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Chromax NF-12, Chromax NF-S12A, NF-A15 review


Noctua renews its range of fans with the new Chromax series: performance always at the top and now finally decidedly more versatile colors.

When it comes to fans and high-level air cooling there is a name that comes to mind to every enthusiast pc even with a minimum of experience: Noctua. The Austrian company has built its reputation thanks to products of extreme quality, but above all with performances that are always at the highest levels, such as the famous NH D15, to date unbeaten as the best air cooler in circulation. In addition to the technical characteristics, however, there is one thing that has always distinguished the company's products: its unusual beige and brown color, Noctua's trademark since its debut.



The arrival and then the spread of houses with windows and tempered glass panels, however, made it necessary to rethink the color scheme that made Noctua famous. To meet the increasingly felt need by fans of the brand and the performance offered by these products, Noctua has sought a way to create a certain chromatic consistency of the components within the most modern rigs, and has created the range Chromax. It is essentially about a line that is specifically aimed at the enthusiast band that in the Chromax range, can find the most famous products of the Austrian company, in one certainly more common coloring and suitable for more customized gaming rigs.


The famous fans are part of the new chromax.black.swap line NF-A15, NF-A14, NF-F12 and NF-S12A, three of the best known and most popular 140mm and 120mm fans in circulation.

To the traditional technical characteristics, which we will see in the next paragraph, Noctua adds as we have said an attractive one "all black" color and above all a complete bundle of corner rubber supports in different colors which have the dual purpose of customizing the fans with the color scheme used in your rig and at the same time also provide an important shock absorbing element for the vibrations generated by the fan. At the same time, the company also launched a series of accessories on the market, such as sleeveless cables that recall the color scheme offered by the fans and one cover for its most famous heatsinks which is able to make the look of its heat sinks even worse.


Noctua NF-F12 PWM Chromax Edition

The noctua NF-F12 PWM Chromax Edition is based on one of the manufacturer's best-known 120mm fans, loved above all for its ventilating characteristics and its quietness. The fan is in fact equipped with patented technology Focused Flow Frame, developed for all those applications where high static pressure is essential, such as in the case of heat sinks and radiators.



On the back of the fan on the frame, there are small notches that stabilizing the airflow help to concentrate it frontally exactly where it is needed. The fan is also the fruit of years of fluid dynamic study, which have resulted in another proprietary technology called Vortex Control Notches. In practice the seven blades of the fans (Heptaperf) have a different angular distance between them which, together withlle engravings on the frame, it helps to stabilize the vortex created by the rotation of the blades by widening the frequency of the sound spectrum generated by the vortex and making the fan even in full speed much more pleasant to listen to for the human ear.



The fan is also equipped with the SSO2 (self-stabilizing oil-pressure) bearing system which guarantees more than 150,000 hours of uninterrupted rotation and a guarantee of 6 years, thanks to a magnet positioned much closer to the rotation axis than together. with stable rotation it is also less subject to wear and noise problems after years of use.

Noctua NF-F12 PWM specifications

specifications

NF-F12 PWM

Dimension

120x120x25 mm

Connector

4-pin PWM

bearing

SSO2

Geometry of the blade

Heptaperf

Chassis technology

Focused Flow

Rotation speed (+/- 10%)

1500 rpm

Rotational Speed ​​with LNA (+/- 10%)

RPM 1200

Min. Rotation speed (PWM, +/- 20%)


300 rpm

Air flux


93,4 m³ / h

Air flow with LNA (+/- 10%)

74,3 m³ / h

Acoustic noise

18,6 dB (A)

Static pressure

2,61 mm of H2O

Static pressure with LNA

1,83 mm H2O

Max. Input power

0,6 W

Max. Current input

A 0,05

Voltage

12 V

MTBF

> 150.000 h

Warranty

6 years

Package Contents

Inside the package are included

  • 4x NA-AVP1 chromax.blue anti-vibration pads
  • 4x NA-AVP1 chromax.black 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 chrome screws

Test Setup

Ambient temperature: 22 degrees

INTEL RIG

CPU Intel i7 [email protected], 7ghz
RAM Corsair Dominator
MOTHERBOARD Asrock x299 Fatal1ty K6
PSU EVGA Supernova 650W P2
CASE In Win 101
VGA Zotac 1080ti Amp Extreme
HDD Samsung 840 Pro SSD

To test this fan we used on our heavily overclocked machine and inserted in a closed case, a Scythe Mugen 5revb heatsink (here our review) first measuring the temperature in full load with the standard fan and then checking its performance with the Noctua fan, at the same rotation speed.

The results can be found below.

As you can see compared to the standard solution, the Mugen with a Noctua fan gains over 6 degrees in full load performance. A truly impressive result which testifies to the quality of the Austrian fan and which is probably due to the “focused flow” technology which increases, where needed, the static pressure generated, making it ideal for radiators and heatsinks. However, it must be said that the NF F12 is in a much higher price range than the good Scythe fans, 10 against 20 euros.


