Noctua NH-C14S CPU Cooler Review
Cooler time again here at pcG and we have another product from the esteemed Austrian company that is Noctua. The latest CPU Cooler that we are going to take a look at is the Noctua NH-C14S. Now before I start getting serious and put my reviewing head on (of which I have a few different ones!) I want to talk about a subject that always crops up when we read about Noctua products and that is the colour of their fans. I personally do not have a problem with the colour that Noctua have chosen and continue to go with, but, a lot of people do and that includes certain members of the pcG task force (naming no names!). Now to give Noctua a break from this, I am not going to mention that certain five letter colour which begins with B and ends with N during this whole review. Noctua, you may thank me later, if you wish of course.
The Noctua NH-C14S is the successor to the award-winning NH-C14 and is a top-flow CPU cooler. The NH-C14S can either be installed with the NF-A14 140mm fan on top of the fins for greater RAM clearance or below in its Low Profile Mode. The Noctua NH-C14S is very versatile and is compatible with the following sockets: Intel LGA2011-0 & LGA2011-3(Square ILM), LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1151, LGA1150 & AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+ (backplate required). So let’s see if we need to go low or high clearance with Noctua’s latest c-type top-flow designed cooler…
I only just recently reviewed the Noctua NH-U12S CPU cooler (a very fine product BTW!), so I was happy to get my hands on another Noctua product because I do have a thing for their packaging. The front of the box has a zoomed in image of the top of the fin stack in the customary Noctua colours, this design and colour set the precedent for the whole of the packaging. The left hand side and top of the box front has been set aside for the product name which is of course NH-C14S and also that it is a C-Type Premium Cooler. Over the image Noctua have highlighted some of the NH-C14S features and selling points. Also on the front we have the embossed Noctua Owl logo and a circular silver sticker telling us this cooler is based on the award winning NH-C14.
The back of the box features eleven small images pertaining to the list on the front, each of them has a short explanation next to them. There are two additional features that are not on the front of the box, Noctua’s award winning NT-H1 thermal compound and Noctua’s 6 year warranty.
The left side of the box features three sets of specifications for the Noctua NH-C14S which are the Heatsink Specifications, Scope of Delivery (contents of box) and the NF-A14 PWM Fan Specifications. Please refer to the ‘Specifications/Features’ section of the review for more detailed information. Also, there is a small diagram in the bottom left hand corner of the Noctua NH-C14S and its dimensions.
The top of the box has another zoomed in image of the Noctua NH-C14S, this one features a blurry Noctua fan with the fins behind it and is all very film noirish. Apart from this the only other things adorning the top of the box is the product name and the Noctua URL.
The right side of the box features a description (see above italics) of the Noctua NH-U12S in nine different languages. That is one more language than the last Noctua product I reviewed, now we have the description in Italian, sales must be up there. 🙂
As with every Noctua product, the great design and presentation carries on inside of the box. When you open the packaging you are greeted with the sight of three smaller boxes which contain the AMD SecuFirm2 Mounting System, Intel SecuFirm2 Mounting System and Accessories. Removing the three boxes reveals a NH-C14S stamped cardboard separator and then underneath that we find the CPU cooler itself (of course!).
On removal of the box contents we can examine them a little further. Each of the three little boxes is made from very tactile (I am a very touchy/feely person), sturdy and well folded cardboard with line drawings of the components that they contain. The Noctua NH-C14S is also well protected in corrugated cardboard folded by the Austrian origami expert it seems. 🙂
As ever with the Noctua products, you can feel that you are getting a well designed and quality item from just the packaging alone. If a company puts this much love and effort into how they deliver a product to you then imagine how much TLC they have put into the actual CPU cooler itself…
At the time of writing, the Noctua NH-C14S is retailing on Amazon for approximately £79 and comes with an impressive 6 year warranty.
courtesy of Noctua
The first thing I thought when I picked up the Noctua NH-C14S is that I need to work out a bit more. The NH-C14S is a pretty weighty bit of kit at 1015g (with fan), that’s 260g more than the Noctua NH-U12S in my last review. This is all down to the fact that the NH-C14S is actually bigger in size of course and hopefully built from premium materials. The fin stack area of the Noctua NH-C14S lets you know that you are handling a quality product because you can feel they are not flimsy like some other CPU coolers out there. The aluminium sheets that make up the stack are a little bit thicker than what you usually get, reducing the risk of bending or snagging on you at the slightest opportunity. The gloriously coloured NF-A14 PWM fan came already attached to the NH-C14S in the Low-Profile mode underneath the fin stack.
