Noctua NF-B9 Case Fan Review

Introduction

Continuing with our cooling theme here on Verdis, we take a look at a product from a company that deserves all the accolades it receives. Yes, you guessed it – Noctua. In the past we have seen great performance from products from this manufacturer and so the NF-B9 fan up for review today straight away has high expectations. Let’s hope it can deliver…

Company Information – Noctua

“Noctua aims at establishing a new level of quality and performance “Designed in Austria” through paying attention to the users’ needs in a market burdened with all kinds of frills and furbelows and providing sound-optimised premium components, which serve their purpose in a smart, precise and reliable manner.”

Features

  • Bevelled Blade Tips
    Due to advanced design measures like the bevelled blade tips, the NF-B9 is surprisingly quiet despite its outstanding airflow and pressure performance.
  • Vortex-Control Notches
    Psychoacoustic optimizations like the Vortex-Control Notches make the NF-B9’s noise pattern more pleasant to the human ear.
  • Smooth Commutation Drive
    The new SC drive system reduces torque variations and thereby ensures improved running smoothness, particularly at lower speeds.
  • Self-stabilizing oil-pressure bearing
    Noctua’s well proven SSO-Bearing technology guarantees supremely quiet operation and exceptional long-term stability.

Specifications

  • Size: 92×92×25 mm
  • Bearing: SSO-Bearing
  • Blade Geometry: NF-B9 Blade Design with BBT & VCN
  • Rotational Speed (+/- 10%): 1600 RPM
  • Rotational Speed with L.N.A. (+/- 10%): 1300 RPM
  • Rotational Speed with U.L.N.A. (+/- 10%): 1000 RPM
  • Airflow: 64.3 m³/h
  • Airflow with L.N.A.: 52,6 m³/h
  • Airflow with U.L.N.A.: 41,1 m³/h
  • Acoustical Noise: 17,6 dB(A)
  • Acoustical Noise with L.N.A.: 13,1 dB(A)
  • Acoustical Noise with U.L.N.A.: 7,9* dB(A)
  • Static Pressure: 1,61 mm H2O
  • Static Pressure with L.N.A.: 1,09 mm H2O
  • Static Pressure with U.L.N.A.: 0,64 mm H2O
  • Input Power: 1,32 W
  • Input Current: 0,11 A
  • Voltage Range: 12 V
  • MTBF> 150.000 h
  • Scope of Delivery:
    1. 1. Ultra-Low-Noise Adaptor (U.L.N.A.)
    2. 2. Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)
    3. 3. 4 Vibration Compensators
    4. 4. 3:4-Pin Adaptor
    5. 5. 4 Fan Screws
  • Warranty: 6 years

Contents & Packaging

The packaging features Noctua’s favourite colour scheme with the oddly shaped cut out – still it’s very distinctive. The cut out also allows you to see not only part of the 92mm fan but one of the rubber fan mounts. Asides from this, the front is also home to a few features and the Noctua website.

The reverse sees these features explained fully in addition to translations and specifications.

As we saw with the NF-P12 though this is not all the back is used for, instead it opens like a book to reveal a whole series of diagrams and explanations which aim to show off the technology used in the NF-B9.

Finally, we come to the accessories which include Noctua’s exclusive L.N.A. and U.L.N.A. adapters which are the replacement for a fan controller. The total list of accessories is:

  • Ultra-Low-Noise-Adaptor (U.L.N.A.)
  • Low-Noise-Adaptor (L.N.A)
  • 4 Vibration Compensators
  • 3:4-Pin Adaptor
  • Fan Screws

The Product – Noctua NF-B9

Again the fan is adorned in Noctua’s peach and brown colour scheme which isn’t exactly the obvious choice but makes sure the fan is distinctive. Overall there are seven brown blades with vortex cut notches. These are designed to alter the pitch of the audible noise at distinct frequencies to create a broader range of frequencies and thus are supposed to be less annoying. To do this the Vortex-Control notches split the trailing vortices into multiple smaller ones thus they are more spread out and so are much less noticeable.

The blades also have bevelled blade tips which are to increase the distance between the impeller and the frame and as this is where the highest velocities occur, the noise outputs are reduced compared to other blade shapes.

The bearing is an SSO Self-Stabilisation bearing that is marketed as being much more stable and thus as it doesn’t move as much less noise outputs are created. This also means that the bearing will last much longer as it is not producing as much friction by moving about.

Moreover, as with other bearing types, especially the sleeve bearing which are known to become ever-increasingly noisy as time goes on, the SSO bearing only increases very marginally as a result of usage therefore you won’t slowly get a greater noise output the longer you use it.

