Noctua NH-C14 Reviewccokeman - April 5, 2011
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The Noctua NH-C14 is a C shaped cooling solution that uses a total of six heat pipes to transfer the the thermal load from the nickel plated copper base plate up to the large aluminum fin array. In a direct comparison to the NH-C12P SE14, the NH-C14 is taller by 16mm at 130mm, wider without the NF-P14 fan by a total of 14mm and deeper by again 14mm without the fan. This added size increases the cooling capacity of the NH-C14 and also the weight by a total of 150g driving the weight of the cooler to 700g without the fans attached. Weight creeps up to 1000g with both fans installed. Part of this added weight comes in the form of a brace used to help support the aluminum fin array. The NH-C14 has several modes it can be used in to fit a variety of installation scenarios. Both fans can be used for the best cooling while the bottom fan can be removed to address clearance issues while the top fan can be removed to fit the cooler into a tight chassis.
Pulling the NF-P14 fans off you get a look at the construction of the NH-C14. The base is typical Noctua. The machining grooves on the contact surface can be felt when running a fingernail over the surface. This seems to not present any challenges to the cooling performance. The SecuFirm 2 mounting plates attach to the side of the base plate and use spring loaded screws to provide the optimum pressure to hold the heat sink's 1000g weight in place. Situated right above the screws are a pair of access holes in the fin array. The included screw driver or a long stem Philips screwdriver is needed to tighten the mounting screws down.
The fins on the NH-C14 are notched to create a larger surface area for the air flowing through the heat sink to remove heat. The six heat pipes as well as a brace (not used on the NH-C12P) support the 140mm wide fin array. Even this brace gets vibration dampening, Noctua's engineering makes sure that when a product goes out the door it will deliver the lowest noise possible. The six heatpipes run though the two piece base plate with an aluminum heat sink built into the top section.
The fans mount to the NH-C14 with a pair of wire clips that are captured onto studs in the fan mounting holes. This keeps the wires from getting lost as well as reducing the difficulty factor when installing or removing the fans. Noctua is all about delivering quiet performance. The fin array has a series of rubber blocks on the top and bottom that the NF-P14 fans ride upon when mounted to the NH-C14. The purpose of these blocks is to act as vibration dampeners to eliminate the fan vibration against the fin array that is sometimes heard when a fan is "Hard" mounted to a heat sink.
The heat sink is only part of the NH-C14 package. While the heatsink itself is an important part of the package, the fans play a significant role in the performance profile that is delivered by the assembly. Noctua could have used any fans they wanted for this heat sink but why go outside when you have one of the best fans in the business in terms of noise and static pressure? The latter is what is really needed to force air through a heat sink. Big airflow numbers are all for naught when they can't deliver the higher static pressures needed to push air through the tightly spaced fins of a heat sink or radiator. The NF-P14 fans are designed to do just those things with special features that improve static pressure and airflow. On each of the fan blades there is a pair of "Vortex Notches". These notches are offset from the prior and following blade in the nine blade sequence. These notches control the vortices created by the blade in the housing resulting in smoother airflow and less velocity loss. The frame of the NF-P14 FLX fan uses the common 120mm bolt pattern but can still be installed into a 140mm platform using the supplied adapters. Under the fan hub is where an additional amount of engineering has taken place. Inside is a CNC machined brass hub that reinforces the hub assembly to create less vibration. Instead of a sleeve or ball bearing, Noctua uses what is called an SSO or Self Stabilizing Oil pressure bearing. The benefits are reduced noise, increased MTBF less gyro effect and vibration during start up. Both of the NF-P14 fans use a rubberized braided covering over the wiring to the fan for both improved looks and abrasion resistance.
Installation of the NH-C14 is a fairly straight forward process using the SecuFirm 2 mounting system and is discussed in detail in the included manual. The back plate for use on Intel systems covers socket 775, 1366, 1155 and 1156. After the installation and testing, I installed the NH-C14 in place of an NH-U12P SE 1366 in another of my test platforms to see how it fit using a different motherboard. Even in a large chassis like the HAF 932 the NH-C14 is very substantial in size.
If the NH-C14 performs anywhere near as well as the NH-C12P SE14 then the NH-C14 should easily handle the thermal load better based just on size and the implementation.