Noctua released a lot of items in May, including the NA-SAV3 and NA-SAV4 vibration isolators, the NA-SAC5, where SATA powers a fan, and the NA-FC1 a PWM fan controller. We will look at each of these accessories (and the kit) in turn.
Features of the Noctua NA-SAV3 & SAV4
From their product page:
Vibration-free installation for lower noise emission
Fans installed with standard fan screws can transmit minute vibrations to the PC case, which can lead to annoying resonance noises. Switching standard fan screws for NA-SAV4 mounts can drastically reduce these structure-borne noises by effectively decoupling the fan from the PC case.
Extra soft and highly tear-proof
The use of premium-grade silicone makes the NA-SAV4 mounts both extra soft and highly tear-proof, allowing them to combine efficient decoupling with excellent longevity and ease of use.
Compared to conventional single-side anti-vibration mounts, the NA-SAV3’s double-side design makes them much easier to work with in space-restricted environments or placements where the fan’s mounting holes are difficult to reach.
Flat case-side end for a clean look
While double-sided anti-vibration mounts like the NA-SAV2 or NA-SAV3 are convenient to install in space-restricted environments, some users prefer the clean appearance of single-sided designs. Therefore, the NA-SAV4 mounts are flush with the case panel and thus look tidier from the exterior.
5 defined pawls
Thanks to its five defined, numbered pawls, the NA-SAV4 mounts are convenient to install even with 10, 14, 15 or 20mm deep fans (e.g. NF-A4x10, NF-A9x14, NF-A6x15, NF-A4x20) or 25mm fans with closed corners.
Compatible with all Noctua fans and many third-party fans
The NA-SAV4 mounts are ideal for the vibration-free installation of all current Noctua fans (including redux and industrialPPC models) as well as many third-party fans.
The official Noctua specifications are:
all Noctua fans, many third-party fans
Scope of Delivery
16x NA-AV4 anti-vibration mounts
The NA-SAV3 & SAV4 come in smallish boxes, shown in the first image.
Opened, we can see many isolators, lying on top of an instruction manual, which is available online.
Examining the Noctua NA-SAV3 & SAV4
As measured, the Noctua NA-SAV3 is a little over 3 inches long, about 8+ cm, 6+ cm from flange to tip. The NA-SAV4 is 2.5’ long, 6+ cm – close to their specs.
For comparison, we have an NA-SAV4, an NA-SAV3 and an NA-SAV2. The purpose of a vibration isolator is to hold the fan to a flat surface, which these do on the left side with the narrow cleft for the metal case and the wider cleft for the near flange of the fan. Sandwiched between is a rubber pancake – hard rubber in the case of the SAV2, soft silicone rubber in the case of the SAV3 and SAV4. The numbered pawls are attached to the far flange. But attaching them is optional, as you can see from the SAV2.
Far flange and near flange? Fans have two flanges. Most fans that enthusiasts use – even fans with closed corners – have near flanges with a shelf that will accept the shoulder of a vibration isolator. The SAV2 is a classic example of this. But fans made for industrial clients may not have such a shelf. Their closed corners are tubes that allow a screw to go down quickly, with no impediments. This allows for rapid installation of the fan. They look like this:
Noctua NA-SAV3 and NA-SAV4 are compatible with closed corner fans that do not have a shelf on the near flange. Noctua in fact provided a nice diagram on how the various pawls work in fans like these.
Here we have a 15 mm fan with the pawls engaged (the fan is an NF-aa12x15).
Here is the 20 mm NF-A4x20 with multiple NA-SAV3’s.
The NF-A14 with some NA-SAV3’s. Note the stub-like vibration isolator. That one comes stock, included with the main 25 mm Noctua fans.
Finally we have the NF-A20, which is 30 mm thick. As you can see, the SAV4 handles it with ease.
If your isolator snaps when you pull it through the near flange, stop right there. You can use it like a SAV2 or a stock vibration isolator. If you pull the SAV3 or SAV4 through the far flange and later decide to take it out it can break when you pull it (top pieces in the image below). If you take it out of the far flange but leave the end hanging free, off at an angle, you will still break the vibration isolator when you pull it out (middle pieces). It is only when you pull it free of the far flange but reinsert it in the far screw hole without engaging a pawl that you can remove this vibration isolator without breaking it (bottom part of the composite image).
