Noctua NH-C12P SE14 Reviewccokeman - February 15, 2010
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The NH-C12P SE14 package has been put together using the proven NH-C12P 'c' shaped down-draft style heatsink, with the largest fan in Noctua's inventory - the NH-P14 FLX 140mm fan. At 114mm tall with the NF-P14 fan installed, this assembly comes in at 11mm shorter than the NH-U9B tower heatsink, also from Noctua, eliminating any height concerns. This heatsink is made using a copper contact plate and heat-pipes soldered to an aluminum fin array, with all of it soldered together and nickel plated for that high-class look that is so popular. The NH-C12P uses a total of six heat-pipes to transfer the heat to the aluminum fin array, in order to be dispersed by the airflow from the 140mm fan. You will notice that the fin array is not just hanging over the base-plate, but it is actually run down onto the base-plate to provide an additional path for the thermal load to travel through. Looking at the side views, you can see the branding on the end of the heatsink. Instead of having a flat surface, the fin array has ridges that help add surface area to the area directly under the fan. Looking at reverse side of the NH-C12P heatsink, you can see the six heat-pipes that are soldered to the base-plate and then run into the fin array.
The contact surface is typical of what Noctua delivers, with slight machining marks that do not really seem to hinder its performance. You can still see the reflection of a quarter on the base-plate. To the left of the contact plate you have what look like wings, but are really the mounting points for the SecuFirm2 hardware assembly. You have probably noticed that a large area of the fin array has been cut out. These are called "Air Gaps" by Noctua and are there primarily to promote airflow down and around the CPU socket components and by default will allow access to the SecuFirm2 mounting screws.
The NF-P14 fan mounts to the NH-C12P with the clips contained in the common components package, but before you mount the fan, you will want to put on the vibration dampers to make sure that you have the quietest install possible. These 4 gel pads stick in four notches of the heatsink, each located in a corner of the face of the NH-C12P. The bracket hooks into a notch in the side of the heatsink and flips up and over the lip and into the mounting screw hole of the NF-P14 fan. From this second picture, you can see the value of the vibration dampers. Lastly, there is a view of the whole assembly.
The NF-P14 FLX fan used to upgrade the performance of the NH-C12P heatsink, is the same fan first seen in use on the Noctua NH-D14. Noctua has used the technology on its smaller fans when building the NF-P14 FLX. The first thing that is noticeable, is the nine-blade design, with blades that feature a series of offset Vortex Control notches. These help reduce the noise generated by the fan, as well as increasing static pressure - something that is really what you need on top of the output airflow. It's great if you have a ton of airflow, but if you slap the fan on a heatsink or radiator and you can't move any air through it, then what have you gained? The fan assembly uses CNC machined brass reinforcements in the hub and bearing assembly, to keep vibration to a minimum and increasing the life-span of the whole assembly. Again, this reduces the noise of the assembly. SSO bearings are employed as another way to increase longevity and reduce noise. The wiring used on the NF-P14 is sleeved with a rubberized sleeving, that really has held up well on the older Noctua fans I have. When it comes to Noctua's fans, it is the technology that really makes the difference, whether the technology is in plain view, or hidden inside the hub.
Installation really was no different from installing the other Noctua heatsinks I have looked at recently. The SecuFirm2 mounting assembly is top-notch when it comes to mounting the NH-C12P SE14. Attach the base-plate and bracket to the motherboard and screw down the two spring loaded mounting screws for the perfect mount every time. In the large case I use, the heatsink fits comfortably without a hassle and allowed the airflow through the "Air Gaps" to cool of the MOSFETs to the side of the socket.
Now let's test this latest heatsink from Noctua and see just how well it handles the eight threads of the Core i7 920.