First 140 mm Fan Roundup: Noctua, Phanteks, Xigmatek

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Noctua NF-A14 FLX

As good as the P series sounds, it has fallen victim to the march of progress with Noctua replacing it with the A series, now equipped on some of their latest heatsinks. The new design ditches the blade notches for something more conventional, though the iconic brown and beige color scheme remains.


Noctua has a pair of 140 mm models, the NF-A14 FLX and NF-A14 ULN, which by all accounts are identical save for their speeds, 1,200 and 800 RPM respectively.

The fans sit in a clear plastic container with their accessories. The ULN includes isolators and screws for mounting, an extension cable, two LNAs (low noise adapters) with one doubling as a molex adapter. The FLX comes with an additional ULNA (ultra low noise adapter) to better tame its higher speed.

Some faint ridges are present on the intake side of the blades and the corners are equipped with loosely-held dampeners.

Noctua has chosen a square frame for the NF-A14 series with struts that curve only slightly at the edges. The blades are also larger and have less intimidating rounded tips.

Specifications: NF-A14 Series
Manufacturer Noctua Power Rating FLX: 0.96 W

ULN: 0.48 W
Model Number NF-A14 FLX

NF-A14 ULN
Airflow Rating FLX: 115.5 / 101.9 / 88.7 m³/h (stock / with LNA / with ULNA)

ULN: 79.8 / 66.4 m³/h (stock / with LNA)
Bearing Type SSO2 Speed Rating FLX: 1,200 / 1,050 / 900 RPM (stock / with LNA / with ULNA)

ULN: 800, 650 RPM (stock / with LNA)
Frame Size 140 x 140 x 25 mm Noise Rating FLX: 19.2 / 16.4 / 13.8 dBA (stock / with LNA / with ULNA)

ULN: 11.9 / 9.1 dBA (stock / with LNA)
Hub Size 42 mm Header Type 3-pin w/ molex adapter
Blade Diameter 133 mm Fan Mounts Isolators or screws
Cable Length 20 cm Weight FLX: 190 g

ULN: 170 g
Starting Voltage FLX: 6.0 ~ 6.5 V

ULN: 7.0 ~ 7.5 V
Number of Samples 1 each
Corner Type Open Retail Availability Yes
Accessories: 8 cm LNA (low noise adapter), 10 cm LNA molex adapter, 30 cm extension cable, isolators, screws. FLX also includes an 8 cm ULNA (ultra low noise adapter).


This is the screen capture of Fan Xpert 2's auto-analysis of the NF-A14 FLX.


Acoustic analysis of the NF-A14 FLX.

SPCR Test Results: NF-A14 FLX
Fan Speed (RPM)
1300
1100
900
700
SPL (dBA@1m)
24
19
14~15
11~12
Thermal Rise (°C)
18
18
20
23
Airflow in/out (FPM)
460/590
390/520
-
-

Compared to the NF-P14 FLX, the NF-A14 FLX had a lower pitch and a rougher sound overall that sounded worse than its predecessor. Sharp spikes were noted at several frequencies, though it didn't sound as bad as the spectrum looks. At top speed it produced a droning noise. Reducing the speed to 1,100 RPM turned the drone into a subtle low pitched tone. At 900 RPM, the tonal sound faded and it was mostly smooth from then on. Despite having a higher rotational speed than the P14, it measured lower in SPL at every mark.

The A14's cooling performance was about on par with the P14, so if you look purely at the numbers, Noctua's new fan does offer a nice boost in efficiency.

We decided not to test the ULN as the FLX works as a suitable analog. At equivalent fan speeds, the FLX and ULN samples sound more or less identical. The ULN's 800 RPM speed severely restricts its usefulness and with motherboard fan control being so common now, and the higher speed FLX shipping with two different low noise adapters, the ULN seems like a pointless SKU. We don't recommend it unless the FLX is unavailable.



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