From the point of view of silence, the differences are less marked, thanks to the excellent performance of the Scythe Kazeflex fan, but also in this case we have an advantage of the NF-F12, although certainly less marked.

Final comment

La Noctua NF-F12 on which this version is based Chromax is a not very recent fan, yet despite its age it still represents the technological apex of the company as regards the fans with high static pressure. The price of the fan fluctuates between 20 and 23 euros on Amazon and includes a full 6-year warranty, something you will rarely find in other fans. For one of the best fans on the market, there are not many and now that we are finally here from a design point of view, you will have very little doubts about buying it.

 

 

Noctua NF-A15 PWM

Noctua NF-A15 HS PWM is another milestone in the Noctua catalog: with over 100 awards from the specialized press it is perhaps the most awarded 140 mm fan in the world. Its characteristic round frame that allows it to be mounted in both 120mm and 140mm supports is definitely unmistakable, also because it is brought to glory by the equally famous NH D15, the best CPU cooler in the world.



Also in this case, the Chromax treatment has paid off and the NF A15 is in splendid shape by rejuvenating the look of a heatsink that many, we are sure, would have liked to have installed in their machines but that due to an unorthodox color scheme , did not have the courage to install. With the Chromax NF-A15 HS PWM version, it also fills this last gap.

The fan also in this case is completely black, both in the frame and in the fan body. Included in the package are anti-vibration pads in different colors: black, white, green, blue, yellow and red, to match any color scheme you have chosen for your rig. The dimensions are quite generous (140 x 150 x 25 mm), the frame is in fact 150mm wide and is able to fully cover even the most voluminous heatsinks, however the rounded design and the height of 140 mm do not change its compatibility with almost all cases that accept 140mm fans.

Specifications

specifications

NF-A15 HS PWM

Dimension

140x150x25 mm

Connector

4-pin PWM

bearing

SSO2

Geometry of the blade

Serie A with Flow Acceleration Channel

Chassis technology

AAO (Advanced Acoustic Optimization)

Rotation speed (+/- 10%)

1500 rpm

Min. Rotation speed (PWM, +/- 20%)

300 rpm

Air flux

140,2 m³ / h

Acoustic noise

24,6,8 dB (A)

Static pressure

2,08 mm of H2O

Max. Input power

1,56 W

Max. Current input

A 0,13

Voltage

12 V

MTBF

> 150.000 h

Warranty

6 years

 

CContents of the package

  • The package contains in addition to the fan.
  • 8x NA-AVP3 chromax.blue anti-vibration pads
  • 8x NA-AVP3 chromax.green anti-vibration pads
  • 8x NA-AVP3 chromax.red anti-vibration pads
  • 8x NA-AVP3 chromax.white anti-vibration pads
  • 8x NA-AVP3 chromax.black anti-vibration pad
  • 8x NA-AVP3 chromax.yellow anti-vibration pads
  • 4x chrome screws
  • 1x black cable / extension cable

Compared to the NF F12, we no longer have the focused flow mechanism, but the individual blades have grooves in relief on the outermost part, calls Flow Acceleration Channels, which reduce the lateral dispersion of the air flow, channeling it towards the center and improving turbulence: all this translates into a more efficient operation and above all in a lower noise of the fanto. The internal structure of the frame as well as the external one has the same characteristics we have told you about the NF F12, which help to improve the efficiency of the fans and to control the turbulence and therefore the noise. Among these, for example, small triangle-shaped incisions in the internal part of the frame, almost in contact with the ventilating body, help to direct the static pressure, keeping it constant over time, while the stairway of the external frame, improving the lateral suction of the fan. at the same time it helps, by introducing controlled turbulence, to harmonize the sound emission of the fan, lowering it in pitch and to make the sound of this fan more acceptable to the human ear. The Chromax NF-A15 HS PWM is finally equipped with the second generation of SSO metal bearings. In the SSO2 bearing, the rear magnet is placed closer to the axle and this allows for better stabilization, accuracy and durability.

Finally Noctua on these Chromax has implemented a customized PWM system, the NE-FD1 PWM IC which integrates the Smooth Commutation Drive technology able to control the rotation impulse with greater delicacy and in this way to make the fan more silent during the start-up phase.

Test

Since the fan NF-A15 HS PWM chromax.black.swap it is a modified version only in the colors, of the standard one present on the Noctua NH D15, we preferred to try the fan in question with another “90 piece” among the hi-end coolers, the Cryorig R1 Ultimate that we have reviewed here.


In the review we had highlighted the extraordinary performance of the R1 Ultimate, which is close in all respects to those of the NH-D15 in terms of temperatures, but not in terms of noise, in which the R1 Ultimate is still at a disadvantage. This last test confirmed what emerged from the review of the R1 Ultimate: with the Noctua fan, in fact, we found comparable performance in terms of temperatures, but great improvements in terms of noise which at 25% reaches up to 8db of difference compared to the Cryorig XF140 series fan.

