Noctua NH-U14S Review

red454 - 2013-05-20 20:51:38 in CPU Cooling
Category: CPU Cooling
Reviewed by: red454   
Reviewed on: January 5, 2014
Price: $75.99

Noctua NH-U14S Introduction:

When you think of high performance air-cooled solutions, Noctua is usually at the top of the list. The NH-U14S has been designed to handle one of the most obvious and frustrating problems often encountered with high performance air-cooled solutions: inaccessible DIMM slots on the motherboard caused by interference from the heat sinks. Modules with large heat shields, such as the Patriot Viper Series, Mushkin Ridgebacks, and Corsair Vengeance and Dominator modules (plus many others), present a real clearance dilemma. You have to make a choice regarding the CPU cooling method or how much memory to install in the system, and to further complicate things, you have to consider the use of high performance modules versus standard modules.

These issues pertain to any company that offers a large tower-style heat sink. To combat the space constraints, companies bring new slim tower designs to the table, like the Noctua NH-U12S and NH-U14S. Of course, the popularity of the all-in-one (AIO) liquid coolers is hard to ignore, and many companies offer them. Personally, I like the AIO solutions, but many people are not comfortable with liquid solutions and prefer standard air cooling. For those people, Noctua has an option with the aforementioned coolers.

Today we will review the NH-U14S. Priced at $75.99 (NewEgg) and equipped with a six-year warranty, Noctua has again released another high-end cooling solution to meet the challenge of memory compatibility. Let's look at it in more detail.

Noctua NH-U14S Closer Look:

To draw attention to the package, Noctua uses a somewhat understated yet effective layout that is full of information on all sides. The front panel shows a list of specifications without a lot of detail to draw you in. On the back is a brief description of the features (in eight languages) that make the NH-U14S a top-notch product. One side panel features technical specifications, and the opposite side offers more details on some of the unique features of the NH-U14S. It is hard to not get excited whenever I have a new Noctua box in my hands!

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

Open the main box and immediately you will see that the hardware accessories are packaged individually in smaller boxes, including the AMD-specific, Intel-specific, and common parts. Each box lists the contents, and has a graphic showing each item in that box. I really like the way Noctua organizes your experience from the beginning. You know exactly what to expect in each box. After you remove the hardware boxes, you can see how well the cooler itself is packed. The substantial outer cardboard frame makes darn sure that some rough handling won't bother the cooler.

 

 

As usual with Noctua, the accessories are individually packaged. The SecuFirm2 mounting kit is now segregated into boxes rather than bags. The AMD brackets are each used specifically for AMD solutions and support all the latest sockets. The Intel SecuFirm2 bracket kit includes a robust backplate that is designed specifically for Socket 115X usage, rather than being multi-socket compatible like many others in the line up. Each of the bracket kits have a specific instruction set that is thorough and easy to follow. The common parts kit includes a screwdriver, low noise adapter, fan mounting hardware for another NF-A15 PWM fan (for a push / pull configuration), and Noctua's own NT-H1 thermal compound.

  

    

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.

Noctua NH-U14S Specifications:

Socket compatibility
Intel LGA2011 (Square ILM), LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1150 & AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2 (backplate required)
Height (without fan)
165 mm
Width (without fan)
150 mm
Depth (without fan)
52 mm
Height (with fan)
165 mm
Width (with fan)
150 mm
Depth (with fan)
78 mm
Weight (without fan)
770 g
Weight (with fan)
935 g
Material
Copper (base and heat-pipes), aluminium (cooling fins), soldered joints & nickel plating
Fan compatibility
140x150x25 (with 120mm mounting holes), 140x140x25 (with 120mm mounting holes), 120x120x25 
Scope of Delivery
NF-A15 PWM premium fan
Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)
NT-H1 high-grade thermal compound
SecuFirm2™ Mounting Kit
Anti-vibration pads and fan-clips for second NF-F12
Noctua Metal Case-Badge
Warranty
6 Years

 

 

NF-A15 Fan:

Size
120x120x25 mm
Connector
4-pin PWM
Bearing               
SSO2
Blade Geometry
Heptaperf™
Frame Technology
Focused Flow™
Rotational Speed (+/- 10%)
1500 RPM
Rotational Speed with L.N.A. (+/- 10%)
1200 RPM
Min. Rotational Speed (PWM)
300 RPM
Airflow
140,2 m³/h
Airflow with L.N.A
115,5 m³/h
Acoustical Noise
24,6 dB(A)
Acoustical Noise with L.N.A.
19,2 dB(A)
Static Pressure 
1,51 mm H2O
Static Pressure with L.N.A.
,89 mm H2O
Max. Input Power
0,96 W
Max. Input Current
0,08 A
Voltage               
12 V
MTBF
> 150.000 h
Scope of Delivery
Low-Noise Adapter (L.N.A.)
    4-Pin Y-Cable
    30cm Extension Cable
    4 Vibration-Compensators
    4 Fan Screws
Warranty
6 Years

