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

The quality we have come to expect from Noctua can be found in their latest cooler, the NH-C12P SE14. Although the heatsink itself is a two year old design that has not changed much other than added socket compatibility, the NF-P14 is their new 140mm fan, also found on the D14, that maximizes airflow while producing a minimal amount of noise. This amounts to a rated 65cfm with less than 20dBA. Utilizing the included low noise adapters, the fan can be further reduced to 50cfm or 42cfm while producing an astonishing 13dBA or 10dBA respectively, and keeping temperatures within a small three or four degree variance. Additionally the top-down design and oversize fan provides ancillary cooling to other motherboard components such as memory, chipset and voltage regulator heatsinks.

Although the C12P is certainly a well-made heatsink, I can't help but question the usefulness of having a portion of the fins extend all the way to the base. Most of the heat generated by the processor I would expect is wicked away by the heatpipes and carried into the upper portion of the fins, leaving very little to travel through the top of the base. And considering also that the base lies nearly under the center of the fan anyway, with its large central hub there is very little airflow generated immediately below this point. Where the majority of the airflow does go is around the outer circumference of the fan, and it is here that a large portion of fins are missing, having been intentionally left out in order to make installation easier. While I appreciate Noctua's thoughtfulness in designing the NH-C12P this way, compared to some other manufacturers similar top-down coolers, I wonder how much, if at all, this hurts performance.

The only reason I bring these points into question is because of the NH-C12P's inability to keep my overclocked processor within a certain temperature ceiling, thus allowing the system to become unstable and crash. Granted, other than liquid cooling and only one or two high-end air coolers, this has not been possible with other manufacturers heatsinks either. And the C12P SE14 is billed as more of a quiet, smaller footprint cooler, as compared to the top performance NH-D14 for example. So perhaps I should take my overclocking results with a grain of salt.

I found the C12P SE14 version available online at an average price around $70 to $75. Although I suspect it may be possible to find the original version listed for less, I was unable to find any store that still carried it. The SE14 is widely available however, and considering its high quality construction, ease of installation, extreme low noise and decent amount of performance, awards the Noctua NH-C12P SE14 our Silver Seal of Approval.

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