Noctua NF-F12 PWM 120mm Fan Review

Product: Noctua NF-F12 PWM 120mm
Company: Noctua
Author: James Prior
Editor: Charles Oliver
Date: April 3rd, 2012


The Noctua NF-F12 PWM is a 120mm fan designed with high pressure requirements in mind. Typically, the most often quoted metric of fan performance is the volume of air it can move, usually expressed as cubic feet per minute (CFM). This measurement is usually taken without consideration of the resistance to flow that the air is encountering - i.e., what is the fan blowing through. For most case fans, this is usually a grill or perhaps a filter, as the fans are used to facilitate convection and maintain air currents.

Air cooling performed by hot surfaces dissipating heat in to the surrounding air through radiation. As we all know, hot air rises, so a hot device will create its own convection current of air as the air immediately above the heat source becomes warmer, expands, and rises while cooler air moves down and in to the lower pressure spot. Adding a fan can move air away more quickly – exhausting the hot air - to facilitate faster cooling. The limiting factor of air cooling is the radiation of heat from the surface of the device into the air, as it flows over the hot surface. Increasing the number of surfaces - the cooling surfaces - and the amount of air flowing across those surfaces will reduce the temperature of the device.

Modern computers have enjoyed exotic and interesting cooling solutions for a number of years now, as whole system's TDP can surpass 400W for a typical high-end gaming system (100-125W CPU, 30W mainboard, 10W RAM, 10W storage, 250W GPU) and for the ultra-enthusiast approach 1000W TDP, before considering enthusiast actions like overvolted overclocking.

Noctua NF-F12 PWM

Noctua understands this of course, being a cooling solution company of some pedigree; engineering cooling solutions is what they do. Being able to push air from empty space into empty space isn't what they needed; a fan that can overcome the inherent resistance to air flow, the static pressure, of the heatsink fin array to be cooled was the end goal - and that brings us to their new Noctua NF-F12 PWM 120mm fan.

Noctua NF-F12 PWM Specifications

  • 120mm x 25mm axial fan
  • Silicon vibration isolating mounting system
  • 300rpm - 1500rpm fan speed (23dBA/55CFM)
  • Integrated Smooth Commutation Drive PWM controller
  • Self-Stabilizing Oil-Pressure Bearing (SSO 2) with magnetic stabilization
  • Focused Flow System featuring:
    • Hetaperf impeller
    • Stepped Inlet design
    • Inner surface microstructures
    • Varying Angular Distance vertex panes
    • Vortex control notches
  • 0.6W power draw
  • Low Noise Adapter (19dBA/44CFM at 1200rpm)
  • $25USD SEP

The result is the Noctua NF-F12 PWM fan, a 120mm fan featuring an updated version of Noctua's self-stabilizing oil-pressure (SSO) bearing, a focused flow frame, varying angular distance, vortex control notches, hetaperf impeller with stepped inlet and inner surface microstructures. All of which is a fancy way to say, this wasn't designed on the back of a cigarette packet, but is the result of work over a span of two years by Noctua's engineers.