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.
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.