Cooling Solutions PC Hardware

REVIEW | Noctua NF-A12x25

Noctua’s signature color, the beige and brown, may not be appealing to PC builders in this era where RGB lighting is the new master race. It is definitely understandable why people are not fond of Noctua’s color scheme but to a lot of their fans (pun intended), there is also a compelling reason why they love them so much. Noctua has been a legend in the industry because of their excellent performing products, long term support, and innovation.

From what we have observed, Noctua doesn’t release new products every year unlike other brands. They only release new products when there are actually new benefits and improvements from the previous ones.

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Now, they are bringing us a new flagship next-generation 120x25mm A- series fans, the NF-A12x25.

The new NF-A12x25 is the first fan made of Noctua’s novel Sterrox® LCP material. Integrating the company’s latest innovations in aerodynamic engineering, it achieves an unprecedented level of quiet cooling performance.

This new fan is supposed to be the new all-rounder for different types of applications: whether it’s in low-impedance, airflow-oriented applications such as case cooling, or high-impedance, pressure-demanding scenarios such as on heatsinks and watercooling radiators, succeeding the previous generation fans, NF-F12 and NF-S12A.

The NF-A12x25 not only outperforms the renowned NF-F12 on 120mm based watercooling radiators, but combined with the new, optional NA-SFMA1 adaptor frames, it also offers better efficiency than many 140mm fans on 140mm based systems.

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One of the cornerstones of the NF-A12x25’s next-generation performance is its record tight tip clearance (distance between the blade tips and the inside of the frame) of only 0.5mm. This highly ambitious design helps the NF-A12x25 to work more efficiently against back pressure, such as on heatsinks or radiators, by reducing leak flows through the gap between impeller and frame.

The NF-A12x25 will be available in different variations:

  • PWM version which is a 4-pin fan designed for automatic speed control
  • FLX version, a 3-pin with Low-Noise Adaptors for three different speed settings
  •  ULN (Ultra-Low-Noise) version, a near-silent 3-pin fan

Technical Specifications

PWM Specification

Size: 120x120x25 mm
Mounting hole spacing: 105×105 mm
Connector: 4-pin PWM
Bearing: SSO2
Blade Geometry: A-Series with Flow Acceleration Channels
Frame Technology: AAO (Advanced Acoustic Optimisation)
Material: Sterrox® LCP
Rotational Speed: (+/- 10%) 2000 RPM
Rotational Speed with L.N.A.: (+/- 10%) 1700 RPM
Min. Rotational Speed: (PWM, +/-20%) 450 RPM
Airflow: 102,1 m³/h
Airflow with L.N.A.: 84,5 m³/h
Acoustical Noise: 22,6 dB(A)
Acoustical Noise with L.N.A.: 18,8 dB(A)
Static Pressure: 2,34 mm H₂O
Static Pressure with L.N.A.: 1,65 mm H₂O
Max. Input Power: 1,68 W
Max. Input Current: 0,14 A
Voltage: 12 V
Voltage PWM signal: 5 V
MTTF: > 150.000 h

Warranty: 6 years

The PWM fan is bundled with the following:

• Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)
• 4-pin y-cable
• 30cm extension cable
• NA-AV2 anti-vibration mounts
• Anti-vibration gasket for water cooling radiators
• Fan screws

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NF-A12x25 PWM

FLX Specification

Size: 120x120x25 mm
Mounting hole spacing: 105×105 mm
Connector: 3-pin
Bearing: SSO2
Blade Geometry: A-Series with Flow Acceleration Channels
Frame Technology: AAO (Advanced Acoustic Optimisation)
Material: Sterrox® LCP
Rotational Speed: (+/- 10%) 2000 RPM
Rotational Speed with L.N.A.: (+/- 10%) 1700 RPM
Rotational Speed with U.L.N.A.: (+/- 10%) 1350 RPM
Airflow: 102,1 m³/h
Airflow with L.N.A.: 84,5 m³/h
Airflow with U.L.N.A.: 64,5 m³/h
Acoustical Noise: 22,6 dB(A)
Acoustical Noise with L.N.A.: 18,8 dB(A)
Acoustical Noise with U.L.N.A.: 14,2 dB(A)
Static Pressure: 2,34 mm H₂O
Static Pressure with L.N.A.: 1,65 mm H₂O
Static Pressure with U.L.N.A.: 1,05 mm H₂O
Max. Input Power: 1,68 W
Max. Input Current: 0,14 A
Voltage: 12 V
MTTF: > 150.000 h

Warranty: 6 years

The FLX fan is bundled with the following:

• Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)
• Ultra-Low-Noise Adaptor (U.L.N.A.)
• 3:4-pin power supply adaptor
• 30cm extension cable
• NA-AV2 anti-vibration mounts
• Anti-vibration gasket for water cooling radiators
• Fan screws

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NF-A12x25 FLX

ULN Specification

Siz:e 120x120x25 mm
Mounting hole spacing: 105×105 mm
Connector: 3-pin
Bearing: SSO2
Blade Geometry: A-Series with Flow Acceleration Channels
Frame Technology: AAO (Advanced Acoustic Optimisation)
Material: Sterrox® LCP
Rotational Speed: (+/- 10%) 1200 RPM
Rotational Speed with U.L.N.A.: (+/- 10%) 900 RPM
Airflow: 55,7 m³/h
Airflow with U.L.N.A.: 39,4 m³/h
Acoustical Noise: 12,1 dB(A)
Acoustical Noise with U.L.N.A.: 7,6 dB(A)
Static Pressure: 0,82 mm H₂O
Static Pressure with U.L.N.A.: 0,41 mm H₂O
Max. Input Power: 0,6 W
Max. Input Current: 0,05 A
Voltage: 12 V
MTTF: > 150.000 h

Warranty: 6 years

The ULN fan is bundled with the following:

• Ultra-Low-Noise Adaptor (U.L.N.A.)
• 3:4-pin power supply adaptor
• 30cm extension cable
• NA-AV2 anti-vibration mounts
• Anti-vibration gasket for water cooling radiators
• Fan screws

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NF-A12x25 ULN

What’s in the Box?

