This review is basically a throwback into history considering how much time has passed since this cooler was originally released – which was almost a decade ago ! Well, if it works why change it, seams to be the mantra for this U14S.

A big, six heatpipes single tower heatsink design which combined with a large premium 140 mm fan, seals the deal. Mind you, barely from last year they updated to packaging to have the AM4 socket hardware for installation (items before 2019 they require this adapter).

Noctua:

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Established in 2005, Noctua took international silent enthusiasts’ hearts by storm and quickly developed into one of the most acclaimed suppliers of premium quality quiet cooling products. Today, Noctua is present in more than 30 countries across the globe and working with several hundred sales partners. Chosen by noise-conscious PC users, system integrators and industry clients alike, Noctua has become synonymous with impeccable quality, excellent customer service and class-leading quiet cooling performance.

Designed in Austria, Noctua’s premium cooling components are internationally renowned for their superb quietness, exceptional performance and thoroughgoing quality. Having received more than 6000 awards and recommendations from leading hardware websites and magazines, Noctua’s fans and heatsinks are serving hundreds of thousands of satisfied customers around the globe.

 

Prices and Availability

 

It’s priced really good considering how potent it is. Just make sure you order the correct variant since they made two extra variation of this cooler, one for the Threaripper socket (hence the TR4-SP3 in the name) and one for the LGA3647. Also if you want to upgrade the fan to the new chromax.black option, it’s available for around $27.

 

Presentation and Specifications

 

* Courtesy of their website.

The heatsink is on the tall side at 165 mm so it’s natural for a big cooler to be matched with a proportionate case. Noctua also includes extra accessories in order for you to attach a second fan, even a 120 mm one since the stock 140 mm uses 120 mm mounting holes.

 

Visual Inspection

 

The product comes shipped in the famous Noctua livery with all of the main product highlights nicely presented.

There is a quick product intro and description depicted in multiple languages.

This side informs us of all of the specs regarding the heatsink, 140 mm fan and the supplied accessories.

Noctua offers a high level of detail regarding the main highlights of the coolers capabilities and features.

We have the same packaging method, the accessory box is on top of the recycled carbon cocoon that protects the actual cooler.

Here is the full accessory list breakdown:

1x NF-A15 PWM 140mm premium fan (pre-installed)
1x Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)
1x NT-H1 high-grade thermal compound
1x SecuFirm2™ Mounting Kit (Intel & AMD)
1x Noctua Metal Case-Badge
1x Custom long Philips screwdriver
2x Extra wire fan clips
4x Extra anti-vibration fan pads
2x Extra 3M anti-vibration fan mounts
3x Booklets which cover all of the installation instructions

This is the single tower U-type NH-U14S which measures 165 x 52 x 150 mm ( H x D x W ) without the fan, while weighing 770g. When the fan is installed the weight rises to 935g and the depth is increased to 78 mm and if you install the same fan model, this will reach a total of 104 mm.

We counted 56 aluminium fins where the lower 6 ones are shorter in length. All of these are held into place via 6 copper nickel plated heatpipes which are 6 mm thick.

These heatpipes are arranged in a U pattern and thus we have 12 heatpipe ends that dominate the top plate. Speaking of, here we have the Noctua brand name and logo nicely engraved. That middle hole is to access the securing bracket for the contact plate.

On the opposite end, we have the contact plate which has an almost mirror finish and it’s also made from nickel plated copper. Noctua’s quality control and assembly skills can only be described with ‘epic craftsmanship’.

The heatsink has on both sides this concave profile which should help with airflow.

As for a size perspective here it is compared to the U12S chromax.black.

Now the supplied 140 mm NF-A15 PWM. We must mention this on every review regarding the SSO2 bearings which are Noctua’s own design. The self-stabilizing oil-pressure bearing (SSO-Bearing) system has always been at the heart of Noctua’s award-winning premium fans.

SSO combines the proven concept of oil-based hydrodynamic bearings with an additional magnet that supports the self-stabilization of the rotor axis. Due to the axis being stabilized by the magnetic field, Noctua’s SSO Bearing achieves higher precision and better longevity than conventional ball-, sleeve- or hydrodynamic bearings. SSO2 is the further optimized second generation of SSO. Made possible by the use of metal bearing shells and new injection molding techniques, the magnet is now placed closer to the rotor axis and thus exerts higher magnetic force to it. This results in even better stabilization, precision, and durability.

Here is the NF-A15 next to a 120 mm ARGB Noiseblocker fan.

Next up, installation time.

 

Installation

 

Our main testing platform is centred around AMD’s AM4 socket but in an ITX format to fully test any RAM compatibility issues, since on this layout, all of the components are crammed more together than the larger motherboard formats.

The first step is to remove the stock motherboard side brackets while maintaining the stock AMD motherboard backplate.

Attach the AM4 grey plastic spacers.

Next up are the securing brackets and then apply the thermal paste.

Then bolt down the heatsink (without the fan) applying equal pressure from both ends.

Finally install the fan and connect it to the motherboard.

