20 - 01 - 2018
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Noctua NH-U12S & NH-U14S CPU Coolers Review

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INTRODUCTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

nh u12s u14sa

   For good or bad Summer is finally here which would explain why all of our 4 test rigs have begun heating up a lot more during these past few days as would the fact that i can't seem to be able to stay in front of our 800W photo bench for more than 20 minutes at a time. So since we all know how important a good CPU cooler is especially during the Summer period we announced that we will be doing a very cool giveaway with our friends over at Noctua tomorrow with 3 of their latest cooling solutions up for grabs. Because of that however we also feel that you need to know what it is that we will be giving away so for the past 3 days we've been putting the latest NH-U12S and NH-U14S CPU Air Coolers through rigorous testing with impressive results especially for two single fan solutions.

 

   Designed in Austria, Noctua's premium cooling components are internationally renowned for their superb quietness, exceptional performance and thoroughgoing quality. Having received more than 1000 awards and recommendations from leading hardware websites and magazines, Noctua's fans and heatsinks are chosen by more than a hundred thousand satisfied customers around the globe. Noctua comes from a cooperation of the Austrian Rascom Computerdistribution Ges.m.b.H. with the Taiwanese cooling specialist Kolink International Corporation, pooling more than ten years of experience in the development, manufacturing and marketing of high-end cooling components. Established in 2005, Noctua took the international silent enthusiasts' hearts by storm and quickly developed into one of the most acclaimed suppliers of premium quality quiet cooling products. Today, Noctua is present in more than 30 countries across the globe and working with several hundred sales partners. Chosen by noise conscious PC users, system integrators and industry clients alike, Noctua has become synonymous with impeccable quality, excellent customer service and class leading quiet cooling performance.

 

   It's been a while since Noctua last released a CPU Air Cooler aimed towards enthusiasts, overclockers and hardcore gamers so you can imagine how surprised we were when they announced not one but two models (which is good since our LGA2011 test bench welcomed both the NH-U12S and the NH-U14S with open arms). Noctua however designed both coolers primarily with one thing in mind and that's zero clearance issues with RAM modules (much like the NiC series by Thermaltake and the Archon series by Thermalright) something with which the award winning and quite massive NH-D14 is not very good at. Of course both cooler are also dual fan capable meaning you can use two fans in push and pull configuration, come with 6 years warranty, are compatible with pretty much every socket out there (future and past ones as well since Noctua offers mounting kits for no charge) and also feature Noctua’s SecuFirm2 mounting bracket for easy and sturdy installation. But the real question is just how well they perform against their immediate competition and that's what we are here to find out.

 


 

SPECIFICATIONS AND FEATURES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NH-U12S

u12sfeatu12sspecs

NH-U14S

u14sfeatu14sspecs

 


 

PACKAGING AND CONTENTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Both solutions arrived inside medium sized boxes (the NH-U14S obviously in a slightly larger one) with the features list at the front.

 

 

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All of the features are explained in-depth over at the right side.

 

 

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The specifications of both the heatsinks and the bundled fans are placed on the left side.

 

 

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A few words about the coolers are written at the rear of the box in 8 languages.

 

 

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There's a first time for everything and so this time over Noctua has used 3 different cardboard boxes to place the bundle in.

 

 

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Both boxes contain the cooler, tube with thermal conductive material, extra silicon bars/fan clips/rubber pads (for a 2nd fan), screwdriver, low-noise adapter, backplate, Noctua metal case badge and the SecuFirm2 mounting system for Intel LGA1150/1155/1156/2011 and AMD AM2/AM2+/AM3/AM3+/FM1/FM2 CPUs.

 


 

THE NH-U12S

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The NH-U12S is a mid-sized CPU Air Cooler measuring 158mm in height, 125mm in width and 71mm in depth with a weight of 755g (with the fan).

 

 

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Mounted on the heatsink is the Noctua NF-F12 120mm PWM fan that has a maximum rotational speed of 1500RPM producing airflow of up to 55CFM at 22.4dBA of noise.

 

 

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Noctua has once again used my favorite fan clips that make mounting and removing fans extremely easy.

 

 

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As you can see the air is prevented from leaving the heatsink due to the curved fins on both sides.

