Noctua NH-D15 Vs. NH-D15s: Which One is Better in 2023?

Verdict: Noctua NH-D15 and NH-D15s are identical air coolers. The only difference is that the NH-D15s comes with a single fan, making it less expensive and less noisy. However, if you prefer performance, the NH-D15 has a slight edge. Overall, Noctua NH-15s is the most reasonable one.

As a brand, Noctua is well-known for its incredible line of cooling solutions. Their line of air coolers is highly focused on providing superior performance. The Noctua NH-D15 is such an air cooler that aims to provide your system with sheer cooling performance.

But is it better than then Noctua NH-D15s?noctua-nh-d15s-vs-noctua-nh-d15-cpu-coolers

Worry not! We’ll find it out shortly. As in this comparison guide, I will point out a few essential factors that will help you decide the best option.

So, what’s the waiting for! Let’s dive deep into the discussion.

Key Difference Between Noctua NH-D15 & NH-D15s

The similarity in names for Noctua NH-D15 and NH-D15s is also observed in their specification as well. Everything is almost indistinguishable, from dimension and socket compatibility to pricing and warranty.

However, there are some minor differences as well. And one, in particular, stands out the most — the cold plate on the NH-15s is shifted more toward the center to accommodate CPUs with larger surface areas, such as the X99 platform.

Below are some key differences between Nocuta NH-D15 and NH-D15s:

SpecificationNoctua NH-D15Noctua NH-D15s
Form FactorDual TowerDual Tower
MaterialCopper cold plate and heat-pipes, aluminum fin stack, soldered joints & nickel plating
Fans Out of the Box2x Noctua NF 140mm1x Noctua NF 140mm
Height (With Fan)165mm160mm
RAM Clearance32mm (2x 140mm fans installed)65mm (1x 140mm fan installed)
Warranty6 Years6 Years

Is Noctua NH-D15 Better than Noctua NH-D15s?

In any build, whether it is high-end or mainstream, a CPU cooler is always the crucial component. It determines how well a processor performs to its potential.

Whether you should go for an air or a liquid cooling solution is a different debate. The aim should be adding a cooling solution that meets the requirement of your build in the best possible way.

Since I brought up air or liquid coolers, the stereotype goes like this, “AIO coolers are better than air coolers.”  To be honest, that’s true to some extent; air coolers have come a long way and are not too far behind.

What’s more interesting is that you would find a few coolers from Noctua that offer better output than many liquid cooling solutions in the market.

Sounds interesting, right? It really is.

Both the Noctua NH-D15 and NH-D15s offer better thermal performance than so many AIOs in the market. On that note, the comparison between NZXT Kraken Z63 & Noctua NH-D15 paints a better picture.

But as the discussion is between the monstrous air coolers from Noctua, we will restrict our attention to these two in this article.

So, which one has the edge over the other?

Well, to draw a conclusion, we’ve done an in-depth analysis.

Here’s how the Noctua NH-D15 stack up against Noctua NH-D15s:

1. Noise Level

The noise level is quite crucial in the case of a CPU cooler. As the CPU coolers have a moving part, such as the fan, it will certainly make some sound. But which one is louder?

See, we commonly witness two types of people — one who does not care about noise levels and the other who needs a quietly operating PC.

Let’s get straight to the point. If you compare Noctua NH-D15 and NH-D15s’ sound levels, they are initially pretty much identical. Both of these models have a noise level that ranges between 19-25 dBA.

But, here’s the kicker.

Since the Noctua NH-D15 has dual fans, it produces slightly more noise than the NH-D15s. When I tested these coolers in my Ryzen build, the NH-D15s had an average noise level of around 22-23 dBA. But for the NH-D15, it was slightly higher.

Such differences aren’t that noticeable, but for the sake of comparison, the Noctua DH-15s have a slight edge above the Noctua DH-15.

On a different note, if you want an air cooler but completely silent, pick one from our best fanless CPU cooler guide.

