Noctua NH-C14S Low Profile Cooler Review – It’s burger time

by

Previously we reviewed Noctua’s premium air cooler, the Noctua NH-D15. The performance is exceptional, and coupled with the silent fans even when under load are among the main reasons why it deserved the Gold Pokdeward. Today I have another cooler from Noctua for review, the Noctua NH-C14s, which is designed as a high performance low profile cooler for HTPCs.

Unboxing

The Noctua NH-C14S’s packaging is similar to the NH-D15’s, but smaller in size. We have here a few highlights of the Noctua NH-C14S listed. The most important features are probably the low profile mode, high clearance mode and offset design for PCIe clearance, all of which are important considerations when picking a cooler for a compact rig.

At the back, we have detailed specifications printed on the box. Noctua NH-C14S is the improved version of the earlier NH-C14, solving most incompatibility issues while improving cooling performance at the same time.

On one side of the box we have specification tables for the cooler and the fans, with Noctua’s company introduction in multiple languages on the other side.

The straightforward and tidy packaging for this cooler has impressed me. Unlike before where they put the mounting kit and accessories in separated boxes, the new packaging packed everything into one same box. Upon unboxing we have two compartments, one for the mounting kit and accessories, with the other one containing the Noctua NH-C14S with the Noctua NF-A14 PWM fan.

In the accessories box, we have the Secufirm 2 mounting kit for AMD and Intel LGA 115X sockets. We also have installation guides for every socket, a L-shape screw driver and a plastic bag labelled “common parts”.

Inside the common parts bag, we have two Low Noise fan adapters, a Y-splitter, fan mounting wires, Noctua’s high end NT-H1 thermal paste and also an exclusive Noctua badge.

In the other box, we have the cooler itself with the cooler. Noctua NH-C14S is designed to be a compact, low profile cooler with the horizontal fin array. Noctua NH-C14S has a single 140mm Noctua’s NH-AF14 PWM installed. Instead of two PWM fans included like on the older NH-C14, the Noctua NH-C14S comes with only a single NH-AF14 PWM fan. You can purchase another fan separately for a push-pull configuration if you wish, as Noctua has already included the fan clips for it.

Appearance

Noctua NH-C14S still the same C-type cooler like its predecessor, the NH-C14, with a horizontal fin array placed above the baseplate. It’s now much taller to accommodate taller memory modules. The fin array is also thicker and denser now, resulting in more surface area for cooling, while weighing more at 820g. Also, new in the Noctua NH-C14S is the offset layout so that the cooler will not obstruct the top PCIe slot on most µATX and ATX motherboards.

Noctua NH-C14S can be configured in low-profile mode, high clearance mode or dual fan mode. In the high clearance mode, the fan is mounted on top of the fin array, increasing the clearance for memory modules up to 65mm tall. Meanwhile, both low-profile and dual fan modes will limit you to memory modules up to 40mm in height.

Six of Noctua NH-C14S’ heatpipes are attached to the CPU contact plate, while one is added in the middle, probably to strengthen the cooler’s structure. All of the Noctua NH-C14S’ heatpipes and CPU contact plate is made of copper, with nickel plating for corrosion resistance.

The finishing on the CPU base is not a shiny mirror finish but it looks beautiful, reminding me of ASUS’ Zen pattern on my ZenFone 3. For the mounting, Noctua’s SecureFirm 2 supports most AMD and Intel sockets except for LGA 775 and LGA 1366, for which Noctua offers a separate mounting kit for them. For the upcoming AM4 socket, Noctua offers a free upgrade kit.

The Noctua NH-C14S is configured in its low profile mode from the factory, with the fan blowing upwards through the fin array.  This is the best fan position as it sucks the warm air away from the motherboard instead of blowing down hot air onto the components.

Installation

The Noctua NH-C14S is going to be tasked with cooling the Intel Core i7 5820K in our bench rig. The installation with Noctua’s SecureFirm 2 kit is very easy, even easier than installing the NH-D15 due to the slightly less gargantuan dimensions of the NH-C14S.

As the ASUS X99 Deluxe uses a square Independent Loading Mechanism (ILM), mounting the cooler here is very easy. Skipping the backplate here, all I needed to do was install the bolts on every edge of the LGA 2011 socket frame.

Then install the mounting bar and secure with the thumbscrews. Make sure that the mounting bar faces outward. Apply the Noctua NT-H1 thermal paste before mounting and secure the Noctua NH-C14S with the provided L shape screw driver.

