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Cooling Efficiency Tests

First of all, let’s check out how the efficiency of the Noctua NH-C14 heatsink depends on the location of its default fan (top or bottom) and on the number of fans in place:

As we see, with only one fan below the heatsink, Noctua NH-C14 cooling efficiency depends most of all on the fan speed. For example, at the minimal speed of 600 RPM the cooler barely prevents the overclocked CPU from going into thermal throttling. But as soon as we speed up the fan by as little as 210 RPM, the peak CPU temperature drops by 11°C! When we speed up the fan to 1000 RPM, we can win another 6°C, while at maximum rotation speed of 1230 RPM our Noctua NF-P14 doesn’t improve the cooling efficiency that significantly any more: the gain is only 2°C.

However, we get a completely different picture when we use only one fan on top of the heatsink. Here we no longer see any dramatic efficiency loss at the minimal 600 RPM and the improvement from increasing the fan speed to 810 RPM is only half as good: 5°C instead of 11°C. Further increase in fan rotation speed allows us to lower the peak temperature of the hottest CPU core by 2°C and 1°C at 1000 RPM and 1230 RPM respectively. As for the use of two fans simultaneously, it doesn’t make much sense, because in each mode the cooling efficiency won’t improve by more than 1°C. Could our CPU be not hot enough for Noctua NH-C14 with two 140 mm fans? Let’s check it out now.

For our next test we overclocked our 6-core processor by another 100 MHz up to 4.34 GHz clock frequency with the CPU core voltage increased to 1.4 V in the mainboard BIOS:

For the sake of comparison, we also tested our Noctua NH-C14 cooler with different fans and compared the results against the competition. So, the diagram and detailed table below show the results of our comparative testing:


Click to enlarge

Very interesting, don’t you think so? The cooling efficiency of our Noctua NH-C14 cooler may have been limited by its relatively small effective heatsink surface, because when the rotation speed of its default fans more than doubles (from 600 to 1230 RPM), the peak processor temperature drops by only 4°C, and in the interval between 800 and 1000 RPM – there is simply no thermal improvement at all. We can say the same thing about Noctua NH-C14 with alternative fans from Thermalright and Scythe: there is no significant efficiency improvement even when we use a pair of high-speed Scythe Slip Stream 140 fans with the Noctua heatsink.

It is just as interesting to check out how Noctua NH-C14 competes against its primary competitors. First, I would like to say that one of the cooling leaders from five years ago, Thermaltake Big Typhoon cooler, looks like a “whipping boy” here. At maximum rotation speed of its single fan it loses one degree to our today’s main character equipped with two fans working at only 600 RPM. If we compare Big Typhoon against Noctua NH-C14 at about 1200 RPM fan rotation speed, the former leader will be 12°C behind. And that is even though Noctua NH-C14 is obviously not an absolute leader of our today’s test session.

By the way, since we mentioned the leaders. The copper Deep Cool Killer Whale Premium tuned out a little more efficient than the new Noctua NH-C14 at maximum fan speed and didn’t yield to it at 1200 RPM either. While their price is almost the same and Killer Whale Premium is quiet enough at 1200 RPM, we can state that these two coolers are equally efficient. The only tower-cooler participating in our today’s test session, Thermalright Archon, easily proved who is the leader here by showing 8°C advantage in quiet mode and 10°C advantage at maximum fan speed. I believe no comments are necessary at this point.

We are not going to discuss the fans acoustics in this article, because we have already reviewed the fans from Noctua NH-C14 cooler in our 140 mm Fan Roundup. Besides, all other testing participants, with maybe one exception of Thermaltake Big Typhoon, have already had their acoustics tested in our previous reviews.

Conclusion

Noctua NH-C14 is a very high-quality top-cooler with high cooling efficiency for the cooling solutions of its type. It appeals due to two 140 mm fans that can be used in a variety of combinations, including the configuration when Noctua NH-C14 won’t be more than 105 mm tall, which makes it suitable for compact systems. However, it is important to remember that you won’t be able to get high cooling efficiency at a low level of noise. The price of $85 may justify itself over the period of 6 years supported by the cooler warranty, but in our opinion, it is way too high for Noctua NH-C14 to compete successfully in the today’s market. Especially, since the today’s top-cooler still cannot compete against tower-coolers in cooling efficiency. All in all, Noctua NH-C14 is a great solution for those who know exactly why they need this particular cooler model, who know where they will put it and are ready to pay a pretty penny for it.

 
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