The front of the Noctua NH-C14S resembles what would normally look like the top of a vertical style cooler. Here we find the capping fin of the heatsink which has the standard Noctua well polished finish to it and the embossed company logo sitting dead centre. The ends of the three nickel plated copper heat-pipes sit either side of the logo in an asymmetric fashion.
The back of the NH-C14S is predominately made up of the nickel plated copper heat-pipes reaching out from the base and up into the fin stack like a big metallic claw! Also, tucked away rather discretely here you can see the fan cable which is covered with a flexible black sleeve coming out of the bottom of the NF-A14 PWM fan.
The sides of the Noctua NH-C14S are both identical but of course looking from the left side you can see the C shape which gives this product the C-Type top-flow design. On each side of the NH-C14S we find the wire clips that attach the NF-A14 PWM fan to the contoured fin stack. The wire clip design is very easy to use and works well due to the stronger aluminium fins that make up the stack. From the sides we can also get a good view of the base and the two hollowed out spring loaded screws that make up part of the Noctua SecuFirm2 mounting system.
The view from the top of the Noctua NH-C14S CPU cooler gives us a good view of the fin stack which is made up of 66 individual sheets. Also, you will notice that there are two cleanly cut square holes on each side of the stack, this is to give you screwdriver access to the SecuFirm2 mounting system on the base directly underneath.
From the underside we can see the highly polished base of the NH-C14S with the six heat-pipes entering and then ending on the other side. The two hollowed out screw holes that will attach to the SecuFirm2 mounting system are also clearly visible here. The moody coloured backdrop of the NF-A14 PWM fan really highlights the metallic base , making it almost mesmerizing in appearance.
As always, I am impressed with how the Noctua CPU cooler looks, the NH-C14S feels strong and looks robotically designed, along with the well chosen colour of the fan of course. Time to move on from aesthetics alone, next we need to install and then run our regular benchmarks to see how well the Noctua NH-C14S performs. Is it just me or does the this CPU cooler resemble the ED-209 robot from the far superior (I am not a fan of remakes) 1987 film ‘RoboCop’… 🙂
|Case||Cooler Master HAF XB||Power Supply||Corsair Professional Series AX 760i|
|Motherboard||ASRock Fatal1ty Z97X Killer||CPU||Intel Core i5-4690K|
|CPU Cooler||Noctua NH-C14S||RAM||HyperX Savage 2400MHz 8GB Kit|
|Graphics Card||XFX AMD Radeon R9 290X DD Black Edition||SSD||HyperX FURY 120GB|
For our Socket 1150 installation of the Noctua NH-C14S on our TestRig’s motherboard the ASRock Fatal1ty Z97X Killer we first needed to locate the correct parts and this is made super easy thanks to Noctua’s clear labelling system. Thanks to Noctua this could not be easier as all the component boxes are very clearly labelled. Just use all the components that are found in the Intel box apart from the stand-offs which are only needed for an Intel LGA 2011 installation. Please see the photo below to see the parts from the Intel box that are needed.
The next step is to attach the back plate assembly by securing it to the motherboard, for this you will need to use the following parts (back-plate, x4 nylon spacers, x4 nuts & x2 pressure plates). Line up the screws on the back plate with the holes on the motherboard and insert whilst holding in place with your hand, then place the nylon washers onto the screws. Depending on what way you want the Noctua NH-C14S facing you will need to decide where to attach the two metal pressure plates. As I was having the back of the cooler facing the North Bridge and the front going over the RAM I attached the pressure plates to the two sides locations of the motherboard (please see photos below). Please remember to keep your hand pressed against the back plate when you are securing the pressure plates with the four metal nuts to ensure it does not fall apart on you. It sounds fiddly but it is not believe me, once you work out where to keep your hands it can all be done in five minutes at the most. The Noctua SecuFirm2 mounting system is a joy to work with compared to others.