Finally, a word on installation. In the next three diagrams Noctua show you how to install a fan with an SAV3. This can be found in the installation manual (available online). In fact, unlike most products these Noctua installation manuals are very helpful, containing lot of information you will find quite useful.
Pricing, Availability and Competitors
The Noctua NA-SAV3 is available here from Amazon at $7.95. The NA-SAV3 is available here for the same price. The Noctua NA-SAV3 is available from Newegg here for $7.95. Also for $7.95 the NA-SAV4 is available here. As noted above, there are 16 mounts per package.
I have personally tried most of the vibration isolators for sale. For years I have been recommending a competitor that cost more than $4 for a set of four. No longer. These cost half as much. Below we can see some competitor silicone rubber vibration isolators. They are not as good because their butt ends can get in the way of a close-fitting dust filter. The Noctua NA-SAV4 allows for a close-in dust filter.
Conclusions on the Noctua NA-SAV3 & SAV4
Noctua has the reputation of producing top-of-the-line products at premium prices. Perhaps it is surprising that they made vibration isolators that cost half as much as the competition while the isolators are at least as good as the best and for some applications better – the best there is.
Vibration isolators can be made from hard rubber or silicone. The silicone is softer and does a much better job of reducing vibrations.
Do not dismiss vibration isolators as a toy. I once converted an expensive case from a noise generator to a silent wonder with four vibration isolators. So this addition is welcome.
Another difference between the Noctua isolators and most of its hard rubber competitors and different from all of the other soft silicone competitors is that the Noctua isolators do not just hook onto the near flange of a fan. They can also hook onto the far flange. This makes a difference with industrial fans, where previously your only option was steel screws. Now you can use soft silicone, and turn a growling monster to a purring kitten.
The Noctua NA-SAV3 & SAV4 are tear-resistant. Sure, they can be torn as we saw above. But that is a fact of all vibration isolators. From personal experience I can tell you that the hard rubber isolators routinely rip when you try to take them out. Some rip as you are trying to install them. Perhaps you could build a vibration isolator around a cord that would make the whole thing nearly impossible to tear. But that would be too expensive to buy. Better to have extra.
Overall the Noctua NA-SAV3 & SAV4 are the best anti vibration mounts you can buy, and they are less expensive than their competitors.
- Made of Soft Silicone
- Cost less than competing silicone vibration isolators
- Routinely Grip on Near Flange
- For Closed Corner Fans, can Grip on Far Flange
- Pawls are Numbered for Ready Reference
- Installation Manual is Useful
- Installation Manual is Online
- Available in double-ended form (NA-SAV3) for installing fans in tight places
- Single-ended form (NA-SAV4) is flat to avoid interfering with such accessories as a close-in dust filter
Noctua NA-SAV3 & SAV4 Cons
Noctua says this on their product page:
The NA-SAC5 is a fully sleeved S-ATA to 4-pin power adapter cable. It is compatible with both 3-pin and 4-pin fans and allows them to be powered directly from the power supply’s SATA connectors. Combined with the NA-SYC1 y-cables (available separately), it is ideal for powering multiple high-wattage fans without risking damage to the motherboard fan header.
(from the Information Sheet, available online)
|MSRP||$7.90 / €7.90|
The NA-SAC5 comes in standard Noctua Accessory boxes. Here we see the front and back of these boxes, with a peek at the sides.
Inside we see a bubble wrap bag with the adapter spilling out. I cranked up the brightness of this picture so you could see the contents of the box. The inside is really a lot darker.
A Closer Look at the NA-SAC5
The SAC5 is a straightforward adapter about a foot long.
It has a SATA power plug on one end (note the tight sleeving) . . .
. . . and a PWM fan receptacle on the other (note that the end of the sleeving is neatly shrink-wrapped). Because of the way fan connectors are made, this socket is compatible with 3-pin, fixed speed fans — also known as voltage-controlled fans.
Thanks to Noctua for supplying the adapter and thanks to Jakob for answering all my questions on a large number of Noctua products.
Pricing and Availability
You could simply note that an adapter is an adapter, ho-hum. But this is a well-constructed adapter. Trust a reviewer to care about long-lasting adapters. Also, this is a SATA-to-PWM adapter. Finding SATA on one end is new. Finding PWM on the other is nice.