Now let’s check for any clearance issues. It seams that on this ITX board it will touch the memory modules but it should still permit tall heatspread ram kits to be deployed.

Most modern mid-tower cases should be wide enough to accommodate even taller heatsink designs (like this U14S).

All done and let’s test it out.

 

Testing methodology

 

  • The AMD Ryzen 7 1700 CPU will be tested at stock settings and then overclocked at 3.70 GHz for 1.325v
  • As the main torture test, we will employ a 2 minute run in AIDA64
  • Room temperature was recorded at ~ 18°C
  • For the noise testing, we used our Pyle PSPL01 placed 30 cm away from the setup – all other fans will will be off or set at minimum RPM
  • Thermal paste used – Noctua NH-H2
  • We will compare the results to other CPU air coolers close to its price/performance bracket
  • All CPU fans will be left on the ‘standard’ auto % rpm curve to simulate real life usage patterns and the side panel is removed and the case fans are off
  • Any results over 90° C in any condition are considered a fail

Competition CPU Coolers:

Cooler Master Hyper 212 RGB Black Edition – 120 mm
Noctua NH-D15 chromax.black – Dual 140 mm
Noctua NH-U12A – 120 mm
BeQuiet! Dark Rock Slim – 120 mm
Noctua NH-U12S – 120 mm
Alpenföhn Ben Nevis Advanced RGB Black Edition – 130 mm
AMD Wraith Spire LED RGB – 92 mm

Hardware used:

CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 1700 AM4 – 8c/16t @ 65W TDP
RAM 8GB DDR4 Corsair Vengeance LPX 3000 MHz CL15
Motherboard: ASUS ROG STRIX B350-i Gaming mITX
Boot SSD: ADATA XPG SX6000 128GB M.2 NVMe TLC
Storage SSD: Team Group DELTA MAX RGB 500 GB SATA TLC
Video card(s): KF2 GTX 480 Anarchy Accelero Xtreme Plus
PSU: Seasonic S12II-620 Bronze
Case: Sahara P35 Tempered Glass Mid Tower PC Gaming Case
Case fans 120 mm: Noiseblocker eLoop X-Series ARGB Black PWM – B12X-P-BL 2000 RPM

Software:

OS: Windows 10 Pro x64 Build 1909
GPU Drivers: NVIDIA GeForce WHQL 391.35
Core Temp v1.16 – To see the temperatures in real time
CPU-Z v1.92 – To verify the CPU’s statistics
AIDA64 Extreme v6.23 – Another popular total system stability test
Cinebench R15 – Popular CPU benchmark
Cinebench R20 – The new revised version optimised for the newer multi-core CPUs
MSI Afterburner v4.62 – To record the FPS and load/temperatures

Resolution for our test game Rise Of the Tomb Raider, is set at 1920×1080 with everything at Medium quality settings and no AA.

 

Testing, Results and Analysis

 

Let’s start in order of CPU load difficulty. First up is the Cinebench R15 test. On the left we have the CPU in stock form while on the right we have it overclocked. No wonder this U14S hasn’t changed one bit since its release because as you can see it gets very close to the top dogs the U12A and D15.

The Cinebench R20 is a more modern up to date multi core benchmark suite. So naturally we will see a bigger load and thus a larger temperature figure than the R15. The order is maintained, so far the U14S is offering exceptional value for money.

In AIDA64 we isolated the stress test just for the CPU therefore we should get the highest stress scenario for the CPU. Mind you the R20 proves to be almost as demanding as the stress test so the numbers are very close.

Rise Of the Tomb Raider is a fantastic game and also a good testing title for both GPUs and CPUs. Still not as stressful as a synthetic torture test but a great indicator of real life usage.

Noise levels tests are an easy one to analyse, afterall we are talking about Noctua. Specific to the U14S since it uses a big fan at 140 mm that spins lower than a 120 mm for example because it doesn’t need to spin that fast, it can achieve really good noise levels.

 

Conclusion

 

If it works, don’t change it until it doesn’t perform anymore. Well, the U14S is an endurance champion considering it was released over 7 years ago and it still going. Bigger and simpler is better sometimes and here we have just that – a large wide heatsink that provides excellent heat dissipation. Then you get spoiled with Noctua’s epic craftmanship and fantastic 6 years warranty period. Also the ability to upgrade to a second fan will make this equal to the D15 for less money even even with the cost of the additional fan. The U14S truly is a best buy and the fact that they offer it in special editions like for the Treadripper socket, this is just another confirmation of its capability.

The good:

+ Excellent cooling performance and low noise output
+ Simple, efficient proven design
+ Great value for money
+ Maximum build quality
+ 6 years warranty
+ Ability to attach a 120/140 mm second fan

The bad:

– Might touch or come in close contact to the RAM kits on ITX boards
– Big in size
– I feel Noctua should offer all of their products in chromax.black since I mention this in every review

Glob3trotters “Must Buy!” Award – 4.5 out of 5

GG

Many thanks to Noctua for supplying us with this cooler !

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