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Noctua NF-S12-1200

The next fan we are going to talk about today was designed by the Austrian Noctua Company in 2006. At that time it was an innovative solution in the air-coolers market, and it has already won a lot of awards in various online and offline publications by now. even though it is being little by little replaced with a newer model that we are also going to talk about today, we would still like to give due credit to this highly successful solution. Let’s check Noctua NF-S12 out.

A small cardboard box with the fan has a cut-out window on the front panel that reveals part of the fan:


The reverse side of the box describes the key features of the fan and lists its technical specifications. The fans sit in transparent plastic casing that also holds the following accessories in the upper and side sections:

Besides four rather inconvenient anti-vibration silicon compensators and retention screws, Noctua NF-S12 comes bundled with two adapters reducing the incoming voltage to 7V (L.N.A. – Low Noise Adapter) and 5V (U.L.N.A. – Ultra Low Noise Adapter). There is also a three-pin-to-Molex power adapter. As far as I remember, the first fan revisions were shipped bundled only with one adapter.

First of all I would like to draw your attention to unusual fan color design. The frame is beige while the fan blades are dark brown:


By the way, I would like to specifically dwell on the fan blades:

First of all, there are 7 fan blades, and the whole thing is about 10mm shorter in diameter than the same part of regular 120mm fans. And secondly, the blades are attached at a more aggressive angle and look very similar to airplane motor blades. Austrian engineers believe that this solution allows reducing the level of generated noise by 10% compared against the fans by other manufacturers (without pointing any fingers). Moreover, they also claim that the generated airflow is 8-12% higher compared against the unnamed competitors’ solutions.

However, I cannot say that the fan boasts impressive specifications overall. The shorter blades rotate at 1200 (±120) RPM, according to the official specifications generating 81m3/h airflow and 17dBA of noise. In reality the fan rotates at a little higher speed of 1300RPM, although it falls into the allowed 10% deviation interval. When used with a U.L.N.A. adapter, the fan rotation speed drops to 600RPM and the noise level to 6dBA. It is true, while at the nominal ~1300RPM the fan is quite noisy compared with a few competitors we have already discussed, then at 800RPM, not to mention 600RPM, you can hardly hear it working. The static pressure is not listed among the fan’s specifications.

The fan also owes its low level of generated noise to fluid bearing with a magnet, which is a unique feature of Noctua fans called SSO Bearing (self-stabilized oil-pressure bearings). This type of bearing combined with a magnetic stabilizer of the fan rotor axis increases the fan MTBF to 150,000 hours: a period of time that no other competing solution can guarantee. However, we didn’t check out this statement in practice, because we didn’t have any extra 17 years available at the time of the tests :)

The fans are equipped with a three-pin sleeved connector. The cable is a little shorter than 400mm. there is no highlighting in serious products like that. Unfortunately, Noctua NF-S12 fans are not cheap and their retail price is set at around $20. However, if you purchase new but less long-lasting fans over the period of time that Noctua is promised to serve you, then you are very likely to spend about the same amount of money in the end, so this price is actually quite justified. I would like to remind you once again that this particular fan mode is currently being replaced with a new development from the Austrian manufacturer. Let’s check it out now.

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