We recently received the new 140mm line up from Noctua for review. This package comprised of 3 new fans, the NF-A15, the NF-A14 ULN and the NF-A14 FLX. We were tempted to undertake a completely separate write up for the NF-A15 because although it has the same technology as the A14, it’s PWM, has a much more unique frame and is built specifically for CPU coolers. The NF-A14 variants are ideal for use as case fans or with radiators. Noctua’s NF-P14 fan has been around for what seems like forever – it was the first 140mm fan that I ever purchased and until now it has remained the most quiet 140mm fan I’ve used.
We confirmed with Noctua that the NF-P14 will be replaced by the A14 and A15 fans covered in this review. The concept of a line up that would both replace and be an improvement on the old faithful P14 immediately had our attention. It’s also worth noting that the prices for the now discontinued NF-P14 and it’s newer siblings are all the same at AU$29 each. This is a good thing as it makes the consumer’s decision based solely on performance and suitability rather than a cost differential.
Noctua A14 FLX & ULN
We thought we’d start with the two NF-A14 fans as they cover the most common ground. These fans are designed to be used as either case fans or with a 140mm/280mm radiator. Sadly, we didn’t have any radiators of the appropriate dimensions handy for our testing so we reviewed these units as case fans but we have made specific note of the static pressure and design technology relevant for radiator use and without product labels, identical to each other in appearance.
On opening the NF-A14 FLX and ULN packaging, we immediately noticed the square frame with rubber anti vibration pads on the corners and 140 mm mounting holes only. The older P14 was one of (if not) the first 140mm fans with a round frame and ability to mount using 120mm or 140mm fan mounts. This flexibility is no longer available on the A14 models, however it’s also a different PC chassis market now than 3 or 4 years ago with 140mm rear exhaust fans becoming more common as many cases get just that little bit wider.
To us, the FLX and ULN variants of the A14 fan are impossible to tell apart unless you look at the sticker in the middle of the frame. The technology used in both of the A14 models is virtually the same but the specifications and performance figures are a little different and it comes down to speed. If you look at the A14 units from Noctua, the FLX will move more air using the same frame and blade design than the ULN but it also has a higher acoustic profile while it does its job. It appears that Noctua have made two “specialist” variants of the same core unit rather than compromising one product to be a “Jack of all trades”. Given that the price is the same for both options, we really like this approach.
The packaging and manual are of the usual Noctua standard. In general, Noctua products are up there as the best packaged components we receive. The whole quality / premium feel of the A14 progresses from the box, through the accessories and to the product itself. All of the cables and adaptors are professionally sleeved. The fan frame has no flex or give in it and the wiring feels very secure. The fan also feels ever so slightly ‘heavier’ when compared to other branded 140mm fans that we had in the office.