15 minutes to swap out my cooler to the Noctua NH-U9S, but of course, it’s thanks to the Sharkoon BW9000-W’s large CPU cutout for easy access. However, the Noctua NH-U9S is so easy to install because of its size that I didn’t have to take out my GPU before installing the CPU cooler! Zero obstruction!

Noctua NH-U9S installation
Lots of space between the RAM and graphics card!

Oh – by the way, Noctua made some pretty bold claims when it comes to compatibility here. Quoting directly from their box, Noctua claims to have “100% RAM compatibility” and “100% compatibility with PCIe cards on mini-ITX”. I can vouch for its compatibility here, as the fan sits right beside the leftmost DIMM, and like I mentioned earlier, I didn’t have to remove the GPU before installation. There’s plenty of space between the Noctua NH-U9S and the topmost PCIe slot.

Once that’s done, strap on the fan and connect the 4-pin to your motherboard’s CPU fan 4-pin header.

“100% RAM compatibility” and “100% compatibility with PCIe cards on mini-ITX”

If you do wish to go for the dual-fan configuration, get back Noctua’s NF-A9 PWM as it includes the low-noise adapter (L.N.A.), Y-cable to split the 4-pin connector, and proper anti-vibration pads on each corner of the fan. The reason why is simple – you can have Noctua’s complete set of accessory so that you can further lower the temperatures, or utilize both low-noise adapters that you now have for your push-pull configuration to further reduce noise.

Also, make sure your second fan has anti-vibration pads.

Noctua NH-U9S dual-fan
The second 92mm fan bracket that’s included with the Noctua NH-U9S.

Again, your choice.

Performance

Here’s a catch. For me, I don’t think I will recommend buying another Noctua NF-A9 PWM fan to go create the push-pull configuration alongside with what’s included inside the Noctua NH-U9S. The reason is that in Malaysia alone, the Noctua NF-A9 PWM is not even available for sale!

For all of my international readers (thank you for checking us out!), the NF-A9 PWM costs about $17 USD.

Noctua NH-U9S pose

So, with that said, I’ll be testing it in a single-fan configuration – as many of you will only use it with one fan anyway. Once everything is assembled, I began firing up benchmarks and test the temperatures while everything is seating inside the Sharkoon BW9000-W case.

Testing hardware configuration
CPU Intel i5-6400 @ 4.0GHz
Motherboard ASRock Z170 Pro4
GPU MSI GEFORCE GTX 1060 3GT OC
Memory Corsair Vengeance LPX 4GBx4
Power supply FSP Hexa+ 550W

I used AIDA64 for CPU and memory stress testing, and then FurMark for GPU testing. At about a 29℃ ambient, here’s what I got. Malaysia is a pretty steamy place, by the way.

NH-U9S (℃)
CPU GPU
Idle 35 31
CPU Only 50 31
GPU Only 55 75
CPU + GPU 52 74

Not too bad! Granted, the fan is running on PWM mode so the fans do kick in harder when it’s needed. Strangely, it’s very silent in single-fan configuration and without the LNA installed. I can tell you that for such a cute little cooler, it performs magnificently well!

Compared to the Noctua’s NH-L12 C-type CPU cooler, the NH-U9S can create an airflow from the front of the case and exhaust it to the rear as it’s a tower-type cooler after all. I personally would prefer this type of cooler instead of a C-type cooler, if possible.

There isn’t much overclocking headroom, by the way.

Wrapping up the Noctua NH-U9S review

It’s difficult to dismiss Noctua’s engineering magnificence. The Noctua NH-U9S is tiny, cute, a really yet powerful cooler with great compatibility. It’s easy to install, and I manage to get everything in without even removing my graphics card. The Noctua NH-U9S is really quiet even without using the included low-noise adapter.

Noctua NH-U9S top down

For the price of RM295 at Lazada or about $65 USD over at Amazon, the Noctua NH-U9S is an easy recommendation from me despite its high price. Its tiny form factor is obviously meant for those who either seek a clean aesthetic with a square cooler while easy accessibility to other parts of the motherboard (I’m one of them), or for mini-ITX builds with low temperatures.

Also, there’s a 6-year warranty!
Did I mention that the Noctua NH-U9S is really cute?


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