Noctua has been making some of the best OC fans, and CPU coolers for years now. Their NH-L9i and NH-L9a are generally thought of as the best low profile CPU coolers on the market. At only 37mm tall featuring a slim 92mm fan it outperforms its size by a wide margin, while fitting in the slimmest mini-itx builds possible. While it is rated to cool processors up to 65W TDP, it can punch above its weight under the right circumstances.
With the recent launch of the AMD Ryzen platform we have seen a bevy of new coolers. Most have been full sized units to go along with the initial selection of mATX and up motherboards. The lowest profile quality AM4 cooler prior to the release of this kit was the AMD Wraith Spire.
Biostar recently released the first mini-itx AM4 board, and Noctua responded in kind by releasing a free upgrade kit for their compact cooler. Looking at the picture above, you can see just how small the L9i is. If you want to see what type of system you can set up with one of these, take a look at one of my most recent compact mini-tx builds here.
Noctua NH-L9i CPU Cooler Specifications
|Socket compatibility||LGA1150, LGA1151, LGA1155, LGA1156, AM4|
|Fan||92mm x 92mm x 14mm|
Upgrade Kit Packaging & Contents
The mounting kit comes in standard black, brown, and white Noctua high quality packaging. You would think a company would skimp, or forgo packaging entirely on a free kit but Noctua is no ordinary company.
Open up the box and you will find a back plate, two replacement feet, and a small bag filled with four screws. The simplicity and foresight of the coolers design allows for these simple changes to allow fitment on completely different socket.
Looking at the replacement legs, you can see how much more narrow the AM4 socket is, than the Intel 1151 socket. For larger coolers this isn’t an issue, for the NH-L9i it limits the direction with which you can have the air flow. More on that later.
Biostar X370 Mini-ITX Installation
The AM4 bracket uses four simple screws coming up from the backside of the motherboard and going into each post. For full installation check out the video below.
As you see in the picture below, on mini-itx systems the NH-L9i sits almost flush with the RAM. The cooler actually uses directional airflow, sending air out from two sides. this creates an issue as ideally you would want the airflow running parallel to your RAM sticks. In an open air environment it wasn’t an issue, but in a tight case it may be. As I test this configuration more I will update this article with my findings.
Having a compact cooler is nice and all, but cooling performance is what really matters. To test this out I employed the might of an 8-core, 16-thread Ryzen 7 1700 CPU. The processor was tested at stock, 3.55GHz, and 3.75GHz. The Furmark CPU burn in utility was used to push all cores to 100% load.
|Core Clock||Idle||Full Load|
Overall I was very impressed by the coolers performance. It handled the 65W Ryzen 7 1700 without much issue at all. I was even able to do a substantial overclock without even coming close to the thermal limit. This is a testament to both the efficiency of Ryzen 7 chips, and the quality of the cooler. If you have an NH-L9i or L9a, I would pickup the free upgrade kit ASAP.
How do you get the AM4 upgrade kit?
Noctua offers the AM4 mounting kit for free. You just have to fill out the form and provide proof of purchase. They say it takes about two weeks for shipment, so the sooner you place your order the better. You can find the form HERE.