Noctua NH-C14S Review

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Not all cases have room for a full tower heatsink. So, Noctua provides a blow-down variety with six heat pipes and a 140 mm fan. That was the NH-C14, and it is quite a cooler. So, what’s new? The NH-C14S (note the change in the model number), with the finstack moved over to make room for cards in the top PCIE slot. How well does this heatsink cool? Let’s find out.

NH-C14S without fanIntroduction

Noctua is well known for its superb heatsinks and fans. You might say we are blown away by their products. This time around, they have modified their well-proven NH-C14. This is a blown-down heatsink. Why use a blow-down heatsink? You may have noted that some these heatsinks blow air directly on your RAM and or VRMs, cooling it. That’s one reason. But probably the most common reason is to use a narrower case.

The C14 uses a 140 mm fan and six heatpipes to achieve its cooling prowess. But there is one thing wrong with the 140 mm fan and accompanying finstack – they are wide enough that they sometimes impinge on the first PCIE slot. This is often not too much of a problem when your x16 card fits in the second slot of your motherboard, but there are a number of motherboards where the top slot is filled with a graphics card. This is true of some enthusiast boards, most HEDT boards and all micro ATX boards. But the physics of heatflow mean that a 140 mm finstack radiates more heat than a 120 mm finstack.

Noctua did the sensible thing and moved the finstack sideways to produce an asymmetric heatsink that preserves the 140 mm finstack while making room for cards in the top PCIE slot. So sure are they of this heatsink’s abilities that this version (the NH-C14S) will replace the older version (the NH-C14).

Features of the NH-C14S

From the product page. Some descriptive paragraphs were not reproduced.

Based on the award-winning NH-C14

C-Type top-flow design – Run with the NF-A14 fan installed underneath the fin stack, the NH-C14S stands only 115mm tall, which is much lower than tower coolers with 140mm or 120mm fans and allows it to fit many desktop style or HTPC cases.

High Clearance Mode – Run with the NF-A14 fan installed on top, the NH-C14S provides extended clearance underneath the fin stack. This way, it is fully compatible with chipset coolers and RAM modules with heat-spreaders of up to 70mm height.

Offset design for PCIe clearance – Compared to the original NH-C14, the layout of the NH-C14S has been offset in two axis. Thanks to this measure, the heatsink will clear the top PCIe slot on most µATX and ATX motherboards when the bendings of the heatpipes face the PCIe slots or the I/O panel.*

NF-A14 140mm premium fan

PWM support and Low-Noise Adaptor – The NF-A14 premium fan supplied with the NH-C14S supports PWM for convenient automatic speed control through the motherboard. In addition, the maximum fan speed can be reduced from 1500 to 1200rpm using the supplied Low-Noise Adaptor for even quieter operation.

SecuFirm2™ mounting system – Noctua’s SecuFirm2™ mounting systems have become synonymous with quality, safety and ease of use. Supporting Intel LGA115x (LGA1150, LGA1151, LGA1155, LGA1156), LGA2011 (LGA2011-0 & LGA2011-3) and AMD (AM3(+), AM2(+), FM1, FM2(+))

Compatibility with past and future sockets – Complying with the open SecuFirm™ standard, the NH-C14S can be made compatible with the older LGA1366 and LGA775 sockets using the optional NM-I3 mounting kit, which is provided by Noctua free of charge. If technically possible, Noctua will also provide upgrade kits for future sockets.

NT-H1 thermal compound

6 years warranty – Noctua products are renowned for their impeccable quality and outstanding longevity. Like all Noctua fans, the supplied NF-A14 features an MTBF rating of more than 150.000 hours and the entire NH-C14S package comes with a full 6 years manufacturer’s warranty. [/quote]

Hold onto your receipts. From my own interactions with customer support and the interactions of others, I can tell you that Noctua provides world class support to their customers.

