Noctua NF-F12 PWM 120mm Fan

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Product(s): Noctua NF-F12 PWM Fan
Provided By: Noctua

Price: Find Noctua Products Here

Introduction: 

Today we've got a new fan from the folks over at Noctua, the NF-F12 PWM 120mm fan.

We've had the chance over the years to take a look at a few different 120mm fans from Noctua, each with a little different twist:

Noctua NF-S12B FLX 120mm Fan

Noctua NF-P14 FLX 140mm Fan

Noctua NF-P12 120mm Fan

One of the biggest new twists on the new NF-F12 PWM is the fact that it is actually a PWM fan that will speed up and down depending on the temperature of your system.

In the past Noctua has always just included fan speed adapters which would set the speed of your fan depending on which adapter you used. Using fan adapters to set the speed of your fan is a good choice for someone who doesn't want the fan noise of their computer going up and down and wants their fans to run at a constant speed.

Using PWM is also a good choice as you never have to worry about what speed your fans are running at and if your system temperatures start to increase your fans will automatically take care of it. In the past if you wanted PWM you had to go elsewhere, but that's all changed with the NF-F12 PWM from Noctua. Noctua now offers you their traditional case fans that use fan adapters, or case fans that use PWM, you get to choose.

In addition to adding PWM to the NF-F12 PWM fan Noctua has also added some fancy science upgrades to their product (like a seven-blade Heptaperf Impeller, or Inner Surface Microstructures) as well as integrated Anti-Vibration pads. After reading about all of the science behind this fan it really amazing me to just how much Noctua puts into their products. If you think all fans are the same you've probably never looked at a Noctua product.

Let's take a closer look at the Noctua NF-F12 PWM fan.

 

First Impressions:

There isn't much to see in terms of pictures for this product, but we'll take a look at what the NF-F12 PWM is all about.

 

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Noctua NF-F12 PWM - Box (Front)
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Noctua NF-F12 PWM - Box (Back)
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Noctua NF-F12 PWM - Top View
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Noctua NF-F12 PWM - Rear View

As you can see the corners of the NF-F12 PWM has rubber corners which will help cut down on vibration noise.

The rest of the fan design looks like a pretty normal design, but when you get down to the science behind the design of this fan you'll find out that its anything for just a normal fan. In the next section we'll have a bit more on the science of this product which you wouldn't really expect on a fan.

 

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Noctua NF-F12 PWM - Accessories
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Noctua NF-F12 PWM - Side View

 

You actually get a decent amount of accessories with the NF-F12 PWM. You'll get an extension cable, a 2-way splitter, a Low-Noise adapter, and 4 vibration compensator. The accessories should be everything you'll need (and more) to get your system updated with the NF-F12 PWM fans.

Normally the next section (specifications) is a section you'd probably jump over pretty quickly unless you were really interested in the fine details of a product. This product however is worthy of a read to find out more about the details of this product and some of the interesting science behind this product.

 

 


 

Noctua NF-F12 PWM Fan Specifications:

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All specifications taken from Noctua.at

 

Features:

Focused Flow 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 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 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 Design Stepped Inlet Design
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 Microstructures Inner Surface Microstructures
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.

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

SSO2 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 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.

PWM 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.

Low Power Consumption Ultra-Low Power Consumption
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.

LNA 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.

Cabling Options Extensive Cabling Options
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.

Warranty 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.

 

Specifications:

Size 120x120x25 mm
Connector 4-pin PWM
Bearing SSO2
Blade Geometry Heptaperf™
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 h
Scope of Delivery
  • Low-Noise Adapter (L.N.A.)
  • 4-Pin Y-Cable
  • 30cm Extension Cable
  • 4 Vibration-Compensators
  • 4 Fan Screws
Warranty 6 years

 

 

 


 

Noctua NF-F12 PWM Fan Testing:

For our testing we put the NF-F12 PWM up against 2 other models from Noctua as well as up against Thermaltake's ISGC Fan 12. In the chart below we've highlighted some of the major features of each of these fans in comparison to the others:

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Noctua vs. Noctua vs. Noctua
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Noctua vs. Noctua vs. Noctua

 

Test Setup:

  Noctua NF-F12 PWM Noctua NF-S12B FLX Noctua NF-P12 Thermaltake ISGC Fan 12
Speed 300-1500 RPM (PWM Control) 600, 900, 1200 RPM 900, 1100, 1300 RPM 800-1300 RPM (Manual Adjust)
Blade Design 7 Blade Heptaperf Design 7 Blade w/ BBT 9 Blade Design w/ VCN 9 Blade
Input Power 0.6 Watts 1.2 Watts 1.08 Watts 1.2 Watts
Acoustical Noise 18.6-22.4 dB(A) 10.6-18.1 dB(A) 12.6-19.8 dB(A) 16 dB(A)
MSRP (At time of publishing) $19.99 USD $19.99 USD $19.99 USD $19.99 USD

 

Now most of the specs are somewhat similar to each other and all 4 of these fans retail for the same price online.

