Introduction

Noctua originates from a collaboration between the Austrian Rascom Computer distribution Ges.m.b.H. and the Taiwanese cooling specialist Kolink International Corporation, pooling more than thirty years of experience in the development, manufacturing, and marketing of high-end cooling components. Established in 2005, Noctua took international silent enthusiasts’ hearts by storm and quickly developed into one of the most acclaimed suppliers of premium quality quiet cooling products. Today, Noctua is present in more than 30 countries across the globe and working with several hundred sales partners. Chosen by noise-conscious PC users, system integrators and industry clients alike, Noctua has become synonymous with impeccable quality, excellent customer service, and class-leading quiet cooling performance.

I will be looking at the Noctua’s NF-F12 iPPC version rated at whopping 3000 RPM. This is an enhanced version of the retail model featuring a 3-phase motor, water and dust protection, fiber-glass reinforced polyamide construction with Noctua’s legendary SSO2 bearings. How well this fan really is? Time to test it out.

 

  • Item:                     NF-F12 industrialPPC-3000 PWM
  • Manufacturer:  Noctua
  • Price:                    US $24.90 [At the time of the review]

Specification

Packaging and Unboxing

The fan comes in a standard Noctua’s design packing made of the cardboard. On the top side, there is a Noctua brand logo pasted on the top right side. industrialPPC is embossed on the bottom section in two colors. The complete model of the fan is printed under the industrialPPC.

The backside of the packing has a large sticker pasted on the right side. Specifications of the fan are printed in the list format. The EAN and UPC labels are printed on the bottom side. The fan is made in China and carries Noctua’s 6 years warranty.

The rear side of the packing box has the complete model of the fan printed on the left side in the white color. industrialPPC is printed on the right side. The left and the right sides are blank.

Noctua is good at their products’ presentation and this packing is no exception to that. Opening the box would reveal a matte black color container with the fan nicely tucked inside it. www.noctua.at is printed on the bottom side of the inner container facing the user. The fan cable is nicely placed along the boundary of the inner container on its backside.

Accessories

There are only 4 M3 screws provided with the fan. There is no user manual or any other accessory item bundled with the fan.

Closer Look

The NF-F12 has been the pinnacle of the Noctua’s Focused Flow series of the fans and is quite popular among the PC enthusiasts. Recently, Noctua has released the Chromax version of the NF-F12 which has the same specifications but the frame and blades are in black color and there are 6 colors in anti-vibration pads to choose from for further customization.

Noctua is not only a retail cooling solution provider but also providing industrial services and products. They have taken their industrial approach on the retail model and have given the users a ruggedized enhanced version of the retail NF-F12. Meet the NF-F12 industrialPPC-3000 PWM fan. Let’s take a closer look at the fan and the features it carries.

iPPC or industrialPPC stands for the Industrial Protected Performance Cooling and is the pinnacle of the Noctua’s iPPC fans. It is not just the naming convention but there are particular technologies and features that Noctua has researched on. Fan’s dimension is 120x120x25mm. Its rated voltage is 12V DC. The rated speed of the fan is 3000 (±10%) RPM. Minimum rated RPM is 750. Our sample struggled to go beyond the 1350 RPM. Rated airflow is 186.7m³h which is roughly equal to the 109.96 CFM. Acoustical noise is rated 43.5 dB(A). Rated static pressure is 7.63mmH₂O. Maximum input power is 3.6W with 0.3A. MTTF rating is 150,000h.

The fan has the mounting hole spacing of 105x105mm. There are 7 black color blades on the fan. Noctua is calling them as Heptaperf Impeller. This custom designed impeller works in tandem with the Focused Flow frame particularly with the stator guide vanes to achieve the better mix of the power and the noise. The diameter of the rotor hub is 40mm.

If you would look at the angled boundary walls on the mounting sides of the fan frame, you will notice that there is an inlet design which is stepping down towards the fan blades or stepping up towards the frame of the fan. This is a part of the Noctua’s AAO Frame Technology. AAO stands for the Advanced Acoustics Optimization. It features integrated anti-vibration pads, the stepped inlet design on the frame and inner surface microstructures. This technology helps in fine-tuning the fans’ performance/noise efficiency. The frame from the inside part is steeped. From the top side of the fan, the frame has an angled steep till the middle portion of the frame from where it steeps down.

If you would look closely at the inside of the frame, there are inner surface microstructures. With the tips of the fan blades ploughing through the boundary layer created by these microstructures, the 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.

The fan comes with the silicon made anti-vibration pads in dark brown color. These pads help in reducing the noise due to the vibration coming from the surface contacts. They are designed in such a way that there is more than enough clearance for mounting holes. Plus there is an added advantage as these pads are not fixed permanently and can be taken off, so the user can buy different color pads from the Noctua under their Chrmoax lineup and mix/match the color scheme of the build.

Looking at the side of the frame, there is a printing of 150812DE 1W7 l in the white color. I am not sure what these no signify here. The side of the frame from where the power cable is coming out, there are two arrow indicators mentioning the direction of the airflow and direction of the fan’s blade spin. These arrows are inset in the frame.

Both the impeller and the frame of the fans are made entirely from fiberglass reinforced polyamide. This material can withstand temperatures of 140°C and makes the fans even more robust and break-proof than the Noctua’s fiber-glass reinforced PBT fans.

