Noctua NH-C12P SE14 CPU Cooler
Author: Zahn Funk
Editor: Shawn Knight
Date: 05-21-2010
Provided by: Noctua
Installation / Testing

The Noctua NH-C12P SE14 is installed in the following system:

AMD Phenom II 965 X4 BE
MSI 890GXM-G65
2x2Gb Crucial Ballistix Tracer DDR3-1600
64Gb Patriot Torqx SSD
1Tb WD Caviar Black
XFX GeForce 9600GSO
Optiarc 24x DVD+/-RW
Silverstone Decathlon 750w
Cooler Master HAF 932 AMD Edition

For AMD installations, the Noctua C12P replaces the factory retention bracket, but requires the use of the stock backing plate. Installation of the SecuFirm2 mounting system is relatively simple, with four plastic spacers, four screws and two brackets. The only detail that requires referencing the instructions for is to determine which way to orient the brackets, the rest is self-explanatory. Once the mounts are in place, apply some TIM to the top of the CPU and seat the cooler. Two spring-loaded screws are pre-attached to the heatsink base and need lined up with the threads on the brackets and then tightened down. Four rubber self-adhesive pads are provided to support the corners of the fan.

With the pads in place, the NF-P14 fan can be positioned over the C12P cooler and latched using the two clips. These require some effort to get snapped over the mounting holes on the fan, but once attached the fan is very firmly seated and does not move. The 3-pin power connector can then be plugged into any available header on the motherboard. The cable is quite long, and would no doubt reach if you wanted to connect it to a fan controller or other power source. However when connected to the board there is quite a length of cable left over to figure out what to do with. If you elect to then use the low noise adapters, those connect between the fan and the board, effectively adding another three or four inches to the cable length.

I opted to test out the Noctua C12P SE14 with first the U.L.N. then L.N. adapters connected, and the processor set to the stock 3.4GHz with 1.4V per manufacturer specification. The thing I immediately noticed upon power on, or rather did not notice, was any kind of fan noise or other audible indication that it had been started. With the fan turning at less than 1000rpm this truly is a silent cooler, yet despite the lack of noise the processor temperatures remained reasonably cool even under load.

Removing the adapters and running the NF-P14 fan at full speed did not result in much of a difference, there was a drop in load temperature of a few degrees, and a bit more wind noise as airflow through the fins increased, however the fan itself remained quiet with no discernible motor hum or whine. Unfortunately when overclocking the quad core Phenom-II the Noctua just couldn't keep up, and after only a minute or two under load, temperatures had reached well into the 50s and the processor became unstable. These same settings had run perfectly fine in our Thermaltake Frio test last month, which did a slightly better job of keeping temps down, albeit with a good bit more fan noise.

Let's wrap things up with some final thoughts and conclusion.

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