Noctua NF-F12 PWM Reviewccokeman - March 14, 2012
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Testing out these new fans from Noctua makes me realize just how much I like the innovative designs of their products. They do not simple take the ideas from others and make small improvements; they throw the book away and start from scratch. The NF-F12 PWM fans feature an all-new Focused Flow design that improves overall static pressure and airflow, with just a slight noise penalty compared to the NF-P12. The list of enhancements is staggering. One would never think this much thought went into a product that is an afterthought for many. From the top, there is the Heptaperf 7 blade fan, an all-new design, stepped inlet on the frame, and micro structures on the inner ring of the frame to improve suction, reduce noise, and improve airflow. There is the Focused Flow frame with an 11 blade stator with varying angle design and Vortext control notches to improve the tone of the fan. A second generation SSO bearing assembly works together with an improved solid brass machined bearing shell to offer improved stabilization of the fan blades. Noctua used a custom-designed NE-FD1 PWM IC, equipped with Smooth Commutation Drive technology, to again improve the noise signature when run at lower speeds such as 300 RPM. All this design work has a purpose and that is to provide a fan that runs quietly and features incredible longevity for use with radiators and heat sinks that need a high static pressure fan. When run with or without the PWM function enabled, it outperforms the time tested NF-P12 under load, which is what really counts. At idle when the PWM function is enabled, the NF-F12 PWM does deliver higher temperatures than the NF-P12, as you can expect with a fan speed of only just over 300 RPM. If you set the PWM control to a slightly more aggressive profile, you can match the idle temperatures without noise penalties. At 22.4 dBA under load, it is hard, if not impossible, to hear the noise difference over the 19 dBa of the NF-P12.
Looking at the fans from a cost perspective tells you the price of all the engineering and design work that has been put into this fan. However, comparing costs at e-tailers shows that the pricing difference between the NF-P12 and the NF-F12 PWM is nil. Effectively, this gives the end user a more efficient design for the same fixed costs. At around $25, the price is steep compared to other fans, though you do get a well-designed product for your price of entry. The bundle of accessories included with the NF-F12 PWM allows the end user to make the fan truly silent: rubber mounts, improve connectivity with a fan extension cable, and a splitter to use when there is only one PWM controlled header on the motherboard. At the end of the day, I feel that Noctua has hit a home run with the NF-F12 PWM; offering a better-performing product for the same fixed costs to the consumer. Now to try out the greater-than-150,000 hour MTBF!
- Low Noise
- Innovative design
- Airflow performance
- PWM controlled