The biggest difference between the 4 is the input power in which the NF-F12 PWM comes out as the winner by a fair margin. This isn't a fluke, in fact Noctua is pretty proud of that fact and they say if you compare this fan to a 2 Watt fan you'll save about half the price of this fan over 5 years. If you factor that in over 2 or 3 fans it will save you a few bucks over the life of your fans.

 

How slow does it have to be in order to be virtually silent?:

Biggest question we get about fans would be, is it silent? Chances are good that all 4 of these fans would be pretty much undetectable in most peoples systems even when running at full speed. We however hooked each of them up in a quiet room to see just how slow they would have to spin before we couldn't hear them anymore. For our testing we hooked them up an adjustable fan controller and manually tested their speeds with a digital tachometer while standing approximately 2 feet away from the fan. Here are our results:

  Noctua NF-F12 PWM Noctua NF-S12B FLX Noctua NF-P12 Thermaltake ISGC Fan 12
Speed at which fan became virtually silent (in a quiet room) 1050 RPM 900 RPM 950 RPM 900 RPM

 

Now the most interesting thing about this test was that the NF-F12 PWM was able to run at the highest speed while running virtually silent. All 4 of the fans were pretty quiet even at full speed and most of them if ran at ~1000 RPM would be undetectable in most system. If getting as much airflow as possible with minimal or no fan noise is a big deal to you then the Noctua NF-F12 PWM would probably be declared the winner.

 

 


 

Noctua NF-F12 PWM Fan Final Thoughts:

After so many years of providing all of their fans with fan adapters, Noctua has decided to produce a PWM fan, the NF-F12 PWM.

Is PWM the best when it comes to case fans? Well, that all depends who you ask. In some applications it could be argued that PWM fans that regulate themselves based on system temperatures is the best way to go. There are also people who want their fans to remain at one speed no matter what (Home Theater PC's for example). Both methods of controlling your fans have their advantages and now you can get them both from Noctua. We've reviewed pretty much every product from Noctua over the years and it's nice to see them giving their customers options when it comes to their cooling.

One complaint about PWM fans in the past have been the fact that you can hear them spinning up and down quickly. Noctua has decided to use their very own circuitry in these fans called SCD (Smooth Commutation Drive) which helps provide smoother torque impulses (basically makes it spin up or down more quietly than the competition). Basically they've identified the biggest complaint about PWM and made it better.

 

If you want to go with PWM, but you don't want to be able to hear your fans ever Noctua has you covered thanks to the Low-Noise fan adapter they include with each of these fans. When this fan adapter is installed your fan will either run your fan at 1200 RPM constantly (as opposed to the maximum 1500 RPM) or it will cap the PWM from exceeding 1200RPM. As we found in our testing this fan is very quiet at full speeds (1500 RPM) but if you want silence we found that anything below 1200 RPM made it virtually impossible to hear even when it was the only fan spinning.

The quality of the NF-F12 PWM is as usual up to the high quality what we've come to expect from Noctua over the years. Noctua guarantees these fans for 6 years (more than 150,000 hours) so they are a good choice especially if you are going to leave them running for days, weeks, or even months on end.

At time of publishing we were able to find the Noctua NF-F12 PWM for $19.99 CDN online. When you factor in that you are probably going to want 2-3 of these in your system the price might start to sound a little steep when compared to cheaper fans, but with a 6 year warranty chances are good a fan like the Noctua NF-F12 PWM will be moving from cases to case and computer to computer and will probably outlast most every component inside your computer. When compared to other "high-end" fans I feel that the ~$20 dollar price tag is pretty typical and a good value for what you get.

If you are looking to upgrade the cans inside your computer and want some of the best fans money can buy, the Noctua NF-F12 PWM might just be for you. These fans have enough science behind them that you'll need a degree in engineering to understand what it all means, but all we know is thanks to this science Noctua has produced yet another amazing fan. Thanks to great performance with little or no noise, high quality construction, and now the option of PWM, the Noctua NF-F12 PWM 120mm fan has earned our "Editor's Choice - Gold" Award.

 

Pros:

  • Another option from Noctua for your case fan needs
  • Quiet (Just like every other Noctua Fan we've tested)
  • High Quality

 

Cons:

  • Nothing Major

 

BCCRating 

Gold 
 

I'd like to thank Noctua for sending us the NF-F12 PWM. If you have any questions, comments, or general feedback, please leave it at the "Comments" link below.