Noctua NH-C14 CPU Cooler Review

👤by Sahil Mannick Comments 📅28-11-10
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2.66GHz




Ok so I hope your scroll wheels haven’t broken yet. If they have, please check one of our mice reviews for a better alternative. The NH-C14 gets off to a very good start at stock clocks. We have to remember that this is a top down cooler that Noctua claim can match some tower heatsinks. In that respect, their claim holds true. The default configuration yields a temperature delta of 34.5C, which is comparable to the NH-D14 using U.L.N.A. Considering that the NH-C14 heatsink is half of the NH-D14, it is very impressive seeing it keep up. It also beats the NH-U12P by a significant 2C margin. Comparing it to other coolers, the NH-C14 manages to beat our old favourite, the Thermolab Baram which also uses a push-pull configuration. It might not match the likes of higher end towers such as Thermalright but it proves to be a very good alternative for mid-range ones. HTPC users should also be thankful that they can now have enough cooling potential to match tower cases whilst still maintaining low noise levels.

Fan configuration modes
The flexibility of the dual fan system means that the cooler can be used in three modes. Looking at the results, dual fan mode provides the best performance, as can be expected. Low profile mode, where the fan is installed at the bottom of the heatsink, is the second best configuration at 1C behind. Removing the top fan doesn’t have a large impact on performance so those who require low profile coolers can rejoice at the fact that the 105mm tall heatsink has performance to rival bigger tower coolers. High clearance mode is only 0.5C behind the low profile mode. This mode should only be used if the clearance is needed for larger memory modules. Otherwise, users should opt for the dual fans or use U.L.N.A. for near silent operation.

Default VS U.L.N.A VS High RPM
Noctua bundle 5V and 7V adapters to reduce the fan speed of the NF-P14. Using the 5V U.L.N.A on both fans reduced the rotational speed to 750 RPM and the performance hit was a mere 1C. Using the 2 SWiF2 120P fans yielded slightly better performance that the stock setup but the 1900 RPM fans are also much louder.

Direction of flow
By default, the fans are mounted to push air towards the motherboard to cool adjacent components. People often claim that it ends up pushing hot air onto them. In terms of CPU cooling performance, the stock configuration works better than having the fans in reverse.

**Update**

Following a few conversations with Noctua and being somewhat unimpressed with the overclocked performance on the next page, I tried to investigate what could be limited the cooler. As I have mentioned, Noctua recommend that the cooler be orientated with either the heat pipes being horizontal or the C bend facing downwards. Since the CPU socket on the Rampage III extreme is unusually high, it was impossible to test the cooler such that the heat pipe ends faced the top of the case and the C bend faced downwards so I had to settle with the heat pipes facing to the sides. Ideally, we want the former configuration so that the vapour in the heat pipes can travel upwards and then condense into a liquid and subsequently flow downwards. In the end I decided to lay my case flat rather the upright so that the orientation of the cooler didn’t matter for optimal cooling. So here are the results:


For the most part in this situation, the results have remained vastly unchanged but the overclocked cooling results are more interesting…

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