After completing the above steps we applied a small pea sized blob of Arctic Cooling MX-4 to the top of our test Intel Core i5-4690K. Now that the thermal paste is applied you need to fit the cooler heatsink itself by way of the brackets. You will need to have the NF-A14 PWM fan removed to get access to the screws through the square cut out holes of the fin stack. Carefully line up the x2 hollowed out screws (for want of a better name!) on the cooler with the stand offs on the metal brackets and take it in turn to slowly tighten them. Please remember to not tighten them on one side at a time as this will result in a poor installation of the cooler. Thanks to Noctua and their well designed SecuFirm2 mounting system the hollowed out screws can only be tightened to a certain point at which they stop. This is handy for all those heavy handed people out there who don’t know when enough is enough (you know who you are!) 🙂
Next attach the Noctua NF-A14 PWM fan to the fin stack, this can be either in High Clearance Mode and on top or Low Profile Mode and underneath. I opted for the Low Clearance Mode as my HyperX Savage 2040MHz 8GB Modules gave me plenty of clearance and I felt that it was better to exhaust the heat away from the CPU and motherboard. The last step was to connect the NF-A14 PWM controlled fan into the CPU_FAN1 header on the ASRock Fatal1ty Z97X Killer motherboard, and that is all there is to it!
As you can see from the images above the Noctua NH-C14S is very impressive and big when attached to Test Rig motherboard. It certainly dominates the surrounding area (much like ED-209!) and covers the RAM completely. This is something to bear in mind if you have pimped out your Gaming Rig with illuminated RAM… you will not be able to see it!
|For CPU Cooler testing, we here at pcGameware run Prime95 for a 15 minute period. During this period the temperature is monitored with CoreTemp and the cooling performance recorded (the max recorded is the average for all cores). Between each stress test we allow a 15 minute cool-down to allow for more accurate results. To adjust the fan speed we simply use the UEFI. A close eye is also kept on the ambient temperature, with the maximum being recorded for each run, this allows us to calculate the Delta temperature (Core – Ambient = Delta). Each run was performed with the Intel Core i5-4690K CPU at the following frequencies: 3.5GHz (Stock) and 4.0GHz (using the ASROCK OC Tweaker, shown in the picture below), all results have been recorded with CPU-Z.|
* Please note: To ascertain the maximum and minimum noise levels produced by our CPU test coolers. The dBA is recorded at a distance of 1 metre from the cooler, with all case fans unplugged to isolate the sound in question.
The speed of the processor is set by clicking on the OC Tweaker tab of the UEFI, the you can choose “Disabled” for stock speeds (3.5GHz) or “Turbo 4.0GHz” for the minor overclock test. A point worth remembering though is that when you make changes in the OC setting this will reset the Fan Speeds, after the next reboot you will need to change the fans back to “Full Speed” (see below).
All of the fans that we have installed in our Test Rig are set to 100% speed using the displayed settings, this is made super simple with the ASRock UEFI by applying the option of “Full Speed” being available for all system fans.
As stated above, to make our performance tests easier to follow and to get the most accurate recordings, all of the following tests have been carried out with case fans set at 100% and the Noctua’s NH-C14S fan also set at 100%.
- Intel Core i5-4690K – 3.5GHz (stock)
|CPU Cooler||Air/Liquid||Fan Speed||Ambient Temperature||Max CPU Temperature (core average)||Delta Temperature||Noise Level|
|NZXT Kraken X61||Liquid||100%||24.50||40.75||16.25||51dB|
|Deepcool Gamer Storm Maelstrom 240||Liquid||100%||24.00||43.50||19.50||50dB|
|Fractal Design Kelvin T12||Liquid||100%||25.00||46.00||21.00||40dB|
|SilverStone Tundra TD03-E||Liquid||100%||25.50||49.25||23.75||51dB|
|Raijintek Themis Evo||Air||100%||21.50||47.50||26.00||37dB|
|Scythe Mugen Max||Air||100%||22.00||48.50||26.50||36dB|
|Prolimatech Basic 81||Air||100%||22.00||50.75||28.75||43dB|
|SilverStone Argon AR06||Air||100%||23.50||79.50||56.00||28dB|
The Noctua NH-C14S sits in the midway point of our CPU Cooler chart, but considering that eight out of the ten coolers above it are liquid cooling and not air it then puts the NH-C14S in a good position. The Noctua NH-C14S cooler keeps our Intel Core i5-4690K at 46.75 degrees Celsius in our Prime 95 torture test with an ambient room temperature of 21 degrees Celsius. The two Reeven coolers above the NH-C14S are less than 1 degree Celsius cooler and the only other two air coolers that are way above are actually twin fin stack and twin fan making this single fin/fan model worth its heavy weight and size. So now it’s time to do a bit of overclocking and ramp up the power Dr. Frankenstein…
