Noctua NF Series Fan Roundup

Author: Roger Cantwell
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Friday, February 22nd, 2013
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/Roundups/noctua_nf_roundup/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

In the past I have had the pleasure of working with several cooling solutions from Noctua ranging from CPU coolers to case fans. Today I will be looking at three new additions to their case fan lineup: the NF-A14 FLX, NF-A14 ULN, and the NF-A15 PWM models. Noctua's NF-A15 PWM, NF-A14 ULN, and the NF-A14 FLX fans share certain features like a self stabilizing oil pressure bearing (SSO2), advanced acoustic optimization frame technology (AAO), and the A-series blade geometry with flow acceleration channels - along with an impressive 6 year warranty.

Other buzzwords shared by the NF-A15 PWM, NF-A14 ULN and the NF-A14 FLX fans include Noctua's unique Stepped Inlet Design, Inner Surface Micro-Structures, Integrated Anti-Vibration Pads, Metal Bearing Shell and Ultra Low power Consumption. As we dive deeper into this new line of fans we will cover these features in more detail.

NF-A15 PWM
 
Size
140x150x25 mm
Connector
4-pin PWM
Bearing
SSO2
Blade Geometry
A-Series with Flow Acceleration Channels
Frame Technology
AAO (Advanced Acoustic Optimization)
Rotational Speed (+/- 10%)
1200 RPM
Rotational Speed with L.N.A. (+/- 10%)
900 RPM
Min. Rotational Speed (PWM)
300 RPM
Airflow
115,5 m³/h
Airflow with L.N.A.
88,7 m³/h
Acoustical Noise
19,2 dB(A)
Acoustical Noise with L.N.A.
13,8 dB(A)
Static Pressure
1,51 mm H2O
Static Pressure with L.N.A.
0,89 mm H2O
Max. Input Power
0,96 W
Max. Input Current
0,08 A
Voltage
12 V
MTBF
> 150.000 h
Scope of Delivery
Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)
4-Pin Y-Cable
30cm Extension Cable
4 Vibration-Compensators
4 Fan Screws
Warranty
6 years

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 NF-A14 ULN
 
 Size
140x140x25mm                                           
 Connector
3-pin
 Bearing
SSO2
 Blade Geometry
A-Series with Flow
Acceleration Channels
 Frame Technology
AAO (Advanced Acoustic Optimization)
 Rotational Speed (+/- 10%)
800 RPM
 Rotational Speed with L.N.A.  (+/-  10%)
650 RPM
 Airflow
79,8 m³/h
 Airflow with L.N.A.
66,4 m³/h
 Acoustical Noise
11,9 dB(A)
 Acoustical Noise with L.N.A.
9,1 dB(A)
 Static Pressure
0,69 mm H2O
 Static Pressure with L.N.A.
0,42 mm H2O
 Max. Input Power
0,48 W
 Max. Input Current
0,04 A
 Voltage
12 V
 MTBF
> 150.000 h
 Scope of Delivery
       Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)
       3:4 Pin Adaptor
       30cm Extension Cable
       4 Vibration-Compensators
       4 Fan Screws
 Warranty
6 years

 

NF-A14 FLX
 
Size
140x140x25 mm
Connector
3-pin
Bearing
SSO2
Blade Geometry
A-Series with Flow  Acceleration Channels
Frame Technology
AAO (Advanced Acoustic Optimization)
Rotational Speed (+/- 10%)
1200 RPM
Rotational Speed with L.N.A. (+/- 10%)
1050 RPM
Rotational Speed with U.L.N.A. (+/- 10%)
900 RPM
Airflow
115,5 m³/h
Airflow with L.N.A.
101,9 m³/h
Airflow with U.L.N.A.
88,7 m³/h
Acoustical Noise
19,2 dB(A)
Acoustical Noise with L.N.A.
16,4 dB(A)
Acoustical Noise with U.L.N.A.
13,8 dB(A)
Static Pressure
1,51 mm H2O
Static Pressure with L.N.A
1,18 mm H2O
Static Pressure with U.L.N.A.
0,89 mm H2O
Max. Input Power
0,96 W
Max. Input Current
0,08 A
Voltage
12 V
MTBF
> 150.000 h
Scope of Delivery
       Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)
       Ultra-Low-Noise Adaptor (U.L.N.A.)
       3:4-Pin Adaptor
       30cm Extension Cable
       4 Vibration-Compensators
       4 Fan Screws
Warranty
6 years

The NF A15 PWM, A14 FLX and the A14 ULN premium fans share many of the same features. At the heart of the NF series is the SSO2 bearing. SSO2 is a second generation metal bearing design that moves the rear magnet closer to the axis. This allows for an overall increase in stabilization and precision while extending the lifespan of the bearing. The AAO or Advanced Acoustic Optimization frame designed by Noctua allows these fans to combine several enhancements that increase performance and lowers the noise produced by the blades.