One disappointment for an admitted control freak: this adapter does not report the RPM of its fan to the motherboard. Below is an example of what I mean. The 3:4-pin adapter in the picture has a yellow line that snakes off to report its RPM. Maybe Noctua will release and NA-SAC6 at some point.
Overall, though, this is one tough adapter. Nice to have.
- SATA power
- PWM at one end, compatible also with 3-pin fans
- Fully sleeved
- Well-constructed, tough
Nice to Have
- An RPM line would have been great.
Noctua NA-FC1 Review
Noctua says this on their product page:
The NA-FC1 is a compact, highly flexible controller for 4-pin PWM fans that can both work on its own for manual speed reduction and also work in tandem with the automatic motherboard fan control. By adjusting the NA-FC1’s speed control dial, users can either manually set a PWM duty cycle from 0 to 100% or reduce the PWM duty cycle supplied by PC motherboards in order to have the fans running slower than the automatic motherboard fan control would allow. While the brightness of the orange status LED provides visual feedback on the current dial setting, the push button allows the NA-FC1 to be switched into “no stop” mode, which prevents the fan from falling below a speed of 300rpm. Thanks to the supplied 3-way split cable and power supply adaptor, up to 3 fans can be controlled simultaneously.
The Noctua PR guy also tells me they have tested the FC1 with 100 fans! Now, granted, these were Noctua fans which don’t draw much current, but you get the idea that the FC1 will control all the PWM fans that will fit in your case.
(from this page)
21 x 25 x 48 mm
all Noctua 12V PWM and 5V PWM fans,
many third party PWM fans
Scope of Delivery
NA-SC1 3-way splitter cable
NA-EC1 input cable
NA-AC4 input cable with power supply adaptor
NA-FC1 Boxes, Kit and Close-Up
The NA-FC1 comes in standard Noctua accessory boxes. Unlike all of Noctua’s other accessory boxes, these are somewhat bulgey. Hmm. Why?
When you flip open the lid of a box you see the installation manual. If you lose it or if you want to see bigger diagrams, it is online. Next we see a cardboard cover with the NA-FC1 in a little pocket. Then we note from the drawing that there seem to be more toys in this toybox, so we turn the cover over.
Under the cover we see a foam cutout. Inside the cutout are the . . . accessory’s accessories.
When you unfold everything, here is the FC1 kit: the NA-SC1 three-way PWM splitter, the NA-FC1 PWM controller, the AN-AC4 SATA power source and the NA-EC1 PWM extension cable. So, altogether you get four items in this kit. Note the attractive close-fitting sleeving of the cables.
If you choose SATA, here is the power source for your fans.
You have seen this PWM extension cord before. It is also sold separately. If you choose to use this, the power source for your fan(s) will be the motherboard header. Motherboard headers are normally limited to one amp, or 12 watts.
NA-EC1 PWM Extension Cable
This three-way PWM fan-splitter reports the RPM of one of the fans. Reporting more would confuse the motherboard.
Finally, we will look at close-up pictures of the FC1 itself. As you can see, it both receives and gives PWM control.
Let us begin with the FC1 getting its power from a SATA socket of your PSU and the PWM control from your motherboard. You use the AC4 for that. A diagram of this setup is below. It is from the installation manual, which is one of many examples of really useful installation manuals from Noctua. The power and control run from right to left, with the connections to fans at the left. If you expand the drawing you can read the labels on the elements.
Another setup is to use a connection to the motherboard only. You use the EC1 for this job. This setup draws power and control solely from the motherboard. The diagram is below. If you click on it and expand it you can read the labels on the three pieces that go into the setup.
An interesting aspect of this is how Noctua handled the plugs. In the first setup the FC1 gets its power from the PSU. Because it does, it does not need 12V power from the motherboard. So the AC4 does not have a 12V line in the plug. The first picture is a close-up of that plug. There is a ground line, though. That allows the FC1 to share its ground with the motherboard. If you have heard a PA hum, you have heard what happens when electronics do not share a ground.
The EC1, of course, gets its power from the motherboard. It contains that 12V line, as the second picture shows. Note also the Noctua colors (available online): the black line at the bottom is the shared ground. The next up is the yellow 12V line, exactly like a “Molex” 4-pin non-PWM connector. The green third line is for RPM, and the top blue wire is for PWM.
