Noctua NF-S12 120mm Fan

Nov 2nd, 2006 | By

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Noctua NF-S12 120mm Fan

: 11/2/06 – 02:56:28 AM


: Cooling

Page 1 : Introduction

A few months ago we took a look at two heatsinks from a fairly new name: Noctua. The Noctua NH-U12 and NH-U9 coolers have caused quite a bit of commotion in the high end cooling ranks, but what Noctua did not have was a fan to call their own. Today we are going to take at a
unique fan – designed to be quiet, built to last and Noctua styled: brown and beige.

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Noctua, whose products are proudly designed in Austria strongly believes in "competence through cooperation"; one company alone may be able to do the job, but with the cooperation of multiple companies such as the Austrian Rascom Computerdistribution, Kolink, and the Austrian Institute of Heat Transmission and Fan Technology far better results can be achieved.

Page 2 : Package

As expected, the NF-S12 2300 ships in a very stylish brown, black, white and blue box. The front panel provides a general overview of the product including product name, company, dimensions and description.

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The same information is repeated across the edges of the box.

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The backside provides a much more thorough overview of specifications.

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The bottom portion of the package provides product specifications for both the NF-S12 800 and NF-S12 1200 models. Of course, don't bother straining your eyes trying to read the text from the images; we will be discussing this on the next page!

Page 3 : Features and Specifications

Here is what Noctua has to say about the NF-S12 1200 fan:

Sound-optimised blade geometry and profile:
The NF-S12 is the first fan employing a novel rotor which was developed by the Austrian Institute for Heat-Transmission and Fan Technology (Österreichisches Institut für Wärmeübertragung und Ventilatorentechnik, ÖIWV). Thanks to the special optimisation of the blade geometry towards ultra low noise application, the NF-S12 is up to 10% more quiet than current high-end fans at the same flow rate.

Self-stabilising oil-pressure bearing (SSO bearing):
The NF-S12 series are equipped with a magnetically centred, self lubricating oil-pressure bearing that provides a new level of quietness and long-term stability.

And, specifications:

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*extrapolated values
U.L.N.A? Unfortunately it isn't an abbreviation for an ultra fancy device based of technology 10 years from the present, in fact it is something most of us have been doing for as long as fans have been in existence:
. This Ultra-low-noise Adaptor is simply a 12v to 5v adaptor.

Page 4 : Package Content

We don't hand out awards for products with fancy packaging, so without futher delay, lets take a look at Noctua's NF-S12 fan.

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Noctua has included quite a bundle, besides the obvious fan, Noctua has included four rubber gromets, agian brown to match the fan, a 5V adaptor, three pin fan connector extender, four screws and did I mention the fan wire is sleeved?

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The frame is fairy typical for 120mm x 25mm fans. What makes this fan unique is the color scheme. Beige and brown is certainly unique, but may be too bold for most cases.

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Besides the obvious visual difference, the fin design is also quite unique. As we all know the fins play a major role in both acoustic and cooling performance. Working with the Austrian Institute for Heat- Transmission and Fan Technology, Noctua has produced a highly optimized fan blade designed to operate quietly and effectively.

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Today, it is rare to find manufactures specifying the type of bearing used with a common recognizable name; no longer will you see: ball bearing, sleeve bearing, or ceramic, but instead brand specified such as: Panaflo's Hydrowave, Evercool's Ever Lubricant, and more appropriate for this review, Noctua's SSO bearing. But what needs to be pointed out is that many of these 'new' types of bearings are simply offshoots of typical bearing types. Noctua's SSO bearing system is simply a modified version of bearing technology that has been used in notebook hard drives for years called fluid dynamic bearings. But, the difference with Noctua's SSO or self stabilising oil pressure bearing is that they are magnetically centered to further take advantage of the oil cushion around the fan shaft.

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But, what does this all mean when it comes down to real world application? We will find out right after installation!

Page 5 : Installation

Im sure most – if not all of our readers know how to install a fan, but for the purpose of this review, we will discuss the various techniques. Mounting a fan depends mostly on the application, for cases, some heatsinks, radiators, and so on, screws are ideal. But screws can cause a significant amount of vibration, to eliminate vibration between the fan frame and the surface, Noctua includes four rubber grommets. These are simply pushed into place.

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Some more modern heatsinks such as Noctua's NH-U9 and NH-U12 CPU coolers use fan clips instead of screws. Such a design allows the user to quickly and easily mount the fan.

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Lastly, connect the power.

Page 6 : Testing

Testing will be fairly simple, after a 24 hour period of full load temperatures readings will be recorded. After this the system will idle for another hour where idle temperatures will be recorded.

We will begin with system specifications:

AMD Opteron 148 with Noctua NH-U12
DFI LAN Party NF4 Ultra- D
2x 512mb OCZ El Platinum Rev 2 TCCD
Sapphire X800GTO2 @ X850XT PE with Sytrin KuFormula VF1 Plus @ low
2x Seagate 80GB SATA II RAID 0
Seagate 120GB SATA
Tagan 480W
Lian Li PC65B
80mm Antec exhaust fan @ 5v
120mm Panaflo L1A exhaust fan @ 5v

No intake fans


2x Papst 4312 @ 5v 120mm
2x Nocuta NF-S12 120mm

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The Noctua NF-S12 fans and the Papst 4312 fans performed identically!

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The overclocked results would be identical to the stock results but the Noctua NF-S12 fans performed 1 degree Celsius better than the Papst 4312 fans. This difference is marginal and could have been caused by natural fluctuation in system load or heat output.

Both of these fans are extremely quiet so unfortunately we will not be able to provide actual sound level readings for this review because our available testing equipment can not measure sound levels below 30 decibels. Though my ears are not the best, both fans are extremely quiet but the Noctua NF-S12 fans produce a louder audible click in comparison to the Papst 4312 fans.

Page 7 : Conclusion

The Noctua NF-S12 fans are nothing short of amazing products. Performance results through testing against similar products only produces relative results. EMB Papst has specialized, designed and produced fans and blowers for years now and it is quite a feat for a brand new company such as Noctua to be able to match such quality and performance. Not only do these fans perform extraordinarily well, but Noctua has also included an excellent set of accessories including rubber grommets and a 5V fan adaptor.

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Not only do these fans perform well, but they also uses very little power and are extremely quiet. Within an enclosed computer system, these fans are almost inaudible. The bottom line is that anyone considering to purchase a 120mm fan should take a good look at the Noctua NF-S12 because though new, performs as just as well as long time top performers.


Excellent performance
Low noise level
Excellent package


Bold color scheme may not match most cases

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