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Appeared on: Monday, June 21, 2010
Noctua NH-C12P SE14 review

1. Features, specifications


Power users

Today we have the chance to test Noctua's NH-C12P SE14, a CPU heatsink based on the successful NH-C12P, which has received many awards and recommendations from the international press. The new NH-C12P SE14 now comes with Noctua's new NF-P14 140mm fan for further improved quiet cooling performance as well as the new SecuFirm2 multi-socket mounting system. Topped off with Noctua's pro-grade NT-H1 thermal compound and adding support for both LGA1366 and LGA1156, the NH-C12P SE14 seems to be a great cooler that provides lots of airflow for near-socket mainboard components and excellent case compatibility at a height of only 114mm.

- Product features

6HP P6 heatpipe design
The NH-C12P heatsink is renowned for its high quality and thermal performance.
CT C-type design with Airflow-Gaps
Due to the down-facing design, two large Airflow-Gaps and the oversize 140mm fan, the NH-C12P SE14 provides cooling for near-socket motherboard components.

NF-P14 NF-P14 140mm premium fan
Further improving the original NH-C12P’s quiet cooling performance, the NF-P14 is a highly optimised 140mm fan with Vortex-Control Notches for quietness and aerodynamic efficiency.
COMP High compatibility
The down-facing c-type design allows for low height as well as excellent motherboard and case compatibility, making the NH-C12P SE14 suitable for many smaller or desktop style cases.
SECUFIRM SecuFirm2 multi-socket mounting system
Noctua’s enthusiast grade SecuFirm2 multi-socket mounting provides broad socket compatibility (LGA1366, LGA1156, LGA775, AM2, AM2+ and AM3).
NT-H1 Noctua NT-H1 high-end thermal compound
Noctua's NT-H1 is a well proven pro-grade TIM solution that provides minimum thermal resistance, ease-of-use and reliability.

- Specifications

Operating temperature
Socket compatibility Intel LGA1366, LGA1156, LGA775 & AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3 (backplate required)
Height (without fan) 90 mm
Width (without fan) 126 mm
Depth (without fan) 152 mm
Height (with fan) 114 mm
Width (with fan) 140 mm
Depth (with fan) 152 mm
Weight (without fan) 550 g
Weight (with fan) 730 g
Material Copper (base and heat-pipes), aluminium (cooling fins), soldered joints & nickel plating
Fan compatibility 140x140x25mm / 120x120x25mm
Scope of Delivery
  • NF-P14 premium fan
  • Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)
  • Ultra-Low-Noise Adaptor (U.L.N.A.)
  • NT-H1 high-grade thermal compound
  • SecuFirm2™ Mounting Kits
  • Noctua Metal Case-Badge
  • Warranty 6 Years

    Fan specifications
    Model Noctua NF-P14
    Bearing SSO-Bearing
    Rotational Speed (+/- 10%) 1200 RPM
    Rotational Speed with L.N.A. (+/- 10%) 900 RPM
    Rotational Speed with U.L.N.A. (+/- 10%) 750 RPM
    Airflow 110,3 m³/h
    Airflow with L.N.A. 83,7 m³/h
    Airflow with U.L.N.A. 71,2 m³/h
    Acoustical Noise 19,6 dB(A)
    Acoustical Noise with L.N.A. 13,2 dB(A)
    Acoustical Noise with U.L.N.A. 10,1 dB(A)
    Input Power 1,2 W
    Voltage Range 12 V
    MTBF > 150.000 h
    Specific Gravity 3.011 @ 25
    Volume 0.33ml (1g)

    MFDB fan Specifications:

    Bearing Type: Magnetic Fluid Dynamic Bearing
    Rated Voltage: 12V DC
    Rated Current: 0.16A (Max)
    Air Flow: 90.65 CFM (Max)
    Noise: 16~20 +/- 10% dBA
    Speed: 1000~2000 RPM
    Life: 50,000 hours
    Thermal Resistance 0.092 ( / W)

    2. Package, installation

    Noctua used its typical packaging for the NH-C12P SE14 as you can see in the picture below. A transparent window in the front side of the box allows you to see the cooler inside. The basic features of the product are listed on the front side of the box. Reading the specifications on the rear side of it should make you smile, with the heatsink to be universally compatible with Intel's LGA1366, LGA1156, LGA775 & AMD's AM2, AM2+, AM3 sockets. You can make this package yours after spending ~ $70. This is a high price for a heatsink but it follows Noctua's pricing tradition for premium heatsinks. Let's hope that this baby will worth the extra spending.