 

 

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The heatsink of the NH-U12S has a grant total of 50 aluminum fins.

 

 

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The Noctua logo is engraved on the top fin.

 

 

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As already mentioned the NH-U12S is a dual fan solution so you can add a 2nd 120mm fan on the other side for push and pull.

 

 

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Five 6mm all-copper nickel plated heatpipes leave the base of the NH-U12S and pass through all 50 aluminum fins.

 

 

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The base is not really polished so it lacks the mirror like finish we all like but in the end quality is what really matters.

 


 

THE NH-U14S

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On the other hand the NH-U14S is quite larger than the NH-U12S and measures 165mm in height, 150mm in width and 78mm in depth while weighing a total of 935g.

 

 

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The NF-A15 150mm PWM fan can also reach speeds of up to 1500RPM and produce airflow of up to 82.5CFM at 24.6dBA of noise.

 

 

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This time over the fan clips are a tad larger but offer the same ease of use.

 

 

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The NH-U14S also features curved aluminum fins to improve airflow from keeping the air inside the heatsink.

 

 

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51 aluminum fins are present on the main heatsink but there's an extension in the middle with 6 extra aluminum fins.

 

 

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Again the Noctua logo is engraved on the top fin.

 

 

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Adding a second NF-A15 150mm PWM fan for push and pull should further improve the performance of the cooler quite a bit.

 

 

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Two out of the six 6mm all-copper nickel plated heatpipes pass through just 51 of the aluminum fins.

 

 

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The base is pretty much identical to that of the NH-U12S so no surprises here.

 

 

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We also placed both coolers right next to each other so you can have a better understanding of their sizes.

 


 

TEST BED

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

cpuz i7-3930ksystem

 

 

TESTING METHODOLOGY

 

     We always take things quite seriously when it comes to work so just like with the previous LGA1366 database we will not be testing each CPU Cooler on its own and with different ambient temperature levels and thus we can actually have yet another valid CPU Cooler database. Testing a CPU Cooler automatically means that you need to know where it stands against the immediate competition and to accomplish that we have spent both money and time through the years, something that we plan to continue to do so in order to get the most accurate results for the end consumers who read these lines. Every CPU cooler in this database is tested with the bundled 140mm/120mm/92mm/80mm fans while working at both idle speed and 100% of their speeds for all the temperature tests. CPU Coolers that do not come bundled with a fan/s are measured using a Noctua fan (size dependent on the model) to test for the temperature tests but due to the lack of a stock fan dBA level tests are obviously skipped. For the dBA tests every cooler in the database was measured both while on idle mode or with the fan controller in the minimum setting and while on extreme load or with the fan controller all the way to the highest possible setting (PWM fans do that on their own without our intervention). Every single test takes place in a temperature controlled room of 23 degrees Celsius Ambient Temp with the help of two AC units placed diagonally inside the room. The Arctic Silver 5 thermal paste is used with every CPU Cooler in our latest LGA2011 database (although initially this was not the plan we had to change things to get the most accurate results). Finally it's very important to point out that just because a CPU Cooler is better than another when tested with our Intel Core i7-3930k test rig that does not necessarily mean that the same performance differences will apply 100% for other CPU models and in other situations (such as different ambient temps and system configurations).

 

     To successfully record the load temperatures we use the latest OCCT application for around 6-10 minutes to push the processor to its limits and after that is done and the temperatures are recorded we wait for about 10-20 minutes for the CPU to cool down and record the idle temperatures. This is done to allow time for the thermal conductive material to achieve the optimal performance level. Same procedure is then repeated with the Passmark BurnIn Test as a failsafe just in case the OCCT results are wrong. This procedure takes a lot more time than the usual peltier/thermometer tests but this way not only can we deliver real world results to our readers based on real CPUs but we can also triple check the results using a variety of programs. Last but not least the temperatures were recorded using both the latest versions of AIDA64 and RealTemp while the noise level tests are performed using a high precision ExTech HD600 Decibel Meter placed about 10-15cm above the CPU Cooler. Still although the same testing procedure applies to all units do take into consideration that unlike the official numbers which are measured in special noise isolated labs with just the fans here we also have both the rest of the cooler and the rest of the system (although all system fans are turned off when recording noise levels).