The FC1 has several functions, indicated in the diagrams and charts below. The first shows the anatomy of the NA-FC1. Twisting the speed dial (1) raises and lowers the RPM of your PWM fans (it cannot control 3-pin fans; I tested it). The speed indicating LED (2) changes in intensity with the RPM changes; it goes from nothing to full brightness to indicate zero to 100% PWM duty. You press the No-Stop button (3) to put a 300 RPM floor under the speed of your fan. When the No-Stop feature is engaged an indicator LED (4) will shine green. Finally, the FC1 has PWM input and output (5) and (6).
Testing the NA-FC1
Noctua has provided us with some diagrams (in their installation manual) showing RPM responses without and with their No-Stop function engaged. The speed dial adjusts the PWM response of the NA-FC1 to the motherboard’s PWM signal. The diagrams show notional fan speeds relating to the PWM %. What this means is that with the NA-FC1 plugged into the motherboard through either the NA-AC4 (SATA source) or NA-EC1 (motherboard source) the NA-FC1 will either pass the motherboard’s PWM control through to PWM fan(s) directly (dial twisted full to the right) or reduced by some amount, depending on where you turn the dial. You can drop the response down to nothing by turning the dial full to the left if you choose to do so.
At the same time if the NA-FC1 receives no PWM signal it will operate like a freestanding PWM fan controller. As you turn the dial the fan speed increases. Basically the NA-FC1 varies the PWM% from zero to 100% and the fan speed increases.
I tested each of the four modes for you: without No-Stop, turning the dial and watching fan speeds go up smoothly with and without PWM input from the motherboard (two modes) and with No-Stop, turning the dial and watching fan speeds go up smoothly with and without PWM input from the motherboard (another two modes). Since the testing was qualitative, there are no Results charts to show you. But I did test the FC1 with PWM fans of differing manufacturers and differing max speeds, and I tested them with three-pin fans to make sure the output was PWM and not voltage. BTW — As we should expect with a PWM controller the voltage-controlled fans did not vary their speeds as I turned the dial.
Price and Availability
The NA-FC1 kit is available at Newegg for $19.95. It is not yet available from Amazon.
Although the NA-FC1 comes in an accessory box and is sold as an accessory (the NA stands for Noctua Accessory) it comes as a kit of four, an accessory with accessories. One of the sub-accessories — the NA-EC1 – is sold separately and has been available for some time. So the NA-FC1 is really a kit.
The NA-FC1 body itself is small. The PWM controllers that hook up to your motherboard to provide PWM control of your fans take up a whole slot in the 5.25” bay. The Noctua does the same thing but doesn’t take up a full-height 5.25” slot to do it. Since some cases come without a 5.25” bay this is useful: you can still use the Noctua in such cases.
The NA-FC1 is powerful. The kit comes with a NA-AC4, which allows it to draw power directly from your PSU through a SATA connector. You won’t have to depend on the limited power available through a header on your motherboard. Using the NA-AC4, the NA-FC1 can control lots of fans. Because the NA-FC1 can run so many fans at once you can use nothing but PWM fans in your system and still control them from the motherboard.
And the dial when you are using the motherboard? Why do you need it? Well, let’s say that you are using a fan with a max speed of 3000 RPM and you don’t want your system to get as loud as that. Using the NA-FC1 to temper the variable signal from your motherboard you could tune your fan from 0-3000 RPM to 0-2000 RPM. This capability is new, I think.
The NA-FC1 can function as a stand-alone PWM controller, drawing power from the motherboard — the NA-EC1 can connect to a three-pin header on the motherboard — or the PSU (through the NA-AC4). For example, if you use PWM fans for your case the NA-FC1 can modulate them. Nice.
Finally, while some fans have a minimum speed some fans just stop when the PWM % is too low. For PWM fans like these the No-Stop function will assure that there is a constant airflow. If you don’t need it you don’t care, but it’s nice to know that the NA-FC1 has your back if you do.
BTW – some devices other than fans operate on PWM. We will be seeing more PWM pumps, for example.
Bottom line: the NA-FC1 kit has everything you need in a PWM controller.
- Can act as stand-alone PWM controller
- Can pass through motherboard PWM fan control
- Can dampen motherboard PWM fan control while allowing PWM control
- Can draw power from motherboard or PSU
- Can control many fans
- No-Stop function makes sure fans do not stop
- Small, can fit almost anywhere
- Long, attractive cables, well-sleeved
- Excellent informative installation manual
- Installation manual is available online
Ed Hume (ehume)