For enthusiast PC owners, one of the biggest issues with large heatsinks is the clashing size with large memory modules. These ram sticks, coming from the likes of G.Skill, Kingston, Corsair, etc. often have large heatsinks on the memory modules which means that quite often PC owners are left with the choice of either having enthusiast grade ram or a large cooler for their CPU.
Of course, one can always manage space very nicely with water cooling but really starts to complicate things if you’re not using a closed loop cooler, like the recently reviewed Cooler Master Seidon 240M. The problem, ultimately, is that quite often these water cooling solutions are much more expensive than their on-air counterparts.
So today I’ll be looking at two of Noctua’s recently released tower style heatsinks that promise impressive ram compatibility and decent cooling.
First up we have the NH-12S, which is a 120mm solution. It comes with the NF-F12 120mm fans with focused airflows. And when Noctua says focused airflow, they really do mean it. Unlike normal cooling fans that have a steady airflow in a cylindrical shape (so to speak), these fans actually have a cone like output where the air flows out like a table top fan. It’s quite fascinating sitting next to our office testbed and getting warm air from 100cm away as I was testing these heatsinks.
Next up we have the NH-14S which is identical to the NH-12S, except it’s a 140mm solution. The aluminum tower is obviously a little bit larger than the NH-12S, but they’re both the same heatsinks for the most part.
Both the NH-12S and the NH-14S come in similar packaging, which, by the way, I have to mention is extremely impressive. Previously Noctua used to bundle all accessories together in one box, albeit in different plastic bags. Now they’re all separate. We also got the second fan as part of a separate packaging, whereas the heatsink itself is packed with only one fan.
Once out of the packaging it took me only 6 minutes to setup the NH-12S. The NH-14S took half that time because the base plate remains the same; all I had to do was screw in the heatsink on top and clip on the fans.
True to their claim, the NH-12S (top) has more than enough room for any type of memory modules, with the NH-14S (bottom) just touching our test G.Skill RipJaws Z ram stick.
For testing the Noctua NH-12S and NH-14S the below testbed was used:
For the overclocked runs, I setup our i7-3770K processor up to 4.6GHz at 1.45v of steady power; anything lower than that and the benchmarks would eventually crash the whole system.
Performance on both heatsinks was nearly identical, with a low hum coming from both heatsinks when under load. It’s not really audible and I doubt you’d be able to hear it inside a proper case. Compare that to the slightly better performance on the Seidon 240M which costs $25 more and a lot more noise, the Noctua offerings look mighty impressive by comparison.
I can’t say the performance when overclocked is impressive, but then a heatsink of this size which allows pretty much 100% ram compatibility wasn’t that big to begin with. For smaller systems that NH-12S is very impressive, but if you have a large case, the NH-14S is also worth considering. AT the end of the day, Noctua’s own offerings provide far superior performance for a little more money, so might as well check those out.