July 10, 2013

Review: Noctua NH-U14S

The Noctua NH-U14S is the flagship of U-series single tower CPU coolers and also the big brother of the smaller NH-U12S. The UH-U14S also uses Noctua's class leading NF-A15 FocusFlow™ fans with Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) for fully automatic control as well as the ultimate quiet cooling experience. The heatsink is also designed for 100% compatibility with tall RAM modules even on socket LGA 2011 with RAM on both the left and right side. The NH-U14S uses Noctua's SecuFirm2 mounting system, unfortunately dropping support for the LGA 775 and LGA 1366 sockets. The heat sink is still compatible with current sockets including Haswell's LGA 1150.


On the front of the box, we find a brief description of the fan and a silver badge addressing its award winning design. On the side, we find specifications for both the fans and heat sink, as well as the scope of delivery and a 2D image of the heat sink. On the back, there is an explanation of what this design offers and why they chose to design this type of cooler, available in eight different languages.

Once the largest box is opened up, we find three nicely labelled and organized boxes that makes installation a breeze, while also being very visual appealing. There is one box containing the mounting system for Intel CPUs and another box for the AMD processors. A third box contains the miscellaneous accessories such as extra fan mounts and thermal compound.

Included in the accessory box are mounting clips for an additional fan, Noctua's NT-H1 thermal compound, four extra silicon fan corners, a Phillips screwdriver, a low noise adapter for the fan, anti-vibration strips which can be used with non-Noctua fans to reduce vibration, and an extremely thick metal Noctua case badge.

Noctua goes above and beyond the call of duty, having included literally everything you need to install the heatsink. Noctua is the only company I have seen so far to include a screwdriver with their products, allowing installation of the heatsink right out of the box.

At the very bottom lies the heat sink protected by thick pieces of cardboard. It's nice to see companies use recyclable packaging.

The Cooler

The NF-A14 PWM fans are a great match for this heatsink. The design of the fan allows a larger fan to be installed with a smaller mounting system. By using the round frame instead of a traditional square one, less space is taken up by the mounts allowing a larger fan in the same amount of space. The design on the fins also ensures that the fan is able to cool all fins on the heat sink.The cooler is 165mm tall, 150mm wide, and 78mm wide with one fan installed.

From the side you can see that the fin array is slightly wider than it's little brother, the NH-U12S, but it still allows it to fit between tall RAM modules on LGA2011 motherboards. It uses the standard tool-less fan mounting system that uses notches on the side of the fin array that allow the metal clips on the fan to latch onto. The mounting system allows for easy toolless installation and removal which makes cleaning it very easy.

On the back where there is no fan (although one can be installed), you can get an idea of how the grooves and teeth on the edge of the fins help break up the airflow to reduce noise. You can also see the how the six heat pipes are spread out.

Every fin the in the stack has the Noctua logo embossed on it which is not only for show, but which also increases the surface area while helping to break up the airflow further. There is a hole in the center of the stack where you can use the included screwdriver to remove the hold down bar on the SecuFirm2 mounting system. I don't know why you would need to do that but the option is there, it was most likely used when they were building the heat sink. You can see a slight curve in the center of the heat sink as well as the notches that help break up the air flow.

The cooler is mounted by screwing down the hold down plate on the heat sink to the two included brackets that are secured to the motherboard. The six heatpipes are soldered between two copper plates making up the base. The base of the NH-U14S is milled and has arched grooves across the entire surface. The base of the heatsink is completely flat with no deformation at the edges, ensuring uniform contact with the entire CPU. There are staggered heatpipes to carry the heat away to different areas of the fin array. The heat pipes are quite angled near the center of the plate due to the size of the heat sink.

The NH-U14S has the ability to be used with two fans, by using the extra metal fan clips included in the accessory box. This allows for improved static pressure and better performance. It makes the heat sink look cooler and beefier as well. The extra fan increases the depth of the heat sink from 78mm to 104mm. Even with both fans installed, the heat sink is still compatible with LGA 2011 motherboards.


