ReviewsCoolersNoctua NH L9A AM4 Review: Verdict + Benchmarks

Noctua NH L9A AM4 Review: Verdict + Benchmarks

Comprehensive Testing of Noctua NH-L9a-AM4: Assessing Its Performance, Compatibility, and Visual Appeal

Expert Verified By

Perfect For Small Builds!

Review Summary

The Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 is a compact, low-profile CPU cooler designed for AMD Ryzen systems in HTPC and SFF builds. With a height of 37mm, it ensures compatibility with limited spaces while delivering efficient cooling for up to 95W TDP.

Hours Tested: 5

Tech4Gamers Recommended Award

Overall
8.9/10
8.9/10
  • Performance - 9/10
    9/10
  • Design - 9.5/10
    9.5/10
  • Features - 9/10
    9/10
  • Value - 8/10
    8/10

Pros

  • Compact
  • Low-profile
  • AM4 Socket Compatibility
  • Efficient Cooling
  • Noise-to-performance Ratio

Cons

  • Single-fan Configuration

Noctua sent over their NH L9A AM4 for review – a compact cooler designed for AM4 CPUs, perfect for HTPC and SFF builds. With a height of just 37mm, it’s an ideal fit for small form factor setups, ensuring ample clearance from RAM and PCIe slots. We’ll be putting it to the test on a Ryzen 1700 chip. Plus, it’s not just limited to AMD – the Noctua NH-L9A-AM4 is also a suitable cooler for the I5-12600k, as long as it’s on a small motherboard. Let’s start the review!


Key Takeaways

  • The Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 is a small CPU cooler for compact AMD Ryzen systems that is perfect for HTPC and SFF builds.
  • It is ideal for small builds; it suits AMD Ryzen CPUs, ensuring space clearance and efficient cooling for up to 95W TDP.
  • It is not recommended for higher-wattage chips or non-Ryzen sockets. Designed for single-fan setups only.

  • Why you can trust Tech4Gamers: We understand the importance of making informed decisions. That’s why our team spends significant time testing every product we review. Find out more about how we test.

Let’s take a look at the technical specifications of Noctua NH-L9a-AM4.

NH-L9a-AM4 Specifications
Socket compatibility AMD AM4
Dimensions Without Fan H=23 mm , W=114mm d=92mm
Weight (without fan) 390 g
Dimensions With Fan H=37 mm, W=114mm , d=92mm
Weight (with fan) 465 g
Material Copper (base and heat-pipes), aluminium (cooling fins), soldered joints & nickel plating
NSPR 61
Max. TDP see NSPR
Fan compatibility 92x92x14mm, 92x92x25mm
Scope of delivery NF-A9x14 PWM premium fan, Low-Noise , Adaptor (L.N.A.), NT-H1 high-grade thermal , compound, SecuFirm2™ AM4 mounting kit, Screws for 92x92x25mm fans, Noctua metal, case-badge
Warranty 6 Years
Fan Model Noctua NF-A9x14 PWM
Bearing SSO2
Max. rotational speed 2500 RPM
Max. rotational speed with L.N.A. 1800 RPM
Min. rotational speed @ 20% PWM 600 RPM
Max. airflow 57.5 m³/h
Max. airflow with L.N.A 40.8 m³/h
Max. acoustical noise 23.6 dB(A)
Max. acoustical noise with L.N.A. 14.8 dB(A)
Input power (max.) 2.52 W
Voltage range 12 V
MTTF > 150,000 h

Packaging and Unboxing

The cooler comes inside a relatively compact-sized packaging box made of cardboard.

Box Contents

Contents of the package are:

  • 1x NM-ABP4 backplate
  • 2x NM-AFB6 fastening brackets
  • 4x NM-ABT1 mounting-screw
  • 1x NA-RC7 LN Adapter
  • User Guide
noctua nh-l9a-am4 review
Accessories (Image By Tech4Gamers)

Design

Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 stands out as a revamped version precisely crafted for the AMD Ryzen platform. Its low-profile design, measuring only 37mm in height with the fan, makes it an ideal choice for compact builds like SFF and HTPC that face spatial constraints while ensuring efficient cooling with minimal noise.