Specifications for the NH-C14S

Compatibility Intel LGA2011 & LGA2011-v3, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1150 & AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+
Height (without fan) 115 mm
Width (without fan) 140 mm
Depth (without fan) 163 mm
Height (with fan) 115 / 142 mm
Width (with fan) 140 mm
Depth (with fan) 163 mm
Weight (without fan) 820 g
Weight (with fan) 1015 g
Material Copper (base and heat-pipes), aluminium (cooling fins), soldered joints & nickel plating
Max. TDP see TDP guide
Fan compatibility 140x140x25mm (with square frame)
Scope of Delivery 1x NF-A14 PWM premium fan
Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)
Fan clips for second fan
NT-H1 high-grade thermal compound
SecuFirm2™ Mounting Kit
Noctua Metal Case-Badge
Warranty 6 Years
Fan specifications
Model 1x Noctua NF-A14 PWM
Bearing SSO2
Max. Rotational Speed (+/- 10%) 1500 RPM
Max. Rotational Speed with L.N.A. (+/- 10%) 1200 RPM
Min. Rotational Speed (PWM, +/-20%) 300 RPM
Max. Airflow 140,2 m³/h (82.5 cfm)
Max. Airflow with L.N.A. 115,5 m³/h (68 cfm)
Max. Acoustical Noise 24,6 dB(A)
Max. Acoustical Noise with L.N.A. 19,2 dB(A)
Input Power 1,56 W
Voltage Range 12 V
MTBF > 150.000 h

When I did on my own testing of this fan, I found the specs to be accurate. BTW – the LNA for this fan is the NA-RC7.

Packing

As is usual for Noctua, the heatsink’s box arrived from Austria inside a shipping carton. It has nice bits of marketing all around.

Front of box

Front of box

Back of box

Back of box

Noctua packs the top of the box with accessory boxes, which help protect the heatsink.

Inside box

Inside box

Further inside box

Further inside box

They encase the heatsink with cardboard. Link to prior review where we have seen that the packing in fact protects the contents. The fan comes clipped to the heatsink, so nothing comes loose during international shipping.

Protective shell half open

Protective shell half open

Fan clipped to bottom

Fan clipped to bottom

The NH-C14S Unpacked

Looking from the end, the heatpipes are symmetrically placed to both sides of the center support rod. From the looks of the picture, it appears that Noctua have moved the finstack over by about a centimeter. I’m sure you have noted the extra set of clips for another 140 mm fan.

Seen from the open end, you can see that the center piece is a solid rod that passes through above the contact body of the heatsink. The two captive pre-sprung screws at the bottom will fasten the heatsink to its mount.

Symmetrical heatpipes, asymmetrical finstack

Symmetrical heatpipes, asymmetrical finstack

Open end of heatsink

Open end of heatsink

The new backplate has bolts that are press-fitted into place. That makes it suitable for only the LGA115x socket. If you have LGA1366 and LGA775, you can write to Noctua for a free backplate and bolts. From the other side, the bolts go through the motherboard, through spacers, and through the two brackets. Four thumbscrews hold the brackets tight. The brackets hold a pair of bolt-ends. Those are what the captive tension screws meet when the heatsink comes down.

Back of backplate

Back of backplate

Brackets

Brackets

The contact surface of the heatsink is not a perfect mirror. In fact, it is a slightly convex machined surface. Since Noctua thinks through everything they do, then test everything they design, the fact that this is not a mirror means that it conducts heat better this way.

Contact surface

This view of the NH-C14S shows the two holes in the finstack that allow the screwdriver through. Your screwdriver shaft will go through these holes when you screw down your heatsink.

Holes for screwdriver

This picture shows that the support rod is actually a sandwich of metal. It also shows that the rod is braced. Finally, it shows that the heatsink is 11.5 cm from the contact surface to the other side of the finstack, just as Noctua promises.

The next picture shows a closeup of the heatsink mounted to a motherboard. There is a card in the top slot, and at least a cm between the finstack and the card. Plenty of room. Mission accomplished.

Yup. 115 mm

Yup. 115 mm

1 cm from first slot

1 cm from first slot

One other issue: the NH-C14S was designed to give lots of clearance to tall RAM. I don’t know about you, but these days I buy low profile RAM – as low as I can find. With vDIMM dropping, there seems to be no reason for tall RAM heatsinks, unless you are overclocking your RAM. In any case, here is the NH-C14S hovering over the motherboard. You can see it has lots of room for normal RAM with the fan in the lower position. If your Ram is taller, put the fan on top.

Room for RAM

Room for RAM

Test Setup

CPU Intel i7 4790k @4.4GHz, Vcore set to 1.19v, Vcore actual = 1.212v
TIM Noctua NT-H1, 6mm blob centered on IHS of CPU
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-Z97X-Gaming 7
RAM Crucial Ballistix Sport Very Low Profile 4GBx2 DDR3-1600 1.35v
GPU Intel HD Graphics 4600, integrated into the i7 4790k
PSU Seasonic SS-460FL 460W Fanless
OS Windows 8.1, 64-bit
Stress Software OCCT 4.4.1; Linpack
OCCT 4.4.1; Linpack with AVX
LinX 0.6.5; Linpack with AVX2
Logging Software Real Temp 3.70
Test Equipment
Digital TEMPer USB Thermometer, with logging software
Tenma 72-942 Sound Pressure Level Meter

The comparator heatsink was the Noctua NH-D15. Each Heatsink was mounted with a 6 mm blob of NT-H1 TIM. Each time a heatsink was mounted, the TIM was allowed a day to fully spread before the temperature tests were run.

