Today we’re looking at the NH-U14S from Noctua, an all new single tower 14cm CPU cooler. This is a upgraded and supersized version of the original NH-U9 series that has many enhancements that not only improve upon its original design, but make it potentially the best air CPU cooler out there today.
Yes, even better than highly acclaimed dual tower coolers like Noctua’s own NH-D14 and the Phanteks PH-TC14PE. Check it out!
Noctua NH-U14S Review
The NH-U14S is a 16.5x15x5 cm heatsink that uses Noctua’s custom designed NF-A15 140mm fan that has 150mm mounting points. The fan spins at 1500 RPM at full, pushing up to 140.2 m³/h of airflow. You can read more about the fan here. The kit includes a Low Noise Adapter that lowers the fan speed to 1200 RPM and 115.5 m³/h of airflow. The rated sound level also goes down from 24.6 dB(A) to 19.2 dB(A).
The NH-U14S is a big cooler, but not huge. At 16.5 cm tall, it should fit into most mid-tower sized cases (always check to make sure, because smaller mini-tower cases like the Cooler Master Silencio 352 we reviewed last week would not work). At 52mm wide, it has been specifically designed to strict standards that allow it to be used with tall memory heatsinks on the LGA2011 platform. If you have read our memory reviews, you will know that we aren’t particularly fond of huge memory heatsinks, but the super fast models often have them. If you to opt for memory with giant heatsinks, the NH-U14S will work with them on LGA2011. On some tighter LGA 115x and AMD boards though, you will want to try to keep your memory below 32mm high for maximum compatibility. If the memory does get in the way, you could always raise the height of the fan, but this is not the best for performance.
The NH-U14S includes six copper heatpipes that help transfer the heat from the base of the heatsink to the fins, to be cooled by the fans. Noctua tell me that this version of their heatpipes are the best they have ever designed, and include an all new internal material that wicks heat faster than any other they have used.
If you are looking for a mirror finish on the bottom of a heatsink, you are looking for the wrong thing. While it may look pretty, a polished surface doesn’t necessarily mean better performance, and the nickel plated copper contact plate of the NH-U14S was designed specifically for top performance with their NT-H1 heatsink paste. It also has a very slight convex curve to it, to push into the heat transfer cap of a modern CPU. So again, a flat surface isn’t necessarily the best design with today’s CPUs that do not have exposed dies.
Noctua’s products tend to be on the expensive side, but believe me when I tell you that you get what you pay for here. Everything is machined brilliantly, and all the components are thick, highly durable, and just have that “high end” feel that you would expect from an Austrian company. Working with Noctua products like the NH-U14S is quite a different experience compared to, say, the Phanteks PH-TC14PE we reviewed a while back. The Phanteks performed well, but just felt flimsy; the install process was more involved than it needed to be, and the components felt cheaply made. This is despite being designed in “Europe”.
As we’ve come to expect, the NH-U14S is immaculately packaged. The components are kept in three separate boxes, each labeled clearly and even include diagrams of the contents so you can easily keep track of them.
Shown above are the mounting kits for Intel LGA-2011, LGA-115x, and AMD AMx and FMx. The AMD installation is as simple as attaching the brackets to the stock backplate of any motherboard. We’ll look at the Intel installation method on the next page.
You also get a box of handy accessories that help make the NH-U14S suit your needs even better. A Philips head screwdriver is included in case you don’t happen to have one with you, and extra mounting clips are included for installing a second fan in a push/pull setup. These extra corner pads are very important, as they are thicker than the standard pads on the NF-A15 fan (should you choose to add one). We’ll get to why on the next page.
Also included is a tube of NT-H1, my personal heatsink paste of choice because it is long lasting and easy to apply. The Low Noise Adapter will lower the fan’s speed to 1200 RPM and make it essentially silent.