Testing & Results
The CPU coolers tested were installed in a computer case in its normal, upright orientation (a NZXT H630). A 200mm top/rear exhaust fan was added to the enclosure to aid in cooling VRMs and most of the front drive cages were removed to clear the path from the 200mm intake fan. The GPU remained installed during testing. All fans were set to 100% to remove that variable from the results (motherboard fan control was disabled). In the case of liquid coolers, they were mounted in the rear exhaust location if possible (otherwise, as in the case of the Swiftech H220 and the TD02*, mounted in the “floor” of the H630 as an intake). This is how I would assume most enthusiasts would set up a similar case while overclocking a similar platform.
All tests were performed using the AIDA64 Extreme Edition System Stability test, using 100% fan settings on an Asus M5A99FX PRO R2.0 (PWM/motherboard fan controls were disabled for testing). The test was allowed to run until temperatures plateaued, then I recorded the ambient temperature of the intake air and began logging temperatures over the next minute. After an initial warm-up run, I ran each test at least three times (more if I received inconsistent results), and recorded the ambient temperature again. Once I had “good data,” I dropped the best and worst results and subtracted the (average over the test) ambient temperature from the median result to arrive at the delta T temperature you see in the chart.
Each time a heatsink was swapped, the Tuniq TX-2 thermal interface material I used for each application was cleaned off of the contact surfaces with Arctic Silver’s ArctiClean two-step TIM remover, and an appropriate amount of TX-2 replaced for the next heatsink. Due to the nature of applying TIM and mating two surfaces, I would like to adopt a 3% margin of error – even though my thermometers and the built-in thermal diode measure temperatures down to one-tenth of a degree Celsius, it could be assumed that temperatures within a degree of each other are essentially the same result.
*The SilverStone TD02 was oriented and tested in the same location as the Swiftech H220, but the hoses were not long enough to actually mount the radiator to the chassis.
Motherboard: Asus M5A99FX-PRO R2.0 w/ 1708 BIOS/UEFI
System Memory: 8GB (2x4GB) GSkill Ares 1600MHz DDR3 CL8
Processor: AMD FX-8320 Vishera/Piledriver, 4.6GHz/1.428V
Video: Sapphire Radeon 7950 3GB 1000MHz Core, 1300MHz mem
Disk Drive 1: OCZ Vertex 2 240GB
Enclosure: NZXT H630, +200mm exhaust fan (top/rear)
PSU: Rosewill Lightning 800W Modular 80+ Gold
Monitor: 1920×1080 120Hz
Operating System: Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit w/SP1
I think it is important to point out the Noctua NH-U14S is sitting right in the middle of a pack of AIO liquid cooling units. These results were obtained with one fan; subtract one degree Celsius from the above results and that’s what you could expect from adding another Noctua NF-A15. You can read some of my other articles to discover why I don’t record noise levels, but remember that all of these results are using 100% fan levels. I don’t need a sound pressure meter to tell you the 140mm JetFlo fans were much louder than the Noctua NF-A15s at full RPM (2000 RPM for the JetFlos, 1500 RPM for the Noctuas), lending some credence to evaluating coolers on a performance/noise scale…
In short, Noctua’s reputation for quiet performance (two words that are not normally used to describe one product) is intact with the NH-U14S.