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Is Noctua really the best there is?

Discussion in 'Overclocking & Cooling' started by hgee, Jun 21, 2014.

  1. hgee


    Joined: Mar 5, 2012

    Posts: 14


    I am planning to replace my CPU fan and it seems that Noctua NF P12 is the benchmark fan ; reviews seem uniformly excellent

    I want a really quiet PWM fan and wonder if there is any competition to the Noctua out there that is a bit cheaper ; or is this a good example of you get what you pay for?
  2. wazza300


    Joined: Jul 11, 2009

    Posts: 26,772

    Location: BenefitStreetBirmingham

    akasa apache is a good alternative,couldnt notice any loss in cooling from the noctua to akasa
  3. BluSky

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Nov 15, 2011

    Posts: 1,233

    Everyone will have personal preferences with fans. They all behave slightly differently depending on how they are used too. Some fans are noticibly noisier pushing air than pulling it for example. Some fans whine / produce noise at certain frequencies when undervolted etc. Basically among "high quality" fans at least - it is a very horses for courses affair.

    That said I will give you my personal opinion of the fans I have tried.

    1. Akasa Apache black - I have only used these as case fans so cannot comment on effectiveness on a heatsink / radiator. They are very quiet when undervolted but distinctly average in volume when running at 12v.

    2. Noctua NF F12 - Tried these as radiator fans. Performed well - more or less the same as my scythe GT's but there was something about the noise they made I couldn't get on with personally. I ended up swapping them out for P12s which I was much happier with.

    3. Noctua NF P12 - I have used these as both radiator and case fans. Of all the fans I have ever used I would rank these as the "all rounders". They are not the absolute top performers - but they do pretty well, usually remaining within a couple of degrees of anything else. They are quieter than most other fans running at an equivalent RPM - and they are consistently, comparatively, quiet regardless of airflow restriction.

    4. Scythe GT AP14s + AP15s - Used as both case and radiator fans. I must admit - nothing beats these for outright performance in scenarios with restricted airflow. That said there are better options for case fans - though they are designed with static pressure in mind so that is not surprising. On average they perform a little better than the Noctua P12s. Noise wise I would say they produce slightly more - but it is a different "type of noise". If I was after the quietest possible build I would still give the edge to the noctuas I think.

    5. Aerocool Dead Silence 120mm - Used as both case and radiator fans. When undervolted, these really live up to their name. At 5v they are the closest to inaudible I have heard in any application. At 12v in free air they are very quiet but on a radiator / heatsink the P12 is quieter and performs slightly better at the same RPM though that may just have been my ambient temps varying.

    Off hand I don't know which of those I have mentioned come in PWM flavour. At any rate those are my opinions on various fans I have tried which are reputed to be quiet.
  4. dacads


    Joined: Sep 3, 2012

    Posts: 10,272

    Location: Space

    Many consider Noctua expensive and ugly but it works for them. Part of their price is also to do with their excellent customer service, probably the best there is in cooling market. With the actual cooling it comes down to what fans you're using and what you care about e.g airflow or noise. So I don't know about the best but they're certainly up there with the best
  5. jak731


    Joined: Mar 17, 2007

    Posts: 5,474

    Location: Plymouth

    I don't rate their CS, I had an NF- P12 leak bearing oil all over itself and contacted them twice with pictures, never got a response. The other 3 I have are quiet and have been working for about 5 years tbf. All the same I went for some corsair SP120s when I recently did some additional mods to my case.
  6. Rroff

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 13, 2006

    Posts: 62,199

    Apaches are good and usually one of or my first choice for when silence is important but caveats:

    Quality control seems a little varied - none are bad as such but for every ~5 I've bought 3 are as good as silent upto around 1km rpm whereas the other 2 are pretty much no different to any other average fan once you exceed ~700rpm. (Would be more acceptable if they were cheaper - I usually just buy a load and pick the best ones and stick the rest in my spare parts).

    They seem to be biased for the low RPM performance - while most fans will struggle to match them for reasonable airflow with minimal noise there are fans that if you don't mind a little bit of noise will massively surpass them for airflow to noise ratios and likewise as you start increasing the RPM they quickly become similar to any other quiet fan noise wise.
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2014
  7. dacads


    Joined: Sep 3, 2012

    Posts: 10,272

    Location: Space

    A good fan made to be low RPM will beat high RPM fans undervolted to be low RPM in terms of noise and airflow
  8. hgee


    Joined: Mar 5, 2012

    Posts: 14

    Wow! thanks to all replies ; especially to BluSky for your summary, I will look into your alternatives

    The biggest problem is the vast number of choices available ; it makes life very difficult!!

    I appreciate the comments and if anyone else has thoughts on this please feel free!!
  9. McstylisT

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Oct 8, 2008

    Posts: 1,743

    Location: ENGLAND !!

    For the Noctua's , bearing in mind most AIO coolers and large heatsink air coolers work around lots of static pressure then the best bet is the NF-F12 range. The NF-P12 are good , I have some but think the newer release are better for tighter areas it seems.
  10. smilertoo


    Joined: Aug 4, 2005

    Posts: 2,990

    I prefer 140mm fans, if nothing else noctuas come with a ton of adaptor cables for speeds.