We've always been a fan (pardon the pun) of Noctua coolers and fans (and their fans;). The results today are very interesting, two of the new NH-A12 fans really are performing very strong. The new value P12 Redux seems to be at the level of the older generation, but yes the A12 series does stand out. Now at the beginning of this review I already mentioned that I find fan review to be a subjective thing, and yes I won't lie to you when I say .. my results could be considered to be a subjective rating as well. Each PC is different, each and every one of you will perceive sound totally different, ambient temperatures are different, RPM settings are different per PC and sure, coolers are different as with a better cooler (in design) you'll need less airflow. This is the reason why I tested the fans today at fixed voltages. It creates a more widespread testbed of results you can better rely on as you can directly compare the fans under the same conditions. But yes, there is a level of subjective stuff in there we need to account for. So in that line of thinking, if you ask me what fan would I prefer Hilbert? Well, let's chart up cooling performance versus noise levels, and I'll give you my opinionated recommendation then:
I look at fans and cooler for two reasons I find important.
- I want a low as possible acoustics/noise level
- I want the best performance
That is subjective, as you might find pricing more important, or perhaps you find performance more important than noise and acoustics right? So with these two metrics in mind look at the chart. First off, I feel the ~4 Volts region (~30% to 40%) to be my sweet spot for my fans. Again, you'll never run 12V (100% fan RPM) unless there's something really wrong with your cooler or workload. Ergo, the chart above is the most representable and applicable. Now in this review, I told you that any fan that sits lower than 33 DBa you really can't hear unless you place your ear next to it. That means that ALL FANS perform silently under our test conditions (that's a 100% stressed quad-core 4600 MHz / 1.3V CPU). Aside from the high RPM Redux 1700 (and at 34 DBa you can still argue if that is could even be considered noisy eh?). So if all fans perform silently, the next metric we need to look at is the best temperature achieved. And there you go, the NF-A12x25 FLX and PWM both perform exceptionally good. And yes, these are the fan series that Noctua has been working on for 4 years, so they did things right.
Personally, I was a little shocked to see the effect of cooling at precisely the same conditions to be running from 64 Degrees C up towards 75 Degrees C. That means airflow is kind for the new NF-A12x25 fans. Again, the NH-P14 and NH-F12 have been thrown into the results as these are 'older' fans from Noctua.
We tested two new sets of fans today, the P12 Redux series is fine for your 'cooling and airflow' as expected at a reasonable price of just 14 USD/EUR. It does so at acceptable low noise levels (given the right voltages of course). The star of the show has got to be the NF-A12x25 series. The ULN series you simply cannot hear, it's just not possible!, however, that does come at the cost of lower airflow and thus, in the end, cooling performance. However, on a nice liquid cooling radiator, I can see these fans make sense completely. The best fans in a performance to acoustics ratio, however, would be the FLX and PWM models. Both are pretty similar in performance and noise levels. Ergo I would advise the PWM model as the best fan of preference here. It's easily regulated by your motherboard, and you can also monitor your fan RPM. The price is the same (30 bucks). That one has the 4-pin fan connector, the FLX and ULN have the standard 3-pin connector and come with an extra ULN adapter resistor wire. I knew the new NF-A12x25 series fans would be impressive, I did not expect them to be this good. Make no mistake, all fans tested today are already in that 'good to a very good range, the NF-A12x25 FLX and PWM however exceptional. You know the tale by now, anything that is exceptional isn't cheap. The NF-A12x25 series fans cost 30 bucks a piece. Some will be shocked, others can see and understand where that money went. That is what it is, but I'll just leave things at a simple compliment to Noctua, well done you guys, well done. All these fans come recommended as they are sweet in their class. And while it feels weird to hand out awards to some fans, the new NF-A12x25 fans, and especially the FLX and PWM, will get our very hard to earn best hardware award, these are just very impressive. And remember, Noctua gives you a 6-year warranty on both series as well.