All testing is done at a room temperature of 20°C (68°F) with a 1°C margin of error. The coolers are tested with Turbo, EIST, and C1E enabled, which will allow the CPU to clock down to a low 1.6 GHz while idle, or clock up to proper speeds under stock and overclocked conditions. With the use of XMP, the Intel i7 3960X ES chip I used for testing runs at 3.6 GHz under stock load. Overclocked, the chip is set to 4.1 GHz at 1.225 volts. During all these tests, fans are set to run at 100% in the BIOS, with temperatures being recorded by AIDA64.
|Processor:||Intel Core i7-3960X ES @ 3.6 GHz & 4.1 GHz OC|
|Motherboard:||ASRock Fatal1ty Champion|
|Memory:||4x 4096 MB G.Skill Ripjaws Z F3-17000CL9Q |
@ 2133 MHz 9-11-10-28
|Video Card:||AMD Radeon HD 5450 1 GB|
|Hard disk:||OCZ Vertex Plus R2 60GB SATA II SSD|
|Power Supply:||NZXT HALE82-650-M 650W|
|Case:||LIAN LI PC-T60B|
|Software:||Windows 7 64-bit Service Pack 1|
|TIM:||Arctic Ceramique 2|
The idle test will consist of the CPU sitting idle at the desktop for 15 minutes. This will allow for a stable temperature reading that will be recorded at the end of those 15 minutes.
AIDA64 and its CPU-stability test represent a typical multithreaded user load. It is run for 15 minutes before the highest reading during the test is recorded and taken as the result. This test lets enthusiasts know what temperatures they can expect to see with games and applications.
Prime95 is the multithreaded stress test I will use to find the cooler's temperatures at maximum load. This is done by using the "In-place large FFTs" setting to truly stress the cooler's ability at keeping temperatures in check. The test is run for 15 minutes, and the highest recorded temperature is taken as the result.
Fan noise testing is done at 20%, 50%, and 100% settings, and the dBA level is recorded by a Pyle PSPL25 sound pressure level meter at a distance of 30 cm. Fan RPM results are taken at the same 20%, 50%, and 100% settings.
The Noctua NH-U14S did fine during the idle tests, managing to tie a great deal of coolers in both single and dual-fan configuration, including the NH-U12S, Phanteks PH-TC14PE, Corsair H100, and more.
During typical load tests, the NH-U14S performed very well in the stock tests. When overclock settings were loaded, the cooler fell towards the middle of the pack. However, that is not a bad showing as the difference between the best cooler and the single fan NH-U14S was just 2°C.
I am very surprised by the NH-U14S and its performance during the Prime95 test. At stock, the cooler managed to place 4th overall, and adding a second fan moved it into a tie for third with the Phanteks PH-TC14PE. I was also very surprised to see the cooler move up a spot once overclock settings were applied. The NH-U14S comes in third with a single fan and second with two fans.
The NH-U14S once again shows Noctua's commitment to low noise levels. The cooler remains exceptionally quiet and did improve on cooling performance with two NF-A15 fans.