Noctua NF-F12 120mm PWM Fan Review

January 29, 2012

Noctua NF-F12 120mm PWM Fan Review

When it comes to reviewing products fans just aren’t
something very exciting, unless they’re from our friends at Noctua who always
seem to be innovating and improving the designs of their fans. They spend quite
a bit of time, effort and money on improving fans. Most people take them for
granted really. Today for review I’ve got their newest fan called the NF-F12
PWM which is a 120mm fan with lots of new features and it has a very unique
look to it. So read on…





Product Name:  Noctua
NF-F12 120mm PWM Fan

Author: Kristofer Brozio

Sponsor:  Noctua



 Tech Specs,Features or the Basic Info:




Teaming up eleven
stator guide vanes with a specially conceived seven blade impeller, the
NF-F12’s Focused Flow system creates outstanding static pressure and focuses the
airflow for superior performance on heatsinks and radiators. At the same time,
a wide range of advanced aerodynamic design measures, second generation SSO-

Bearings and
Noctua’s new, custom designed PWM IC for fully automatic control guarantee
astounding quietness of operation. The NF-F12 comes with modular cabling, integrated
anti-vibration pads and two speed settings for full flexibility. Its commanding
performance, exhaustive set of features and Noctua’s trusted premium quality make
it an elite choice for use on air coolers, radiators and other pressure
demanding applications.



Focused Flow Frame

Designed for
pressure demanding applications such as heatsinks and radiators, the Focused
Flow frame features eleven stator guide vanes that straighten, channel and focus
the airflow, which allows the NF-F12 to rival the performance of conventional
fans running at much faster speeds

Varying Angular
Distance and Vortex Control Notches

The NF-F12’s stator
guide vanes are set out in Varying Angular Distance and feature Vortex-Control
Notches. Both measures help to spread the noise emission over a broader
frequency spectrum and thus make the fan’s sound pattern more agreeable to the
human ear.

Heptaperf Impeller

Custom designed for
the new Focused Flow frame and to work in tandem with the eleven stator guide
vanes, the NF-F12’s seven blade Heptaperf impeller has been carefully optimised
to achieve a perfect balance between power and quietness.

Stepped Inlet

Noctua’s Stepped
Inlet Design adds turbulence to the influx in order to facilitate the
transition from laminar flow to turbulent flow, which reduces tonal intake
noise,improves flow attachment and increases suction capacity, especially in
space restricted environments.

Inner Surface

With the tips of
the fan blades ploughing through the boundary layer created by the Inner
Surface Microstructures, flow separation from the suction side of the blades is
significantly suppressed, which results in reduced blade passing noise and
improved airflow and pressure efficiency.

Anti-Vibration Pads

Anti-Vibration Pads made from extra-soft silicone minimize the transmission of
minute vibrations while maintaining full compatibility with all standard
mounting systems and fan clips used on heatsinks.

SSO2 Bearing

The NF-F12 is the
first fan to feature the further optimized second generation of Noctua’s
renowned, time-tested SSO bearing. With SSO2, the rear magnet is placed closer
to the axis to provide even better stabilization, precision and durability.

Metal bearing shell

In order to
guarantee the highest possible degree of manufacturing precision, minimum
tolerance and excellent long-term stability, the NF-F12 sports a CNC milled
bearing shell made entirely from brass.

Custom designed PWM
IC with SCD

Supporting fully
automatic PWM speed control, the NF-F12 uses Noctua’s novel, custom designed
NE-FD1 PWM IC that integrates Smooth Commutation Drive (SCD) technology. By
providing smoother torque impulses, SCD suppresses PWM switching noises and
thus makes the fan quieter at lower speeds.

Ultra-Low Power

The NF-F12 draws
only 0.6W, which is more than 50% less than many fans in the same speed range.
This doesn’t only make it eco-friendly but also cuts down the electricity bill:
Compared to a typical 2W fan, this allows you to save about half the price of
the NF-F12 after 5 years of continuous use.

Low-Noise Adaptor

The NF-F12 is
supplied with a Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.) that reduces the maximum fan speed
from 1500 to 1200rpm. The L.N.A can be used either to run the fan at a fixed speed
of 1200rpm or to cap the maximum speed when using automatic PWM control.

Extensive Cabling

The fan’s short
20cm primary cable minimizes cable clutter in typical applications while the
supplied 30cm extension provides extended reach when necessary. Both cables are
fully sleeved and a 4-pin y-cable allows to connect a second NF-F12 fan to the
same PWM fan header for automatic control.

6 years
manufacturer’s warranty

Noctua fans are
renowned for their impeccable quality and outstanding longevity. Like all
Noctua fans, the NF-F12 features an MTBF rating of more than 150.000 hours and comes
with a full 6 years manufacturer’s warranty.