I tried this fan configuration but the hot air blowing from the cooler onto the RAM and VRM heatsinks was not desirable.

I personally choose to install the cooler in this position as its look very neat to me. For the fan configuration, I’m using high clearance mode with the fan pulling air through the fin array, as our Pokde’s benchrig is using high profile memory modules measuring 51mm in height.

Specification

Cooler Specification

Fan Specification

Test Machine

Hardware

Processor Intel Core i7-5820K
Motherboard ASUS X99-Deluxe
Memory Avexir Blitz 16GB DDR4
Storage Sandisk Ultra II 256GB
Power Supply Cooler Master V850

Software

OS Windows 10 64bit Annivesary
Utilities LinX, OCCT, Intel XTU, RealTemp, CPU-Z, HWMonitor

Test Methodology

We are testing the Noctua NH-C14S on our official Pokde’s rig. With an Intel Core i7 5820K with a 140W TDP, it can pose a challenge for any cooler to tame the heat output when all the cores are under load. The CPU will be running stock@1.2V and also overclocked to 4.1 GHz@1.1V. Turbo Boost is disabled and SpeedStep enabled in both BIOS and operating system. For the testing phase, I will also be using three different tools to stress the CPU cores to the max: LinX, Intel XTU and OCCT. The tests are run for an hour each.

Our target is to monitor how high the temperatures can rise during the test. We also monitor closely during the test to check if any thermal throttling happens when the temperature hit the CPU’s Tjmax of 105°C. If it is just a spike there will be no thermal throttling unless it stays at the temperature for a certain period of time. This is just to see the maximum potential of the cooling performance of any CPU cooler. The fan speed settings are left at default. The system runs in an open test bench, with ambient temperatures of 25°C.

Noctua said that the NT-H1 doesn’t need any cure time, but I believe that it can get better after some thermal cycling. So, after applying new thermal paste, I ran a stress test for 1 hour before letting it sit for more than 12 hours. After the idle period, I stressed it again for 1 hour before shutting down the computer completely for more than 6 hours before I start recording the temperatures.

Performance

On the RealTemp software I manually set the Tjmax at 105°C, and for the results, I pick the maximum reading from HwMonitor. The highest temperature I got with the Noctua NH-C14S is 103°C when running OCCT and LinX. Of course, thermal throttling occurred during the stress test but it still manages to finish all the tests.

Stock Clocks

Overclocked

Comparing the results with the Noctua NH-D15’s, we can see a significant difference. Well this is because the higher end NH-D15 features two massive banks of cooling fins and two fans to start with. More surface area to dissipate the heat, better temperatures. While it may not match the NH-D15 in terms of performance, it remains equally quiet even when under load. I believe if the Noctua NH-C14S is running in its dual-fan configuration, the temperatures could be lower.

Recommended CPU:

Intel : LGA 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156 processors

AMD: AM3+ (except AMD FX 8350, 8370, 9370, 9590), AM4 (except Ryzen R7 1700X and 1800X), FM2+ processor

Recommended form factor:

Mini-ITX, Mini-ATX

Conclusion

While the performance of Noctua NH-C14S is not that impressive when compared to the NH-D15, let us remind you that the NH-C14S is a low-profile cooler made for HTPC or SFF PC builds. While it struggles to tame the Intel Core i7 5820K on LinX, actually the Noctua NH-C14S is still one of the best in its class. If you are in search of a good CPU cooler for your Intel LGA 115X or AMD AM4-based ITX or mATX rig, the Noctua NH-C14S offers great cooling in compact dimensions.

The Noctua NH-C14S is backed by a 6-year warranty and priced at RM409 on Lazada. After considering its aesthetic, performance, bundled accessories and the warranty policy, the Noctua NH-C14S deserves our Silver Pokdeward.

Or if you are more interested with the older Noctua NH-C14, which is still a pretty good cooler, you can get it for around RM 298 in retail.

Our thanks to Noctua for providing us with the Noctua NH-C14S to review!

We would like to thank our sponsors for our very own benchmarking rig – The PokdeRig. These companies believe in us and put their trust into what we do. They deserve all the love in the world!

Asus X99-Deluxe

Asus X99-Deluxe

Intel Core i7-5820K

Intel Core i7-5820K

CM MasterAir Pro 4

CM MasterAir Pro 4

CM V850

CM V850 PSU

Sandisk Ultra II

Sandisk Ultra II

Avexir Blitz 16GB DDR4

Avexir Blitz 16GB DDR4