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Roundup: 10 high-end CPU coolers
by Marc Prieur
Published on September 28, 2011

Noctua NH-C14

The first of the three Noctuas in this roundup, the NH-C14 is, along with the Scythe Susanoo, the only one in the report not to be a tower type cooler. This makes it a very different size and shape to the other available solutions, which means it will suit configurations that can’t house too high a cooler.

With six heatpipes, the NH-C14 comes with two 140 mm DC fans. In the absence of PWM fans, you’ll have to make sure that your motherboard can regulate a DC fan or use a rheobus. Noctua do however provide adapters so as to limit maximum fan speed, the LNA (black) corresponding to around 8.5 V and the ULNA (blue) around 6.6 V. The cooler comes with a tube of thermal paste as well as the necessary to fix one of the two fans onto the casing if required. Noctua supply a very clear manual for each of the platforms.


Installation
The SecuFirm 2 mounting system is quite simple to use. First of all you fix the SecuFirm 2 to a plate at the back of the motherboard, then you screw the NH-C14 to it. Child’s play! What's more Noctua supplies the screwdriver!

In terms of orientation, for performance reasons Noctua advises you not to have the curved part of the heatpipes at the top. Depending on the choice you make, the NH-C14 will cover either 2 or 4 DIMMs. With just 35 mm of space available with two fans or with one fan underneath, you’ll have to settle for standard memory bars. If you put the fan on top, you'll have 65 mm to play with, which gives you space for bars with big coolers which also benefit from a flow of air directed towards the motherboard.

Results

When using just one fan, performance is pretty comparable irrespective of whether the fan is placed above or under the NH-C14. Overall however, it’s slightly better to have it above the cooler both in terms of temperatures and noise levels. Here, the fan underneath was used with a flow of air towards the motherboard but it can also be used in the other direction. Raw cooling performance is then slightly less optimised, but this configuration is worth considering depending on the flow of air in your casing.

The addition of a second fan obviously increases noise levels and the gain in terms of temperatures isn’t all that impressive. You will then have a bit more of a margin when it comes to the highest overclocking setting however. Note that while all the NF-P14s should work at 5V, some models do sometimes require a higher start-up voltage.
Assessment
Within the Noctua range, the NH-C14 struggles to hold its own beside the NH-U12P SE2 as it's more or less equivalent in terms of performance but costs more. It is however more flexible when it comes to size and can therefore be used in smaller casings.

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