Noctua NH-U14S AMD & Intel CPU Air Cooler Review

If the previously reviewed Noctua NH-U12S is good, then the NH-U14S must be good +2, right? Well it is a bit more than that. We now have more heatpipes, a more dense array of cooling fins obviously giving us more cooling surface area, and we also get the namesake of the NH-U14S; a 140mm x 25mm fan.

Introduction

We recently looked at the NH-U12S from Noctua and found it to be an overall good cooler for smaller systems that tended to struggle with higher heat loads. For the enthusiast crowd Noctua has released the larger NH-U14S that promises to address this issue and do so without sounding like a jet engine at take off.

Noctua has always positioned itself as a premier brand and continues to take steps to keep that reputation. The NH-U14S includes a fan that is engineered to dampen vibration and reduce air turbulence which promises to keep the performance high and the noise low. The NH-U14S itself is designed with ten heat pipes, a dense array of aluminum fins and a copper base. Those are all industry standard for high-end coolers but Noctua goes the extra mile and adds extras like and adapter for the fan to adjust its speed (and noise) as well as a proper long-neck Phillips head screw driver.

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System Setup

Today's review takes place on our fourth generation [H]ard platform. The test bed consists of the ASUS Z87-Deluxe motherboard, eight gigabytes of Corsair 1600 MHz DDR3 RAM and the Intel Core i7 4770K.

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Test Methods

CPU

The biggest change you will notice is the removal of hardware testing. In recent years, Intel has shifted their methods of testing to software based and so we find it acceptable to do the same.

GPU

Once again we have an integrated GPU in our processor which alleviates the need for a discrete one. With the removal of a discrete GPU comes the advantage of not having an additional variable to account for.

The iGPU will not create any anomalies in our testing as long as we practice consistent testing methods.

Case

Corsair was kind enough to provide us with their Carbide series chassis. It provides excellent airflow and interior space and is a good reflection on current case design.

Thermal Paste

Noctua's NT-H1 thermal paste was selected as the paste of choice for a few key reasons. The thermal paste has been shown to provide excellent thermal conductivity allowing the heat sinks to better do their job. There is no observed curing time. That is, performance does not get any better over time. Any curing time could have introduced variables into the equation causing at best dubious results and at worst unreliable ones.

Temperatures

Ambient temperature will be kept at 25C for the duration of the tests and measured with a MicroTemp EXP non-contact infrared thermometer and cross referenced with the Sperry Digital 4 Point thermometer. Any variance greater then 0.2C will halt the testing until temperatures return within spec for fifteen minutes.

Idle

Idle temperatures will be recorded after a twenty minute period of inactivity. Any fluctuation during the last sixty seconds will reset the timer for an additional five minutes.

Load

Load temperatures will be recorded after a twenty minute period of 100% load. To obtain this load we will be using AIDA64 Extreme Edition v3.00.2500. This places an even greater load on the CPU than before and includes some benefits. Because the load is so extreme we see the temperature vary wildly from 72C to 86C in some instances. To get an accurate reading we will utilize AIDA64’s ability to average the temperature over time. Given twenty minutes at 100% load we arrive at a temperature that accurately represents our heatsink’s performance.

Sound

Sound levels will be measured with a Reliability Direct AR824 sound meter from a distance of four feet away. With everything turned off and the room completely silent the meter registered a sound level of 38dB(A). This is a very quiet room where a simple pin drop could be heard. All sound measurements are recorded in the very late evening to further reduce any ambient noise.