In this review we looked at three TR4-SP3 coolers from Nocuta designed specifically for cooling the mighty Threadripper. At first I was skeptical when it came to aircooling a Threadripper considering that every Threadripper came bundled with an asetek AIO mounting bracket. On top of that the mounting configuration is the same between Threadripper 1 and Threadripper 3 so waterblocks designed for the first platform work on the TRX4 socket
Despite my skepticism all of the Noctua coolers in this review did extremely well at keeping the Ryzen 3960X cool despite the extreme load Prime95 can dish out. Two of the smaller coolers did peak out at 95c which is right below the thermal throttle limit of the CPU.
In terms of performance the clear winner was the NH-U14S. This cooler is designed for performance with the largest radiator, most heatpipes and largest fan of the trio. As we mentioned before the U14S is also an older design intended to be a more compact cooler for the LGA 2011 Sandy Bridge (and other processors at the time). The NH-U12S is also an older design and we first saw it when the original Ryzen hit the market. NF-F12 fans are used on the NH-U12S TR4-SP3 cooler (like the previous version) with the option to add a secondary fan or swap the fans out completely.
Just to see what would happen I swapped the NF-F12 fan for two NF-A12x25 fans and set them in a push pull configuration. The NF-A12x25 fans move a bit more air and lowered the load temps by 4 degrees. To be honest I’m not sure if the temperature drop is from the fan swap or the fact I added a secondary fan. Either way the 5 heatpipe design is one of the limiting factors of this cooler and to get the most from it a second fan is needed.
The final cooler tested was the NH-U9 with dual 92mm fans and a much thicker radiator. Overall dimensions match that of the fans and the radiator was extended to support the 6 heatpipe design. I am happy to say that performance matched that of the NH-U12S and would make an excellent cooler where space is at a premium.
Overall doing a roundup like this is really quite fun as it allows me to explore different cooler designs intended to cool a common platform. Performance was pretty good though I cannot help but wonder how Noctua choose which cooler to port over to support the TRX4 socket. Was the decision based on performance? or price?? or the intended demand for aircooling the Threadripper???
I’m pretty sure the answer harks back to a statement I made early in this review and the intended target. Threadripper isn’t a processor for the hardware enthusiast or gamer, it doesn’t overclock well and offers little benefit in games. As a result there is no need to include a cooler intended for the gaming crowd while buyers intending to push the Threadripper will likely evoke the AIO or DIY watercooling option putting a lower demand on air cooling.
After this review went live I heard from Noctua who had this to say:
The reason why those 3 heatsink models were chosen is because they were best suited to the TR4 platform, e.g. the slimmer U12S offers better RAM clearance than the bigger, asymmetric U12A. Similarly, D15 could not have been fit because the heatpipes would block the RAM, etc. With all that being said, we're working on adopting a D15 type cooler for TR.
These are all excellent points that I had forgotten about and shouldn't have since they are also the reason why you would use these coolors on the LGA2011 and LGA2066 platforms.
In the end I’m still glad to see that aircooling is a viable solution for hot chips like the Ryzen Threadripper 3960X that still allow the processor to fully utilize the extents of the platform while still keeping temperatures in check.
Great Cooling Option
Aircooling is Easy
There are better Noctua coolers that could be used
120mm and 92mm coolers struggle