- Intel Core i5-4690K – 4.0GHz (OC Tweaker)
|CPU Cooler||Air/Liquid||Fan Speed||Ambient Temperature||Max CPU Temperature (core average)||Delta Temperature||Noise Level|
|NZXT Kraken X61||Liquid||100%||24.00||48.00||24.00||51dB|
|Fractal Design Kelvin T12||Liquid||100%||26.50||53.75||27.25||40dB|
|Deepcool Gamer Storm Maelstrom 240||Liquid||100%||24.50||52.50||28.00||50dB|
|Scythe Mugen Max||Air||100%||22.00||54.75||32.75||36dB|
|SilverStone Tundra TD03-E||Liquid||100%||26.00||58.75||32.75||51dB|
|Raijintek Themis Evo||Air||100%||21.50||58.00||36.50||37dB|
|Prolimatech Basic 81||Air||100%||22.00||59.50||37.50||43dB|
|SilverStone Argon AR06||Air||100%||23.50||92.50||69.00||28dB|
Whilst running our 4.0GHz test we see that the Noctua NH-C14S keeps the CPU temperature well below 60 degrees Celsius, 55.25°C to be exact. The main thing to point out here is that the NH-C14S comes in with the same numbers as the Reeven Hans and the Reeven Ouranos, but, I placed the Noctua NH-C14S between the two Reeven’s because of the acoustic level performance. So, remember the next time you are bored with playing games like Witcher 3 or ARK: Survival Evolved you could instead run some benchmarks or torture your CPU with Prime95 knowing full well that your Noctua NH-C14S cooler is doing its job well…
When it comes to acoustics the NH-C14S comes in at mid level quietness, the highest figure I could record using our test equipment was 40dBA with the fans running at their full rotational speed of 1500RPM. If you can imagine 35dBA is the equivalent of a ghost town on an Autumn Sunday night (quiet okay!) then the Noctua NH-C14S is pretty much keeping things on the down low for you in the noise department. If you are using a keyboard with Cherry MX Black keyswitches like I am at the moment then trust me, you are making a lot more noise than the Noctua NF-A14 PWM fan. 🙂
The Noctua NH-C14S is plus size top-flow cooler which more than handles itself well when keeping your CPU cool. It does bring a slightly plus size price with it at approximately £79. But, if you want something that oozes quality then you’re going to need to pay the price…
The Noctua NH-C14S arrived at pcG in the very familiar packaging that we have come to adore from this Austrian and company. Noctua never fail to impress me with their packaging, whether it is the sturdy and glossy main box itself, the well labelled accessory/mounting system boxes or the precise origami work that they put into everything. I quite honestly believe that you could tell if a product was from Noctua even if you were blindfolded, they are consistently on top of their game.
When you hold the Noctua NH-C14S in your hands you can immediately feel the difference in quality compared to most other CPU coolers. You can see the workmanship and feel the quality materials that make up the whole product, the well milled base, the SecuFirm2 mounting system and the non-flimsy aluminium fins to bring a few areas to point. Then you have the Noctua NF-A14 PWM fan with its easy and reliable wire clips, all decked out in Noctua’s proud and interesting colour scheme(I never mentioned the B___n word!). Everything that is inside a Noctua box is well made, there is nothing more I can say than that… Well there is and it’s all in the above review, but I am trying to be concise here… 🙂
Performance wise the Noctua NH-C14S has what it takes to keep your CPU cool at all times. In our performance charts the NH-C14S sits in the top end of the air coolers, with Delta temperatures like 25.75 degrees Celsius (3.5GHz) and 34.25 degrees Celsius (4.0GHz) the top-flow cooler is more than doing its job during our Prime95 torture test. When your air CPU cooler is competing with and holding its own (only approximately two degree Celsius more) against the liquid variety then you have to be more than pleased with that. The Noctua NH-C14S also has good numbers when you look at the acoustics, 40dBA with the NF-A14 PWM fan running a its full speed of 1500RPM.
The Noctua NH-C14S does what it says on the tin and keeps your CPU as cool as your going to need it, even competing with liquid cooling. It’s going to cost you, but then again, consistent excellence is not cheap…
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Where possible we always use Amazon’s price for Value…
Many thanks to Noctua for providing this sample for review