The SecuFirm2 system makes installation very simple. For Intel systems, simply align the extremely thick backplate with the three holes on the back of the socket and it should smoothly slide into the motherboard. for Socket LGA 2011, simple screw in the included risers into the built in backplate on the motherboard. Once the backplate is installed, flip the motherboard over and place the black risers onto the screws jutting out and screw in the top brackets with the curves facing away from the centre. All that's left is to screw it all down with the four thumb screws and you're left with an extremely secure platform to mount the heatsink onto. With the SecuFirm2's extremely thick backplate, there will be little-to-no flex on the motherboard when the cooler is installed.

You will need to remove the fans to install the heat sink onto the brackets, but Noctua makes that easy with their toolless clips. Use the included screwdriver, or your own, to screw the two screws on the cooler to the brackets. The included screwdriver clears the top of the heat sink nicely and gives you a nifty tool to throw into your tool bag if you ever need it. The black springs ensure that the correct pressure is placed onto the CPU, so just simply keep screwing it in until it stops.

You can see that the cooler sits nicely right above the RAM I used. With two fans installed, it takes up more room, but still fits fine on the motherboard. The cooler can also be mounted in two orientations, blowing air horizontally across, or blowing air upwards.


Test Configuration:

Motherboard : MSI Z77A-UD65
CPU: Intel Core i5 3570K
Memory: Intel Extreme Masters 2x4GB 1866MHz
GPU: Gigabyte Radeon HD 6950 2GB
PUS: Corsair CX600
Software: Intel Burn Test v2.53, CPU-Z Version 1.60, RealTemp 3.60

*Temperatures were measured using RealTemp with an ambient room temperature of 24 degrees Celcius and the system was left to idle or run on full load for 10 min before temperatures were taken.
** Noctua's ND-H1 thermal paste was used for all testing

With a single fan, the NH-U14S offered temperatures of 56 degrees with a decrease of 5 degrees with the additional fan. This offered a significant decrease of temperature compared to the Intel stock cooler. 

Once the CPU was overclocked to 4.2GHz, differences can be seen. The difference between one and two fans is still 5 degrees but there was only a temperature increase of 12 degrees compared to stock clocks, allowing more room for overclocking. With the Intel cooler, the temperatures were quite high so overclocking with a stock cooler is highly unrecommended.


  • Ultra silent
  • Great performance
  • Easy to install
  • 6-year warranty
  • Great build quality
  • Colours may not be for everyone
  • Price

The Noctua NH-U14S is $89 at our local retailer, NCIX, so the heatsink does come at a high price. The NH-U14S is also a high performance cooler so the parts and build quality are held to high standards. The heatsink offers great cooling without sacrificing silence. This is one of the quietest heatsinks we have tested so far and offers great performance. The NH-U14S is also compatible with all RAM modules even on socket LGA 2011 so it is a great choice for first time system builders who are afraid of running into compatibility issues and reduces headaches.

Noctua has put a lot of thought into designing the NH-U14S and it shows in the final product. They have thought of ways to make life easier for the end user by using metal clips to secure the fans. A simple convenience such as using a single wire instead of fiddling with plastic inserts makes installation simple and the inclusion of a screwdriver means the end-user doesn't have to find one, or buy one if they don't own one.

Noctua has also tried to make installation of the cooler and backplate easier by reducing the amount of things you need to hold in place. They split the installation into small easy steps so there are no headaches or broken parts due to installation. Since they dropped support for LGA 775 and 1366, they can simplify the backplate, removing the need to reposition the screws to line up with the holes.

Noctua shows that they do care a lot about customers while designing their CPU coolers. With such a large heat sink like the NH-U14S, you would think there would be a lot of compatibility issues, especially with LGA 2011 having RAM on the both sides of the socket. Noctua knows this is an issue and has eliminated that problem with the NH-U14S. If you are in the market for a high performance CPU cooler, make sure you take a look at the Noctua NH-U14S.

Martin Tam is an editor and the Director of Video Production at [blank]’s Universe. He is also a technology enthusiast that particularly enjoys computers and photography. He enjoys breaking things and sleeping in his spare time.