Noctua CPU Cooler Final Thoughts
While I was aware of Noctua’s reputation previously, this is the first opportunity that I’ve personally had to test one of their coolers. It’s obvious why they’ve garnered the reputation that they have as barely any surface was untouched by Noctua’s engineering and pursuit of performance. I can see why they can continually “get away” with a beige color scheme: with this type of performance and quality you’ll start to like beige too.
Noctua NH-U14S Conclusion
The NH-U14S sells its own image – I’m not sure if you can find anyone familiar with the Noctua brand that doesn’t instantly recognize the horrible (in my opinion) brown and beige/cream color scheme. The thing is, everyone recognizes it and wants it anyway! When you get a chance to install one yourself, you can see why. This cooler’s reputation makes it attractive, and that’s pretty impressive. I’m still wishing for an updated color scheme; surely there’s got to be a unique combination left that doesn’t involve brown…but at this point Noctua’s color choice is almost a trademark by itself. Even if they did offer different colors, somehow it wouldn’t be the same…
I don’t think it is any accident why Noctua’s brand name gets continually thrown around as a top-tier CPU cooler manufacturer. The NH-U14S is constructed to an extent beyond that of almost every cooler I’ve tested – the very finely polished contact surface, nickel-plated heatpipes (that are soldered to the fins – no rattling aluminum here) and base, and the included NF-A15 fan is an engineering marvel. With a manufacturer warranty of six years, it’s a safe bet there’s a level of construction at work here that you just don’t find in every product.
The NH-U14S is pretty functional for a 140mm tower CPU cooler. Even in a push/pull arrangement this NH-U series cooler will clear banks of RAM on either side of any socket (that is, if your motherboard follows the rules). Mounting hardware is included for every major socket – about the only thing missing is a way to orient the cooler in various directions, but that functionality is missing among most of the NH-U14S’s peers as well.
At the end of November 2013, the NH-U14S was listed online for $75.99 (NewEgg / Amazon). Take a look at the performance results, and I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in. For an easy three-fourths the price of some of the closest competition (which needed twin 140mm fans as well – much louder fans, I might add) you get a product that ranks up there with the best in performance and does so with a noticeable reduction in noise.
AIO liquid coolers have become very popular this year, and they have their own unique benefits too. The NH-U14S shows that you don’t need to move to water to obtain class-leading performance; air cooling is not dead by any stretch of the imagination. If you’re looking for performance and aren’t willing to sacrifice a lot of noise to get it, Noctua has a great option with the NH-U14S. Still, there’s some hungry competition out there, and I do prefer the fan mounting systems of some other products. Noctua impressed me with their engineering (it’s clear they “know what they’re doing”) and all of those details really add up: you simply cannot argue with the performance result. It’s obvious why Noctua deserves a recommendation and the NH-U14S continues that reputation with ease.
+ High-level engineering
+ Noise/Performance ratio beats anything out there
+ Premium technologies incrementally add up to great performance
– Other manufacturers have developed better fan mounting systems
– Cannot change orientation on AMD sockets (typical of most coolers for AMD)
– …I just can’t get over the color scheme…
Final Score: 8.60 out of 10.
Recommended: Benchmark Reviews Seal of Approval.
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