Noctua NH-C14 Dual Fan Top-down CPU Cooler

Cooling
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Stock Fan Measurements

We begin with an analysis of the stock fan, the NF-P14, which is also one of the fans that ships with the side-blowing D14 heatsink. It's a nine blade 140 mm fan with 120 mm fan holes and a round frame with open corners.

Specifications: Noctua NH-C14 Stock Fan(s)
Manufacturer
Power Rating
1.2 W
Model Number
NF-P14
Airflow Rating
110.3 m³/h
Bearing Type
SSO
Speed Rating
1200 RPM
Corners
Open
Noise Rating
19.6 dBA
Frame Size
140 x 140 x 25 mm
Header Type
3-pin
Fan Blade Diameter
130 mm
Starting Voltage
6.4 V
Hub Size
40 mm
Weight
150 g
Data in green cells provided by the manufacturer or observed; data in the blue cells were measured.

Noctua's patented "vortex notches" which look like small bite marks are designed to break up turbulence. The blades have gentle curves and are relatively thin. The P14 fan has an unusually high starting voltage, so it's best to run 7V and above unless it can be controlled automatically.

Stock Fan Measurements
Voltage
Avg. Speed
SPL @1m
One Fan
Two Fans
12V
1230 RPM
26~27 dBA
29 dBA
9V
940 RPM
18~19 dBA
21 dBA
8V
850 RPM
16 dBA
18 dBA
7V
740 RPM
13 dBA
15 dBA
6V
610 RPM
11~12 dBA
12~13 dBA
Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle from the center of the heatsink.
Ambient noise level: 10~11 dBA.

The acoustics of the P14 are generally smooth, with most of the audible noise being in the form of air turbulence which of course is unavoidable. There is also an odd pulsing hum that is only evident at and close to 9V. The two fan samples varied in speed by only 10~30 RPM, not enough to develop any intermodulation effects, something that afflicted the NH-D14 which used a P14 with a P12. Combined, the C14's two fans become what we consider quiet at about 8V.


At 8V, the noise produced by the fans is mostly broadband with little to no tonality.

COOLING RESULTS

Fan Voltage
SPL@1m
°C Rise
CPU
NB*
VRM*
Both Fans
12V
29 dBA
35
11
12
9V
21 dBA
36
24
14
8V
18 dBA
37
28
15
7V
15 dBA
39
30
20
6V
12~13 dBA
41
38
24
Top Fan
12V
26~27 dBA
38
32
17
9V
18~19 dBA
40
32
23
8V
16 dBA
40
40
26
7V
13 dBA
44
48
34
6V
11~12 dBA
48
53
41
Bottom Fan
12V
26~27 dBA
38
26
16
9V
18~19 dBA
40
32
18
8V
16 dBA
41
32
19
7V
13 dBA
44
38
24
6V
11~12 dBA
49
40
32
Bottom Fan (ref. 120 mm fan)
12V
16 dBA
39
25
21
9V
13 dBA
42
34
23
7V
12 dBA
48
41
34
°C Rise: Temperature rise above ambient (22°C) at load.
*NB and VRM temps taken with an IR thermometer from the hottest portion of each heatsink.

Virtually identical CPU temperatures were produced with both single fan configurations. Placing the fan underneath the fin-stack was far superior for cooling the board components as one would expect. With the fan closer to the PCB, we recorded much lower northbridge and VRM heatsink temperatures, up to 13°C and 9°C respectively depending on the fan speed. When the fans were used in tandem, CPU cooling improved marginally at similar noise levels. The same can be said for heatsinks around the socket, at least when the fans were set to quiet levels.

The only surprise was how well our 120 mm reference fan performed. Despite not covering the entire surface of the heatsink, the Nexus actually generated better overall results than the stock fan in the bottom configuration. The results with the fan on top were omitted for brevity; on average CPU cooling was 7°C worse while the NB/VRM took a 15°C hit. Using a single fan above the fin-stack should be avoided.



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