Noctua NF-A Series Fans Review

After releasing the recent and variable sized A-Series, Noctua has released three new fan models: the NF-A14 FLX, NF-A14 ULN, and NF-A15 PWM that come in 140mm and 150mm sizes. Today we will be looking at the Noctua NF-A Series Fans.

 

 

Noctua was founded in 2005 and their headquarters are located in Austria. They specialize in silent PC cooling products and until now they have successfully combined great performance with reduced noise levels.

Let’s take a look at the Noctua NF-A Series Fans specs:

NF-A14 FLX

NF-A14 ULN

NF-A15 PWM

Packaging

All the Noctua NF-A Series Fans come in the usual Noctua packaging, a sleek cardbox that opens from the front side to reveal the actual fan along with its features. At the back side there is a brief description in various languages.

 

A Closer Look – The Noctua NF-A Series Fans


NF-A14 FLX

The NF-A14 FLX is a 140mm fan with a solid build, designed mainly for use with CPU coolers or for case cooling. The frame is square and the fan itself has a very low operating voltage of 0.96W!

Inside the package, we can find:
  

  • Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)
  • Ultra-Low-Noise Adaptor (U.L.N.A.)
  • 3:4-Pin Adaptor
  • 30cm Extension Cable
  • 4 Vibration-Compensators
  • 4 Fan Screws

 

NF-A14 ULN

The NF-A14 ULN is the successor of the successful NF-P14 that offers very low noise levels, from speeds ranging from 650/800RPM. The fan is targeted mainly at users who seek an absolutely quiet system with sufficient cooling performance.

Inside the package we can find:

 

  • Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)
  • 3:4 Pin Adaptor
  • 30cm Extension Cable
  • 4 Vibration-Compensators
  • 4 Fan Screws

 

NF-A15 PWM

The NF-A15 PWM is a massive round-framed 150mm fan designed mainly for use with high-end CPU coolers.

Inside the package we can find:

 

  • Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)
  • 4-Pin Y-Cable
  • 30cm Extension Cable
  • 4 Vibration-Compensators
  • 4 Fan Screws

 

With the supplied LNA and ULNA adaptors you can get the RPM to run in your desired levels. There is also a 30cm extension cable available, as well as a 20cm to help in cable management.

 

The fans incorporate some advanced design features, let’s take a look at some from Noctua’s website:

Flow Acceleration Channels

Boundary layer separation from the suction side of the fan blades leads to increased vortex noise and lower airflow efficiency. In order to suppress this phenomenon, the Noctua’s A-Series impellers feature suction side Flow Acceleration Channels. These channels alter the flow distribution on the suction side of the blades and speed up the airflow at the crucial outer blade regions. As flow separation is more likely to occur when the speed of the fluid relative to the fan blade is low, the increase in speed achieved through the Flow Acceleration Channels leads to significantly reduced flow separation, which permits lower vortex noise and higher airflow efficiency.

Inner Surface Microstructures 

Inner Surface Microstructures are an advanced aerodynamic design measure first introduced with Noctua’s NF-F12 fan. Miniature dents at the inside of the fan frame create a turbulent boundary layer when the fan blades pass by. With the tips of the fan blades ploughing through this boundary layer, flow separation from the suction side of the blades is significantly reduced. As suction side flow separation is a major source of axial fan blade passing noise and leads to considerable losses in airflow and pressure efficiency, the use of Inner Surface Microstructures allows for lower noise emission and better performance at the same time. Reducing undesired turbulences caused by suction side flow separation, Inner Surface Microstructures help Noctua’s latest fans to keep pushing the boundaries in performance to noise efficiency.

AAO Frame

Noctua’s AAO (Advanced Acoustic Optimisation) frames feature integrated anti-vibration pads as well as Noctua’s proprietary Stepped Inlet Design and Inner Surface Microstructures, both of which further refine the fan’s performance/noise efficiency.

Smooth Commutation Drive 2

Next to aerodynamic noise and bearing related noises, the so called “commutation noise” or “switching noise” can play a major role in the noise emission of axial fans with brushless DC motors. At each transition from one stator coil to another, the rotor receives a sudden torque pulse when the next coil switches on. Each of these torque pulses causes a minute deformation of the whole fan structure. Depending on rpm, torque and the material of the fan, this can result in noticeable noises.

Noctua’s Smooth Commutation Drive system provides more continuous switching in order to achieve a smoother transition between the stator coils and thereby significantly contributes to the fan’s overall quietness. The second generation of this technology (SCD2) further improves running smoothness and reduces minute noises in close proximity to the motor. 

Stepped Inlet Design

Noctua’s Stepped Inlet Design is an advanced aerodynamic design measure first introduced with the NF-F12 fan. By adding turbulence to the fan’s influx, the Stepped Inlet Design facilitates the transition from laminar to turbulent flow. This measure has an effect similar to the dimple structure of a golf ball in so far as it leads to better flow attachment to the frame, which allows the impeller to suck in more air and hence improves overall airflow efficiency. 

In addition to these aerodynamic benefits, the Stepped Inlet Design also reduces tonal intake noises caused by laminar inflow due to it being transformed to turbulent flow, which produces a more broadband noise profile. This way, the Stepped Inlet Design helps to refine the fan’s acoustic qualities by letting it blend into the background noise more easily and making it more agreeable to the human ear.

In a nutshell, the bundle contains everything you will need to setup your fans according to your needs and preferences.

 

Test Setup and Procedures, Test Results

We used all three fans on top of our Corsair H80 cooler to determine temperatures under idle and load states. Afterwards, we measured sound levels by testing the fans alone without connecting any LNA or ULNA adaptor to determine the maximum amount of noise that they can produce.

The test system was:

CPU: Intel i5 3570k 3.4 @ 4.4 GHz 1.27v
CPU Cooler: Corsair H80
RAM: 8 GB 4GB G.Skill Perfect Storm 2,200MHz CL8
Motherboard: Asus P8Z77-V Pro
SSD: Samsung 830 128GB
VGA: nVidia GTX 660 1GB
Case: Antec 1100
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

 

 

 

Verdict

We can surely say that the new Noctua NF-A Series Fans are a worthy improvement over the older models. As always, Noctua has managed to combine performance and silence in a bundle that feels more than complete. Any of these fans will efficiciently cool your system, and there are options to choose from depending what type of user you are; for example there is the A-14 ULN that may not offer massive cooling performance but surely remains silent virtually in any RPM range.

During our tests, all fans managed to keep our overclocked i5 3570K temperature down to very acceptable levels., while keeping the system noise levels very low.

Costing 21.90€ across Europe, these fans are definitely a good investment and should be surely considered due to the quality and performance they offer.

Pros

(+) Efficient cooling
(+) Quiet
(+) Bundle feels classy and more than complete

Cons

(-) Some users might search for cheaper options

 

 

Thus, we can surely give the Noctua NF-A Series fans our Editor’s Choice award.

 

 

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