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Appeared on: Thursday, April 14, 2011
CPU Coolers - Noctua NH-C14 Vs Thermaltake Frio Ock

1. Noctua NH-C14 Vs Thermaltake Frio Ock

Today we will test two CPU coolers designed to operate under heavy loads. Noctua is proposing the top-air NH-C14 for your system, promising to offer high cooling efficiency and quiet operation, in a compact and a smart customizable design that can easily fit in your system

Thermaltake's Frio OCK is the updated version of the company's Frio cooler for overclockers. The massive dual-fan cooler features a whooping heat dissipation capacity of 240 W and it has been designed to appeal gamers with a shape and color scheme resembling a powerful bunker as inspired by the popular PC game StarCraft II.




Intel LGA1366, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA775

AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3 (backplate required)

Thermaltake Frio OCK

Intel LGA1366,

AMD AM3, AM2+, AM2


All the products will be tested with exactly the same environmental conditions and of course same testing methodology.

2. Meet the Noctua NH-C14



The Austrian Noctua company has been famous for their technologically advanced heatsinks. Today we he in our labs the NH-C14 model, a top air cooler with a horizontal heatsink and airflow directed towards the mainboard surface. We have met the specific design in the past in some other CPU coolers, which generally could not pose a serious threat to the tower-coolers, mainly due to their smaller horizontal heatsinks. On the other hand, the top air design is more compact and fits easier into a system, while it also offers some extra airflow which cools the around-the-socket area on the mainboard PCB.

The NH-C14 promises brings top-flow cooling to a new level by offering an 140mm dual fan setup: The two supplied NF-P14 fans can be installed on top and underneath the fin-stack to configure the cooler for maximum performance in dual fan mode and either lower profile (105mm) or maximum component clearance in single fan modes. Bundled with the award-winning NT-H1 thermal compound and Noctua’s SecuFirm2 multi-socket mounting system, the NH-C14 is a flexible, top-flow solution designed to further boosts the renowned quiet cooling performance of the company's much acclaimed NH-C12P series.

The NH-C14 supports the Intel LGA1366/1156/775 and AMD Socket AM3/AM2+/AM2 systems and retails for $90, which is a relatively high price. Let's hope that the cooler worths it.


- Specifications

Starting with the package, the Noctua NH-C14 is bundled with everything you need in order to familiarize yourself with the cooler and install it in your system. The accessories are held in a separate box while the cooler is inside a pair of boxes that are braced to keep transit damage to a minimum. The accessories box contains all that is needed to install the NH-C14 including the SecuFirm2 mounting hardware for both AMD and Intel, s screwdriver for installation, Noctua thermal paste, a bag of various parts and detailed installation instructions.


Let's have a closer look to the main cooler unit. The Noctua NH-C14 is a large cooler and while it is not overly tall it does have a very large footprint. The official dimensions of this cooler (with fans) are 130mm X 140mm X 166mm and a substantial 1Kg (700 grams without fans).

Noctua included two of their excellent NF-P14 fans with the cooler. The pair of 140mm fans are rated for a maximum of 1200 rpm at which speed they move about 65CFM with a 1.21mm of static pressure. The fans can be fine-tuned according to your needs via the supplied Low-Noise (L.N.A.) and Ultra-Low-Noise Adaptors (U.L.N.A.).

The cooler can be used with either singe or dual fans installed. This provides flexibility in terms of installation options, cooling efficiency and acoustics. For example, the "High Clearance mode" with a single fan installed on the top side of the heatsing provides additional clearance for chipset coolers or RAM modules with tall heat-spreaders. Run with a single fan on top, the NH-C14 provides a full 65mm of clearance.

The "Low Profile Mode" has a single NF-P14 fan underneath the fin stack and the top fan removed. In this case the NH-C14 measures only 105mm in height, which makes it ideal for use in smaller enclosures and HTPC applications.

The fans mount to the NH-C14 with a pair of wire clips that are captured onto studs in the fan mounting holes.