 

Final comment

The Noctua NF-A15 PWM fan is certainly an extraordinary product, not surprisingly awarded with dozens of awards. It is an extremely versatile fan thanks to the wider frame design, but able to adapt to both 140mm and 120mm holes, and at the top in terms of ventilation performance, both in terms of flow rate and static pressure. . The recommended use is of course the one in combination with the legendary NH D15 heatsink, or other heatsinks with large dimensions, but a use also as a case fan is possible and indeed, highly recommended. The price for this fan is around 26 euros on Amazon

 

 

NF-S12A PWM

The fan Noctua NF-S12A PWM object of this test, is part of a family of fans expressly dedicated to different needs. The PWM version as the name suggests is a classic PWM fan, that is able to automatically adjust its speed based on the temperature, the version NF-S12A FLX instead has a constant speed with the possibility of using an adapter to lower the rotation and improve the noise level while the ULN, Ultra Low Noise version is the choice for those looking for the lowest possible noise level.

From the design point of view, this NF-S12A PWM Chromax also features an all black design with the possibility of changing the color of the vibration pads included in the package and adapting them to the color scheme of the rig. However, the first feature of this type of fan to catch the eye is one characteristic inclination of the blades, almost perpendicular to the axis of rotation typical of the fans of the S12 family. Noctua calls him Straight Blade Design and is able to ensure a excellent ratio between airflow and noise. If you like, their position closely resembles that of the blades of some propeller-powered aircraft.



The other peculiar feature of this fan is the presence of tiny fins on each blade, three in total, one in the innermost part near the rotation bearing, the other two in the outer part. Noctua calls them Anti-Stall Knob and have the task of reducing the phenomenon of air flow separation in high impedance situations by increasing the stall margin of the fan. As you will have understood, the reference to aeronautics is not accidental and is indeed the testimony of the impressive study carried out by the Austrian company with each of its fans. In fluid dynamics, a stall is a reduction in the lift coefficient due to an increase in the angle of attack (which occurs during, for example, the tight turns of an airplane) or to the decrease in the speed incident on an aerodynamic profile, such as for example an airfoil, a propeller blade or the impeller of a fan. For a fan in a nutshell, stall means that the airflow of the impeller decreases, also reducing the overall efficiency of the fan.

Like the other two fans already described, the NF-S12A PWM in Chromax version features all the best known technologies of the company already mentioned above.

Specifications

specifications

NF-S12A PWM

Dimension

120x120x25 mm

Connector

4-pin PWM

bearing

SSO2

Geometry of the blade

S series with anti-stall knobs

Chassis technology

AAO (Advanced Acoustic Optimization)

Rotation speed (+/- 10%)

1200 rpm

Rotation speed with LNA (+/- 10%)

900 rpm

Min. Rotation speed (PWM, +/- 20%)

300 rpm

Air flux

107,5 m³ / h

Air flow with LNA

83,2 m³ / h

Acoustic noise

17,8 dB (A)

Acoustic noise with LNA

10,7 dB (A)

Static pressure

1,19 mm of H2O

Static pressure with LNA

0,73 mm H2O

Max. Input power

1,44 W

Max. Current input

A 0,12

Voltage

12 V

MTBF

> 150.000 h

Warranty

6 years

Package Contents

  • 4x NA-AVP1 chromax.blue anti-vibration pads
  • 4x NA-AVP1 chromax.black 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 chrome screws

Test

In tests carried out using our Scythe Mugen Rev. 5b, we observed good performance, but only slightly higher than those of the stock Kaze Flex fan, a fan with good performance but offered at a much cheaper price than the Noctua fan. Despite in-line thermal performance, however, the sound performance of the Austrian fan is much higher, making it one of the quietest fans we've ever experienced. Which makes us conclude that a case based only on NF S12A fans could certainly be the forbidden dream of those looking for a case with sound emission equal to, or almost, zero.

 

Final Comment

The fan NF-S12A PWM has on its side truly original technologies, the result of years of research in dynamic fluid and borrowed directly from the aeronautical world, as we have seen in the course of the review. This is a fan that, due to its characteristics, has a definitely more specific and less versatile address than the other fans analyzed in this review.
It is in fact slightly less suitable than the others reviewed, for use with heat sinks and radiators, as it has a more limited static pressure than other fans specifically made for this purpose. Its features make it ideal, however, as a case fan. Thanks to its range and its incredible silence, it could also be used as the only extraction fan, almost by itself equalizing the medium-range fans installed as standard on most of the houses in circulation. If the price is not an issue (the NF-S12A PWM is available at a price of around 22 euros on Amazon.) We can only recommend them.

Final judgement

With the fans of the Chromax line, Noctua has fulfilled the wish of many of its fans: to bring the exceptional performance of its fans in a design more suited to modern rigs. An intelligent customization system that allows you to change some details, such as the anti-vibration pads, while maintaining an all black structure, allows you to Easily adapt these fans to whatever color scheme you choose for your rig and then complete it with a series of coordinated accessories, such as the sleeveless cables in the same color as the anti-vibration pads (NA SEC1) or the covers (NA-HC) for the upper part of the NH D15 and NH-U12S heatsinks. On this basis it will be really difficult not to prefer NOCTUA products to the competition.

 


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