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.