8th October 2007

Noctua NC-U6 Northbridge Heatsink – Review

posted by Doomzilla in Cooling, Hardware, Motherboards, Reviews |

I’ll be honest here and admit that I had not heard a lot about Noctua before I wandered upon their website a couple weeks ago. I found that the Austrian based company had a small, but very impressive catalogue of products marketed to those who want solid and silent cooling options.

Since I am using a mITX motherboard with a Core Duo, none of their S775 or AM2 coolers would fit my mounting brackets. Luckily, my northbridge chip has the standard Intel mounting loops. I ordered Noctua’s NC-U6 northbridge heatsink because its passive and looked much more stylish than the little gray heatsink that came with my motherboard.

With basic shipping it took approximately eight days to get to Seattle from Austria. Unfortunately, the trip was hard on the shipping box and it looked as though it had been used as a soccer ball for a couple matches. I think Noctua knew that a trip that far might be little rough as the heatsink came packed securely and displayed no sign of its long journey. Also, kudos to Noctua for using recyclable packing material.

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noctua_nc_u6_2.jpgThe NC-U6 comes in a simple plastic container with cardboard backing, so its quite a bit easier to open than most other packaging I have had to fight with in the past. The heatsink comes with brackets for mounting on regular mounting holes and the Intel loops. Also, it includes some basic thermal paste, instructions, a set of Noctua stickers, a metal case badge, and a pen. I am not sure if the case badge normally comes with orders, but it was a welcome surprise. It is nice to know that the company takes pride in the quality of everything it ships out the door.

The physical construction of the heatsink is solid and made to get rid of heat fast. The solid copper face has an almost mirror finish, much better than most. The aluminum fins look great and are very thin. When working inside the tight fit of my SFF case, I rammed my hand into the heatsink. I just slightly bent the corner of the top fin. Lucky I could bend it back in place, so it still looked new.

Mounting the NC-U6 was a breeze. You pick the bracket that is compatible with your motherboard and attach it to the heatsink with a small screw. Then you clip the bracket onto the motherboard just like any other heatsink. Although thermal paste was provided, I opted to use some Arctic Silver 3 for good measure. I assume that only enthusiasts will buy this product and will most likely use an aftermarket thermal interface material. I think every company knows this, but its still pretty standard to include some standard paste along with the product.

ncu6-1.jpgAfter everything was secure I fired up the TF2 Beta for an hour to see how it performed. With minimal airflow, the stock cooler kept the norhtbridge at a normal 49C under load. Not surprisingly, the NC-U6 kept the chip to a cool 37C. That’s a 12C difference! With ample airflow through the case I would suspect that load temps could drop to below 35C. There is potential for some decent overclocking.

If I were to sum up the NC-U6 I would choose stylish and silent. Granted it performs great, but I think that the simple visual appeal and the passive design puts it ahead of many of its competitors and that is going to be a major influence for anyone that purchases this.

In the near future I may acquire another NC-U6 and attempt mounting it on my Core Duo.

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Pros:

  • Great performance
  • Completely Silent
  • Widely compatible

Cons:

  • No out-of-box option for a fan
  • Fins can bend if you’re not careful

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