Having had my computer filled up with Arctic’s P14 fans for a while it was time for a change. I contacted Noctua If they could send me over a fan for review. My plan was to compare this fan with my current ones and see if I would upgrade to an all Noctua setup. The good folks at Noctua didn’t sent me just one fan though, they provided me with 6 of their highly populair NF-A14 PWM Chromax Black Swap fans!
The Noctua Brand
Noctua, founded in 2005 has build up a high reputation among pc enthousiasts. The company was named after Noctua Athena closely associated with the Greek goddess Athena, which represents wisdom and knowledge. The brand has become synonymous with words like silence, cooling quality and service. If someone asks on a forum which case fan or air cooler to buy, you can bet Noctua is one of the first names to pop up. Whenever a new processor comes to the market, you can be sure Noctua has the right mounting kit available. Best of all, they are known to often send these as free upgrades to their loyal customers.
Chromax edition of the NF-A14
The NF-A14 is one of the best selling fans from Noctua. It is very suitable as a radiator fan for liquid cooling systems but also does very well as a casefan.
Traditionally Noctua’s fans have always had a brow/beige color. As most cases have a black or whice chassis Noctua’s fans tend to stick out. While some people don’t mind showing off their Noctua love this way, not everyone is a fan (hah!).
So after years of people asking and pleading Noctua decided to bring out the Chromax line-up. These are for the most part the fans people love but with a black frame and various colored sound-dampening rubbers. This makes the fans a lot more versatile for people who want to show of their build.
The Chromax line-up consists of different fan series and sizes. This review covers the 140 mm NF-A14.
The NF-A14 Chromax fan comes in a bigger then expected box. On the outside the name and specs can be found. On the front the Chromax logo is present on a white background. On the sides Noctua shows off their classic brown color-scheme.
Opening the box of the NF-A14 PWM Chromax fan
When opening the box you are immediately greeted by the fan itself. The fan sits firmly in a plastic shell. On the right you see one of each included anti-vibration pads. Available options here are; white, yellow, blue, green, red and black. So it should be easy enough to match these fans with any build. Pulling the shell out of the box reveals a white box with the rest of the anti-vibration pads. The fan comes with a detachable 30 cm long 4-pin sleeved cable. Unfortunately there are no extra low noise and splitter cables included like with the standard NF-A14 fans.
Upon first look the NF-A14 fans look like, well; fans. But looking closer there are small details like the Flow acceleration channels on the blades to help reduce noise and improve airflow. Also visible are the so-called Inner Surface Micro structures which complement the above mentioned technology. The Fans are well made, and fortunately do not have that ugly ketchup and mustard cables on them. The extension cable comes nicely sleeved and has a wrapper with its purpose on it in Noctua colors. The included anti-vibration pads are vibrant and made of a soft flexible rubber which is easy to attach to the fans. They stay in place thanks to the two pins that are pushed in the housing. It is clear Noctua takes their fans seriously. Noctua also sells extra anti-vibration pads if you ever lose one of your favorite colors or want to add some flair to your existing Noctua fan.
Specifications of the NF-A14 Chromax Black Swap
The specifications taken from the official Noctua website:
Mounting hole spacing
1cm + 30cm NA-EC1 extension cable
A-Series with Flow Acceleration Channels
Rotational speed (+/- 10%)
Min. rotational speed @ 20% PWM (+/-20%)
2,08 mm H₂O
Max. input power
Max. input current
> 150.000 h
Scope of delivery
- 4x NA-AVP1 chromax.black anti-vibration pads
- 4x NA-AVP1 chromax.blue anti-vibration pads
- 4x NA-AVP1 chromax.green anti-vibration pads
- 4x NA-AVP1 chromax.red anti-vibration pads
- 4x NA-AVP1 chromax.white anti-vibration pads
- 4x NA-AVP1 chromax.yellow anti-vibration pads
- 4x fan screws
How I tested
I have tested the Noctua NF-A14 in a 6 fan setup. This means I had 3 fans as intake, 1 outtake and 2 on my top-mounted radiator. Ive tested the fans on full speed, 50% speed and at a 30 decibel level. Measurements were done with HWinfo64 and Cinebench R20. Pictures of the temperatures measured can be found here I have tested with a 5900x processor cooled by an Arctic Liquid Freezer II 280. The case used is the Phanteks P600s with the solid top and front panels removed, using the mesh covers.
Cooling performance and Sound
At full speed the CPU reached a maximum of 66°C with a minimum of 34.4°C while running Cinebench R20. The average was 48.8°C. Sound measured in front of the case was 56,3 dB which according to the app I used for this equals a quiet office. I have definitely experienced far louder fans but I still would not recommend full speed for daily use.
When setting the fans to 50% of their maximum capacity sound became much more pleasing to the ears while stay keeping things cool. The CPU reached a maximum of 66.4°C which is just 0.4°C higher then before! the minimum was 35.0°C and the average noted 51.5°C on the the CPU. Sound dropped significantly in front of the case with an average of 33.6dB in and a max of 37.4. This equals the sound of someone whispering.
NF-A14 Chromax at 30dB
At a 30db setting the cpu reached a maximum of 66.6°C (They say the Devil is in the details, right?) and a minimum of 35,9. very close to the 50% settings.
Compared to Arctic P14
When compared to the Arctic P14 the Noctua’s fall 1°C behind in my measurements on average. You could argue the Arctic is a better choice because these are quite a bit cheaper then the Noctua fans. But there are still some differences that favor the Noctua fans. The Noctua fans feel of higher quality build. The blades and frame feel more secure. I also noticed that the Noctua fans spin absolutely straight. The Arctic fans all wobble around while operating. This makes me think Noctua spend more time and effort in making a high end product that will last long. The biggest win for me is the sound though. While both fans can achieve real low sound levels while still keeping things cool, the Noctua wins for me. This might seem a bit strange as according to measurements made the Arctic produces less sound at the same speed setting. Well there is one thing that causes this for me; The Arctic fans all have a very irritating humming noise. I have to find specific settings for each fan not to produce this humming sound. For me this is a big win for Noctua and a personal argument for me to choose these over the Arctic fans.
Noctua delivers with the NF-A14 Chromax line-up what people have been asking for. The build and performance of the classic brown models in a more versatile color scheme. Performance and sound levels are both excellent. The idea of making a black fan with different colored sound dampeners is brilliant. This makes for a fan that can sit well in almost any build. The level of details like the micro-structures on the fans and the flow channels are very nice. The competition hasn’t been sitting doing nothing though. Fans like the Arctic P14 are available for a lot less then the Noctua’s and can be a great alternative for those on a budget. On max speed the Arctics are a lot quieter then the Noctua’s. But these fans come with their own downsides like a humming sound especially noticeable at the speeds you will probably use the fans in real life. All in All The NFA-14 Chromax is a high quality which is highly versatile as a case fan and radiator fan. I’m curious to see what products Noctua comes up with in the near future. Next year they will launch their desk-fan which should also be very interesting. For more on Noctua, be sure to visit their website.
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Noctua provided the fans for testing. Noctua had no prior insights on this review and my opinions are my own. This review may contain affiliate links. Using these links will help me fund this website and get products in for review.