On the back of the bearing is a Noctua sticker which contains a few useful figures like the RPM, starting voltage and power.

Looking at the facts and figures, the static pressure stands out ranging from 0.64 mm (in water using the L.N.A.) to 1.61 mm (in water). Effectively, static pressure is how much force the air has upon being blown out of the fan. Therefore, the NF-B9 having quite a high static pressure makes it an ideal candidate for not only system cooling but also for cpu coolers and water cooling as the airflow won’t drop significantly under the higher workload – especially relevant for water cooling.

More figures, this time it’s the airflow and at the stock speed of 1600RPM, the fan produces 64.3 m³/h (or 37.8CFM) with a noise output of 17.6dBA. This seems very impressive indeed especially for a 92mm fan so hopefully we will see good things in testing.

If the airflow or noise is too high for you though, you can of course plug in the L.N.A. and U.L.N.A. adaptors to tone it down to 52,6 m³/h (30.9 CFM) at 13.1 dBA and 41,1 m³/h (24.2 CFM) at 7.9 dBA respectively.

Included in the package are four vibration compensators which are basically just rubber mounts but do have the useful purpose of stopping vibrations from being transferred to the chassis and thus amplified.

Finally, the NF-B9 uses the standard 3-pin connector that can plug straight into your motherboard or if you are running short on these connections on the motherboard, a 3-pin to molex adaptor is included. The cable is also sleeved which is nice to say as it keeps everything neat and tidy.

Installation

The Test Setup:

ProcessorIntel C2D E5550 Dual Core 2.33GHz
MotherboardGigabyte S-Series GA-73PVM-S2H
Graphics CardXFX 8600GT
MemoryCorsair XMS2 PC6400 (2x 1GB)
Hard DriveHitachi HDT7250 (250GB)
Power SupplyTuniq Potency 650W
OSWindows XP Pro 32bit

Two choices here: screws or vibration compensators? The later is a little fiddlier but definitely worth it to stop vibrations from getting amplified. After all, you simply pull them through the case and fan holes to secure the fan.

Then plug in the connection and include any adaptor that you choose to use.

Testing

Methodology

Unfortunately, we don’t have any other 92mm fans for comparison as the majority of fans these days seem to be either 80 or 120mm, with the 92mm fan seemingly forgotten. Therefore, to test the NF-B9 we are going to give it a stern test by putting it up against some 120mm fans. Whilst we don’t expect the NF-B9 to beat them, it will still show how well this fan performs if it can get anywhere near the bigger fans.

I will be using the NOX Coolbay HX for testing. It has four pre-installed fans: two 200mms, one top-mounted and one on the side panel, and two 120mms at the front and back. However, I disconnected all of these apart from the rear 120mm fan and tested this by averaging five values taken at 10 second intervals for both the system and CPU temperatures. I then replaced the pre-installed NOX fan with the NF-B9 and tested it in the same way.

In order to collect the data I used Speedfan which uses the computer’s own diode and took values for both load and idle states. For idle, I simply left the computer for about half an hour without running any processes and then took the readings. However, for load I loaded two processes of CPU Burn-In to load the CPU to 100% again leaving it for 30 minutes before taking the readings.

In terms of noise, Verdis Reviews is not at the stage where it can afford expensive equipment, like any sort of noise measuring equipment, and so this aspect will be left to the trusty human ear.

Ambient temperature was 18 degrees and the CPU Cooler used was the Intel Stock (copper base version).

Results

Cooling

As expected the NF-B9 doesn’t beat its competitors (which are the best performing 120mm fans reviewed at Verdis Reviews). However, what is interesting is how small the margin is between the results. The NF-B9 despite being beaten is only done so by up to 1 degree in each instance which shows how well the fan has performed considering its size. Therefore, for a 92mm these results are really very encouraging and display how well the NF-B9 is at cooling.

If compared to other 92mm fans I’m sure it would be somewhere near the top.

Noise
The noise outputs are again very endearing as they are only just audible and certainly not so above other fans inside my rig. No problem here.

Cost
As with all Noctua products, the price is a little off-putting but as I have explained in previous reviews with this company you really do get what you pay for and the extra cost is more than made up in the performance.

Conclusion

Once more Noctua have demonstrated their skill as a thermal solutions company and come up trumps. The technology that goes into the NF-B9’s construction is very thought out and combines to form a fine product with achieves great cooling and low noise outputs.

I’m really struggling for a negative and I suppose the price point is one but Noctua products really do seem to warrant the higher price tag due to the great performance.

So there we have it a great product that is undoubtedly worth a look.

Pros

  • Performance
  • Low Noise Outputs
  • Distinctive
  • Innovative

Cons

  • Price Point

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