Below you see the NH-C14 cooler with dual and single fan(s) installed:


Looking at the bare heatsing, the Noctua NH-C14 is a C shaped cooling solution that uses six heat pipes 6 mm in diameter to transfer the the thermal load from the nickel plated copper base plate up to the aluminum fin array. The fin array consists of 68 aluminum 0.4 mm thick plates, spaced out at 1.65 mm from one another. The result is an effective heatsink surface of 7,130 cm2, which is less than what the leading tower coolers have to offer these days:


The heatsink's base measures 40x38 mm and it finished in a perfect way in order to provide maximum efficiency during heat exchange with the CPU:

The cooler is using Noctua's SecuFirm2 multi-socket mounting system, which
provides broad socket compatibility (LGA1366, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA775, AM2, AM2+ and AM3) and is generally easy to use.

The provided backplates come with movable bolt positions which slide from 775 to 1156 to 1366 positions for Intel motherboards. The heads of these bolts fit snugly between the raised edges of the backplate which has been designed specifically to hold them in place. After the installation of plastic tube-like spacers, two mounting bars can be placed over the bolts which ensure that the curve or arch of the bars is pointing out and away from the CPU. With these bars installed in the proper orientation you then simply thread the supplied thumb screws onto each of the bolts. When they are hand tight, you then use the included screwdriver and tighten them down.

Notice that you'll have to remove the cooling fans first in order to install the cooler onto your CPU.

For AMD systems, the Noctua NH-C14 is very similar the Intel process. You need to remove your motherboard from its case and remove the standard AMD plastic retention ring. The backplate should be left as it is.

A step-by-step description is provided in Noctua's convenient instruction manual.

When it comes to clearance issues, the cooler interacted pretty well with our motherboard and ram. However, if your RAM modules are tall enough, you may need to remove the the bottom fan.

3. Meet the Thermaltake Frio Ock
Frio OCK



Thermaltake's Frio OCK is the company's newest CPU cooler and the successor of the original Frio cooler. The Frio OCK features a whooping heat dissipation capacity of 240 W and as such, it is targeting particularly power users and ambitious overlcockers.

The Frio OCK adopts the dual-tower design, with six 6 mm heatpipes to transport heat from the base into two separate cooling towers.
Thermaltake has also paid attention to the design of the new cooler, with an approach which captures and embodies currently prevailing computer game elements. In particular the shape and color scheme is resembling a firm and powerful bunker as inspired by the popular PC game StarCraft II.
The cooler uses two fans designed to work in tandem as a push-pull-combination where one fan pushes cold air over the tower fins, while the other fan on the opposite site pulls out hot air and then exhausts it through the cases back side.

A single fan speed control knob adjusts both fans in parallel. The 130 mm high pressure OC fans can be tuned between 1200 RPM for normal operation and up to 2100 RPM in OC mode and under mission critical circumstances when in 24/7 operation.


- Specifications

The Thermaltake Frio OCK comes in a very stylish box featuring the cooler,and some product highlights.


Opening the box up we see that the cooler is nestled tightly inside of foam. The accessory package was well organized and the available installation instructions for both AMD and Intel socket types offer enough information for easy installation.

Other Thermaltake Frio OCK's accessories are back plate, thermal paste, mounting bars, thumb screws, spacers and etc. Thermal compound is also included.


Below you see the Frio OCK cooler from different angles.

In terms of physical dimension and weight, Thermaltake Frio OCK is slightly bulkier and heavier than Frio; 143 x 136.8 x 158.4 mm with 1093 grams vs 139 x 98 x 165 with 1042 grams. Frio OCK comes with fan dazzling cover instead of direct mounting:


Thermaltake Frio OCK comes with fan dazzling cover in Starcraft II design instead of usual direct fan mounting method. The two 130mm VR fans are pre-mounted on dazzling cover offering a simple single step mounting instead of troublesome manual clapping on the aluminum fins of the heatsink:

The raw heatsink itself is built around a combination two heat-sink with 0.4mm aluminum fins and 6 x Ø6 mm-U-shape copper heat pipes.