    The contents of the retail package include the main heatsink, the NF-P14 fan (140mm) , installation manuals, Noctua's SecuFirm2 multi-socket mounting system for Intel and AMD CPUs, and Noctua's NT-H1 thermal compound:

    The Noctua NH-C12P SE14 is a compact-sized cpu cooler and uses a fan installed on the top side of the heatsink. Measuring just 90x126x152 (height x width x depth) and with a weight of 550grams, the NH-C12P SE14 will fit inside your PC case even if it is not a large one. So before running any tests, we can safely say that if you need something to make things cooler inside your PC case, the NH-C12P SE14 should be a good option for you.

    The heatsink's small footprint is also contributed to the down-facing c-type design of it. This allows for low height as well as motherboard and case compatibility, making the NH-C12P SE14 suitable for many smaller or desktop style cases.

    Let's have a closer look. The Noctua NH-C12P SE14 follows the proven 6 heatpipe design, with six full copper nickel-plated heatpipes connecting the heatsink's base with the aluminium fins:

    Besides offering a small height, the down-facing design also provides cooling and lots of airflow for near-socket mainboard components.

    The heatsink's base looks perfect made of nickel-plated copper. The bottom-surface of the cooler is optimized for the use with high-viscosity thermal compounds. As a result, we have to don't have to do with a mirror like surface. Micro-grooves on the surface of the coolers' base ensure that high-viscosity thermal compounds are dispersed to a uniform thin layer across the whole contact area and that no air pockets remain between the cooler and the CPU. Noctua claims that with a polished, mirror like surface, the risk of uneven dispersion is much higher. As too thick layers of thermal paste and air pockets drastically deteriorate heat transmission, the micro-grooves are is of vital importance to the overall cooling performance of the cooler when used with today's high-viscosity thermal pastes.

    Close to the base you can see four pre-assempled screws used to mount the heatsink on the motherboard:

    The included NF-P14 140mm fan is very efficient, as the results showed us when we tested the NH-D14 heatsink. The fan features psychoacoustic optimizations like the Vortex-Control Notches for quietness and aerodynamic efficiency. Noctua has also included Low (L.N.A) and Ultra-Low Noise adaptors (U. L.N.A.).

    The fan should be installed on the top side of the cooler as you can see in the picture below. Installation is very easy using the corresponding clips:

    Unless you have already owned a Noctua cooler, you should read the included manual before installation, in order to familiarize yourself with Noctua's SecureFirm 2 mounting method. While there are many nuts and bolts to use, things are rather straight forward.

    Let's apply thermal compound on the CPU and place the cpu cooler on it. As you can see in the picture below, the cooler offers sufficient clearance for nearby memory modules of up to 40mm in height (standard height). RAM modules with higher heatspreaders can cause compatibility issues on mainboard's where the heatsink extends over the RAM slots. Also make sure to take off the removable top heatsink of your DDR3 Corsair Dominator RAM before installing the NH-C12P SE14 (in case your system uses this type of memory).

