Noctua NF-P12 & NF-F12

I got a pair of Noctua NF-P12 back in August and I finally got the time to install them into the Ncase. The reason I get the two fans was that the Corsair SP120 cooling the 980Ti is a little on the noisy side when gaming so I was thinking how can I reduce the noise. I always hear how good Noctua fans are so this is probably the good time to get them.

I made the mistake buying the P12 instead of the F12 thinking that like Corsair, P stands for Pressure. It’s not, it is just Premium for Noctua and F means Focus which is the one I really need. The P12 also runs at just 1300RPM instead of 1500RPM on the F12. Anyway, they are considered slow compared to Corsair’s running at 2300RPM. Noctua 2000RPM fans are their Industrial line and they cost almost double.

Replacing the two fans inside my Ncase isn’t hard. With the spare SP120, I decided to use one as exhaust on the side panel, and the other one as a second fan on the NF-C14 CPU cooler. The later is a PITA to install without removing the cooler from the CPU. I used the original clip on its original 140mm fans. Since Corsair fans got this thick rubber screw hole, I have to use cable ties to hold the clip.

After putting everything back on, and flashing the 980Ti BIOS with new fan speeds, I went and run Furmark to see how the Noctua fans perform. One word: poor. At max RPM, which is around 1210RPM, the temp shoots right up to 81C without OC. It simply thermal throttle with OC even if I set the temperature limit to the maximun 91C. Things looks better in real world gaming test. I fired up The Division and with my CPU OC to 4.4GHz and 980Ti OC, the fans seems to be keeping the GPU temp around 80C.

Noise wise, at max RPM, they definitely sounds a lot quieter than the Corsair pairs as they need to spin at around 1800RPM to get identical cooling performance. Since the SP120 is far more quiet than the stock reference 980Ti fan, the NF-P12 is almost like silent even at full speed.

Since the P12’s cooling performance isn’t ideal, I went and ordered a pair of NF-F12. I swapped out the P12 and use the F12 for cooling the GPU, and use the pair of P12 to cool the CPU.

The P12 does a great job cooling the CPU! At full speed, it is much quieter than SP120 and it is able to keep my i5 3570k overclocked to 4.4GHz below 85C. The added 300rpm of the F12 doesn’t really improve the situation on the GPU front. The 980Ti still thermal throttle and I don’t know why.

Updated 10th June 2017:

I couldn’t take the 980Ti always thermal throttling during gaming, so I decided to do a re-paste just in case I did it wrong the first time. After re-pasting and putting every back together, I found something peculiar with the fans.

While stress testing the 980Ti, the 2nd fan connected to the 3-pin on the Y-splitter would stop spinning. Using MSI Afterburner, I’ve set the fan to 100% for testing, and the 2nd fan will stop spinning once a while.

Initially I thought it was due to loose cable because the custom-made Y-splitter’s fan header is pretty lose. It isn’t it because the fan will stop spinning when command for 100% even if I didn’t move or touch the PC. Even if both fan are spinning, the 2nd fan is spinning considerably slower than the main one. By rough estimation, it is spinning less than 40% of full speed.

The fan is fine because switching the header only reverse it. That’s mean something isn’t right with the cable or the card isn’t sending enough power to spin two fans at full speed. I used another Y-splitter which comes with the Noctua fan, and use it on top of the 4-pin.

Yes I splitting it twice. It solved the problem and both fans are running at full speed again and it make a lot of difference. At 1500rpm, the fans are able to keep the 980ti from thermal throttling even with mild over clock to 1300MHz.

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Noctua NF-P12 & NF-F12

Noctua NH-C14

Although the Ncase M1 (will refer as M1 in this blog) is small which rule out many very good tower style cooler, there are still many in the market with “low profile” heatsink for the SFF (small form factor) format. There are smaller tower cooler that can fit the M1 from Noctua such as the NH-D9L and NH-U9S. They can be position to push head out the rear or the top.

I’ve decided to get a top flow cooler, harnessing the cool air taken in from the outside of Ncase side panel straight to the heatsink. The Noctua NH-C14 look like a good candidate since it appeared in a lot of other M1. Other than that, the Be Quiet Dark Rock TF look pretty nice too but it’s not available in Malaysia. The new Noctua NH-C14S is newer, but it’s too tall for me to fit any fans on top of it. The smaller Noctua NH-C12S seems to perform worse than the C14, but it allows the HDD cage to be used. Since I’m looking for max air cooling, I got the NH-C14 in the end.

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Installing the new cooler is actually pretty easy. Heck, I don’t even need to remove my motherboard from the case thanks to the M1 being pretty mod friendly. There’s probably only one orientation for the cooler to fit In the case with my Asus P8Z77-I mobo due to the ITX form factor and the mobo daughter board. I do have to make sure most of the cables are already attached to the mobo before installation because they’re not easy to reach once the heatsink is in.

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Installing the heatsink support base on the motherboard.

As you already know, the cooler comes with two 140mm non PWM Noctua fan. However I can’t use these fans because using them will either not let me use a second 120mm on the side panel, or the bottom 140mm fan hitting the SFX PSU. That’s why I won’t be validating the performance of these fans. I’ve used back the Corsair SP120 High Performance fans. Two will be installed on the side panel pushing air in, and one below the GPU intake. I could fit additional 120mm fans below the heat sink but I don’t have extra fan at my disposal at the moment.

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NH-C14 without the top fan.
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CM Seidon 120V and Noctua NH-C14

I’ve got a CM GeminII M4 in the past, another top flow cooler. It is really low and manage to fit into the CM Elite 120 case, but it doesn’t have lots of overhead for overclocking. Due to that I have a lot of doubt that the NH-C14 will perform as good as an AIO like the current CM Seidon 120V that I am using. The Seidon is really a pretty low end 120mm AIO liquid cooler, compare to the CM Nepton series or Corsair H50. I did some quick Prime95 test to find out how it perform. These are really quick 1 minute, non-scientific torture test.

Prime95 Result

Idle @ 50% 1000 rpm
Seidon 120V 42c
NH-C14 36c

3.8GHz @100% 2160 rpm
Seidon 120V 64c
NH-C14 63c

4.2GHz @100% 2160 rpm
Seidon 120V 68c
NH-C14 65c

4.4GHz @100% 2160 rpm
Seidon 120V 70c
NH-C14 69c

To my surprise, the NH-C14 performs as good as my CM Seidon 120V AIO cooler. If I add an additional 120mm fan for dual fan setup, I could most probably increase the performance further. Since I’m happy with these results, I’ll stick with the current setup. Now where can I put that 3.5″ HDD…

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2x 120mm fans on the side panel, afterthought for the 3.5″ HDD.
Noctua NH-C14