The base finishing of Thermaltake Frio OCK is pretty well done. As you see in the picture below the heat-pipes are not having direct contact with the processor:


The installation of the cooler should generally go quite smoothly. You should first install the all-in-one back-plate design no matter if you have an Intel or an AMD platform.

Secure the back-plate at the back of the motherboard. Mounting bars and thumb screws are used to secure the back plate on the motherboard together with plastic spacers before the Thermaltake Frio OCK could be installed on top of it. The mounting bars can be installed in both directions, depending on the motherboard's layout.

Once the mounting bars have been secured on the motherboard then it is time to mount the Thermaltake Frio OCK on top of it by using two spring screws. The final step will be the fan installation where Thermaltake Frio OCK comes with a great design by just slotting in the dazzling cover into the aluminum block.

4. How we test
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.

5. Tests

We start with the temperature measurements with our system (Intel Core i7-920) running at stock voltage. For the first graph, the coolers we tested today are colored in orange.

As it was expected, both the Noctua NH-C14 and the Thermaltake Frio OCK coolers have not problem keeping the the temperature of the Intel Core-i7 920 CPU down, when the CPU is running at stock speeds. As you see in the graph, the differences among the various coolers that gave a good performance (44 C ~ 47C ) in this test are very small and as such, they could be affected by errors - variability is an inherent part of things being measured and of the measurement process.

The performance of the Thermaltake Frio OCK cooler was high although under stock CPU speeds, you could expect the same figures from some more affordable solutions.

Noctua's NH-C14 heatsink kept its promise to offer the same performance of the NH-C12P SE14 but it was slightly less efficient than the Prolimatech SuperMega and the NH-D14.

Let's move on to most important results. This time we have overclocked our CPU to 3.60GHz, posing our coolers in a more demanding environment. Here are the results:

With their fans spinning at full R.P.M., both coolers showed why they have been designed for overclockers. Noctua's NH-C14 solution surprised us with its high performance considering its top air design. The cooler lowered the temperature of our CPU down to 61 degrees C, matching the performance of many other heavyweights of the market including the Prolimatech Megahalems (1 fan) and the Scythe Ninja 3. However, it still lagged behind the NH-D14 and the Prolimatech SuperMega (2 fan) and Megahalems (2 fan).

Thermaltake's Frio OCK also showed an adequate cooling efficiency and it gained a high position among the coolers of this test. At 63 degrees C, the cooler cannot take a clear lead over solutions such as the much more affordable Scythe Rasetsu, Glacialtech Alaska (2 fan) or the Noctua NH-U12P SE14, to mention some.

Noise levels are illustrated below:

The Frio OCK can outperform most of the competition due to the pair of fans that they strapped onto this beast. At full R.P.M, the cooler is among the louder we have ever tested. So performance has a trade off here.

On the other hand, Noctua's NH-C14 cooler is taking advantage of its two very good low noise fans meaning that the end result is going to be a down right low noise setup.

Below you see the prices of the coolers that appeared in our test.

6. Summary

Noctua NH-C14 is a high-quality top-cooler with high cooling efficiency for the cooling solutions of its type. The cooler appeals due to two ultra-quiet 140 mm fans that can be installed in a variety of combinations in order to fit into your PC case. This kind of flexibility mean that you may install this quiet cooler even into a compact system - although single-fan configurations will result to less cooling efficiency. At full speeds and with 2 fans installed, the Noctua NH-C14 will offer you the performance of company's much acclaimed NH-C12P series. However, the price of $90 is high and we are not sure that it would help Noctua compete successfully in the today’s crowded CPU cooler market. Of course, the generous period of 6 years supported by the cooler's warranty is a plus for the company.

If your computer can accommodate the large size of this heatsink, the Noctua NH-C14 worths your attention. Build quality, ease of installation and quiet operation is provided in this well designed thermal solution.

Thermaltake's Frio OCK is also a loud cooler by average standards with the fans running at full speed, but the cooler itself produced very high load level efficiency. In addition, the Frio OCK is very easy to install, and maintain with the removable shroud.

The cooler's price could be lower since there are other solutions that will cost you less than $80 that can do the job of cooling 200 watts of heat from a CPU and most importantly, with less noise.








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