Noctua NF-F12 PWM fans bring performance and silence to any cooler or radiator
Last November, Noctua introduced their new NF-F12 120mm Focused Flow fan. By teaming up eleven stator guide vanes with a specially designed seven blade impeller, the NF-F12’s Focused Flow system is said to create outstanding static pressure which focuses the airflow for superior performance with heatsinks and radiators. This means that Noctua is no longer sacrificing cooling for quietness.
A wide range of advanced aerodynamic design measures, second generation SSO-Bearings and Noctua’s new, custom designed PWM IC for fully automatic control, just about guarantee quietness of operation. Here it is professionally imaged, and it is not cheap at its suggested retail of $24.95 or for sale at Amazon.com for $19.79 plus shipping.
We are going to take a close look at this unique fan’s cooling abilities. It’s ability to operate quietly is a given as that is what makes Noctua fans outstanding. As you can see from the image above, the stators are notched to keep noisy turbulence minimized and even the fan’s corners have integrated rubber silicone anti-vibration pads. Noctua designs all of their fans to operate as efficiently and as quietly as possible. And of course, up until now, one has had to sacrifice something to get extraordinary quietness.
We have reviewed Noctua coolers and fans before – the Noctua NH-U12P Special Edition 2 CPU cooler and NF-P14 FLX 140mm fan – just over two years ago. We gave it our Great Value award because it gives superb value for those looking for a really quiet cooling solution. Our only negative was this one from our Conclusion:
- Static pressure is slightly reduced (as is noise) by the vortex control notches.
The Noctua fans that we tested two years ago did not put out a lot of pressure at low rpm. Although it worked great with the Noctua NH-U12P SE2 cooler, these fans had more difficulty pushing air through more densely-pack fins like those found in our AMD-branded Asetek liquid cooler radiator for FX-8150.
For this evaluation, we are going to try something different as we recently put our AMD-branded Asetek Liquid Cooler into our Thermaltake full-tower Chaser MK-I and we able to reach 4.8GHz with our FX-8150. Unfortunately, this overclock was not OCCT stable and we have since backed it down to 4.6GHz. This is a full +1GHz overclock over stock FX-8150 clocks and +200MHz higher than we were able to achieve when we reviewed Bulldozer with our ThermalRight UltraExtreme120 air cooler. Besides the very hot CPU temperatures at our extreme overclock, the other problem we have is with the irritating noise from the two stock fans when they need to run on the extreme preset.
In fact, the stock Everflow fans were audible even at idle above the Chaser’s case fans on low while the stock HD 6950 was also mostly idling. So our current test is to switch out the two Everflow fans for a pair of Noctua NF-F-12 PWM fans. We expect that it will be much quieter. The true test is to compare the CPU maximum temperatures to see how the new Noctua Focused Flow fans perform from silent to extreme.
“Our award-winning NF-P12 has become a standard choice for pressure demanding applications such as CPU coolers and radiators, but we’ve been striving to achieve even better performance in this domain, and this is how the NF-F12 was born”, explains Mag. Roland Mossig, Noctua’s CEO. “Due to the stator guide vanes focusing the airflow, it can push the air through dense fin stacks more effectively. This type of design has mostly been used for noisy high speed fans so far, so our engineers have put a lot of thought into keeping the noise in check.”
The above illustration is from the four-page fold-out of the fan packaging. It goes to show the incredible amount of engineering that went into this fan design. The NF-F12 is Noctua’s first PWM fan using their PWM IC with Smooth Communication Drive (SCD). The fan’s PWM IC smooths out the torque impulses to give a quieter fan at low rpm. The NF-F12 also uses approximately 0.6w at 0.05 amps which makes it twice as “green” compared to most standard fans.
The NF-F12 uses a wide range of aerodynamic optimizations in order to make it quieter. To achieve this, the NF-F12’s stator guide vanes feature Vortex-Control Notches that are laid out in what is called, Varying Angular Distance. The concept is to break up the noise into a broader frequency spectrum without the annoying whine many fans exhibit. Noctua has also introduced their Stepped Inlet Design to reduce noise while increasing the static pressure.
Noctua has also introduced the second generation of Noctua’s SSO bearing as well as their custom-designed PWM IC for fully automatic PWM speed control in the NF-F12. We will test out the new PWM management by letting the Asetek cooler’s control automatically work to control fan speed and temperature.
The NF-F12 available at a recommended retail price of EUR 19.90 / USD 24.90 and you can get it at Amazon for about $25 shipped.
Here are links to Noctua’s website which even include video of the NF F-12 PWM fans
- Details: http://www.noctua.at/main.php?
- Specifications: http://www.noctua.at/main.php?
- Photos: http://www.noctua.at/inc/image
- Video: http://www.noctua.at/main.php?
From Noctua’s web site:
|Frame Technology||Focused Flow™|
|Rotational Speed (+/- 10%)||1500 RPM|
|Rotational Speed with L.N.A. (+/- 10%)||1200 RPM|
|Min. Rotational Speed (PWM)||300 RPM|
|Airflow with L.N.A.||74,3 m³/h|
|Acoustical Noise||22,4 dB(A)|
|Acoustical Noise with L.N.A.||18,6 dB(A)|
|Static Pressure||2,61 mm H2O|
|Static Pressure with L.N.A.||1,83 mm H2O|
|Max. Input Power||0,6 W|
|Max. Input Current||0,05 A|
|MTBF||> 150.000 h|
|Scope of Delivery||
Noctua’s warranty is outstanding – 6 years – and the MTBF (mean time before failure) is greater than 150,000 hours. The specifications look great so let’s unbox our fans and run the test.