Noctua NF-F12 PWM Reviewccokeman -
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Since its dawn, Noctua has built a history of bringing innovative products to market. Designed to offer excellent thermal performance with a minimal noise signature, their cooling products do more than just slowing down fan speeds to hit the mark. Noctua uses a strong design team to consistently find unique and innovative solutions to manage the thermal load of today's processors and chassis, all while taking into account airflow, static pressure, and, most definitely, noise. Looking at a variety of Noctua's products in the past, it gives a unique look at the progression of their designs. For a long time, the NF-P12 was one of the best fans on the market and now, Noctua has upped the ante with the NF-F12 PWM. Featuring an impressive set of specifications, it shows an increase in both static pressure and airflow over the tested NF-P12. Also new to this fan is the PWM feature, that allows it to be controlled via a PWM controller for reduced noise, power consumption, and flexible performance scaling. Let’s take a dive into the new NF-F12 PWM fans and have a look at the features that really set these apart from the crowd.
The packaging is standard Noctua; a brown and white themed box. The front has the Noctua logo, the part number, and a window that shows off the NF-F12 PWM. The back side is quite a bit more interesting with a significant amount of information on the features of the fan; from the stepped inlet, to the SSO2 bearing, Heptaperf impeller, and "Focused Flow" design. This information is spread over two flip-open tabs, so that every bit of information is readily available to someone making a purchase at a brick and mortar store.
Inside the box is a plastic shell that holds the NF-F12 PWM fan and the accessory bundle. Included are the manual, NF-F12 PWM fan, mounting screws, vibration resistant mounts, a 30 cm 4-pin cable extension, 4-pin y splitter, and L.N.A (Low Noise Adapter). The Low Noise Adapter is used to limit the maximum fan speed and noise signature of the NF-F12 PWM fan.
Here, we get into the meat and potatoes and see what makes this new Noctua fan so special. The NF-F12 PWM has dimensions of 120 x 120 x 25 mm and is designed for use where fans with high static pressure and airflow are needed, such with heat sinks or radiators. This fan utilizes a 4-pin PWM fan connection for fan speed control. The power cable is sleeved from the fan to the connector; definitely a nice touch. The NF-F12 has a new 7 blade fan/impeller design called Heptaperf that is optimized for use with the "Focused Flow" frame and eleven stator vanes that channel and straighten the airflow through the fan housing.
A stepped inlet is used on the fan body to promote turbulent airflow into the fan, which improves compression of the airstream and reduce the noise signature. Small inner microstructures also help to improve airflow and static pressure efficiency on the suction side of the Heptaperf fan and reduce the fan noise. The improved airflow stream is pushed through the "Focused Flow" frame, where it is straightened, channeled, and "Focused" by the 11 stator vanes. These vanes are equipped with Vortex control notches and are placed at variable intervals that range from 31 to 37 degrees apart; all in the name of improved flow and reduced noise. The second generation SSO2 full metal bearing is machined from solid brass for a longer lifespan and improved fan blade stabilization. The motor magnet is placed closer to the axis of the fan blade shaft; again, for improved stabilization in combination with the new metal shell. The NF-F12 PWM has removable rubber vibration dampers to keep vibrations quiet. The back side of the motor houses the new NE-FD1 PWM IC, which incorporates SCD technology to reduce noise at very low fan speeds, as the NF-F12 PWM can run as low as 300 RPM.
All the innovation and design work are for nothing if the design does not work as intended. Noctua's designs have widely proven successful, so there is no reason to expect otherwise, but to make sure, it comes down verifying with tangible results. Let’s see if the NF-F12 PWM does indeed deliver all that the technology and design have promised.