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Noctua NH-C14S Review


Noctua NH-C14S Closer Look:

The Noctua NH-C14S is roughly the same size as the original NH-C14, although the NH-C14S is a little heavier. It comes with a single, more powerful NF-A14 PWM fan and the fan is already attached to the fin stack, so there is no assembly to do to the cooler - well, you do have to take the fan off for the installation. The NH-C14 used six heat pipes and the NH-C14S also uses six heat pipes in a similar configuration. Being C-Type top flow designs, they both incorporate a center support to help add rigidity to the cooler. The older NH-C14 simply used a metal bracket as the support method, but the new NH-C14S uses a solid rod, which resembles a heat pipe. We will see more detail on the support rod shortly.



The unit comes with one NF-A14 premium 140mm fan. It is a 4-pin PWM fan, with the power lead sheathed in a nice, black rubber cover. This fan is a notch above the previous fans supplied with the original NH-C14 and delivers enough performance that the NH-C14S can function just fine with a single fan. The fan can move up to 140.2 m³/h compared to the 110 m³/h that the NF-P14 delivers. Keep in mind that the NF-A14 does spin 300RPM faster, so it is no surprise that the NF-A14 puts out more airflow. The NF-A14 comes with the full array of Noctua technology including, but not limitied to, Flow Acceleration Channels, Stepped Inlet Design, SSO2 Bearing, and Custom-designed PWM IS with SCD (Smooth Commutation Drive). I could do an entire review on just the fan, but if you want more info, just visit the Noctua website. The cooler comes with an optional inline speed reducer that slighlty reduces fan speed, which translates to even less fan noise.



In the world of cooler design, it is no secret that the performance is greatly affected by the surface area of the fin stack. Of course, there is only so much space available. If you pack the cooling fins too close, you lose air flow volume, so you try to find that sweet spot of just the right number of fins. For the NH-C14S, it would appear that the magic number is 65 and Noctua increased fin stack depth over the previous NH-C14 to further increase efficiency.



A couple of shots without the fan attached - it is not terribly obvious, but the fin stack of the NH-C14S is offset in two axes to allow for clearance of the top PCIe slot on most μATX and ATX motherboards. This is one of those subtle improvements I was talking about earlier. There are two interruptions or holes through the fin stack to allow access to the two retained mounting screws during installation. I really like the retained screws. You don't have to chase them around or worry about dropping them. I have seen several manufacturers that are now using this feature, but I wish that retained screws were an industry standard.



Since the NH-C14S is a C-Type cooler, the mass of the cooler is cantilevered over the base and additional support is necessary so that the heat pipes don't flex. In order to increase rigidity of the cooler, Noctua has integrated two gussets into the center support rod, which greatly improve the stability of the cooler. Notice that the center rod is anchored in a special top boss that is integrated into the base. I first thought that the rod was an extra heat pipe, but after a closer inspection, I realized that it was a solid rod. Does this rod help to transfer heat to the fin stack? Probably, yes - a little, but not like an actual heat pipe would. The springs on the mounting screws provide the proper down-force that keeps the cooler base engaged with the CPU.



The cooler base is nickel plated copper that has been machined to a smooth, even surface. Here you can see the back side of the mounting screws, which are retained with E clips.


Without the fan, there is a ton of space under the fin stack. You could almost drive a bus through there - well it would have to be a bus that was 70mm tall. When the fan is attached to the bottom, you can still clear the RAM modules, but it is right on top of them. If you run extra tall modules, the fan will have to be on top of the fin stack. Either way, you still get the top-flow cooler advantage of airflow directly on your RAM modules.



The NH-C14S is shown in its two modes - Low Profile is when the fan is mounted to the underside of the cooler, as shown on the left, and this mode allows for an overall height of 115mm.  High Clearance mode is shown on the right and gives you 70mm of clearance below the fin stack for tall RAM modules. If your RAM modules will allow it, you can certainly add a second fan for a little boost in cooling performance.



The SecuFirm2™ mounting kit raises the bar. This system, designed by Noctua, makes short work of the installation. 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 lineup. Each of the bracket kits have a specific instruction set that is well illustrated and easy to follow. The common parts kit includes a screwdriver, low noise adapter, and Noctua's own NT-H1 thermal compound. Push the backplate 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 brackets. Now apply the NT-H1 thermal paste to the top cover of your CPU and use the supplied screwdriver to tighten the NH-C14S onto the mounting brackets. The NF-A14 fan comes already mounted to the fin stack, so you will have to remove it for the installation, then reinstall it to the fin stack. Plug the fan into the CPU fan header and you are ready to go.



The NH-C14S fits well and looks good on the MSI motherboard. We have clearance for RAM, clearance for the first PCIe slot, air circulation around the RAM modules, VRM, and other motherboard components, and last but not least - awesome performance.


  1. Noctua NH-C14S: Introduction & Closer Look
  2. Noctua NH-C14S: Closer Look (Continued)
  3. Noctua NH-C14S: Specifications & Features
  4. Noctua NH-C14S: Testing Setup & Results
  5. Noctua NH-C14S: Conclusion
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