Computex 2017: Noctua reveals a new spin on classic fans

Along with nearly every other computer hardware company in the world, the cooling specialists at Noctua are in attendance at Computex. Our guys on the ground, Tony and Adam, got a chance to stop by and check out the goodies. Noctua is showing off a couple of new products this year, including the company's most advanced fan design ever as well as plus-sized coolers for AMD's Rubenesque Ryzen Threadripper and Epyc CPUs.

Most hardware enthusiasts probably know Noctua best from its heatsink-and-fan combo units, but the Austrian company's greatest expertise is specifically in fan design. Enthusiasts have long praised Noctua's distinctive brown fans for their blend of performance and silence. The company already sells fans optimized for airflow or static pressure, but optimal cooling performance tends to require a good blend of both.

Noctua's next-generation A-series fans aim for that mark. Noctua says it has put four-and-a-half years of development time into the new fan design, and that it built more than 200 prototypes over that period. According to Noctua, every fancy engineering tool in the business was employed to determine the optimal fan design, including acoustic imaging, computational fluid dynamic analysis, and laser Doppler vibrometer testing. Dissatisfied with its existing work, the company went so far as to experiment with exotic new materials in its search.

The fruit of Noctua's hard-won efforts is a fan design that the company admits does not match the peak airflow nor peak pressure performance of its existing fans engineered for those purposes. However, the new fans simultaneously offer better static pressure and airflow in real-world conditions rather than a contrived test scenario. The end result is a fan that Noctua claims can offer far superior overall performance than its existing designs while remaining whisper-quiet.

Noctua demonstrated the performance of the new fan design with a prototype strapped to one of its NH-U12 CPU coolers. The prototype was challenged with cooling a synthetic thermal load and matched up against the same cooler equipped with two of Noctua's current fans in a push-pull configuration. As you can see, the new fan apparently offers the same cooling performance as two of the old-style fans. Of course, that could simply be because one fan is sufficient either way. We'll have to get some of the new fans in-house to do our own testing. Noctua will be selling the next-generation A-series fans in 120- and 140-mm varieties.

Besides the fancy new fans, Noctua had some new heatsinks to show. Updated versions of the popular NH-U12S and NH-U14S are coming, redesigned to better take advantage of the new fan design. Noctua says the revised NH-U12S offers 50% greater surface area than the prior version, while the new NH-U14S outshines its predecessor by 30% on the same measure. Both models use a whopping seven heatpipes, so we expect these coolers to offer excellent performance.

Also on display at the Noctua booth were heatsinks for AMD's upcoming many-core Threadripper and Epyc processors. Noctua says the coolers are based on its existing NH-U14S, NH-U12S, and NH-U9 heatsinks. The company had to devise a new mounting system (that it calls SecuFirm2) for AMD's mammoth 4094-contact SP3r2 LGA socket. The new heatsinks have enlarged contact surfaces to accomodate the huge chips.

Noctua gets some flak on occasion for the controversial beige-and-brown color scheme of its most popular series of fans. The company actually sells two more fan lineups, though. The grey-on-grey Redux fans are recolored versions of successful models from the company's catalog, while the all-black industrialPPC fans represent Noctua's most reliable and durable spinners. A couple of years ago, the company debuted a line of multi-colored anti-vibration accessories called Chromax intended to help builders color-coordinate their Redux or industrialPPC fans with their build.

Now at Computex, the company is showing off Chromax Design heatsink covers. These powder-coated aluminum covers will come in solid-color versions, or black versions with swappable colored inserts. They snap onto the top of the company's heatsinks securely so you don't have to worry about rattling or vibration, and the plates extending down the sides of the heatsink could help keep airflow directed toward your exhaust fans. The company says the covers will be available for the NH-U12S and NH-D15 heatsinks. The company also said that there is an upcoming line of Chromax fans and cables.

There were a bunch more products at Noctua's booth, like a new low-profile cooler for AM4, a ridiculously-short 120mm low-profile cooler, fans powered from a 5V (USB) supply, and 24V automotive fans. We'll surely be seeing most of this stuff in the coming months as it becomes available, so keep an eye out.

Comments closed
    • synthtel2
    • 2 years ago

    An A12 versus P12 comparison is the one I’d really like to see on that graph. The P12 is the usual compromise between the S12A’s flow optimization and the F12’s pressure optimization, and as the S12A gets turbulent and noisy when the slightest backpressure shows up, the P12 looks like the best all-around case fan of the current lineup. (The P12 is the one I haven’t heard in action, though.)

    That A12 (assuming that’s what it’s called) does look like a nice fan.

