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Noctua, a corporate collaboration with nearly ten years of experience, has become the very definition of high performance, silent cooling hardware. With innovative features that many cooling manufacturers have yet to even consider, such as notched blades to reduce turbulence, self-stabilizing oil-pressure bearings, and their torque-pulse reducing SCD, Noctua is a true force to be reckoned with. Recently, however, Noctua has developed a new, previously unthinkable product - that of the NF-P14 FLX. If you can increasing the diameter of the propeller, while simultaneously reducing RPM, you should be able to produce a similar amount of air flow, while keeping the fan nearly silent. Noctua took that idea and ran; the NF-P14 FLX is one of the only fully contained fan units that allows you to effectively install a 140mm fan into a 120mm mount. Let's see if the tech is worth the "Noctua tax".
• Size: 140x140x25mm
• Speed: 1200, 900, or 750 RPM
• Noise: 19.6 dBA, 13.2 dBA, or 10.1 dBA
• Airflow: 64.9 CFM, 49.3 CFM, 41.9 CFM
• Connector: 3-pin header
• Warranty: 6 years
• 140mm Impeller with Vortex Control Notches
• Metal Reinforcements
• Round frame with 120mm mounting holes
• 3 speed settings for full flexibility
• Smooth Commutation Drive 2
Noctua's Product Page
Price: $25.01 @ Amazon
When it comes to presentation, Noctua never skimps on the retail packaging. The front of the packaging includes tasteful technical drawings of the unit, quick specifications, and a small window that shows the color and blades of the unit. The top and sides of the packaging mention, in small font, the dimensions of the unit. It isn't, however, until you flip over the box that you will find the unit 120mm mountable. Considering this is the "big" feature of this fan, it would be helpful (for consumers) to more proudly display this information. The back of the packaging also includes an elaboration of the fan in seven different languages and a helpful chart detailing the speed, airflow, and acoustical noise with the various adapters included. If you so choose to pop open the back cover, you'll see a huge plethora of explanations regarding the myriad of confusing features (SSO, VCN, et cetera). It's definitely eye-catching.
Inside the Packaging:
Sliding out the plastic enclosure from the packaging reveals all of Noctua's included accessories. They've covered nearly every accessory one would need with a fan, which is nice as other manufacturers usually just include the fan and basic mounting screws. Included are the 140mm mounting brackets, silent fan grommets, regular screws (for attaching the 140mm mounting brackets), 3-pin to 4-pin molex adapter (a nice inclusion), and the low-noise adapters. The black, "Low-Noise Adapter", reduces the RPM of the fan from 1200 to 900 RPM and the blue, "Ultra-Low-Noise Adapter", reduces the RPM to 750. I have converted the respective CFM rating (from metric units on Noctua's specifications) in the introduction.
The NF-P14 FLX Itself:
Unlike a traditional fan, the NF-P14 FLX is not contained within a square bracket. This is, of course, due to the increase in diameter. The rounded frame, however, means that you will be able to mount this fan wherever you would normally use a 120mm fan. There is, unfortunately, one caveat. If you're running a cramped or space conscious rig, you will have to be careful to measure out where you intend to mount this fan - the extra few millimeters may hinder the side panel closing, or the ability to mount a heat sink, et cetera. For example, in my Cooler Master Elite 341, there is absolutely no place this fan can really be used. You might be able to mount them on the side panel, but if you are running a large video card and a small water cooling unit, even that will be impossible. Fortunately, if you purchased this fan to be mounted to a 140mm fan slot, you will have absolutely no problem doing that via the including adapter.
The included silent grommets allow vibration, caused by the fan, to not be transfered to the case. For installing silent grommets, I recommend using a small pair of pliers and gripping the end of the grommet, this will help push the mass through the mounting area. You must be wary, however, of where you use these. They are perfect for case fans, wherever there is an exposed outside area, but they are not really suitable for heat sinks or radiators - for that, you will have to use the regular mounting screws included. In general, the fan installs easily and the well sheathed 3-pin adapter, with its plethora of voltage / connector changing adapters, make the fan very versatile.
Corsair H50 Fan @ 1700 RPM, 50 CFM, 30 dBA
Noctua Fan @ 1200 RPM, 64.9 CFM, 19.6 dBA
To test the unit, I mounted it to my i7 920's H50 radiator and used OCCT to determine the performance difference. The recorded ambient temperature during testing was roughly 27 degrees Celsius. What you are seeing in the charts is the raw, unfiltered data regarding performance. I ensured that testing conditions were exactly the same (all testing was done outside of a computer case). The data shows that, while the Noctua is 35% quieter than the stock, Corsair fan, it is also two degrees Celsius cooler in almost every situation - this makes the Noctua an absolutely winner.
If you're willing to shell out the money for the NF-P14 FLX, you definitely will not be disappointed by the performance it offers. It is absolutely ideal for a large case that needs to be kept both cool and quiet. Considering you get an extra two or so degrees Celsius of headroom out of your cooling system and a respectable drop in decibel rating, it's incredibly difficult to underestimate the usefulness of this fan. While similar products exist, none match the specifications that Noctua has delivered.
Rock solid performance
Respectable accessory bundle
Most will shy away from the gaudy color scheme
Unit does not fit everywhere a 120mm fan is used
Somewhat pricey; the similar "Scythe Slip Stream Kaze Maru2 140" is $12.99 (although not as quiet)
Thanks go to Noctua for the opportunity to take a look at the NF-P14 FLX!