Noctua NH-U14S & NH-U12S CPU Coolers Review
Noctua, a company best known for their iconoclastic designs, recently released two new additions to their CPU cooling solution line-up: the NH-U12S and the NH-U14S. While these two single tower coolers are intended for slightly different market niches, both designs share a same core philosophy of uncompromising performance without compromising ease of installation and long term use.
Noctua CPU coolers haven’t been seen on our pages for some time for a simple reason: the engineering and staying power of each new Noctua design gives it a lifespan of years rather than months. However, with the recent explosion of both AIO water-based CPU coolers as well as air cooler designs from newer companies, even firmly entrenched manufacturers are reassessing their designs to better fit with the new market realities. This is exactly what the U14S and U12S bring to the tables- fresh ideas which still stay true to Noctua’s core beliefs.
The U12S and U14S share many points of commonality. Both use relatively narrow single tower designs, with fin arrays which start up high in order to decrease RAM and heatsink compatibility issues. The U12S is the latest iteration of Noctua’s classic ‘U12’ design and is intended to be used with either one or two 120mm fans. However, unlike previous Noctua U12 coolers, this U12 comes standard with Noctua’s latest 120mm fan, the ‘Focused Flow’ NF12. This should make for an excellent cooler in its own right, but the U12S’ release has actually been somewhat overshadowed by the U14S.
Unlike the NH-U12S, the NH-U14S isn’t a simple product refresh and, despite its name, isn’t a single tower version of the venerable D14. Rather, it represents something completely new and different from Noctua: a move away from the typical 140mm form factor toward's their distinctive NF-A15 fan.
The NF-A15 is actually a 140x150mm fan which uses standard 120mm mounting holes. This makes for a unique footprint and requires a custom fin array to properly harness its power. With Noctua’s additional focus on a quick and painless installation, the U14S promises to be one of the most user-friendly ‘plus sized’ heatsinks available today.
With asking prices of $60 and $70 for the NH-U12S & NH-U14S respectively, both of these coolers are certainly priced like premium solutions. With such stiff competition in the marketplace from air and water based designs, both will have to be very effective at meeting the demands of enthusiasts.
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