    • Kretschmer
    • 2 years ago

    Noctua fans are universally ugly, expensive, and top-notch. Every fan in my rig is Noctua, and swapping out the stock fans (Fractal Design units that weren’t bad, themselves) made a huge difference.

      • UberGerbil
      • 2 years ago

      In an era of RGB-everything, they’re a sure sign of a builder / owner who cares for function over form. That said, with them now offering color accessories in addition to gray and black fans, it’s going to be increasingly hard to tell.

      • colinstu12
      • 2 years ago

      I kinda like the brown and tan of Noctua fans.
      MUCH better than clear / shiny plastics and/or RGB garbage.

    • Goty
    • 2 years ago

    So Noctua is making Gentle Typhoons now?

      • LoneWolf15
      • 2 years ago

      Maybe subcontracting to Nidec, who made the originals for Scythe.

      I’ve been wishing to see those again, they’re the best fans I’ve ever used. If the prices aren’t too nuts, I’ll be all over them.

    • EndlessWaves
    • 2 years ago

    I’d love to know more details on that ridiculously-short 120mm cooler, maybe a LGA2066 version of the 37mm tall NH-L9?

      • RAGEPRO
      • 2 years ago

      Well, LGA 2066 uses the same mounting as LGA 2011, so anything that mounts on those will mount on the new boards. (I don’t know if the NH-L9 mounts to LGA 2011.)

      The cooler I was talking about is an update of the NH-L12 using a “next-generation slim 120mm A-series fan” that can be mounted above or below the radiator; mounting it below makes the whole thing only 70mm tall which is very good for 120mm. It’s basically an NH-U12S sideways.

        • EndlessWaves
        • 2 years ago

        Probably, I just thought the new big CPUs might have large enough keep-out zones to allow a sub-47mm 120mm cooler. (and I couldn’t remember the threadripper socket name).

        At 70mm I guess they’re aiming for the smaller cube cases that have the PSU above the CPU, which will also benefit with the fan mounted that way as it can exhaust through the PSU instead of fighting it.

        HTPCs and other cases with half height cards would also qualify, although I don’t know how popular they are these days.

    • Anovoca
    • 2 years ago

    When your Noctua fans don’t color coordinate with your motherboard, buy a new motherboard. [url<]http://i275.photobucket.com/albums/jj303/anovoca/ComPLEX/20160414_154435.jpg[/url<]

    • Chrispy_
    • 2 years ago

    I need a new fan for my NH-U12, this weird rubbery one looks decent and it also has no LEDs which is a bonus.

    • helix
    • 2 years ago

    Interesting stuff.
    As for colors: I won’t be looking at my fans much. I will be listening to them a lot.

    • DrCR
    • 2 years ago

    I really wish they gave us additional graphs e.g. how they compare when their L.N.A and U.L.N.A options are used or some such. For us quite geeks, it would be nice to know just at what point the NF-F12 would be the better option e.g. static press / airflow graph for a NF-F12 at 600rpm vs a A-series at the same dB(A).

    • DavidC1
    • 2 years ago

    I’ve got myself 3 Noctua fans. 2x NF-F12 and NF-A8, both PWM versions.

    I think a CPU fan above $30 is too much but it seems quite good for folks that are willing to swallow the price.

    Big fan of the case fans though. And at $20 CAN they are cheap.

    The NF-F12 is being used to cool my custom cooled reference RX 480, and the NF-A8 for the VRMs. It’s great. They are both super quiet for the airflow, and even at full, because of the way they made the fans, its low-pitched and not annoying. Not like the bundled stock HSF for example. I am impressed.

    Another great thing about them is the super low power consumption. 0.6-0.96W is awesome. It’s a fraction of many comparable fans. Fan power consumption can become quite high. The high end ones on the video cards are rated at 10W for maximum. Most case fans are at 3-4W too. If they are anywhere under 2x power use compared to Noctua, then their static pressure is quite a bit lower.

    The color scheme and not insisting every component have “RGB” LEDs, or any lighted LED lighting is great.

    • Sargent Duck
    • 2 years ago

    I’ve used Noctua before and have been quite happy with their products. Pricy, yes.

    As for the whole brown-on-beige? Meh. My case doesn’t have windows so I don’t give a rip.

    • Fonbu
    • 2 years ago

    That is most impressive, the new A-series fans. I also think most customers of Noctua have been very satisfied with their “Extreme” efforts, but has payed off. Its interesting to see Noctua using some scientific methods for optimal air flow balance maintained during the “midrange RPM’s”.
    Maybe some engineers can fill us in about ,acoustic imaging, computational fluid dynamic analysis, and laser Doppler vibrometer testing. Or just search engine it….

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