Noctua NF-A14 FLX Review

Today I’ll be reviewing Noctua NF-A14 FLX 140mm fan. The A stands for Airflow. It is the successor of Noctua NF-P14 (Pressure 140mm fan) which was released on 2009. The NF-A14 FLX was first released in Vienna, Austria on November 20th 2012 along with other fan models such as NF-A14 ULN and NF-A15 PWM. Whats special about Noctua fans is that they are renowned for their quietness, performance and low power usage. Below is a photo of the entire accessories and the fan that comes out of the packaging ~ courtesy of Noctua.

Noctua NF-A14 FLX Package

Noctua NF-A14 FLX Specifications

Model
Brand Noctua
Series NF-A (Airflow)
Model ID NF-A14 FLX
Specifications
Type Case Fan
Bearing Type SSO2
Fan Size (Dimension) 140mm (140 x 140 x 25mm)
Power Connector 3 pin
Voltage, Current, Power 12V, 0.08A, 1.2W
Color Beige Frame, Brown Fan Blade
LED N/A
Corner Type Open
Cable Length 15cm
Performance Fan with L.N.A. with U.L.N.A.
Rotational Speed (RPM) 1200 1050 900
Airflow (CFM) 68 60 52
Noise (db) 19.6 16.4 13.8
Static Pressure (mmH2O) 1.51 1.18 0.89
Others
Warranty 6 years
Accessory 1 x Ultra-Low-Noise-Adapter (U.L.N.A.)
1 x Low-Noise-Adapter (L.N.A.)
1 x 30cm Extension Cable.
1 x 3-pin to 4-pin Molex Adapter.
4 x Rubber Grommets
4 x Fan Screws

Pros and Cons

Below is a list of pros and cons which I have found after using the fan in my case. I categorized based on few aspects highlighted in bold font.

Pros

  • Performance: It pushes a lot of air similar to its predecessor NF-P14 while maintaining very low noise. When placed in open space without any grills/resistance, there isn’t much noise to be heard. It’s so quiet that you do not need to chain with U.L.N.A or L.N.A. to reduce its speed. Most fans spinning above 1000RPM makes a lot of noise but this one is completely silent at 20cm distance.
  • Noise: Quieter compared to NF-P14 while maintaining same performance when placed in between 2 tower radiators such as Noctua NH-D14. NF-P14 generated 47 db(A) whereas NF-A14 FLX generated 42 db(A) at 10 cm distance from my sound meter while they are sandwiched in between a NH-D14 Tower CPU Heatsink. This method basically tests both push and pull of the fan’s capability.
  • Cable: All cables are sleeved, hiding the red-yellow-black cable that was not done in the predecessor fan. The default cable sticking out from the fan is kind of short. One of its advantages is that if the power source is close-by, you would not need to trouble yourself wrapping the extra cable length around the fan frame. The disadvantage is if you were trying to plug to a fan controller situated further than your default cable length, you would not be able to do so. This issue is easily rectified chaining to Noctua’s 3-pin extension cable with a length of 30cm that comes with the packaging accessories.
  • Packaging: Included an installation manual, a message from Noctua’s CEO with his signature and extensive fan accessories. Accessories are packed tidily with its own compartment. The outer packaging (both front and back) describes about the fan features and performance. You can also view these information from Noctua’s website itself.
  • Accessories: It comes with the basic 4 metal screws to secure fans with screwdriver, 4 silicone mounts should you want to be hold your fan without using any tool (tooless design), LNA and ULNA (Low Noise Adapter and Ultra Low Noise Adapter) to reduce the fan speed for quieter performance, 30 cm length extension cable to route to far reach 3-pin connector. That is more than most fan’s accessories in the market.
  • Warranty: This fan is backed up by 6 years warranty. It shows how confident Noctua is that their product could last you for a long time without having any issues. If you encounter an issue with your fan such as generating irritating motor noise, oil leakage, or fan broken, send an e-mail to Noctua’s support team and they will reply your message within 24-48 hours business day. They will send you a fan replacement worldwide within a delivery time frame of 2 weeks.
  • SSO2 Bearing: Noctua uses fluid bearing and this provides 4 main advantages: They are cheaper than other bearings of the same load rating, requires little to no maintenance, have very low friction compared to mechanical bearings and quieter than rolling bearings.

