Noctua doesn’t need any introductions. Ever since the company was formed in 2005, they’ve been at the forefront of quality and silent gaming for the enthusiast PC market. They’re most well known for their very high quality and extremely silent fans and CPU heatsinks. They’ve recently expanded into customizable accessories for their products and thermal pastes, all of the highest standards.

Earlier this month, Noctua refreshed their existing lineup of NF-A12 and NF-P12 fans, with slight updates to build and appearance, touting them as the “next generation” of fans. Noctua has been kind enough to send us 3 versions of their NF-A12x25 and 4 versions of NF-P12 REDUX fans for review. This review will focus on the NF-A12x25 variants.

Introduction

Noctua’s A12 series of fans is very iconic with its brown and beige color scheme and function over form design. This aesthetic is a very “love it or hate it” affair. Some people don’t care about looks and only the performance and these fans can certainly perform. We’ll be looking at the 3 different versions and how they stack against each other.

  • Items

    Noctua A12x25 FLX
    Noctua A12x25 PWM
    Noctua A12x25 ULN

All versions have a MSRP of $30 USD at the time of this review.

Specifications

The complete specifications list is as follows (specifications vary according to each model)

Noctua A12x25 FLX

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
Scope of delivery
  • 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
Warranty
6 years

 

Noctua A12x25 PWM

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
Scope of delivery
  • 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
Warranty
6 years

 

Noctua A12x25 ULN

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%)
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
Scope of delivery
  • 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
Warranty
6 years

 

Noctua on the NF-A12x25
The NF-A12x25 is a highly optimised next-generation 120mm fan that integrates Noctua’s latest innovations in aerodynamic engineering in order to achieve an unprecedented level of quiet cooling performance. It takes state-of-the-art technologies such as the AAO (Advanced Acoustic Optimisation) frame or Flow Acceleration Channelsand combines them with a record tight tip clearance of only 0.5mm, which is made possible by using the novel Sterrox® liquid-crystal polymer (LCP) compound as well as a metal-reinforced motor hub and axis for ultimate precision. Following the approach of Noctua’s A-series, the NF-A12x25 is a true all-rounder that yields superb results in all types of usage, regardless of 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.

Unboxing and Impressions

The NF-A12x25 come in a fairly standard looking box.

The front has the model and its features listed with a picture of the fan in the background. You also get a shiny round elevated logo with the model and what it can be best used for.

Opening the front flap gives you a peek of the fan itself and the rubber mounting insert as well as a list of all the accessories that come with the fan. The left side of the flap show a fan curve indicating the strengths of the various series of Noctua fans for each purpose, with the A12 series being an excellent all rounder option.

The sides of the box aren’t very special, just the fan model again and a QR code on both sides with left side also having 2 bar codes.

The back is very text heavy, with information about the fan in 7 languages and the basic specifications of the fan. The back flap contains information about the various features and technologies implemented in the fan.

Getting into the box itself, we get the fan and accessories. Each variant comes with several accessories with a couple of difference in term of the adaptor(s) you get and the PWM model getting a Y splitter as well. The accessories are listed below.

Noctua A12x25 ULN

  • 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

Noctua A12x25 FLX

  • 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

Noctua A12x25 PWM

  • 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

Overall a decent set of accessories for the amount of money you pay for them. Noctua clearly cares for their customers needs and use cases.

Coming to the fans themselves, Noctua have made several changes to the looks compared to their previous gen A12 fans. While the last gen had a very flat finish to the brown and beige color, this gen has a bit of shine to the fan blades as well as a bit of texture. The brown and beige color scheme still isn’t very appealing but that is subjective. The cables for all extensions, adaptors and the fan itself are sleeved in black.

The fans themselves have a 9 blade design and have been updated with several new features such as a new SSO2 bearing, ultra tight lip clearance for minimum air leak, metal reinforced fan hub, flow acceleration channels for minimal noise output etc. The material used is Noctua’s own Sterrox liquid crystal polymer compound, advertised as “an exceptionally low thermal expansion coefficient and damping characteristics that are ideal for reducing resonance and vibration phenomena in advanced fan-blade design”

Noctua have also released the NA-SFMA1 adaptor that allows a 120mm fan to be mounted to a 140mm radiator. This adaptor is sold separately.

They also support Noctua’s CHROMAX and other accessories and are backed with a 6 year manufacturer’s warranty and a MTTF rating of 150,000 hours. So you shouldn’t be worried about wearing out the fans any time soon.

Performance Testing

The test system is setup as follows

  • AMD Ryzen R7 1700
  • Asus Prime B350 Plus
  • Corsair Vengeance LED Red 2X8GB 3200MHz
  • Sapphire Nitro RX 480 8GB
  • WD Caviar Green 500GB
  • Toshiba 1TB
  • EVGA Supernova G2 1000W
  • NZXT S340 Elite

The CPU is at stock clocks and voltages. The ambient room temperature was 29c. The system was stressed using the ASUS Realbench utility, tortured tested for 10 minutes with 4GB RAM. HW Monitor was used for observing the temperatures. The 3.7 overclock was achieved by manually changing the CPU core multiplier from 30x to 37x in the BIOS, that gives us 3.7 GHz. Additional voltage was not needed for the overclock. Temperatures are recorded within 3C of margin. The fans were tested with a Noctua U12S SE-AM4 CPU heatsink.

At stock speed, the A12 FLX leads the pack by a significant of only 21c delta on load and a mere 1c delta at idle. The FLX with the LNA and ULNA adaptors trail just behind with both managing 24c delta at load. The PWM and ULN with adaptor versions perform equally at 28c delta on load, with the ULN standalone performing slightly better at 25. It appears that the PWM’s remains very conservative with the RPM even on load, resulting in slightly worse performance but much better acoustics. Only the FLX at full blast was audible, if only slightly. Noctua deserves high praise for maintaining silence even at such high RPMs.

 

A similar story is seen in the OC temperatures. The A12 FLX is in the lead with 31c delta at load and 5c delta at idle, with the FLX with LNA and ULNA adaptors at 36c and 34c respectively. The A12 PWM put up a better fight in the overclocked match up at 38c delta on load. The A12 ULN performs similarly within margin of error, with the ULN with LNA peaking at 40c delta.

Conclusion:

When it comes to air cooling and silence, very few companies can compare to Noctua. There is a reason many enthusiasts go for Noctua products for premium air cooling and Noctua have certainly delivered with with the A12x25 fan series out performing their previous dedicated fans, the Noctua S12s and F12s.

Build quality is what you would expect from Noctua and choice of materials is the best you can get. You also get a good amount of accessories to fine tune the fans for your own use case. The only thing that detracts from the overall looks of the fans is the color scheme but Noctua has added support for their CHROMAX accessories to customize the look to a certain extent.

Performance certainly is not lacking with all 3 variants performing superbly at stock and overclocked frequencies while managing to stay barely audible even at full RPM.

Keeping all this in mind, the Noctua A12x25 series of fans receives the Tech4Gamers’ Recommended award.

Special thanks to Noctua for sending these fans in for review.

 

Tech4Gamers Recommended Award