Noctua NH-C14 Cooler review

Product: Noctua NH-C14
Author: James Prior
Editor: Pete Vagiakos
Date: July 29th, 2011

Detailed view

Noctua's NH-C14 heatsink and fan is a slightly different cooler than the dual-tower monster cooler we reviewed back in the spring, which we gave high marks for its excellent cooling capabilities and robust engineering. The C14 is a different style of heatsink, with six longer heatpipes in a C configuration. Noctua include two 140mm fans for mounting above and below the single aluminum fin array.

Noctua NH-C14

The base of the heatsink is nickel plated copper, and uses Noctua's SecuFirm2 mounting system. Once the mounting bracket is installed for the socket you have, the heatsink can be installed by tightening down the two spring-loaded screws with the supplied tool. Access holes are cut through the fin array to permit this, and while it looks technically possible to install the heatsink with both fans in place, in practice removing the top fan is the best method.

It's not little

The two fans are optional, and are provided with fan speed adjustment connectors as well. The Ultra Low Noise Adapter (ULNA) and Low Noise Adapter (LNA) reduce fan speed and thus noise. A default the NF=P14 FLX fans run at ~1200rpm and are rated at approximately 65CFM and 20dB/A. Using the LNA drops speed to ~900RPM, and flow rate to approximately 49CFM and 13dB/A. With ULNA installed the speed is ~750RPM and flow is around 42CFM and 10dB/A. The fans are mounted using wire clips, which are quite simple to hook around the heatsink and securely hold the fans in place. Vibration dampening plastic inserts are installed to prevent NVH where the fan meets the heatsink.

Low Profile Mode with Supporting Bracket

A stabilizing bracket is included, for preventing flex while installed. This bracket requires the bottom fan to be installed, and prevents removal of the bottom fan while the heatsink is installed. A single to dual splitter is included for powering both fans from a single header, such as the mainboard CPU fan header. When using the adapters you may need to change BIOS settings to ignore fan failure and disable smartfan, to prevent first POST errors and ensure adequate operation.

SecuFirm2 Mounting System

Compatibility is basically every desktop socket in the last 5 years, from Intel's socket 775 through LGA1155/1156 and 1356, and AM2 through AM2+ and AM3 to the upcoming AM3+ and FM1 sockets. This basic compatibility is mitigated by board design, as not all boards will offer clearance for the cooler. In our case, using the Sapphire P67 Pure Black the cooler blocks either RAM slots or hits the VRM heatsink, so we mounted it with the closed part of the C downwards. This meant adding a touch of insulating tape to the wire clip that retains the fan, to prevent a bridge across the back of our GPU installed in the firstPEG slot.

Retention Clip

The Noctua NH-C14 is very well made, with solid engineering and high production quality evident in every part, from the heatsink and fan to the packaging design itself. The box is well designed to protect the cooler and parts inside. Excellent instructions accompany the cooler, and while we always recommend a test fit if you do decide to jump right in you should find the installation process logical and obvious. The SecuFirm2 mounting socket means swapping CPUs is pretty simple, only two screws to undo after removing one fan to unmount the heatsink. Changing orientations is simple enough, especially if your case has a CPU socket cutout in the mainboard tray at the right position.