Over the last couple of years, I have found myself using my HTPC more and more relative to my TV. Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, etc. and the DVR capabilities of the build all give me the opportunity to watch what I want when I want. This is actually pretty important since my schedule has become more and more full with work responsibilities, as are most people’s in this economic climate. Given that you are here reading a review of a 37mm tall CPU cooler, it’s pretty safe to assume that you know what I am talking about, and either have or want an HTPC.
HTPC use is on the rise and, at the same time, cases for them are getting smaller and slimming down. This is great for fitting your build into your entertainment center….not so great for finding components that fit. I recently did a build of my own and had an incredibly hard time finding a case that could fit the components I wanted to use while staying in the size range I needed. The biggest challenge I found was fitting in a CPU cooler that wasn’t a noisy stock Intel cooler. Even lower profile coolers like the Noctua NH-L12 or Scythe Shuriken required losing another component or modding the case to get them to fit. Thankfully, the cooling manufacturers are starting to catch up.
Standing in the top echelon of CPU cooling manufacturers, Noctua is meeting the needs of small form factor and HTPC builds with their new NH-L9i and NH-L9a coming in at only 37mm in height. In a bit of a different approach, the Noctua NH-L9 is available in the two models outfitted with mounts for AMD and Intel rather than releasing an Intel only piece or trying to make a “one size fits all” mounting solution. This plays out especially well, making mounting of either variety NH-L9 a quick and easy operation. Noctua was also conscious of the mini-ITX user using a kit that requires no backplate that may interfere with ITX components on the rear of the board. The small footprint of the NH-L9 blocks no other components, including PCIe slots on mini-ITX boards or RAM slots. The NH-L9 uses two copper heatpipes and contact block along with an aluminum fin array for exceptional heat dissipation. The NH-L9i comes out of the box ready to mount on Intel 1155/1156 sockets, while the NH-L9a fits FM1 and AM2/2+/3/3+ sockets.