 


 

TEST RESULTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tempsdba
Excellent cooling performance across the board with minimal noise levels from both Noctua coolers with the NH-U14S taking the 2nd place in our charts from the NiC C5 by Thermaltake.

 


 

CONCLUSION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

nh u12s u14sb

   After testing the NH-U12S and the NH-U14S it's quite obvious that Noctua has finally accepted the fact that in order to make an omelet you need to break some eggs and so both solutions feature faster 120/150mm fans that what we've gotten used by them so far (1500RM vs the usual 1200/1300RPM). Of course that's not a bad thing since we all know that Noctua fans have plenty of headroom when it comes to RPM/dBA so i was glad to see that they are finally increasing RPM to squeeze even better performance numbers out of their coolers. Our results clearly show that this is working since the NH-U14S managed to surpass the NiC C5 while the NH-U12S came really close to the massive NH-D14 (makes me wonder just how well the NH-D14 would perform with two or even three NF-A15 fans on it). One of the perks of using a single fan is reduced noise levels and so although both fans rotate at 1500RPM neither crossed the 47dBA mark and so most people shouldn't have a problem even at high loads.

 

   We all know (or at least most of us do) that because of their superior build quality and performance Noctua CPU Air Coolers don't really come very cheap and so currently the NH-U12S retails for USD69.95 inside the USA (Purchase Directly from Amazon.com) and for around 62Euros inside the EU (Purchase Directly from Amazon.co.uk). The NH-14S is naturally more expensive and retails for USD79.95 inside the USA (Purchase Directly from Amazon.com) and at around 75Euros inside the EU (Purchase Directly from Amazon.co.uk). True there are less expensive solutions out there (and much more expensive ones) but you just can't find the same level of performance and quality as the one offered by Noctua and since the latest NH-U12S and NH-U14S CPU Air Coolers excel at both while at the same time offer zero clearance issues with RAM modules they both walk away with our Platinum awards.

platinum

PROS

- Build Quality
- Size (no RAM Clearance Issues)
- Excellent Performance (Especially For The NH-U14S)
- Dual Fan Solutions
- Socket Compatibility
- Bundle
- 6 Years Warranty

 

 

CONS

- Price (For Some)

 

 


Posted: 4 years 8 months ago by dacul #880
dacul's Avatar
I like their website. They keep it very clean, yet very informative. I'm so anxious to put the new 2x NF-F12 PWM fans inside the case. :silly: I use their thermal compounds for some time. The next buy, very soon if the odds are not on my side, will be a Noctua CPU cooler NH-C14.
Posted: 4 years 8 months ago by ispasion22 #877
ispasion22's Avatar
Most of the air coolers are very cheap, the middle class is produced in smaller quantities; the coolers for maximum performance has a more limited target, and therefore have a higher cost.
This is because the costs of research and construction that are more complex, but a good cooler like the NH-D14 could handle a hot CPU like Nehalem as well as a good watercooling system.
Posted: 4 years 8 months ago by Freedom #803
NikKTech's Avatar
MadChoppa wrote:
Freedom wrote:
Quite more expensive so if they use copper people will turn to good AIO water cooling solutions. Easier to install and better in most occations.
So it's obvious - when AIO water cooling became as easy as traditional ac to install, and the same price/cheaper, then air cooling will gone. Just curious how soon it happens?

Will not happen any time soon since manufacturers keep the cost of mid/end air coolers to 1/3 of the cost of cheap AIO liquid coolers.
Posted: 4 years 8 months ago by ana3mic #798
ana3mic's Avatar
By looking at current generation of AIO coolers they are close to Air coolers but no cigar, especially if you consider price. If all you want is to have a "water cooler", which they are not, and plan to use "Gaming" RAM with large heatsinks by all means get one, just know you're paying usually around twice for the same performance and most of the times with more noise.
Posted: 4 years 8 months ago by MadChoppa #795
MadChoppa's Avatar
Freedom wrote:
Quite more expensive so if they use copper people will turn to good AIO water cooling solutions. Easier to install and better in most occations.
So it's obvious - when AIO water cooling became as easy as traditional ac to install, and the same price/cheaper, then air cooling will gone. Just curious how soon it happens?
Posted: 4 years 8 months ago by Freedom #792
NikKTech's Avatar
Quite more expensive so if they use copper people will turn to good AIO water cooling solutions. Easier to install and better in most occations.
Posted: 4 years 8 months ago by dacul #790
dacul's Avatar
MadChoppa wrote:
I still don't understant why cpu(gpu) cooler manufacturers stll use aluminium in their products. :huh:
Nowadays, when air cooling almost reached it's limit and most powerful hardware are cooled by water cooling systems, it's seems very reasonable to me to use copper only(at least for high-end/premium cooling solutions) for heatsinks. Do you agree?

