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[nextpage title=”Introduction”]

We are reviewing today the Noctua NH-C14, a huge CPU cooler with a horizontal heatsink, six heatpipes and two 140-mm fans. Check it out!

The NH-C14 box is big, as you can see in Figure 1.

Noctua NH-C14Figure 1: Package

In Figure 2, you can see what comes inside the box: the cooler itself, installation parts, thermal compound, a case badge, and the product manuals.

Noctua NH-C14Figure 2: Accessories

In Figure 3, you can see the NH-C14.

Noctua NH-C14Figure 3: The NH-C14 CPU cooler

In the next pages, you will see this cooler in detail.

[nextpage title=”The NH-C14″]

In Figure 4, you see the side of the cooler. The NH-C14 has an unusual design, with a horizontal heatsink and two fans blowing the air from the top to the bottom. The manufacturer claims you can use this cooler three different ways: with two fans for maximum performance, with only the upper fan for high clearance (for example, if you have memory modules with tall heatsinks), or only with the lower fan for low profile needs.

Noctua NH-C14Figure 4: Side View

In Figure 5, you can see the front of the cooler, where you can check the shape of the fins. The fans do not touch the heatsink directly, but use rubber pads to absorb vibrations.

Noctua NH-C14Figure 5: Front view

In Figure 6, you check the cooler rear side.

Noctua NH-C14Figure 6: Rear view

In Figure 7, you can see the cooler from the top, where the top fan is visible.

Noctua NH-C14Figure 7: Top view

[nextpage title=”The NH-C14 (Cont’d)”]In Figure 8, you can see the bottom of the cooler. Note that the six heatpipes are connected directly to the base.

Noctua NH-C14Figure 8: Bottom view

In Figure 9, you can check the base of the cooler. It is plain, with no mirror-like finishing.

Noctua NH-C14Figure 9: Base

In Figure 10, you can see one of the 140 mm fans from the NH-C14. It has a three-pin connector, thus not supporting PWM control.

Noctua NH-C14Figure 10: Fan

In Figure 11, you can check the nice case badge, the NT-H1 thermal compound that comes with the cooler, and the four power adaptors which can be used to reduce the speed of the fans.

Noctua NH-C14Figure 11: Badge, thermal compound and power adaptors

[nextpage title=”Installation”]In Figure 12, you can see the hardware used to install the NH-C14 on Intel CPUs. The backplate goes on the solder side of the motherboard, and the metal holders stay at the component side. In Figure 13, you can see this holding system installed on our motherboard.

Noctua NH-C14Figure 12: Intel holders

Noctua NH-C14Figure 13: Holders installed on the motherboard

After installing the holders, the cooler is screwed to them (it comes with a long Phillips screwdriver). In Figure 14, you can check the cooler installed.

Noctua NH-C14Figure 14: Instaled in our case

[nextpage title=”How We Tested”]

We tested the cooler with a Core i7-860 CPU (quad-core, 2.8 GHz), which is a socket LGA1156 processor with a 95 W TDP (Thermal Design Power). In order to get higher thermal dissipation, we overclocked it to 3.3 GHz (150 MHz base clock and 22x multiplier), keeping the standard core voltage (Vcore), which was the maximum stable overclock we could make with the stock cooler. Keep in mind that we could have raised the CPU clock more, but to include the stock cooler in our comparison, we needed to use this moderate overclock.

We measured noise and temperature with the CPU idle and under full load. In order to get 100% CPU usage in all threads, we ran Prime 95 25.11 (in this version, the software uses all available threads) with the "In-place Large FFTs" option.

We compared the tested cooler to the Intel stock cooler with a copper base (included with the CPU), as well as with other coolers. Note that in the past, we tested coolers with a socket LGA775 CPU, and we retested some "old" coolers with this new methodology. This means you can find different values in older reviews than the values you will read in the next page. Every cooler was tested with the thermal compound that accompanies it.

Room temperature measurements were taken with a digital thermometer. The core temperature was read with the SpeedFan program (ava
ilable from the CPU thermal sensors), using an arithmetic average of the core temperature readings. During the tests, the left panel of the case was open.

The sound pressure level (SPL) was measured with a digital noise meter, with its sensor placed 4" (10 cm) from the fan. We turned off the case and video board cooler fans so they wouldn’t interfere with the results. This measurement is only for comparison purposes because a precise SPL measurement needs to be made inside an acoustically insulated room with no other noise sources, which is not the case here.

Hardware Configuration

Operating System Configuration

  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit

Software Used

Error Margin

We adopted a 2 °C error margin, meaning temperature differences below 2 °C are considered irrelevant.

[nextpage title=”Our Tests”]

The table below presents the results of our measurements. We repeated the same test on all coolers listed below. Each measurement was taken with the CPU at idle and at full load. In the models with a fan supporting PWM, the motherboard controlled the fan speed according to core load and temperature. On coolers with an integrated fan controller, the fan was set at the minimum speed on the idle test and at full speed on the full load test. With the reviewed cooler, both tests were done without the speed reducers that come with it. 