Size: 120x120x25 mm

Connector: 4-pin

Bearing: SSO2

Blade Geometry:

Frame Technology:
Focused Flow

Rotational Speed
(+/- 10%): 1500 RPM

Rotational Speed
with L.N.A. (+/- 10%): 1200 RPM

Min. Rotational
Speed (PWM): 300 RPM

Airflow: 93,4 m³/h

Airflow with
L.N.A.: 74,3 m³/h

Acoustical Noise:
22,4 dB(A)

Acoustical Noise
with L.N.A.: 18,6 dB(A)

Static Pressure:
2,61 mm H2O

Static Pressure
with L.N.A.: 1,83 mm H2O

Max. Input Power:
0,6 W

Max. Input Current:
0,05 A

Voltage: 12 V

MTBF: > 150.000


Scope of Delivery:                  

-Low-Noise Adapter

-4-Pin Y-Cable

-30cm Extension


-4 Fan Screws


Warranty: 6 years


Price: $19.79 (From
Amazon at time of review






A Better Look at Things


The Noctua NF-F12 PWM fan comes in a nice looking box with a back
section that opens to provide a full detailed explanation about the new design
of this fan.




When you open the box you’ll find a plastic box with everything inside
of it and a brief instruction manual.



When you get everything unpacked you’ll find a bag of screws, vibration
dampening fasteners, ‘Y’ cable, extension cable, low noise adapter and the fan
of course.




The fan is the familiar Noctua colors, it’s 120mm x 120mm x 25mm in
dimensions. It’s Noctua so you know you’re getting a quality product, the fan
is very well made of coruse.



The fan has got many new features over previous Noctua fans; they’re all
listed above in the specs. On the inside of the fan you’ll find small dimples
or notches that Noctua calls Microstructures which improve airflow and pressure



On each corner of the fan you’ll find built-in vibration dampeners to
help keep things even quieter. They can be removed if need be, but why you
would want to I don’t know…




Here’s the back view of the NF-F12, it looks very much different from
any other fan out there today. It might not look like it in the picture, but
the fins are actually all different angles. These are called Varying Angular
Distance and Vortex Control Notches that help to spread the noise emission over
a broader frequency spectrum and thus make the fan’s sound pattern more
agreeable to the human ear.






Installation, Testing and Comparison

The Noctua NF-F12 is really made to be used with a heatsink or radiator.
I’ve stopped water cooling long ago; it just turned into being way too much of
a hassle with getting cases for review and having to take everything out all of
the time, so I have no radiator but I do have the Noctua NH-U12P CPU cooler on
my CPU. I think that will work just fine for testing. The cooler has a Noctua
NF-P12 fan on it, so I’ll be comparing the two.



Here’s the NF-F12 installed on the cooler:



Getting it installed was simple as the cooler just uses clips and the
anti-vibration attachments didn’t get in the way of the installation at all.

The NF-P12 is not a PWM fan like the NF-F12 is, so I have it running
with the ULNA adapter or at 900RPM, which provides decent cooling ability while
being quiet. The NF-F12 is PWM so it varies in speeds from 300RPM to 1500RPM.

This is my gaming/HTPC system which has an Intel Core2Quad 9650 in it.

For testing I just stressed the CPU with two instances of Orthos Stress
Prime to get 100% load on all four cores. I then used Coretemp to record and
log the temperatures, and then I averaged them out to get a single number to
use for the graph below.

Ambient room temperature during testing was 20.3C (+/- .3C).

So here are the results of my testing:



As you can see there’s not much difference at idle, I didn’t expect
there to be really. Under load though the NF-F12 helps drop the CPU temperature
by about 3C, which isn’t bad for just swapping the fan out.

Running at full speed the NF-F12 is audible, but only if you get close
to the case. It is louder than the NF-P12, but it’s running faster so it should

The new design works and apparently it works very well.



Summary and Comments

So the newly designed Noctua NF-F12 PWM has more than just a unique look
to it, these design improvements really work to help the fan move air more
efficiently for improved cooling performance while remaining virtually silent
doing so.

It is Noctua so it’s no surprise that it’s a quality product with a nice
assortment of extras included and a fan that is very well made and designed.

Just something simple as swapping a fan can improve the cooling
performance of your CPU cooler, but you have to make sure you get the right
fan, and the NF-F12 is that fan.

If you want a fan that works well then you can’t go wrong with the
NF-F12 PWM fan.



DragonSteelMods gives the Noctua NF-F12 120mm PWM Fan a 5 out of 5 score
and our Editor’s Choice Award as well.






+Very well made

+Cools better than other fans

+Accessories included

+Silent under normal conditions

+Unique design that works




-Can get audible at full speeds







review# 723









Disclosure: This product was given to DragonSteelMods for review
by the company for review purposes only, and is not considered by us as payment
for the review; we do not, never have, and never will, accept payment from
companies to review their products.


To learn more about our review policy, testing methods and ratings
please see this



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