Yes i agree, but copper is more expansive than aluminium. Not an article for cpu cooling, but the same range www.hydro.com/en/Subsites/Hydro-Aluminiu...luminium-and-copper/
Posted: 4 years 8 months ago by Sam Nicko #788
Sam Nicko's Avatar
awesome result :) i love Noctua NH-U14S!
Posted: 4 years 8 months ago by MadChoppa #771
MadChoppa's Avatar
I still don't understant why cpu(gpu) cooler manufacturers stll use aluminium in their products. :huh:
Nowadays, when air cooling almost reached it's limit and most powerful hardware are cooled by water cooling systems, it's seems very reasonable to me to use copper only(at least for high-end/premium cooling solutions) for heatsinks. Do you agree?
Posted: 4 years 8 months ago by dacul #764
dacul's Avatar
najiro wrote:
ana3mic wrote:
Never heard of this problem here in my country and I've seen some very old coolers on the PCs at work that have been working for like 10 years, so yeah I guess it's a climate thing.

performance is still the same. it's just that it doesn't look GOOD anymore LOL.
and it's hard to clean the part in between fins... some discoloration and bits of corrosion.

Unless your pc is a museum piece. I really don't care how it looks inside. Just cleaning the dust and that's all.
Posted: 4 years 8 months ago by dacul #762
dacul's Avatar
I never had any aftermarket cpu coolers, but now since i have an A10-5800k cpu i'm seriously thinking to buy one. The price isn't so big afterall."You get what you pay for - Chinese Culture" :silly:
Posted: 4 years 8 months ago by imagination #729
imagination's Avatar
I like the big NH-D14 but not all users could use the big boss. However from this specific two models i`d say Noctua really did a great job with both of them. My choice here would be the NH-U14S and seeing it on top of everything makes me dream for an early Christmas present. Do you hear me Santa? :woohoo:
Posted: 4 years 8 months ago by najiro #692
najiro's Avatar
ana3mic wrote:
Never heard of this problem here in my country and I've seen some very old coolers on the PCs at work that have been working for like 10 years, so yeah I guess it's a climate thing.

performance is still the same. it's just that it doesn't look GOOD anymore LOL.
and it's hard to clean the part in between fins... some discoloration and bits of corrosion.
Posted: 4 years 8 months ago by ana3mic #689
ana3mic's Avatar
Never heard of this problem here in my country and I've seen some very old coolers on the PCs at work that have been working for like 10 years, so yeah I guess it's a climate thing.
Posted: 4 years 8 months ago by najiro #687
najiro's Avatar
Freedom wrote:
Climate plays a serious role in the amount of corrosion an cooler can get. Since most companies nickel plate them it's not very easy for that to happen.

Yep. I live in the tropics but still, the difference was just too obvious. I had a coolermaster v6gt before and the fins are really ugly after a year.. well hidden inside the shroud... on the other hand, my friend's noctua nh-d12 looked significantly better (considering that he live nearer to the sea...)
Posted: 4 years 8 months ago by Freedom #686
NikKTech's Avatar
Climate plays a serious role in the amount of corrosion an cooler can get. Since most companies nickel plate them it's not very easy for that to happen.
Posted: 4 years 8 months ago by najiro #685
najiro's Avatar
I had air coolers before. One thing I notice about them is that they only look good in reviews.. The fins rust and corrode easily after a year. But then I saw my friend's noctua air cooler.. it was still shiny and relatively good looking after 2 years. Noctua really makes quality coolers!