The packaging screams of quality and perfection as these are some of the most well packaged fans we’ve seen, in terms of product information and presentation.

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The box has flaps that opens on both the front and back with details and explanations of the technology behind the development of these fans.

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We think this is the most premium unboxing we have ever done so far when if comes to cooling fans.

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Closer Look (PWM, FLX, ULN)

The NF-A12x25 is a nine bladed fan with small Flow-Acceleration channels on the blade that improves airflow and reduces the noise. The blade’s texture is a little different compared to other Noctua fans as this is the result of the Sterrox Liquid-Crystal Polymer compound material that Noctua used. This compound has extreme tensile strength, low thermal expansion coefficient and damping characteristics that reduce resonance and vibration.
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The properties of this material  allows the fan to run the outer tip of the blades within 0.5mm within the fan frame, whereas other fans would need a tolerance within 1.5mm-4.0mm. Having the fan tips as close as possible to the edge helps the fan work against back pressure by reducing leaks between the blades and the fan frame.
The frame of the fan is using what Noctua calls Advanced Acoustic Optimisation (AAO), in which the chosen plastic for the build of the frame has the ability to absorb sound and vibration effectively.
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To help reduce the noise even more, there are also removable anti-vibration pads on all the corners, as well as an included gasket which can be used to replace the four anti-vibration pads to create a seal against the radiator to improve airflow and eliminate noise further.

Acoustic and thermal performance

Now, let us see how this fan performs in terms of acoustic and thermal performance. For this  we conducted the temperature test in an air conditioned room set at 24°C. We used the Noctua NH-U12S heatsink in an open-air test bench  with the the Ryzen 7 1700 overclocked at 3.9GHz with 1.39v on the vcore.

We used the following different fans for comparison:

  • Noctua NF-F12 Industrial PPC
  • Corsair AF-120 Silent edition
  • Corsair SP-120 Performance edition
  • Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM.

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We will only use one version of the NF-12×25 for this test as the only noticable difference with the other versions  is the rated RPM speed and lower input power.

The Corsair SP-120 only goes up to 1000rpm which is the lowest speed we used with the rest of the fans.

Noise Levels

For Noise level test, we pointed a large diaphragm condenser microphone 4 inches away from the test machine. The room noise is around 40-45dB but putting the microphone close to the computer, the microphone picked up sound at 60dB. But in normal ear distance, it’s more silent than it is.

So we are gonna use 60dB as the contol set: with the background noise being the following: Air conditioner in the room, NF-F12 Industrial PPC fan spinning at around 800rpm (idle speed), PSU fans spinning, mechanical hard disks spinning. The GPU we used is the MSI Armor RX 570 so the fans  of the GPU are not spinning throughout the whole test because there is no GPU focused load.

 

TEMP1
Noise levels (lower is better!)
As you can see on the chart above, the loudest fan of them all is the Corsair AF120 Performance Edition at 2000rpm, peaking at 69dB
But looking at the noise level of the NF-A12x25 at 2000rpm, it’s only as loud as the Corsair SP-120 Silent Edition at 1000rpm, which is only 63dB.
Turning down the RPM even more to 1500-1000rpm made the fans as quiet as 62dB. Almost as quiet as our base dB. I believe if we eliminate the rest of the background noise such as the spinning hard disks and PSU fan, we believe that the NF-A12x25 was more quiet in lower fan speeds.
TEMP2
Peak temperatures under AIDA64 CPU Stress test (lower is better!)

For the temperature results, the NF-A12x25 is at par with the Corsair AF120 Performance edition, but way more quieter even under full 2000rpm.

The Noctua NF-F12 Industrial PPC yielded the similar results as tha Corsair AF120.

But lowering the speed down to 1000rpm, the NF-A12x25 takes the lead as it  still remained very silent and yielded lower temperature compared to the Corsair AF120 and SP120.

Conclusion

We are very impressed with the new Noctua NF-A12x25. The build quality of the fan itself is nothing compared to what we have seen before, and it is certainly a lot different that the previous generation of Noctua fans.

The blade and the fan frame has a substantial amount of weight. The new materials that they used is legitimately performing as stated on paper.

Noctua has always been innovating at what they’re good at and this is no exception. The NF-A12x25 spent almost five years in development, going through all the engineering work and innovation in aerodynamics.

Performance wise, we are very impressed with the results. Keeping silent even on full speed, the NF-A12x25 is definitely a unique product that and has proven it’s worth. These next generation fans will continue to uphold the standards that Noctua has been known for throughout the years. With that, we would like to give this product the Excellent Performance Award.

Pros

  • Top tier performance while keeping silent.
  • Loads of accessories included in the package.
  • Extremely versatile. Suitable for all types of application.

Cons

  • A lot of people might not appreciate the brown color.

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