Noctua highlights the NH-L9a-AM4 as the latest iteration tailored specifically for AMD Ryzen-based HTPCs and Small Form Factor (SFF) systems. With a height of just 37mm, it suits slim cases perfectly. The small footprint guarantees 100% RAM and PCIe compatibility, allowing easy access to near-socket connectors, even on tightly packed mini-ITX motherboards.

Noctua introduces a custom-designed SecuFirm2™ mounting system for the AM4 socket, simplifying the installation process. The NH-L9a-AM4 incorporates a highly optimized NF-A9x14 92mm fan with PWM support for automatic speed control, ensuring a remarkably quiet operation. Combined with Noctua’s NT-H1 thermal compound, it delivers the expected quality in a compact, premium package for ITX and HTPC builds with Ryzen CPUs or APUs.

The NH-L9a-AM4 comes pre-assembled with the fan and NM-AFB6 fastening brackets, boasting overall dimensions of 92x114x37mm (DxWxH), including the fan. It remains compatible exclusively with AMD’s AM4 bracket, emphasizing the need for NH-L9a for non-Ryzen sockets.

Featuring 64 aluminum fins, the cooler requires a fan with high static pressure and airflow for optimal cooling performance. Without the fan, the heat pipes and bottom-mounted fastening brackets in X shape become visible, showcasing the cooler’s design symmetry. The finstack’s top and bottom sides are identical.

WARNING: It is not suitable for higher-wattage chips or non-Ryzen sockets; it is designed for CPUs with up to 95W TDP, and using it outside these specifications may lead to suboptimal performance.

The heatsink incorporates two 6mm copper base heat pipes with a nickel coating arranged in a U shape inside the heatsink. Weighing 390gm without the fan, it includes two aluminum plates on the front and rear sides, featuring the Noctua brand name and logo on the front. The rear plate includes holes, possibly for aesthetics and improved airflow.

Noctua has pre-installed the 2x NM-AFB6 fastening brackets on the bottom side, streamlining the installation process for users. The copper base, with a nickel coating, lacks a polished, mirror-like finish, emphasizing functionality over aesthetics. The front and rear plates are secured from the center to the bottom-mounted aluminum plate, simplifying the user’s installation experience.

noctua nh-l9a-am4- reviews
Front and rear plates (Image By Tech4Gamers)

 Check out the awesome Noctua NF-A9X14 PWM fan included with the cooler! It’s 92x92x14mm, with a height of 14mm. You can also use a 92x92x25mm fan with 4 provided long screws. Noctua’s attention to detail is incredible. The fan has SSo2 bearings, reaching max speeds of 2500 RPM or 1800 RPM with LNA. Max static pressure is 2.11 mmH₂O (1.06 mmH₂O with LNA).

It consumes 2.52W at 12V DC, with a max airflow of 33.86 CFM (24.03 CFM with LNA). Max sound level is 23.6 dBA (14.8 dBA with LNA). It’s Noctua brown, with 4 anti-vibration paddings on each mounting corner. The sticker on the back has Noctua’s logo, website, and design country. The fan runs at 0.21A and works in push or pull configuration only, with no dual fans.

Fan cable (Image By Tech4Gamers)
Fan cable (Image By Tech4Gamers)

Installation

We have used Colorful Battle Flag C.X370 X5 V14 motherboard with a Ryzen 1700 chip.

