Noctua NH-D15 Vs Cooler Master Nepton 240M

Just may be in need of a new CPU cooler. This is especially true if you upgraded to the latest X99 platform and its CPUs. Since these are warmer than the outgoing X79 CPUs by 10W but at lower clock speeds (at least for the 5960X), now is as good a time as any to buy a CPU cooler. If you have any of the other high-end water coolers, you’ll be more than ready for this platform, but for those who are making their first foray into high-end systems or even using the low leakage AMD 9000 series FX CPUs, between these two coolers you just may find the cooler you’re looking for.

As usual we took two of these competing products and put them next to each other to find out how similar or different they are in what they offered. As usual, we would not compare two products that are not in any way, shape, or form comparable and thus, whichever you decide to buy you’ll still get a great cooler. The only question is which one suits your system and cooling requirements more.

NOCTUA NH-D15


VALUE FOR MONEY
This is a fairly new CPU cooler and there’s currently no local pricing but from the USD price, it is identical to the 240M. Depending on your budget, over R1,000 for a CPU cooler is going to be a lot of money, but we would argue that you’re not cooling your X99 or even AMD FX system with a cheaper CPU cooler, because both these CPUs don’t come with boxed coolers. They are expensive components and in the context of all that, $99 USD isn’t much to pay at all even if it ends up being almost double that on our shores. As far as value goes, these two CPU coolers are certainly tied.

PERFORMANCE
As we’ve always maintained, these days it’s hard to justify the price difference between the vast majority of high-end all-in-one coolers. With air coolers it’s a different story because even though we’ve seen fewer of these recently, the ones that still manage to garner some attention are the very high-end units such as the NH-D14, the predecessor of this model. The NH-D15 is an improvement on the original cooler in that it’s bigger, has better fan technology and higher RPM fans as well. In isolation it’s hard to tell them apart but in performance the NH-D15 pips the D14 every time. The real challenge however is how it fared against the Nepton 240M. Well, there wasn't much between the two to be honest. On the Core i7 5960X powered machine we tested them in, there really was no load temperature difference.

Idle temps were something else though as the Nepton cooler was clearly superior by up to three degrees. However this isn’t as important as what happens when the system is under load and that’s where NHD15 held its own against a 240mm liquid cooling unit. That’s always going to be impressive.

EASE OF USE
Probably the weakest part of the NH-D15 is how cumbersome it is and as a result can be a pain to install. Fortunately you’ll only do this once, but make sure you plan it out before you attempt it. This is particularly important if you have the taller memory modules such as the Kingston Hyper-X Predator or Corsair Dominator Platinum modules. These are a little too tall (more the latter of the two actually) to have the fan sit at the center of the fin arrays; thus you’ll have to have the fans towering slightly above the heat pipes which makes the cooler even taller. A problem for the smaller cases for sure. This is the single niggle where we wished Noctua would have perhaps made more provision for such DIMMS. Other than that, this is one amazing CPU cooler.

COOLER MASTER NEPTON 240M



VALUE FOR MONEY
This CPU cooler costs as much as the Noctua offering here, at least in the US. What may end up making this a cheaper purchase is that Cooler Master has a much bigger footprint on our shores than Noctua, so based on volume alone, that may drive prices down to where the Nepton 240M is a few hundred rand cheaper and thus has a better value for money proposition. We can’t say that conclusively as this cooler is even newer than the Noctua NH-D15 throughout the entire world. As it stands though we do suspect this will be the more affordable of the two.

PERFORMANCE
Cooler Master has had so many liquid cooling kits that it would be a surprise if this performed like anything but the best of them. The Nepton is clearly a better product than the previous coolers such as the Seidon series. The Nepton presents refinement and an attention to detail and build quality that is as good as you can get from any other vendor. With that comes the performance you’ve come to expect that keeps the power hungry Core i7 5960X well behaved. The Nepton 240M didn't outperform the NH-D15 at load temperatures, but at idle it did a better job. There was no difference in the noise generated because the Noctua cooler is extraordinarily quiet. As such, the liquid cooling advantage of quieter operation was nowhere to be found.

We appreciated the lower idle temperatures but ultimately they don't mean much in the grand scheme. Essentially you want that cooling capacity or advantage when you’re loading the system and that’s where it counts the most. Thus there really isn’t a difference between these two as far as we’re concerned.

EASE OF USE
Cooler Master has in no uncertain terms mastered the art of AIO assembly. You don’t even need instructions for this as it's very self explanatory. This is particulary true when you install the unit on an X99 motherboard. If it takes you five minutes it’s probably too long. Granted this is a platform that requires no back plate for most coolers. In comparison to the NH-D15, it was night and day. The 240M had a very clear and obvious lead here even if it’s by virtue of the platform used. That it has fewer parts to assemble or at least fewer intricate parts to assemble makes this not only an attractive cooler for enthusiasts and gamers alike, but it makes a strong case for itself for those who work with many platforms at the same time like overclockers who are binning CPUs.

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