Cons

  • Mounting: Could not be mounted on NH-D14 with its 120mm fan bracket. Will need a special fan mount to cater this 140mm fan. I tried using the mini holes which was created for the Integrated Anti-Vibration Pads but they were too far apart. I hope Noctua could create an additional mounting bracket to fit a true 140mm fan as this also avoids creating a special fan that is used to fit a 120mm bracket such as the NF-A15 PWM fan.
  • Noise: Louder than NF-P14 when positioned closed against a honeycomb grill as intake approximately 1cm. The sound that is generated is not the sound of air flowing through but more of a buzzing bee. I manage to find a way to reduce the irritating noise by placing an ultra-fine mesh filter such as Demciflex filter over it has subdued the noise by 75% and having the case away from you by 60cm drowns the excessive noise to a bare minimum. If you encounter this issue, you can keep the noise down by having a very fine filter over it.
  • Cable: The black sleeved cable coating is somewhat similar to a sticky wax. It easily captures dust on its surface. The material of the sleve acts as a double edge sword. It looks awkward when its bent in a way that has a very sharp angle, which does not look pleasing to the eyes, but in terms of handling, you can have it maneuver in tight corners which is a tradeoff.
  • Integrated Anti-Vibration Pads: Easily comes off when you are fiddling on its edges while installing in your case with their silicone mounts (fan rubber grommets) which is kind of a hassle. It is also a dust magnet, easily sticks mini cloth fibers, but fret not as you can clean it easily by washing with water.
  • Pricing: The retail prices of this fan is EUR 21.90 / USD 24.90 which is kind of steep. If Noctua set those accessories as optional items that can be purchased separately, they could reduce the price approximately $5-7 USD, making it more affordable to a wider range of PC users especially PC enthusiasts who purchases in bulk of 3 and more premium fans. Personally, I do not use those voltage resistors and rubber fan grommets. I use a fan controller to control the non-PWM fans instead. If they were PWM fans, they can be controlled within the bios or fan speed controller software.
  • Oil Leak: All Noctua fans uses SSO (Self Stabilizing Oil Pressure) and this possess the risk of oil leakage similarly to water-cooler CPU radiators. The oil is actually the lubricant between brass bearing, fan hub core pillar and bearing housing. I experience this first hand with Noctua predecessor fan’s NF-P14 that sat between my NH-D14 CPU Heatsink. After 2 months of usage, I opened the case for inspection and noticed it has oil drips on the fan blade and and at the inner side of the circular frame. Perhaps I’m one of the minority users that experience this issue among thousand Noctua’s customers, but should you face this issue, you can e-mail Noctua for a free replacement within warranty.
  • Daisy-Chaining: Noctua fan’s requires at least 10V (volts) to start spinning should it be chained to a 3 fan splitter. This issue does not occur if the power cable is only fitted for 1 fan. It will take more effort for NF-A14 FLX to spin should it be paired with a L.N.A. or U.L.N.A. voltage resistors.
  • Rubber Grommets: The silicone mounts aka rubber fan grommets is somewhat short of 2.5cm. It is tough to push the rubber grommets through the fan holes to properly secure it. Just to point out another disadvantage I find in most rubber grommets is its difficult to remove, and the rubber hardens after a long period of usage especially under extreme constant temperature. Unlike screws which can be easily remove from the outside of the PC case using a screw driver, if your case is small and tight, you will have trouble installing and removing them.

Final Thoughts

Noctua fans are highly recommended as its able to deliver high performance airflow and low noise while consuming very little electricity. Backed with a 6 years warranty, its a no brainer to purchase this fan for your case. Most cheapo fans makes irritating motor/bearing friction noise after 1-2 years of usage. That would mean switching in and out cheapo fans at least 2-3 times and this incurs higher cost than purchasing 1 single premium fan. With the included cost of power consumption of cheapo fans (especially LED fans), that could easily cost higher than Noctua’s fan cost over 6 years. The cost compared side by side will breakeven after 2-3 years of usage.

Another thing to point out is the color scheme that Noctua uses for all of their fans which is brown fan blade and beige color frame. Some might not like the color as it does not match with their computer component or case, and there is a few who does not mind about it as its hidden in the case with no smoked/acrylic window. For me, I don’t really mind about the color of my fans as long as it does not irritate me with noise and pushes a lot of air even with lots of restrictions are involve. Bear in mind that painting the Noctua’s fan with your favorite color to match with your computer components will VOID your warranty! Noctua FAQ mentioned about it that this might slightly set the fan off balance and would reduce the fan’s performance in efficiently pulling/pushing air and/or reducing its life expectancy.

I find it quite interesting on how Noctua uses this color to represent their branding. In Greek mythology, a Little Owl known as Athene noctua accompanies Athena, the virgin goddess of wisdom. Because of such association, the bird has been used as a symbol of knowledge, wisdom, perspicacity and erudition throughout the Western world. If you are showcasing your PC case or have visitors peeking through it, they can easily identify whether a person uses Noctua fans compared to regular white/black fan color. When they see your fans, they know you have invested a lot in premium high-quality fans that keeps your CPU, GPU, Motherboard and hard-disk cool. Perhaps that can add up to your bragging rights.

Official price (MSRP): $24.90 USD
Warranty: 6 years
I thank Noctua for the test sample.

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