We're seeing a lot of small chassis lately thanks to the boom in the interest of the Mini-ITX platform recently. One major drawback of having a smaller chassis is the issue with cooling that monster of a CPU that's crammed in there. Closed loop watercooling solutions is an option but some may not be enthralled by the operating noise generated from the pump in addition to the fans needed on the radiator. Which is why products like the Noctua NH-C14 can shine.
Thanks to Noctua and Inter Asia Technology for the provision of the NH-C14. Priced at RM349 SRP in the Malaysian market, let's get unboxing!
The cooler comes packed in an overall beige-like cardboard box with inserts of the actual heatsink & fan assembly (HSF) along with the features. Notice the schematic-like artwork on the box? nice touch from Noctua.
The design follows trough all around the box which is nice and uniform.
On the back, some details are highlighted in six languages.
While the English description is much more elaborate on another side of the box.
And the specification of the HSF is on the top of the box.
Noctua is known for their superb packaging and he is no different with the product encased in a series of cardboard boxes.
The top flat box actually contained the accessories and mounting kits that one would need to secure the NH-C14 as well as some fan adaptors and of course, the high quality case badge.
The larger box will contain the actual HSF, just wanted to show you, dear readers, the 100% recyclable materials used for packing this cooler.
The Heatsink + Fan
As you all might've known, the NH-C14 is a C-type cooler, derived from the shape of the alphabet letter 'C' when viewed from the side. You'll see it in a while.
A view fron the back of the heatsink fan assembly reveals the six monstrous, nickle-plated heatpipes responsible of transferring heat from the CPU to the fins and a support bar straight down the middle.
Taking the frontal view this time, nice placement of the Noctua emblem
This is what most of us would be looking at if you installed the NH-C14 on a standing chassis. Although please mote that Noctua does not recommend the bent sections of the heatpipes to be at the top.
Here is a view of the heatsink without the fans. Note the four rubber strips that acts as noise dampeners for the fans, they are also available at the bottom fan mount.
A closer look at the base plate which is reflective but not mirror like finish. No big deal really as it's not likely to affect the cooling ability. It is also slightly concave towards the middle for that exra contact pressure.
A view from the side of the heatsink, here is the 'C' shape that defined the type of cooler for the NH-C14.
Taking a closer shot of one of the fan dampaners.
Even the centre support bar is lined with a rubber strip. These guys are geniuses at work!
At the top of the heatsink are 2 holes meant for screwdrivers to access the screws on the mounts. I'll show you readers afterwards how this is ingenuously useful.
There is a small knob that seems to let one adjust the tension on the centre support bar but I would have no idea what purpose it served.
Supplied with the NH-C14 are two of Noctua's very own NF-P14. These fans are super quiet even at their top speeds.
Mounting The Cooler
Since I'm using a socket LGA1150 motherboard, I first have to take out the contents of the mounting accessories for Intel and align the screws marked LGA1155 at the centre of the grooves.
The backplate assembly should look like this once you have them in place.
Align them with the mounting holes around the CPU area on your motherboard so that the screws protrude on the surface.
Next, place the plastic spacers on all of the screws.
Place the mounting brackets over the spacers and tighten with the screw caps. Please take note of the orientation of your cooler before doing this so that you have the cooler mounted the way you want it to.
The mounting assembly should look like this once secured firmly. Note; Do not over-tighten the screws at any point.
After applying a dab of the supplied NT-H1 TIM provided in the accessory box (sorry, forgotten to take picts) place the cooler, align the screw points and start securing the cooler, taking care to tighten the screw evenly at repeated intervals via the space provided at the top of the heatsink.
Just to show you what goes on beneath the heatsink fins, This would work well with a long screwdriver.
Place the fans back on with the clips.
And remember to connect them to the CPU fan header(s). You're ready to fire up your rig once again after this.
On the issue of RAM clearance, you do have to sacrifice having tall RAMs if you're planning on a push pull configuration but the NH-C14 provides enough clearance to support tall heatsink RAMs should you choose to have only the top fan mounted.
We tested the Noctua NH-C14 cooler on an Intel i7 4770K setup overclocked to a mild 4.2Ghz against some of the best coolers we've tested and here are the results!
The Noctua NH-C14 has the highest temperature on load at 88°C but it still meant that it did well to keep our (slightly) overclocked setup cool. This is because the cooler configuration had it blowing top-down towards the motherboard instead of the more optimum front-back or down-up flow of heat dissipation but on a chassis that could barely support 160mm-tall coolers, the NH-C14's competitors are really the Corsair H100i and Cooler Master's Nepton 140XL on our chart. While it still didn't match the cooling of the H100i, or the Nepton 140XL, do note that the NF-P14 fans are really quiet on load even when I had it on the open test bench/case from Vector as opposed to having dual fans (or four) plus the pump on nearly all AIO water-cooling setups.
So even if the Noctua NH-C14 didn't deliver the extreme cooling that we normally see from Noctua, it really isn't the game Noctua themselves are playing at here; rather, the key is quiet cooling and they did remarkably well on this area. The dual NF-P14 mounted on the cooler is barely audible over my mechanical HDDs while the system is tested on load. Having the C-Type cooler is a key option when building on slim profile chassis like the BitFenix Pandora that we reviewed recently as one have to consider the clearance of the coolers. This is also a great cooling solution when you require that extra draft of air towards your motherboard CPU area, cooling down the components around the CPU area, or rather, the M.2 PCI-E SSD drive thats plugged in close to that area. Now if only the default fans are of a more pleasing colour...
- Great clearance for slim profile chassis
- Quiet operation even on load
- Excellent build quality
- Well thought of mounting mechanism
- Provides extra down-drafts to motherboard
- Colour of the fans could be more appealing
All in all, the Noctua NH-C14 deserves the Silver and Recommended Tech Critter badges.