The Noctua NH-U12S and NH-U14S

Noctua shipped us a shiny new pair of recently launched coolers designed specifically to be used in systems that have RAM with tall heatsinks. They're both pretty interesting beasts in their own rights, particularly because they're just...not the exceptionally beefy high performance air coolers we've come to expect. Or at least they don't look it.

The smaller of the two is the deceptively plain-looking NH-U12S, which sports one of Noctua's standard 120mm PWM-driven fans. Noctua includes clips that allow you to attach a second 120mm fan, but in testing the benefits were negligible at best, offering a substantial increase in noise for 2C better performance at most. Note that these coolers aren't yet available on NewEgg, but are clearly meant to replace older versions that use Noctua's older mounting scheme. The NH-U12S has an MSRP of ~$65, so despite its small stature we're still not in the realm of entry level.

This monster is the NH-U14S, which uses Noctua's special NF-A15 PWM fan. This is a 150mm fan designed to occupy the same space as a 140mm fan, but uses 120mm fan mounting. Given that it's a larger fan that can be mounted in smaller spaces, it's interesting enough unto itself, but here Noctua pairs it with a heatsink designed to take advantage of its unusual profile. This one also accepts a second fan, but like its smaller sibling, sees no real benefit from it. MSRP is a more punishing ~$75, and unlike the NH-U12S, the NH-U14S can and will intrude on the top PCI Express slot.

Both coolers come with Noctua's new "SecuFirm 2" mounting kits for both Intel and AMD, and the packages on the whole are of excellent quality. The clipped on fans are both secure and easy to remove and replace, and the backplate is easy to mount. In both packages, Noctua includes a healthy amount of extras: a PWM splitter for adding a second fan, clips for adding a second fan, ultra low noise in-line adapters, and their own thermal material. The instructions are also detailed and full color.

Noctua products are, facing facts, fairly premium stuff. They have premium prices, but thankfully they feel high quality. Everything about the presentation is top notch. The high class presentation seems to be common with some European companies; Swiftech's package for the H220 is extremely smart, with the cooler already assembled, fans already attached, and pretty much ready to be mounted. Likewise, all of the be quiet! gear I've tested has come with a healthy amount of accessories for the cat to steal.

The Cooler Master Seidon 240M Spec Tables
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  • Edkiefer - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    really nice review with air cooler verse the water coolers . One comment though, looking at the air temps of PWM and 100% . They seem so close I would think you should get better results on 100% fan . Maybe the case still doesn't have good airflow for air coolers ?

    Just saying, I have the hyper evo and with stock MB fan profile verse modified (maxes to about 80% ) I say a least few c with app like prime95 .
    Reply
  • biostud - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    You could do a nice xy diagram with noise and delta temp on the axes. Reply
  • truprecht - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    "You could do a nice xy diagram with noise and delta temp on the axes."

    Yes this 100x. It's so obvious - why is it not SOP for cooler comparisons?
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    I put one together for a prior cooler review; it wasn't nearly as useful as a I hoped. With very few exceptions everything bunched up in a fairly narrow diagonal line.

    Noise is vertical; temp horizontal: http://orthogonaltonormal.com/midden/fans.png
    Reply
  • JCheng - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    DanNeely: On the contrary, I find that extremely helpful! Having to jump back and forth between the data points and the legend is kind of a drag, but to see the two dimensions really helps! Reply
  • DanNeely - Monday, April 29, 2013 - link

    The reason I felt it was of limited value was that excepting some really bad performers on the quiet end of the range (designed for low power CPUs in SFF systems?) almost all the coolers fell along a relatively narrow horizontal line; meaning the best to worst ordering in the temp and noise tables was mostly equal with no major outliers. Reply
  • nail076 - Monday, April 29, 2013 - link

    I agree, an X-Y chart of these values would better show the best performers in a sea of coolers. Reply
  • buhusky - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    Why do fan & cooler reviews NEVER put the OEM fan/cooler numbers in there as a baseline? Never! It would be much better for me to compare to see how different of an upgrade the item(s) would be compared to what came with my stuff, not just as compared to each other.... Reply
  • A5 - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    The OEM coolers are terrible. They would make the graphs unreadable because all the aftermarket stuff would hardly look any different compared to the OEM cooler. Reply
  • matagyula - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    In this case I don't think the OEM solution would keep the CPU cool enough -> i7 @4,4GHz, as written on the "Testing methodology" page. Reply

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