Noctua NH-U14S Review 7

Noctua NH-U14S Review

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Value and Conclusion

  • The Noctua NH-U14S has an MSRP of $74.90.
  • Extremely quiet
  • Great performance for its size
  • Easy to install
  • Exceptional build quality
  • Anti-vibration fan mounts
  • Can mount a second fan
  • Memory clearance on LGA2011
  • Warranty
  • May block top expansion slot
  • Memory clearance on sockets other than LGA2011
  • Lacks second fan
  • Colors not for everyone
  • Cost of adding a second NF-A15 PWM fan
The NH-U14S from Noctua is an amazing cooler. Its performance has it take on some of the best-performing air coolers in the industry. Let us start with noise levels, or should I say lack thereof? This cooler is quiet, topping out at 42 dBA in its default, single-fan configuration to place second on our sound-level charts when at full fan speed. When using two NF-A15 PWM fans, the noise level climbs by 3 dBA for 45 dBA at full fan speeds. Cooling performance is exceptional for a single-tower design. It manages to keep up with the much larger Phanteks PH-TC14PE, which is the best-performing air cooler I have tested so far. The NH-U14S's performance proves that a smaller heatsink can go toe to toe with heavyweight coolers--without high RPM fans. The easy install is also a huge plus. I say that about most Noctua coolers, but the SecuFirm 2 mounting system really is exceptional, and the heatsink's design makes it even easier to work with now. Build quality is as always with Noctua's coolers absolutely fantastic--no gaps on the heatpipes and no bent fins; the entire heatsink's overall quality confirms that the NH-U14S is a premium CPU cooler. Noctua has also included some rubber anti-vibration pads with their NF-A15 PWM fans. While not a deal maker, this simple inclusion does cut down on noise and is one of those extras that shows they care about giving the end user a great experience with their products. The option to mount a second fan also lets users improve the overall performance of the NH-U14S; however, it does come at a greater cost. Finally, the warranty of six years is also one of the best warranties available. With a proof of purchase, Noctua will even provide updated mounting hardware throughout its span. This goes far beyond what most of their competition offers.

Its not all sunshine and rainbows, however. The fact the NH-U14S may block the top expansion slot in some situations is frustrating. It won't affect many users, but some situations may have a GPU with a backplate cause problems. Granted, this can be avoided by changing the cooler's orientation on Intel systems, but that also nullifies its memory-clearance benefits on the Intel X79 platform. Then I am of course faced with the fact that on sockets other than LGA2011, users will have to stick to standard memory if using all four DIMM slots. The cooler's performance with a second fan, while not massively improved, does make it a serious contender; however, a second fan is not included. Users will of course also have to get used to the Noctua color scheme. While it does make their products stand out, the beige and dark brown colors are not to everyone's liking.

My only other thoughts on the Noctua NH-U14S are fairly straight forward. The cooler is great; however, anyone thinking about running a second fan should pause for a moment to weigh their options. The cost of a second NF-A15 fan comes to around $26.99 on Newegg, increasing total cost to nearly $100. The Noctua NH-D14 looks like the more promising choice at that price. However, the NH-U14S will maintain exceptional memory clearance on LGA2011 with dual fans, and top-tier performance for an air cooler without sacrificing memory clearance is nearly unheard of.

The Noctua NH-U14S is a very quiet cooler with a performance that gives heavyweight competitors a run for their money. If you are in the market for a CPU cooler, and it has to perform well while being quiet, the NH-U14S is a great option. The quality of the product, along with its features, make it a solid choice. Just be mindful of the price increase if you want to run two NF-A15 fans.
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