Each test run was 60 minutes in duration. The last 50 minutes of each run was measured, and the temperature logs were analyzed in Open Office spreadsheets. An Intel chip reports its temps in one degree increments, so for best accuracy these reports should be averaged in aggregate. Here the core temps were measured once a second, resulting in 3000-line spreadsheets. The digital thermometer measuring air temp reported its measurements in increments of 0.1 °C. The ambient temperature was measured every five seconds, resulting in 600-line spreadsheets. The mean ambient temp was subtracted from the mean core temps, resulting in a net temp for each run. The net temps were then averaged.

The heatsink was tested with one or two 140 mm NF-A14 PWM square fans, with nominal speed of 1500 rpm, 1200 rpm with the stock NA-RC7 LNA’s. Since Noctua provided not only the heatsink and the extra fan, but an extra NF-F12 PWM as well, I tried adapting that to the C14S. Of course, it would not attach with the stock clips for a 140 mm fan, but even with the clips for 120mm fans that came with the NH-D15S, the fans would not fit. Thus, you cannot use a 120 mm fan with the NH-C14S.

Back to cooling. Noctua said this: “One thing to note is that the C14S performs very close to D15/D15S at normal heatloads, but when you really crank up the heat, it will start to lose ground” (personal communication). So, of course we will look into this heatsink with three levels of heat. We have already established that Linpack stresses heatsinks more than other software. Here we are using Linpack plain (hot), with AVX (hotter) and with AVX2 (hottest). We will see whether the C14S can keep up with the big boys.

NH-C14S in test rig

NH-C14S in test rig

Testing the NH-C14S

A dirty little secret among heatsink testers is that your results may vary by a degree or two, depending on how much or how little TIM you put on. You also get a half a degree C difference from one run to another. Finally, manufacturing variation can make one heatsink of the same model perform better than another. But after you have minimized the variables as much as possible, you are left with this: some heatsinks are just better at cooling than others. And some heatsinks perform just as well as others. Here we have exhibit A: the NH-C14S.

Image2

You may scoff at a temperature over ambient that is merely in the mid-60’s. But add that to an ambient in the mid-20’s and you run a core temp around 90. I was getting spikes into the 90’s. This is a test system that must be scaled back to test more normal heatsinks, so these heatsinks are cooling one hot testbed.

What is surprising is how well that NH-C14S did. It kept up with the D15. Quite an accomplishment. And if you’re willing to give up maybe a couple of degrees, a pair of NF-A14’s on RC7 low noise adapters will give a very quiet cooler that performs very well.

Perhaps the biggest surprise here is that it didn’t make much difference to the temps how the fans were arranged. It made more difference to how much noise it made.

Conclusions

This heatsink kept up with the big boys. If you want a blow-down heatsink to cool your CPU and your RAM, the NH-C14S does a remarkable job. Additionally, there is room for most RAM, even with the fan in a pull position.

The contents were laid out in a straightforward manner, and the instructions were easy to understand. As usual, Noctua’s mounting system, the SecuFirm2™ Mounting Kit, was easy to use.

One item I did not cover in this review is the orientation of the installed heatsink. As I discussed in a review on the NH-L12, whether you orient the heatpipes horizontally or vertically makes a difference. So, it would behoove you to test the cooling power of your heatsink mounted with the heatpipes horizontally or mounted with the heatpipes vertically to see which is better.

You don’t have to buy an additional fan to get the most out of the NH-C14S. However, buying a second NF-A14 PWM and running them both with Low Noise Adapters can reduce the noise they make to almost nothing while keeping up the cooling. 17NH-C14S Pros

  • 140 mm class heatsink
  • Finstack has been moved over to make room for cards in the first PCIE slot
  • Includes the inestimable NF-A14 PWM, with a Low Noise Adapter
  • Includes clips for a second fan
  • Almost inaudible with two fans on LNA’s
  • Includes standard Noctua mount – very easy to use
  • Cools as well as 140 mm tandem tower heatsinks
  • Qualifies for Noctua’s world class customer service

NH-C14S cons

  • none

Availability

High quality costs – this is not a cheap heatsink. Noctua says, “The NH-C14S is currently shipping and will be available shortly. . . . The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices are as follows: NH-C14S: EUR 74.90 / USD 74.90.” At the time of this writing, regular listings for this product were not available from Newegg or Amazon.

