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Noctua CPU coolers for AMD EPYC 7000 comparison

AMD EPYC processors have a multi-crystal layout (so-called chiplets), which is why the size of the CPU is cumbersome, and apparently, the tendency to increase their CPU size will continue in the future. Since the crystals in such a processor are not located in the middle, and in General from series to series can be located in different ways, the CPU cooler will not be able to design so as to place the heat-conducting tubes over the core, which means that the same cooler with different processor models can show different heat dissipation efficiency. To eliminate this effect, manufacturers have to use a thick copper sole and have heat-conducting tubes longitudinally. For this reason, coolers for TR4/SP3, as a rule, are placed in a separate category, and are not compatible with anything else (this does not apply to watercoolers).

If we look at the base of a conventional cooler, it will look like this: a large sole, and in the center above the CPU core laid heat pipes. Here in the photo below you can see a typical mistake of the company Cooler Master, which applied the traditional design of the sole in the cooler Masterair MA621P TR4 Edition: heat pipes pass only over the center of the processor, and the temperature gradient in the aluminum sole can be 10 degrees, which is enough to hang the system at Of course, it would be correct to deploy the base along the heat conducting tubes, as Noctua did in its models for AMD ThreadRipper / EPYC processors.

Coolermaster
^^ Cooler Master fault in MA621P TR4 Edition ^^

In most liquid cooling systems, as a rule, the sole has a round shape, and against the background of the processor, the design looks absolutely ridiculous, although compatibility with TR4 / SP3 is stated in the product characteristics.

^^ Typical location of the watercooler heatsink (photo GamersNexus) ^^

The area of contact between the processor and the cooler has increased 4-5 times over the last decade, the size of the radiators has not changed, and to keep the noise level low, you need to take into account the location of each heat-conducting tube, because noise (in addition to reliability) is the most important criterion for buying a hi-end cooler.

Today we will look at a series of coolers Noctua, created for the platform AMD TR4/SP3, that is, for server EPYC-s or desktop ThreadRipper-s.

  • NH-U14S TR4-SP3 is designed specifically for graphics and multimedia workstations because it is quiet
  • NH-U12 TR4-SP3 - this is a common "workhorse under the standard 120-mm fan
  • NH-U9 TR4-SP3 - for server cases from 4U height

I want to immediately note that all three coolers are supplied with L. N. A. adapters - resistors that lower the voltage on the fans. We traditionally recommend not to use them, and adjust the speed of the blades through the BIOS of the motherboard, especially since all modern motherboards are already doing it very well.

All three coolers allow you to install 2 fans, and complete with two of the coolers you will get wire mounts for additional installation. As for the 92-mm model, it comes from the factory with a couple of fans, and we will start with this cooler.

In General, the NH-U9 TR4-SP3 is a cooler that can be considered as a replacement for options from Supermicro or Dynatron. A two-fan solution is always a higher reliability, because even if one of the fans gets up, the computer is likely not to hang, and with a decrease in load, will finalize before repair. In the pictures it is clearly seen that the heat conductive tubes are soldered to the plates, so that even from shaking or from time to time, the radiator will not lose its effectiveness. In many ways, this model repeats the NH-U9DO A3, released under the Socket G34, only with an increased TDP: today tests show that this kid is able to cool the 180-Watt Threadripper. For me it remains unclear why in the 2-fan cooler under the scheme “pull-push” the manufacturer has not closed the side walls of the radiator to increase the pressure between the plates, as is done, for example, in the new NH-U12A.

Keep in mind that this cooler is the only one of the three, the fans of which hang over the memory slots, and for this reason the developer could not make it lower to fit in 3U. So, when you install you will have to remove both fans, fasten the mount, and only then put them back. Practically, here you have the fan almost touches the conventional memory module, in the server, this problem may not occur, and in workstations with processors ThreadRipper and gaming memory with high radiators you have, the cooler will not fit on the board. With other components of the motherboard or the graphics card, this cooler does not conflict. And yet, again: NH-U9 TR4-SP3 is a more professional solution for machines running 24x7.

Noctua NH-U12 TR4-SP3 is the “workhorse” of this series. This cooler has a symmetrical radiator for 120mm fans, and by default it has one NF-F12PWM with impeller optimized for high pressure. Generally, the radiator is here narrow, a mere 45 mm, and the fan design looks excessive. In this model, the fan also hangs over the memory modules, but the clearance is sufficient not to rest even in the gaming DIMM modules with radiators. In our photos, the fan is moved down as much as possible, and the memory modules do not interfere with it, but you can put it higher. In any case, it is installed on the radiator at the very last, when the processor, memory and radiator are already installed on the motherboard.

Keep in mind that the NH-U12 TR4-SP3 is the quietest of the three, and at any speed the radiator is perfectly blown even by one fan, so it makes no sense to install a second one for the sake of improving performance, but for the sake of a backup solution - yes, please.

Maximum performance promises model NH-U14S TR4-SP3 with 140 mm fan NF-A15 PWM unusual design, which is wider than the length. Just want to warn musicians and owners of sensitive hearing: at minimum speeds of about 300 RPM in these fans can be heard as the driver clicks. That is, absolutely all-consuming silence from this cooler with a regular fan you will not get, no matter how hard you try. If this is not determinative, then start on the solid pros: radiator 52 mm thick, which laterally more than half the thickness closed to concentrate the air flow. In practice, this means that the installation of a second fan “blowing” can give you a tangible decrease in temperature on the processor. Interestingly, even in the lower part of the radiator, where there is a narrowing, still on the sides of the ribs are bent to create walls for the air flow: this is a real european approach to business.

In profile, there is a very good location of the heat-conducting tubes, which together form two such rings, or even a cylinder, on which the heat is distributed over the radiator in the area where the air flow is maximum. The size of the cooler allows you not to think about compatibility with memory modules: although the fan hangs over the DIMM-slots, when installed under it, a gap is formed in which you can stick your finger.

Testing

The following configuration was used for testing:

ASRock Rack EPYCD8-2T motherboard
AMD EPYC 7551 processor (180W)
Hypervisor: VMware ESXi 6.7 U1
Operating system: Windows 10 x64 (32 vCPU)
Warm-up software: OCCT Linpak

According to the noise level at maximum speed coolers showed the following results:

NH-U14S TR4-SP3: 23.6 dB
NH-U12 TR4-SP3: 27.9 dB
NH-U9 TR3-SP3: 31.7 dB

before there is, it is not what is stated by the manufacturer. In more detail, the noise level of each cooler is laid out in the histogram below:

In General, there is no doubt that NH-U14S TR4-SP3 is much quieter than its colleagues.

Conclusions

For the AMD TR4 / SP3 platform, choose specialized coolers that provide a uniform heat sink from the processor. Noctua coolers prove by their own example that high-quality air cooling works better than liquid cooling.

In our test, the clear winner was NH-U14S TR4-SP3, and if the dimensions and budget of the case allow, we recommend buying this model for any, even the most loaded workstation. The other two coolers are just as good as the traditional alternative to watercooling for installation in compact cases, but such a brave advantage as the NH-U14S TR4-SP3 is no longer shown, so if you really want to use liquid cooling in your workstation - it is better to buy a GPU with watercooler, and on the processor “air” is still what you need.