 

Idle Processor

Processor at Full Load

Cooler Room Temp. Noise Speed Core Temp. Noise Speed Core Temp.
Intel stock (socket LGA1156) 14 °C 44 dBA 1700 rpm 46 °C 54 dBA 2500 rpm 90 °C
Cooler Master Hyper TX3 G1 14 °C 47 dBA 2050 rpm 33 °C 56 dBA 2900 rpm 62 °C
Zalman CNPS10X Extreme 14 °C 45 dBA 1400 rpm 27 °C 53 dBA 1950 rpm 51 °C
Thermaltake Silent 1156 14 °C 44 dBA 1200 rpm 38 °C 49 dBA 1750 rpm 69 °C
Noctua NH-D14 14 °C 49 dBA 1250 rpm 27 °C 49 dBA 1250 rpm 53 °C
Zalman CNPS10X Performa 14 °C 46 dBA 1500 rpm 28 °C 52 dBA 1950 rpm 54 °C
Prolimatech Megahalems 14 °C 40 dBA 750 rpm 27 °C 60 dBA 2550 rpm 50 °C
Thermaltake Frio 14 °C 46 dBA 1450 rpm 27 °C 60 dBA 2500 rpm 50 °C
Prolimatech Samuel 17 14 °C 40 dBA 750 rpm 40 °C 60 dBA 2550 rpm 63 °C
Zalman CNPS8000A 18 °C 43 dBA 1400 rpm 39 °C 54 dBA 2500 rpm 70 °C
Spire TherMax Eclipse II 14 °C 55 dBA 2200 rpm 28 °C 55 dBA 2200 rpm 53 °C
Scythe Ninja3 17 °C 39 dBA 700 rpm 32 °C 55 dBA 1800 rpm 57 °C
Corsair A50 18 °C 5
2 dBA
1900 rpm 33 °C 52 dBA 1900 rpm 60 °C
Thermaltake Jing 18 °C 44 dBA 850 rpm 34 °C 49 dBA 1300 rpm 60 °C
GlacialTech Alaska 18 °C 43 dBA 1150 rpm 36 °C 51 dBA 1600 rpm 60 °C
Deepcool Gamer Storm 18 °C 43 dBA 1100 rpm 35 °C 48 dBA 1600 rpm 62 °C
Corsair A70 26 °C 56 dBA 1900 rpm 40 °C 56 dBA 1900 rpm 65 °C
Deepcool Ice Blade Pro 23 °C 45 dBA 1200 rpm 38 °C 52 dBA 1500 rpm 64 °C
AC Freezer 7 Pro Rev. 2 23 °C 47 dBA 1750 rpm 44 °C 51 dBA 2100 rpm 77 °C
Corsair H70 27 °C 60 dBA 1900 rpm 37 °C 60 dBA 1900 rpm 61 °C
Zalman CNPS9900 Max 27 °C 55 dBA 1600 rpm 38 °C 58 dBA 1750 rpm 63 °C
Arctic Cooling Freezer 11 LP 25 °C 45 dBA 1700 rpm 51 °C 49 dBA 1950 rpm 91 °C
CoolIT Vantage 26 °C 60 dBA 2500 rpm 37 °C 60 dBA 2500 rpm 62 °C
Deepcool Ice Matrix 600 25 °C 46 dBA 1100 rpm 41 °C 53 dBA 1300 rpm 69 °C
Titan Hati 26 °C 46 dBA 1500 rpm 40 °C 57 dBA 2450 rpm 68 °C
Arctic Cooling Freezer 13 27 °C 49 dBA 1950 rpm 41 °C 53 dBA 2300 rpm 70 °C
Noctua NH-C14 26 °C 52 dBA 1300 rpm 37 °C 52 dBA 1300 rpm 61 °C

In the graph below, at full load you can see how many degrees Celsius hotter the CPU core is than the air outside the case. The lower this difference, the better is the performance of the cooler.

 

Noctua NH-C14

 

[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]

The main features of the Noctua NH-C14 CPU cooler include:

  • Application: Socket LGA775, 1155, 1156, 1366, AM2, AM2+, and AM3 processors
  • Fins: Aluminum
  • Base: Nickel-plated Copper
  • Heat-pipes: Six 6-mm nickel-plated copper heatpipes
  • Fan: Two, 140 mm
  • Nominal fan speed: 1,200 rpm
  • Fan air flow: 64.92 cfm
  • Maximum power consumption: 1.2 W
  • Nominal noise level: 19.6 dBA
  • Weight: 2.2 lbs (1 kg)
  • More information: https://www.noctua.at
  • Average price in the US*: USD 90.00

* Reseached at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]

CPU cooler with a horizontal design, where the heatsink is placed in parallel to the motherboard, has the advantage of helping cooling memory modules and motherboard components such as the voltage regulator transistors and the chipset, but normally do not present great performance. Usually in our tests they show far less cooling performance than models with tower heatsinks.

The NH-C14, however, surprised us, showing an extraordinary cooling performance.

Probably the two 140-mm fans explains the impressive performance of this cooler: the NH-C14 simply cooled our CPU better than any air cooler we have tested so far. If that wasn’t enough, it achieved this extraordinary performance while presenting a far lower noise level than all high-performance coolers we have reviewed to date.

The Noctua NH-C14 is not only a big cooler, it is also a great one. So, it receives the Hardware Secrets Golden Award.