2. Clearance

One of the critical aspects of buying a CPU cooler is checking whether it would fit in your system. Mostly in the case of air coolers, there can be issues regarding bulkiness.

That said, such heft and bulkiness can cause hindrances to the DIMM slots in the motherboards. As a result, RAM modules can’t be installed properly.

But is it the same for Noctua NH-D15 and NH-D15s?

Well, it’s a bit complicated. With both fans attached to the heat sink, the NH-D15 leaves 32 mm vertical space to install memory modules. So, RAM sticks with more oversized and fancy heat sinks will be problematic to begin with.

The NH-D15s, however, in this regard poses almost no issue as it has one less fan over the RAM slots. On top of that, the cut-out on the cooler’s heat sink is a blessing, as 65 mm vertical space is open.

So, in terms of clearance, the Noctua NH-D15s enjoys a slight advantage. Though both the coolers are not fit for every PC case out there, especially mATX and ITX ones.

3. Performance

The thermal performance is by far the most critical factor while deciding which CPU air cooler you should buy. Apart from indistinguishable specifications, the performance of the Noctua NH-D15 and NH-D15s are almost inseparable.

In our lab, we put these coolers through trials by fire. I’m referring to the Intel Core i9 13900K CPU. At PL2, this behemoth of a CPU pulls over 250 watts, making it the most power-hungry mainstream processor. Chilling down such a CPU under full load is indeed challenging.

Let’s quickly go through the results:noctua-nh-d15-and-nh-d15s

As you can see, both the coolers spew out a similar result. However, the Noctua NH-D15 with 2x NF 140 fans has a slight edge over the NH-D15s due to its 1x 140mm fan.

In our test, we’ve seen a temperature deviation of 1-4 degrees Celsius which is pretty much in line with Noctua’s claimed 1-3 degrees difference. And that’s when we test the coolers out of the box. But remember, NH-D15s allows you to add another 140mm fan. In such an instance, there will be no visible performance difference between these two coolers.

Note: For the LGA1700 socket, you need to buy an additional mounting kit.

4. Pricing

In terms of the price, the Noctua NH-D15 and NH-D15s come at $109.95 and $99.95, respectively. That’s only a $10 difference.

The number of fans on the units decides the final price, as both the coolers are basically the same despite the name. Consider you are paying an extra dollar on NH-15 for the additional 140mm fan.

Final Verdict

There’s no harm going for either Noctua NH-D15 or NH-D15s. Both of these coolers are top contenders to take the spot as premium air coolers. Performance-wise, they are almost equivalent. However, the NH-D15 performs better ever so slightly, thanks to the second 140mm fan.

The NH-D15s, on the other hand, offers more RAM clearance and quiet operation. Not to mention the cheaper price.

To conclude, either one will serve you like a champ. Considering whether you need better RAM clearance and a bit of a low price, pick the NH-D15s. But for no compromise thermal performance, the NH-D15 will be better.


Is Noctua NH-D15s good?

The Noctua NH-D15s is a great cooler that provides value for the money. It’s whisper-quiet and does an incredible job of keeping the temperature down under load.

What is the fan model in Noctua NH-D15s?

There is a single fan in the Noctua NH-D15s, which is the NF-A15 fan from Noctua. It’s a 140mm low-noise airflow fan.

What is the max RAM height for Noctua NH-D15?

The maximum RAM height for Noctua NH-D15 is 32mm. So, memory modules with over-the-top heat sinks will not be physically compatible with this cooler installed in a rig.

About The Author
Kazi Md Mehedi Hasan is a tech blogger with a passion for all things technology. When you define an alpha geek personality, it’s impossible to make a single statement without mentioning his name.He expresses his knowledge and experience on blogs covering the latest tech news, products, and software releases. He is always scouting for the next big thing in technology and shares his honest opinions. Follow him to stay updated on the tech world.

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