Noctua NH-C14S Review – Noctua is best known for its beige and brown fans, and has dominated the market for silent-operation, performance-heavy cooling options for as long as we can remember. It’s a company with ideals pitched at those who don’t care for the aesthetics of the components, more the properties they exhibit. Notably noise cancellation and a high degree of static pressure. As a result, it delivers some of the best performance that money can buy.
The Noctua NF F12 is the prodigal fan you’ve probably heard about a lot. A 120mm-static pressure-optimised, lownoise fan, toting figures such as 22.4 decibels under load for an impressive 2.61mm H2O. For those who don’t know, static pressure is the force at which air is pushed back through the fan. The higher the pressure, the more beneficial it is for cooling dense radiators or CPU heatsinks. The lower the density of the fins on the radiator, or the heatsink, the less static pressure you need to push air through it, making CFM and airflow fans your new best friend.
But this is all besides the point. The cooler we have here is none other than Noctua’s latest NH-C14S. A low-profile CPU heatsink, which otherwise dwarves the small form-factor builds we’ve tested it in. Powered by a 140mm Noctua AF14, this little fridge magnet pumps out an impressive 95W-worth of TDP on our Intel Core i7-4790K. The single 140mm fan stays quiet at around 24dB at load, and 19dB with the included low noise adaptor. Although the heatsink is an impressive 142mm tall, we still managed to install a set of Corsair Dominator Platinums below the underside of the heatsink. The overall footprint of the NH-C14S is quite large, which is great for increased cooling capacity, but does give us pause, certainly in regards to the Asus Maximus Gene series with the raised PCB.
What Noctua does do nicely is packaging. Unboxing this little beauty is a dream for anyone with any level of OCD. Opening the box, you’re presented with three smaller packages, all different sizes. One for AMD, one for Intel and then an accessory box with Noctua’s custom Allen key-esque screwdriver for mounting installation, nicely braided cables, and some premium thermal paste.
Installing the NH-C14S is a painless affair, which is especially impressive for an air cooler. You’re provided with a very solid backplate, with four plastic protectors and four additional threaded bolts to attach on top. Then it’s a simple matter of inserting the specialised screwdriver down the two holes cut out at the top of the heatsink and tightening the pre-attached, spring-loaded screws into the backplate. Job done. No fiddling around. You can even probably do this with the motherboard inside the chassis.
Performance, on the other hand, was a little underwhelming. We were pushing an Intel Core i7-4790K, which can run hot. But even at stock, we managed to reach the TJMax, running the standard blends test in Prime95, after just five minutes. With the core immediately throttling itself to compensate for the excess heat, overclocking just wasn’t an option.
This cooler isn’t as impressive as it should be. It’s a little too big and doesn’t have the cooling capacity of a full tower, or even a small AIO. Disappointing. What it does have, however, is almost silent operation and impressive compatibility with memory modules. We’re wondering if perhaps a more powerful fan would perform better to help improve the dissipation needed for the more powerful CPUs such as the i7-4790K.
- Hyper quiet
- Fantastic design
- Easy to install
- Packaging is great
- Low TDP
- Not great at cooling the core i7-4790K
- Large surface area
Noctua NH-C14S Specifications
- Socket support AM3+, FM2+, 1150, 1155/56, 2011
- Dimensions (W x H x D) 140 x 166 x 130mm
- Fan compatibility 1x 140mm
- Weight 920g
- Warranty Six years