Cooling

Noctua NH-P1 Passive CPU Cooler Review

For an exceptionally long time now, Noctua has regularly teased that development was underway for an entirely passive CPU cooling solution. Yes, the giants of air cooling were working on a new design that would supposedly be capable of high-end performance without the need for a dedicated fan. Rather a lofty claim for sure, and one that many in our community wondered whether it would be truly possible. Well, with the release of the Noctua NH-P1 now upon us, we finally get to find out just how good this really is!

We have, incidentally, already conducted a video feature on this, so we’ve embedded it above if you want to check it out. This written review, however, has been conducted independently and, as such, may have a few different opinions or observations to make.

Noctua NH-P1 Passive CPU Cooler

We have made very little secret of the fact that we here at eTeknix have been hugely anticipating this launch. In fact, with the only exception being when Noctua finally decides to break out into the world of AIO cooling, this passive solution has perhaps been one of our most anticipated product releases for quite some time. Yes, we fully appreciate that for many, CPU coolers are not as ‘sexy’ as graphics cards or processors, but coming from Noctua, you just already know that they wouldn’t be bringing this to market unless it was really impressive. And in that regard, it certainly seems that Noctua has made some very wise decisions.

Put simply, this isn’t just a fanless Noctua radiator. This has been completely created from the ground up with passive cooling strictly in mind. Thicker fins and larger spacing have been very deliberately utilised here to ensure that, all going well, the passive airflow through your PC case should be more than sufficient to ensure that this provides you with nice low temperatures while also coming with the key bonus of having literally zero acoustic output!

Given that Noctua freely markets this as being entirely suitable for ‘high-end’ CPUs, however, they are certainly setting the bar exceptionally high here in terms of performance expectations. Can it live up to them though? Well, that’s what we’re here to find out!

Features

  • Fanless cooling for high-end CPUs
    • In fully optimised fanless systems, the NH-P1 is capable of cooling high-end CPUs with low to moderate heat dissipation using natural convection only (see setup guidelines and CPU compatibility list). This makes it ideal for powerful builds that have no moving parts and run absolutely silent.
  • Increased performance headroom with extra fan
    • The NH-P1 can be fitted with an extra 120mm fan such as the near inaudible NF-A12x25 LS-PWM in order to increase its maximum dissipation capacity significantly (see setup guidelines and CPU compatibility list): ideal for short spikes of higher heat loads or semi-passive systems that only start their fans when necessary!
  • No noise, less dust, 100% fail-proof
    • Fanless cooling doesn’t only have the advantage of being completely silent: if you’re relying on natural convection only and don’t have case fans pushing air through a case, less dust will accumulate in filters or inside the system. Last but not least, with no moving parts such as fans or pumps that could possibly fail, the NH-P1 is as fail-proof as it can be.
  • Asymmetrical layout for optimal PCIe compatibility
    • As many current motherboards have the top PCIe x16 slot sitting close to the socket, bigger heatsinks tend to block it. Due to its asymmetrical layout, the fin-stack of the NH-P1 is offset towards the upper edge of the motherboard when installed in standard orientation. This allows it to clear the top PCIe x16 slot on most current µATX and ATX motherboards (see motherboards compatibility list).
  • 100% RAM clearance on LGA1200 and AM4
    • Due to its asymmetric design, the NH-P1 does not overhang the RAM slots on Intel LGA1200, LGA115x and AMD AM4 based motherboards, which ensures easy access to the modules and 100% compatibility with tall heat-spreaders. On LGA2066, it overhangs the RAM slots on the left-hand side of the socket, so RAM modules should not exceed 45mm in height.
  • SecuFirm2+™ Torx-based multi-socket mounting system
    • Noctua’s SecuFirm2™ mounting systems have become synonymous with quality, safety and easy installation. Torx-based, the professional SecuFirm2+ version with its included screwdriver provides even better handling and durability. Socket support includes Intel LGA1200, LGA115x (LGA1150, LGA1151, LGA1155, LGA1156) and LGA20xx (LGA2066, LGA2011-0, LGA2011-3), as well as AMD AM4, AM3(+), AM2(+), FM2(+) and FM1.
  • Compatibility with past and future sockets
    • Thanks to Noctua’s SecuFirm™ ecosystem, the NH-P1 can be made compatible with the older LGA1366 and LGA775 sockets using the optional NM-I3 mounting kit, which is provided free of charge. If technically possible, Noctua will also provide upgrade kits for future sockets, which makes the NH-P1 a safe long-term investment.
  • NT-H2 next-gen thermal compound
    • In high-end passive cooling, every degree counts. This is why the NH-P1 includes a tube of Noctua’s next-generation NT-H2 thermal compound that provides even better performance than the award-winning NT-H1, allowing you to achieve the best possible passive cooling results.
  • Soldered interface between heatpipes and fins
    • With many heatsinks, the fins are press-fitted to the heatpipes. Due to the different thermal expansion coefficients of copper and aluminium, this fit can loosen over years of thermal cycling, which may lead to reduced performance. By contrast, the NH-P1’s fins are soldered to the heatpipes in order to guarantee a superior thermal interface that doesn’t deteriorate even after many years of usage.
  • 6-year manufacturer’s warranty
    • Noctua products are renowned for their impeccable quality and outstanding longevity. Like all Noctua CPU coolers, the NH-P1 is built to the highest standards and comes with a full 6-year manufacturer’s warranty.

Technical Information

For more in-depth specifications, please visit the official product page via the link here!

Socket Compatibility

What Does Noctua Have To Say?

“The NH-P1 is Noctua’s first passive CPU cooler and has been custom-designed for fanless operation from the ground up: in enclosures with good natural convection, its six heatpipes and thick, widely spaced heatsink fins enable it to cool modern high-end CPUs with low to moderate heat dissipation completely passively (see setup guidelines and list of recommended cases). For further enhanced performance or semi-passive setups that only spin up their fans when necessary, the NH-P1 can be outfitted with a low-speed, ultra-quiet 120mm fan such as the NF-A12x25 LS-PWM. Topped off with the professional Torx-based SecuFirm2+ mounting system, Noctua’s award-winning NT-H2 thermal compound and a 6-year manufacturer’s warranty, the NH-P1 is the ideal cornerstone for premium-grade fanless or semi-passive builds.”

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Mike Sanders

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