Noctua NF-12x15 Slim Fan Performance Review
So what do make of these new Noctua products? Well let's start with the main attraction here shall we, which is the Noctua NF-12x15 fan As the name suggests, these are 120mm fans, but unlike standard Noctua NF-12s, these chaps are just 15mm, as opposed to 25mm thick. What this means is that you can mate them with an AIO or standard 120mm format radiator and fit them into the space in the roof of a case that wouldn't ordinarily accommodate a rad with standard thickness fans. But, and there is a but, as the saying goes, "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should" What we're saying is that there's only really a benefit to this if the trade-offs aren't too big, and in this case the potential trade-offs are those of noise and performance. Thankfully you have us lot here at OC3D to answer the question and inform you of our thoughts.
So, if you've already read the performance and testing page you'll know that the NF-12x15s were only just beaten by the standard NF-12s. The reason for this is that they produce near as dammit identical Air flow and static pressure values. How they do this is important. OK, so there might be a bit of clever fin and cowling design work going on, but for the greater part we think the fact that the x15s have a much higher fan speed has a lot more to do with the results we saw. You see, for the slim fans to produce the Air flow and static pressures they do, Noctua have had to ramp up the RPMs giving the x15s a fan speed of 1850RPM as opposed to the more sedate 1300RPM of the NF-12s. So we now know there isn't a major trade-off in performance, but as you might imagine, this higher RPM does of mean that that the x15s are noticeably noisier, producing a given 23.9dB(A) as opposed to the quieter 19.8dB(A) of the standard NF-12s. Figures aside, the x15s are noticeably noisier, so if you're looking to build a low noise system then you'll need to look elsewhere. If however, you're building a performance rig, into a SFF case, or perhaps just one that doesn't have a lot of space in the roof, then the NF-12x15s are a cracking bit of kit and should be high on your shopping list, all of which means they earn our coveted
If you've read the introduction, you'll know that the NF-A20PWM is a 200mmx30mm fan. Being a Noctua product no expense has been spared on packaging, with the fan coming in its own presentation box, which as you would expect offers all the detail and key features you could ever wish for. The instruction booklet (yes the fan comes with an instruction booklet), is tucked neatly into the lid of the box, with the fan itself nestling in a plastic insert. Lifting the insert out reveals the accessories box which along with the usual fan mounting screws contains four rubber low noise mounts, a fan splitter, a speed reducer and an extension cable. The instructions are also pretty extensive. As there's no real industry standard for mounting holes on 200mm fans, Noctua have tried to cover as many bases as possible, and as such the NF-A20 has holes spaced at 154x154, as well as 110x180. by including 170x170mm holes Noctua have also enabled the fan to be fitted to cases designed for 230mm and 250mm fans. The A20 is also 30mm thick as opposed to the more usual 25mm, so if you're thinking of getting one, it's worth checking compatibility with your case. The only real problem we have with it is the colour. We've been over this many times before, so we're not about to rant again, so let's just say that if a fellow enthusiast peeks inside your case they'll see that you've ruined the internal aesthetic of the case, but also know that you've spared no expense in doing so.
The NA-FC1 is a fan controller. Along with the actual control box, which has an input and output side for the cables to attach to, there's an NA-EC1 extension cable, an NA-SC1 Splitter cable and an NA-AC4 input cable with power supply adapter. The fan controller can be used as a conventional fan controller with a 12v feed, or in PWM mode where it will take a signal from the motherboard. In fact, the fan controller can be used as a semi automatic PWM controller with the speed dial limiting the fan speed, whilst still under PWM control. It also has a "No Stop" mode which guarantees that the fans will always turn even when set to their very lowest setting, or to a point where they might otherwise cease to rotate. All in all a clever bit of kit, and we think an essential to keep on hand. This one will certainly making it's way to our "Go-to Drawer"
Last but not least then we have the NA-SAC5 SATA to 4-pin power adapter. Now, we've all most likely seen these before, but how many of you have them to hand when you need them? What we're saying is that every self respecting modder and builder should have a few of these knocking about for when they need them.