    When using the NH-C12P in a tower-style case, Noctua recommends installing the NH-C12P with the heatpipes in horizontal position or with the bends of the heatpipes pointing downwards. Installing the NH-C12P with the bends pointing upwards as this may result in reduced cooling performance. In desktop cases, the NH-C12P can be used in any orientation:

    3. Testbed
    Here is our test bed:

    We produced the highest possible temperature using the OCCT v2.0.1 software with a custom 30mins (mixed) operation:

    We left both cores of our Intel Core i7-920 running at full load for ~30 minutes. The temperatures were logged using the CoreTemp 0.99.3 and the software itself. We took two measurements with our CPU running at stock speed and with then under overclocking:

    The sound measurements were logged using the Precision Gold N09AQ Environment Meter. All the measurements were taken at a 30cm distance from the cpu cooler, with its fan spinning at full speed. For all the coolers appearing in the comparison charts we used the thermal compound, the Tuniq TX-2. As a last note, we remind you that these measurements may slightly differ from any possible measurements you may have, even if you are using the same testing configuration.

    4. Results

    Let's see now whether installing the 1400 mm fan on the top of the heatsink will result in efficient cooling.

    We start with the temperature measurements with our system (Intel Core i7-920) running at stock voltage - which is already producing enough heat. As you can see in the comparison chart below, the Noctua NH-C12P SE14 lowered the temperature of the CPU at 45 degrees Celsius, which is a great performance for such a compact heatsink:

    The next step is to overclock the CPU to 3.60GHz. The Noctua NH-C12P SE14 gave a surprisingly good performance and the logged CPU temperature was 65 degrees C. Although other heatsinks were even more efficient, they were not comparable with the Noctua NH-C12P SE14 in terms of size. In addition, the Noctua NH-C12P SE14 makes the difference among other heatsinks that have their single fan installed on the top side. Typically and according to our previous tests, this design did not help these coolers reach top performance.

    Noctua has been promoting its coolers generally designed for efficient and quiet operation. The NH-C12P SE14 confirms this claim. The heatsink was very quiet and produced just 44dB of noise, measured at a 30cm distance from the unit. That's a great performance for a 140mm fan and positions the NH-C12P SE14 in a high position in our comparison chart:

    The Noctua NH-C12P SE14 is a little bit pricey and would cost you around $70:

    5. Final words

    The NH-C12P SE14 is everything you would expect from the Austrian-based company. A well-designed, quite efficient and quiet cooler, which will cost you some extra bucks to have it. The product is built upon the awarded NH-C12P but additionally offers compatibility with the latest Intel sockets, improved cooling efficiency with the NF-P14 fan onboard and follows the latest design trend that has the fan installed on top of the heatsink.

    The low volume and height of the NH-C12P SE14 cooler offers easy installation, increases its compatibility with many motherboards and allows it to fit inside smaller or desktop style cases. Placing the fan on the top saves some space inside the PC case and gives the cooler greater compatibility and easier installation. On the other hand, it doesn't give you the top performance you might expect. It's the standard trade off of small-sized CPU heatsinks. Noctua tried to minimize the effect of this design by adding a larger 140mm fan. The result was successful and the NH-C12P SE14 proved to be very efficient with our Intel Intel Core i7-920 running at stock voltage and also quite competitive under demanding overclocking conditions. Basic element in Noctua's success is also the very quiet operation of the oversized 140mm fan.

    Besides its good performance, the Noctua NH-C12P SE14 retails in a complete package, which includes everything you may need for easy installation including a thermal compound.

    Noctua has managed to optimize the design of the NH-C12P SE14 by smartly balancing the cooling efficiency and the compact size. The product is very interesting to play with and it deserves your attention if you are looking for an almost noiseless cpu cooler with good performance and universal socket compatibility.

    The NH-C12P SE14 retails for $70 and this automatically positions it to the category of high-end CPU heatsinks. Although the competition is hard, this baby is offering something other solutions don't - a quiet operation If you can afford ~$70 just buy the NH-C12P SE14 and you won't be disappointed...

    Retail package
    Motherboard compatibility
    Installation time
    Copper Base quality


    + Complete retail package
    + Low volume - fits in most PC cases
    + Good performance either with stock/overclocked processor
    + Low noise levels even at full speed
    + Works with both AMD/Intel platforms

    + 6 years of warranty


    - High retail price
    - Installation procedure takes some time, but is straight forward
    - Due to product design you cannot install a second fan

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