Noctua NH-U14S Reviewred454 - January 5, 2014
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Noctua NH-U14S Closer Look:
The Noctua NH-14S is a tower-style heat sink and is essentially the big brother to the NH-U12S. The NH-U14S uses a larger fan and has an additional heat pipe compared to the NH-U12S. It measures 165x150x78mm with a single NF-A15 140mm PWM fan attached. Adding a second fan brings the depth to 104mm. Minus the fans, the fin array is only 52mm thick, which is 19mm narrower than the fin array of the NH-U12P. With no fan, the NH-U14S weighs in at 770g, and it jumps to 935g when equipped with a single fan. The design of the fin array accomplishes the ultimate goal, which is to provide 100% memory compatibility by allowing adequate space for memory modules that use taller heat sinks. A single NF-A15 140mm PWM fan is provided with the NH-U14S, but you can add an optional second fan to improve thermal performance and for today's review, Noctua has provided a second fan.
When the fan is removed from the heat sink, you can see that the NH-U14S uses a baseplate with six U-shaped heat pipes to pull the heat away from the CPU and transfer it to the fin stack to ultimately be dispersed by the 140mm NF-A15 fan. Some coolers have the heat pipes all in alignment with each other, but the heat pipes of the NH-U14S are staggered to maximize their exposure to the airflow. I've noticed that this staggered design method seems to yield the best cooling results. The top view of the tower shows the termination points for the six nickel-plated copper heat pipes. Noctua's logo and name are embossed in each of the fins. This adds a nice visual touch, especially if you have a side window on your case.
The fins in the array are slightly tapered inwards toward the center. There is a small hole in the top that is used to access the retaining screw in the center of the SecuFirm2 bracket on the heat sink base. The nickel plated copper base is smooth with very fine machining marks that I have seen on each of the Noctua heat sinks I have looked at. So far this surface has not been an issue as far as cooling performance is concerned. Each of the six U-shaped, nickel-plated copper heat pipes pass through the aluminum fin array to deliver the best possible cooling performance.
Noctua's NF-A15 premium quality quiet fan (140mm PWM) is included with the NH-U14S. This fan complies with Noctua's AAO (Advanced Acoustic Optimisation) standard and features sophisticated aerodynamic design measures such as Flow Acceleration Channels. Measuring 140x150x25mm, the NF-A15 uses the second generation SSO2 full metal bearing, which 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-A15 PWM has removable rubber vibration dampers to keep vibrations to a minimum. The back side of the motor contains Noctua's custom designed PWM IC, which incorporates SCD (Smooth Commutation Drive) technology to reduce noise at very low fan speeds, as the NF-A15 fan can run as low as 300 RPM.
The NH-U14S installs easily thanks to Noctua's SecuFirm2 mounting system. Most cases today have a chassis with an opening in the motherboard tray behind the socket so you don't have to remove the motherboard for installation. Push the back plate through the four heat sink mounting holes around the socket, place the spacers on the studs, and place the brackets over the studs. Next, thread on the retaining nuts, and then tighten in an alternating sequence until the nuts bottom out on the spacers. Now apply the NT-H1 thermal paste to the top cover of your CPU and use the supplied screwdriver to tighten the NH-U14S onto the mounting brackets. Mount the included NF-A15 fan (or two if you choose) and you are ready to power your system up.
After the NH-U14S is installed, it is easy to see how the overall design provides clearance for high performance memory modules that use larger-than-normal heat sinks. On the backing plate, you see the designation 115X. This means that Intel socket compatibility using the back plate is going to be limited to Intel Socket 115X motherboards. Mounting to an Intel LGA 2011 or AMD socket does not require the use of the back plate and is slightly different in that the installation utilizes parts of the existing socket mounting package. If you are working with sockets that are not supported out-of-the-box, Noctua does provide the NM-I3 SecuFirm kit free of charge to support additional socket compatibility.
The combination of six heat pipes and a slimmer fin array. along with the ability to use a pair of NF-A15 fans. might be the ideal recipe to handle the heat generated by the Haswell-based 4770K.