 

Noctua NH-U14S Features:





 

All information courtesy of Noctua @ http://www.noctua.at/main.php?show=productview&products_id=64&lng=en&set=2

Noctua NH-U14S Testing:

Testing of the NH-U14S will be accomplished by installing the cooler into the test system case. Most systems are built and mounted into a sealed (relatively) chassis as opposed to a test bench, so this method will be used to generate the idle and load results to give a real world view as to the cooling performance from a system listed below. Of course, your results may vary by several degrees due to case design and ambient air temperature. The CPU load is generated by Prime 95 version 27.9 for a period of two hours, with a cooldown period of one hour after the computer has returned to an idle state. Real Temp 3.70 is used to log the temperatures with the highest and lowest averages across the four cores of the Core i7 4770K test CPU. Ambient temperatures are kept at 24 °C during the testing to minimize the effect of temperature variations. Each cooler is tested with the manufacturer supplied thermal compound as delivered.

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Coolers:






 

 

 

 

 

At idle (stock and overclocked), the Noctua NH-U14S was able to deliver temperatures consistent with the highest performing air coolers in this comparison field, which contains coolers costing much more. Looking at the stock load results, the NH-U14S does a fine job of removing the thermal load generated by the hot-running Haswell processor and keeps the temps within two degrees of the liquid cooled AIO (All In One) Nepton 280L. When overclocked, it is only three degress higher than the 280L, and still well below the thermal danger zone. And it is close, very close, to the performance of the much larger D14.

Noctua NH-U14S Conclusion:

Noctua's arsenal of cooling solutions now adds the NH-U14S to the list of impressive air coolers. From the moment you open the box you know that you are in the world of high-end cooling.  At $75.99 (NewEgg), the NH-U14S is indeed toward the upper range of what most people will spend on a cooling solution for their computer, but for that price you get a cooler that can trade punches with larger coolers like Noctua's D14, and even considerably more expensive AIO units, like Cooler Master's Nepton 280L.

The solid design of the base, heat pipe, and fin system all come together to deliver great cooling performance. But a great system also needs a great fan to handle the thermal load, and Noctua tops it off with the NF-AF15 140mm fan. This PWM fan is engineered to quietly and efficiently move air through the fins and it does just that. The second generation SSO2 full metal bearing is machined from solid brass, which improves fan life by improving blade stabilization. The NF-A15 PWM fan comes with removable rubber vibration dampers, and the motor contains a new NE-FD1 PWM IC to reduce noise at very low fan speeds. And speaking of noise, the NF-A15 fans are designed with noise reduction in mind and at maximum RPM, the NF-A15 fans are rated at 24.6 dBA – not what we condiser loud, but they are practically inaudible from three feet away when installed in your case. To take it a step further, Noctua includes an L.N.A., or Low Noise Adapter, that drops the maximum fan speed down with a corresponding reduction in the noise level to 19.2 dBA. And at 18.6 dBA, the NF-A15 fans are virtually silent.

While the cooling performance alone is enough to justify buying this cooler, on top of that is that fact that the slim design of the NH-U14S addresses the compatibility issues of larger performance memory modules. With large, bulky coolers this is certainly something that typically required either the purchase of low profile DIMMs or you had to leave the slots that interfered with the heat sink and fans empty. A few coolers would allow you to offset the fan, but this ultimately sacrificed cooling performance. So why spend all the time and money putting a system together and then have to compromise on the amount of memory? Well, all of these issues go away with the NH-U14S and I was able to populate all four DIMM slots on the test motherboard with no interference. Noctua's SecuFirm2 mounting system covers all the latest sockets and is one of the most comprehensive installation kits on the market. It has everything you need to install the NH-U14S on any modern board.

It can be somewhat intimidating to get your head around the number of cooling solutions on the market today. If air cooling is right for you, make sure you consider Noctua's NH-U14S. It is easy to install and offers quiet, high-end cooling performance. The slim design solves the memory space / accesibility problem and still delivers high-end performance. Add the six-year warranty to the mix and you can't go wrong!

 

Pros:

 

Cons: