Noctua NH-C12P SE14 Reviewccokeman - February 15, 2010
Category: CPU Cooling
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Heatsinks - they take away the heat generated by any number of components found in our systems. The CPU heatsink is one of the most important when it comes to the enthusiast, as not just any run of the mill heatsink will be up to the task. With the additional clock speed and voltage that we torture our precious little bits of sand with, leaves the stock solution in a position where it just cannot cope with the additional heat generated under load. Heck, even with the stock cooling solution fan running at 100%, you can get temperatures that really are not ideal and quickly climb to the levels that I for one, find uncomfortable. Fortunately, I am not in the minority, as replacing that stock cooling solution is one of the quickest improvements you can make to the operating temperatures of the CPU.
The Noctua NH-C12P SE14 is an update to the NH-C12P, which replaces the NF-P12 fan with the NF-P14 FLX 140mm fan to the already proven design. The 'c' shaped design is quite different from the tower design used on the NH-U12P SE 1366 and NH-D14, but still is loaded up with a total of six heat-pipes and a down-draft design that features airflow gaps to both allow cooling of the motherboard components around the socket, as well as providing an avenue to reach the SecuFirm2 mounting screws. If you look at all the technology and sound engineering of the Noctua cooling solutions, they do not just engineer one part of the solution. Instead, they provide the whole package - from the heatsink, to the high end fans, to the NT-H1 thermal compound. Let's see just how well this improved version of the NH-C12P performs.
When it is time to make a purchase, information is king! Noctua has printed relevant information on all sides of the packaging, save the bottom panel. On the front panel, you have the product name (NH-C12P SE14), company name, a short list of features and a window to get a glimpse of the fan and heatsink. By spinning the box around, you get a detailed list of the features in English, then those features are listed on another panel in multiple languages. One side gives the critical dimensions, and even the top of the box gets into the act with the specifications of the heatsink and fan. Information will help you make the right decision when it comes time to picking out a heatsink on the shelf at your local shop, or PC mega-store.
The NH-C12P SE14 is well protected in the packaging and is packed tight enough to prevent the parts from moving around, or causing damage. Pop the top and the heatsink and accessory bundle are in two separate boxes. The bundle as it comes from Noctua, is the same bundle it seems, that ships with all of its consumer heatsinks and comes with its SecuFirm2 mounting components for both Intel socket LGA 1366, LGA 1156, LGA 775, AMD AM2, AMD2+ and AM3 systems. This allows you to attach the NH-C12P SE14 to just about any current system. You get an Intel kit, an AMD kit, detailed instructions for both Intel and AMD and last but not least, a bag of common components.
Each mounting "kit" comes with everything you will need to get the heatsink attached to your motherboard. With the Intel kit, you get the adjustable back-plate that uses a series of holes to allow you to mount it to all three supported socket types, just by installing the studs in the right holes. Spacing is 75mm for socket 775, 77mm for 1156 and 80mm for socket 1366. The rubber cut-out seen beside the back-plate, is used for socket 775 installations, as there is not a CPU socket back-plate to get in the way. This provides additional protection against short circuits. The AMD kit uses the back-plate already installed as part of the stock mounting solution and proves adequate for the job. The common components are parts that work with both socket types and include the brackets to secure the NF-P14 fan to the NH-C12P.
In the 'common parts' kit, you have quite a few items, including the fan mounting clips, anti vibration pads, a tube of Noctua's excellent thermal interface material, a single L.N.A (low noise adapter) and U.L.N.A. (Ultra low noise adapter) to slow down the already quiet fan, and a metal case badge to let the rest of the world know you are packing Noctua cooling in your rig. The only thing I did not see, was the screwdriver that normally accompanies a Noctua heatsink, but really that's not a big issue. Maybe that part just missed the trip. The manuals to install the NH-C12P SE14 are very detailed and provide clear direction on how to install the heatsink on your combination of parts.
After seeing the components, let's dig deeper into the fan and the heatsink, to see if they are quality items.