In typical Noctua fashion that we all know and love, the packaging for the NF A15 PWM, A14 FLX and the A14 ULN premium fans is covered with information. On the front of the box you will find a short list of features of the fans.

Flipping the front panel reveals details about the Flow Acceleration Channels, Noctua's SSO2-Bearing, the stepped Inlet Design along with the Scope of Delivery.  Flipping the box around to the back, you will find detailed information in multiple languages and specifications for the fan. Flipping the back panel open reveals an in-depth description on the design features of the fan.

Now that we have covered the available information on the packaging, its time to move onto the fans. In the following order we have the:

NF-A14 FLX:

Included accessories: 3 to 4-pin adapter, low noise adapter, ultra low noise adapter, both standard screws and anti-vibration rubber mounting pins.

NF-A14 ULN:

Included accessories: Extension cable, 3 to 4-pin adapter, low noise adapter (L.N.A.), both standard screws and anti-vibration rubber mounting pins.

NF-A15 PWM:

Included accessories: extension cable, y-adapter, low noise adpater (L.N.A.), both standard and anto-vibration rubber mounting pins.

The NF A15 PWM, A14 FLX and the A14 ULN fans utilize the integrated anti-vibration pads, designed to reduce vibrations and the noise generated from the fans. The pads are manufactured from an extremely soft silicon, yet still maintain complete compatibility with all mounting hardware.

If you recall, earlier I mentioned the Stepped Inlet design.  Looking at the inner ring you can see the stepping that leads inward toward the center of the fan. This is where turbulence is added to the influx aiding in the transition from laminar to turbulent flow, allowing the blades to intake a larger quantity of air. The blades on the NF A15 PWM, A14 FLX, and the A14 ULN premium fans utilize Flow Acceleration Channels to increase the speed of the air flowing along the outer portion of the fan blade. This reduces intake flow separation of noise produced by the fan sucking in air.

The Inner Surface Microstructures is another feature of the AAO frame design; these are miniature pits on the inside of the frame. Their purpose is to create a layer of turbulent air that reduces the flow separation from the front side of the blade, in turn reducing fan blade noise caused by flow separation.

As you can see we have several technologies working together to create a fan that produces less noise with increased performance.

Today in our labs we will be testing Noctua's NF-A15 PWM, NF-A14 ULN, and the NF-A14 FLX series. We will be utilizing Prime95 for one hour, using small FFT for the CPU and chipset.  For the GPU, we will be using Unigine Heaven 3.0 running in a 15 minute loop. The final stage will be a 30 minute cool-down period for the idle temperatures. The maximum load temperatures will be recorded using HW Monitor for the CPU, chipset, and GPU. All fans will be run at 100% rotation speed for the tests.

Test System Configuration:

I will be using four different installation configurations to test the cooling capabilities of Noctua's NF A15 PWM, A14 FLX, and the A14 ULN premium fans. Our Cooler Master 932 HAF will utilize a single 120mm fan mounted in the top of the case as an intake fan for the following tests. This configuration is to establish a base line that the other configurations will be compared against.

Configurations:

Results:

It is hard to believe that a single fan would outperform a three fan configuration, but as you can see from the results this proved to be the case. Both the NF-A14 FLX and the NF-A14 ULN were able to keep the components cooler, even if it was by a single Celsius.

Noctua's NF A15 PWM, A-14 FLX, and the A-14 ULN did an excellent job of keeping our testbed cool given the fact they are not high RPM fans. The one thing that did surprise me, as I had mentioned earlier, was the fact that a single fan could offer a higher degree of cooling especially when compared to a three fan configuration. I tested this several times to confirm that this was the case and over the course of three separate runs, the results came out the same. Of course there was a plus/minus difference of a Celsius or two between each run. Regardless of the outcome, Noctua's NF A-15 PWW, A-14 FLX, and the A14 ULN are a welcome addition to their lineup of cooling products.

The NF-A15 PWM and the NF-A14 FLX run at 1200rpm when not equipped with the low noise adapters. This of course improves their overall performance at the cost of increased noise output from the fans. I am not saying they generate a lot of noise - as a matter of fact even at their maximum rotational speeds the fans are are extremely quiet, almost to the point that I continued to check just to make sure they actually were in operation. The NF-A14 ULN without a doubt generates the least amount of noise with or without the low noise adapter. In any case, these fans would make a great addition to either an HTPC or gaming PC for those who like quiet.

Noctua's NF-A15 PWM, NF-A14 FLX, and the NF-A14 ULN are priced around $24.00 each; a reasonable price considering the quality and performance of the fans (not to mention a 6 year warranty).  In my book, that's a lot of bang for the buck.

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