Click the stamp for an explanation of what this means.

-Ed Hume (ehume)

 

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Discussion
  1. Today tom's HARDWARE released this statement in "Can CPU cooler Skylake systems damage?":

    http://www.tomshardware.de/skylake-cpu-kuhler-prozessorkuhler-anpressdruck-skylakegate,news-254213.html#xtor=EPR-8886

    English translation:

    Media never lets the truth get in the way of making headlines.

    This whole 1151 mount thing is a joke. Some systems got damaaged when shipped with tower coolers mounted and now everyone is going ape about cooler mounts damaging the chips. :screwy:

    I mount a at least a couple coolers a week, sometimes several a day, and have never had a mount damage the socket or CPU.

    I've heard some say Thermalright mount is not good and creates to much pressure. I mount as many Thermalright coolers and all other combined. Again, never had any damage. First heat pipe cooler I ever had was Thermalright 10 years ago. Never damaged a socket or CPU.

    And yes, I am presently using a 6700k as one of my test platforms .. with no problems at all, and know of several others using them with no problems either.
    LinX 0.6.5 with AVX2, prob size 27000; Δ temp from 75°C horizontal heatpipes

    LinX 0.6.5 with AVX2, prob size 27000; Δ temp from 75°C vertical heatpipes

    Um. I'm not sure I believe those temp differences. For one thing, the horizontal testing was done using both components of Arcticlean. The vertical was done with only the first component used. Stay tuned. I've remounted the horizontal with only the first component used. Must wait a day for testing.
    bing
    Couple of degrees !!! Wow !!! :drool: Just by turning the orientation, way too easy ! :clap:

    Duh .. forgot, about the vertical position, which one ? As the two ends of pipes pointing upward ? Like an "U" shape and vice versa.


    Ends pointing up. And the results are pending on the last test, but the results are good so far.
    ehume
    I did get back to it -- the Noctua mount is too easy. So far, the vertical heatpipes are beating the horizontal heatpipes by a couple of degrees. I'll repeat the tests, and post the results.


    Couple of degrees !!! Wow !!! :drool: Just by turning the orientation, way too easy ! :clap:

    Duh .. forgot, about the vertical position, which one ? As the two ends of pipes pointing upward ? Like an "U" shape and vice versa.
    I did get back to it -- the Noctua mount is too easy. So far, the vertical heatpipes are beating the horizontal heatpipes by a couple of degrees. I'll repeat the tests, and post the results.
    A good question. According to my review of the NH-L12, the vertical position was significantly better that the horizontal heatpipes. The results had as much to do with the difference in curvature of the contact plate as with the difference between horizontal and vertical. It's worth trying again.

    Doubt I'll get back to it, though.
    Hey Ehume, nice review ... and hi too, its been a while.

    Wonder if changing the pipes orientation will have performance impact ? Like above photo, the pipes are horizontally, what if they're vertical ? Like rotate the whole case sitting at it's back, or just rotate the whole heatsink 90 degress ? (if its possible).

    Just curious about the heatpipes performance as internally it works depends on the cooled liquid flow into hot part and somehow affected by gravity (not very sure about this though).
    Testing it in a "blow up" (pun intended) position would not be appropriate for: you would be pulling air warmed by the RAM; and with a narrow enough case, you would be blowing air against the side, slowing the traverse through the fin stack -- downstream obstructions slow upstream flow. Also, air that is shoved from a little separation does not go straight through a grate. In this case, the air exhausted by the heatsink would get recycled, and the heatsink compromised.

    Also: since my testbed is open air, I can't really do the test you suggest and have it be anything like the real world.

    This is the orientation of the original shot.
    Its only a blow down design if used in a desktop case. Personally I would rather have it blow straight up than going directly on my CPU. In a tower, it can be a used in a push-pull configuration and will be blown near the side door or blown to the left of the case where most of us have fans cooling off our video cards or CPU anyway. Its not a blow down, its a blow-up or blow-left design.. That sounds silly.

    Did you test the heat sink with the fans in the other direction? Would be curious to know if it changes the temps.

    over time, the motherboard would be covered in dust.

    Great article.