I haven’t used Noctua prior to writing this review. Needless to say, I was never into CPU cooling kits and coolants until I tried the Noctua NHU14S. It is a very early release and though there are several advanced model of the Noctua Cooler series, I took the liberty of reviewing this one in detail.
By the way, I have also purchased the Noctua 6 NHD14 cooler for myself. At the moment, I am using the latter, because it is far more superior to the NHU14S. Regardless of their comparison, both coolers are great and can be used for CPU overclocking without any hassles or whatsoever.
On the other hand, there are Corsair liquid coolers for CPUs as well. But then again, a 6 year warranty time period, a bad ass metallic sticker and the color scheme of Noctua products is how people recognize them in the open market. At least, you won’t have to go through a terrible RMA experience when it comes to Noctua; they are that good.
Good stuff about the Noctua NH-U14S:
- Great CPU cooler for entry level gamers Noctua NH-U14S. Professional overclockers, on the other hand, might want to look for something else though.
- Super silent. You can hear the crickets creaking over it. On the same note, the cooler only consumes 0.96W of your entire PSU power.
- Great packaging. Both the Noctua NH-U14S and the Noctua 6 NH-D14 have excellent packaging. I even got a paper cut when unboxing the NH-D14, but it was nothing. I mean both coolers were enormous, well packed and definitely worth the “paper cut.”
- I hear that Noctua has great customer service. I didn’t have to contact them though, but I am sure they will take good care of their own.
- 6 years official warranty from Noctua upon purchase of this cooler, or any other line of products that qualify for a warranty.
- Free accessories include thermal compound which would have cost another $4 – $5 expense.
Unlike my other reviews, I am not going to maintain a separate “Cons” section of the Noctua NH-U14S. My only gripe with this cooler was that it covers the RAM slot. Same thing happened when I installed the Noctua 6 NH-D14, but who’s complaining? I will let you in on a nice trick to avoid any RAM compartment issues due to this cooler.
For your concern, I have broken down this review into a step-by-step strategy. It just explains how I felt about the cooler’s performance at various points.
Unboxing the Noctua NH-U14S for the first time:
Both the Noctua NHU14S and the D14 come in astonishing packaging. Again, since this is a NHU14S review, I am going to stick with it for the entire length of the upcoming passages. In a general sense, the packaging theory applies to all Noctua cooler models because they are so well packed and taken care of.
For instance, the box itself consists of multi layered cardboard packing. All accessories are maintained in small boxes for respective motherboards, such as AMD and Intel. There is also another small packet, or a small box, depending on your order, which consists of extra screws, rubber padding and free thermal paste.
Each and every item inside the box is well kept and sealed for highest level of protection against shocks. I am not guessing, but I know for sure that Noctua packs its items this way because they want a less cluttered look. Also, you get a spare screwdriver with a long elbow shape to help you reach down the cooler’s and the motherboard’s unreachable areas without any hassles.
Fun Fact about Noctua Products: Unlike other companies, Noctua invests, both time and money, in the R & D aspect of developing products. Even if you take a fan, it actually works as advertised because it is handmade in-house, without taking some OEM model and tweaking it.
The NHU14S comes with a preinstalled fan. You can easily remove it because of the clip based mechanism. As for the thermal paste, which I mentioned earlier, it is far better than the Arctic series thermal compounds. In case of Noctua thermal pastes, there was a gradual temperature drop by 6 degrees!
Accessories included in the Noctua NHU14S Box Packaging:
Upon unboxing, I carefully inspected the cooler accessories. Here are the details for your reference. If you notice anything missing inside the box, you can inform Armamax/ Noctua and they will have it replaced within no time.
- 8x Anti-vibration pads
- 4x LGA2011 mounting screws
- 4x AMD mounting screws
- 4x AMD spacers (white)
- 4x Intel spacers (black)
- 4x Thumb screws
- 2x Fan clips
- 2x AMD mounting arms
- 2x Intel mounting arms
- 140 x 150 x 25 mm Fan
- Intel back plate for Intel Chipset motherboards
- NT-H1 Thermal Compound
- Phillips screwdriver
- Metallic Noctua sticker badge
- Low-Noise-Adapter (L.N.A)
The attaching process:
I have to admit that I was a little nervous when attaching and assembling the entire Noctua NHU14S system. The beginner level manual is a nice treat. You just look at it and follow the instructions that are relevant to your motherboard type. For instance, I have an Asus 1155 Socket motherboard, so I followed the instructions for Intel motherboards on the manual.
In a general sense, Noctua components and products are very easy to install. Even if it is your first time installing something on the motherboard, you just have to use a bit of common sense and of course the step-by-step cooler installation guide.
I will talk more about the installation process in the How To section of my website. Moving on, the Noctua NHU14S cooler itself weighs around 770 – 780 Grams – and that too without the fan installed on it. At some point, during the installation, depending on your motherboard architecture, you’re going to have to remove the fan. This is one reason why the company has introduced the simple snap-on-click mechanism for Noctua cooler fans.
The Cooler vs. PCI express Vs. RAM slot issue?
If you are having trouble installing the Noctua NHU14S or the NH-D14 cooler because it is conflicting with the RAMs/ RAM slots, there’s something you can do about it. I saw a guy at YouTube who basically sawed off part of the Noctua cooler just because it was conflicting with the RAMs.
At the same time, if you are going to make changes of your own to the cooler structure, you are also voiding the warranty. This means that Noctua will not be assisting any RMA cases or replacements at all. To overcome this issue, you can remove the RAM heatsinks. In my case, I am using the Corsair Vengeance 1600 MHz RAM modules. I removed the heatsink from the top of the RAM which was conflicting with the base of the cooler.
Noctua NHU14S performance levels:
The general population desires a silent system. I’d say that’s an ideal environment where your heatsinks, fans or whatever configuration is silent in passive mode. However, the truth is that sometimes even the best coolers make a slight vibration or humming noise. During my tests, I did not notice high noise levels.
Of course, you will have to overclock the cooler and monitor its performance in active mode as well. If you are not overclocking, you are basically just wasting your money on the cooler. These products were primarily designed for overclockers, while keeping the general low temperature addicts in mind. Most of the time, I took my 3770K to 4.6GHz to put maximum stress on the Noctua NHU14S.
With single fan configuration, both the active and passive results were as followed:
- Active (Single-Fan) Idle: 28C
- Passive (Heatsink Only) Idle: 58C
Is the Noctua NHU14S cooler worth my hard earned money?
To sum it all up, yes, in a way, the cooler is definitely worth the investment. Use it properly, clean it once in a month and this baby will be running for 8 to 10 years without causing as much as a hiccup. Then again, this cooler is pretty old; there are newer and better models available in the market.
As of this very moment, I am using the Noctua NH D14; it comes with dual fan setup, and it is quite efficient as compared to its predecessors. For all the i5 and lower series CPU owners the NH-U14S is a perfect match. If you are considering using the cooler for an i7 series CPU and that too when it is mostly overclocked, you will definitely have to buy something better. This little baby consumes only 0.96 Watt of the entire PSU; it’s definitely a solid purchase for anyone looking to buy something quiet, efficient and durable.