Noctua’s NF-A12 fan puts other spinners to shame

An audience of gerbils probably doesn't need to be told this, but few companies take fans more seriously than Noctua. As proof, I present the fact that the company spent the last five years developing its latest fan design: the NF-A12x25. In the process, the company used computational fluid dynamics, laser vibrometers, and acoustic imaging to figure out that existing fan materials just weren't going to cut it. Ultimately Noctua invented its own material and created what it says is its best fan ever.

The new material is a liquid crystal polymer called Sterrox, from the ancient Greek στερρός. It means “hard” or “rigid,” and it represents the fact that that Sterrox is mostly immune to so-called impeller creep. You see, the new NF-A12 fans have the company's tightest tolerances ever—just 0.5 mm of blade tip clearance. That's the distance between the fan blade's tips and the frame. Noctua says that choice was made possible through the development and usage of Sterrox because conventional polymers would end up expanding and scraping against the frame with such a tight blade tip clearance.

The end result is that the NF-A12 is Noctua's best-performing fan across the widest variety of scenarios. Noctua CEO Lars Strömbäck says that even though the company's F12 fans have higher theoretical maximum air pressure, and that its S12 fans have higher theoretical maximum airflow, neither of those values actually come into play in most real-world PC cooling situations. The company says that the A12 will offer superior performance in both characteristics when used on PC cases, air-cooling heatsinks, and liquid-cooling radiators.

If all this sounds familiar, it's probably because we saw these fans at Computex last year. They were still under development then, but now they're finally available. The new fans will replace the P-series fans that are the company's extant “do it all” fan, but those too will continue to be available under the “redux” brand. The promised 140-mm version of the A-series fans hasn't shown up yet, but the NF-A12x25s are available in speed-controlled PWM, full-speed FLX, and speed-reduced ultra-low-noise variants. Gerbils needing fancy fans can pick up any variant at Amazon for $29.90.

Comments closed
    • Kretschmer
    • 1 year ago

    I just ordered a NF-S12A and NF-P14 fans to rehome my rig from a Node 305 to Nano S, so of course Noctua would release radically better fans a week later. Just like with Coffee Lake and Mobile Coffee Lake.

    Kretschmer, pushing PC technology ahead one poorly-timed purchase after another…

    • Pville_Piper
    • 1 year ago

    WHAT? NO RGBs?!!!

    LOL, could you imagine RGBs with that color scheme?

      • Ultracer
      • 1 year ago

      Red LED does work really nice with Noctua though.

    • Chrispy_
    • 1 year ago

    As always, I do wish Noctua would use a different colour scheme.

    It’s distinctive and recognisable, but it’s also ugly as sin

      • Firestarter
      • 1 year ago

      I just want to match the rest of my system to that color scheme

        • trackerben
        • 1 year ago

        The siren of the 1980s, she sings to you.

      • Pville_Piper
      • 1 year ago

      They need RGBs…

      • tipoo
      • 1 year ago

      Noctua is doing the Buckleys thing. It looks awful and it works really well.

      • Kretschmer
      • 1 year ago

      They offer some lines in more aesthetic hues:
      [url<]https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIAADY6HZ2209[/url<]

      • Ultracer
      • 1 year ago

      Nah, I wish they never change the color scheme. Noctua color is just like leather, some like it, some don’t.
      To me Noctua fans are like a RR Phantom with interior leather, calm and inviting :)))

    • brucethemoose
    • 1 year ago

    [url<]http://screenshotcomparison.com/comparison/113214[/url<] Hmmmmm. For a totally new design, the resemblance to the classic Gentle Typhoon is uncanny.

      • continuum
      • 1 year ago

      GT’s have a huge hub, this is smaller. And hey, it’s a good, efficient blade design… can’t knock it that Noctua’s found it good, too!

        • brucethemoose
        • 1 year ago

        The simillarity of the hubs is what strikes me the most actually. They have that same open axle, 8 “spokes”, and the diameter looks pretty similar to me (bigger than most on the market). Even straight up GT immitators (Kukri, some CM fans for example) tend to have much smaller hubs.

        I know they’re quite different internally, but I swear if Noctua swapped the colors I’d think that was a new GT variant at first glance.

        • DPete27
        • 1 year ago

        On the contrary, I came to comment and say the A12 fan’s hub looks enormous.

          • Chrispy_
          • 1 year ago

          Which is fine because the inner section of the blade near the hub isn’t really moving fast enough to generate any meaningful airflow. Better that the space be used to improve the quality of the motor and bearings.

      • fyo
      • 1 year ago

      I disagree. The resemblance is no more than with dozens of other fans. Everything about the Gentle Typhoon that makes it stand out from “regular” fans is different from every that makes the Noctua stand out.

      The GT has serrated edge close center, the Noctua has a clean line.
      The Noctua features some triangular scoring on top, the GT has a clean surface.
      The Noctua has a very sharp leading point, whereas the GT has a softly curved tip.

      The blades also look like they have different profiles, but it’s a bit difficult to tell from a straight on shot.

      They do both feature 9 blades, but that’s a fairly common configuration.

      To me, the Noctua looks a lot more like a cheapo SilverStone:

      [url<]https://www.amazon.com/Silverstone-Airflow-9-Bladed-Computer-FN121-P/dp/B009FU2A22[/url<] The Cooler Master MasterAir Pro 4 looks like a hybrid between the two, missing both distinguishing features (scoring and shark teeth): [url<]http://citycenter.jo/image/cache/data/7-12-2016/pro%204%201-500x500.JPG[/url<]

      • BillyBuerger
      • 1 year ago

      That was my first thought as well.

      • sandbender
      • 1 year ago

      Other than the blade count, it’s not really. The taper at the end of the blade is completely different (rounded on the typhoon, coming to a point on the noctua), the noctua’s blades are swept back more, the serrations at the root of the blade on the typhoon are absent on the noctua and the noctua has raised sections towards the outside edge of the blade. From a fluid dynamics point of view there are a lot of major differences.

    • tipoo
    • 1 year ago

    0.5mm of a gap tends to jam a certain someone’s newfangled keyboards, hopefully dust isn’t an issue long term.

    It’s funny though, one could have assumed fans are all but a solved issue but there’s still large efficiency gains like this to be squeezed out.

    • Srsly_Bro
    • 1 year ago

    I recently picked up 3 iPPC 3K Noctuas for intake. These should be great for a heatsink. My case isn’t wide enough for the fans on the Nhd15 so I need an alternative. These look great.

      • Chrispy_
      • 1 year ago

      The only fan in my system that is audible (when the GPU is idle) is the CPU fan, and I can’t just get a lower-RPM fan because then the temps creep up again and the fan controller just increases the RPM again.

      This might be worth a punt!

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