  • Remove the stock backplate from your AMD motherboard.
  • Place the provided backplate with the cooler on the backside of the motherboard, ensuring the insulation side faces the motherboard.
  • Apply thermal paste to the CPU after cleaning the IHS surface.
  • Carefully position the cooler on the CPU by aligning the holes on the fastening brackets with those on the socket zone.
  • Insert the NM-ABT1 screws from the backside of the motherboard through the backplate and pass them through the mounting holes on the NM-AFB6 fastening brackets.
  • If your motherboard is not inside a chassis, place it with the backside facing up.
  • Tighten the NB-ABT1 screws in a cross-diagonal pattern for even pressure.
  • Finally, connect the 4-pin power connector of the fan to the CPU fan header.
PRO TIP: Ideal for compact builds, the Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 offers efficient cooling in small form factor setups with its low-profile design and AMD AM4 socket compatibility.

Clearance

The Noctua NH-L9a-AM4, at 92x114x37mm (DxWxH), is a compact cooler. Its fan ensures excellent clearance for DIMM slots, the first PCIe slot, and the socket zone. No RAM height issues and ample space for any graphics card in the first PCIe slot. Unlike larger heatsinks on ITX boards, this cooler’s size doesn’t limit access to near-socket components after installation.

Testing

The following test bench was used to test the cooler:

  • AMD Ryzen 1700
  • Colorful Battle Flag C.X370 X5 V14
  • Corsair 2x8GB Vengeance Red LED 2666MHz DDR4
  • HyperX 120GB SSD
  • Thermaltake Smart SE 730W PSU [Thanks to the PakDukaan]

I tested the system using AIDA64 for stress and temperature, applying Noctua NT-H1 thermal paste on the cooler. AMD Ryzen Master controlled frequency and voltages, as the BIOS wasn’t helpful. I set the 1700 to run at 3000MHz, 1.00V for a 30-minute AIDA64 stress test. Noted max CPU temp, calculated delta temp. Then, set 1700 to 3700MHz, 1.200V due to motherboard limitations. Ran another 30-minute stress test, observed temperatures with AIDA64, and calculated delta temp.

Thermals

The idle temperatures were 5.4°C delta. The underload temperature was 25.9°C delta. The temperature was in the 50s during the stress testing. The idle temperature was 7.4°C on 3700MHz. Under the stress test, it was 51.4°C. These are delta temperatures.

Acoustics

The maximum noise level on the NF-A9x14 at full speed is 28 dBA under full load. It was 14 dBA when idling.

noctua nh l9a am4
Acoustics (Image By Tech4Gamers)

Should You Buy It?

Upon careful review and analysis of the Noctua NH-L9a-AM4, my assessment says that:

Buy It If:

You are building a compact setup: The Noctua NH-L9a-AM4’s design and dimensions are optimized to fit seamlessly in limited spaces, ensuring a perfect match for smaller builds.

You are using an AMD AM4 socket: The NH-L9a-AM4 comes with a custom-designed SecuFirm2™ mounting system for the AMD AM4 socket, simplifying the installation process for users.

Don’t Buy It If:

You plan to use higher-wattage chips: The Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 is recommended for CPUs with up to 95W TDP. If you have higher-wattage chips or non-Ryzen sockets, consider alternative cooling solutions.

You prefer a dual-fan configuration: If you prioritize a dual-fan setup for enhanced cooling performance, the NH-L9a-AM4 may not be the ideal choice as it is limited to a single-fan configuration.

 

Final Verdict

In conclusion, the Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 impresses with its tailored design for AM4 sockets, which is perfect for SFF and HTPC builds. Its compact 37mm profile ensures compatibility, offering 100% RAM clearance, PCIe slot access, and space for mini-ITX components. Despite its small size, this cooler excels in noise-to-performance ratio, boasting a sturdy build with 64 aluminum fins, two 6mm copper heat pipes, and a nickel-coated copper base. The included NF-A9x14 PWM fan, with SSo2 bearings, ensures efficient cooling at 2500 RPM. Noctua’s attention to detail shines, though the limitation to a single fan configuration is a minor drawback. With a 6-year warranty backing it, the NH-L9a-AM4 proves Noctua’s confidence in its product.

We are thankful to Noctua for allowing us to review their NH-L9a-AM4 Low Profile CPU Cooler.

Recent Updates


  • January 31, 2024: A few text changes to improve readability. Added image galleries.

 
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