Let’s take a look at the backside of the fan. There is a black color sticker pasted on the motor hub. Noctua’s brand logo is printed on the top side. industrialPPC is printed in the middle with the model of the fan printed under it. The fan draws 0.3A with 3.6W input power using 12V DC. Company’s website is printed on the sticker as well. The length of the cable is approximately 415mm.

These fans feature the Noctua’s Focused Flow technology and are best suited for the radiators/heatsinks or the surface with more resistance to the air flow though not restricted to use only for this purpose. Normally, the fans have 4-arm assembly connecting the motor hub with the frame of the fan. These fans have 11 such arms which are being named as stator guide vanes by the Noctua. There are 11 stator guide vanes on these fans.

A closer look would reveal that they are set out in an angular but varying distance and that they have notches towards the frame side. These are called Vortex Control notches. They both serve the purpose of spreading the noise emission over the broader frequency spectrum making the fan’s sound pattern more agreeable to the human ears. In addition to that, these stator guide vanes straighten, channel and focus the airflow hence enabling these fans to have more focused flow yet at the higher speed of operations.

These fans feature the Noctua’s SSO2 bearings. The fan bears SSO2 bearing which is Noctua’s own design. The self-stabilizing oil-pressure bearing (SSO-Bearing) system has always been at the heart of Noctua’s award-winning premium fans. SSO combines the proven concept of oil-based hydrodynamic bearings with an additional magnet that supports the self-stabilization of the rotor axis. Due to the axis being stabilized by the magnetic field, Noctua’s SSO Bearing achieves higher precision and better longevity than conventional ball-, sleeve- or hydrodynamic bearings. SSO2 is the further optimized second generation of SSO. Made possible by the use of metal bearing shells and new injection molding techniques, the magnet is now placed closer to the rotor axis and thus exerts higher magnetic force to it. This results in even better stabilization, precision, and durability.

These fans motor hub features a CNC milled brass made metal bearing shell. These fans feature the fully automatic PWM speed control. They are using Noctua’s custom designed NE-FD2 PWM IC for three-phase motors. NE-FD2 integrates the Noctua’s proprietary Smooth Commutation Drive (SCD) technology which suppresses the PWM switching noises and thus makes the fans quieter at lower speeds.

The majority of the fans in the market uses a single phases motor with 4 slots, the industrialPPC fans feature the three-phase motors with 6 slots which provides a smoother transition between the slots enabling these fans to run much smoother, reduce vibrations and more efficient operations. Noctua’s three-phase motor has 6 stator slots and a permanent magnet rotor ring with 4 poles, which results in a 3:2 ratio between slots and poles. This configuration has two key advantages: Firstly, due to the higher amount of slots and the slots being grouped in three rather than in two pairs, the switching between the slots occurs at a higher frequency, so torque variations are generally more evened out. Secondly and more importantly though, due to the uneven ratio between slots and poles, poles and slots always overlap. As there is no situation where all the poles and slots align, there is no situation where torque drops off completely and where the fan spins only from momentum until torque kicks in again. Rather than having a single reoccurring drive phase with torque dropping off in between the peaks, the motor has three overlapping phases that all contribute to the overall torque. As a result, there is much less variation in overall torque compared to standard single-phase motors. This more continuous steady torque profile results in generally improved running smoothness, a significant reduction in torque-borne vibrations and a further reduction in energy consumption.

Before going to the next section, let’s have a look at another stellar key feature of these fans. They are water and dust resistant. They have a special varnish coating on the motor and the PCB. Hence, they comply with the ingress protection rating IP52 making these fans highly dust resistant and withstanding dripping water equivalent to 3mm rainfall per minute.

Testing

I put the fan for the thermal testing on the Thermaltake Water 3.0 Performer C 120mm CLC. My testing consists of the three areas. I have checked the airflow at speed levels of 50%, 75% and the 100%. Next, PWM range of the fan along with air flow reading against each point of the speed was checked. Next, thermal performance of the fan at three different speeds was checked along with the acoustics.

Perfect-Prime WD9819 anemometer and the Fonseo Digital Sound Level Meter were used for testing purpose. Both products are factory calibrated. Reeven Polariz RFC-04 was used to regulate the fan’s speed.

Airflow Testing

First, I tested the airflow at 50%, 75% and 100% of the fan’s rated speed.

At 50% of the rated speed, the airflow was 49.72 CFM. Please keep in mind that I am using CFM as a measuring unit, not m³/h. They can be converted easily as roughly one m³/h is equal to the 0.589CFM. At 75% of the rated speed, the airflow was 94.33CFM and at 100% RPM, the airflow was 129.08CFM. The rated airflow on these fans is 186.7 m³/h which is roughly equal to the 109.96CFM. Our sample has higher airflow reading.

PWM Range

Next up, is the PWM range of the fan and the corresponding airflow values.

1350 is the lowest RPM achieved on this fan which is way above the 750 rated minimum RPM. Though once the fan hit the 1000RPM but it was momentarily before fan stops rotating. The difference is well beyond the ±20% of the rated margin. The maximum speed of the fan is 3000 RPM. Rated maximum speed is 3000 RPM. An ideal scenario!

Thermal Testing

Thermal performance of the fan was tested on this test bench:

  • Intel i7 6850k
  • Asus Rampage V Edition 10
  • Corsair Vengeance Red LED 4x8GB @ 2666MHz
  • Thermaltake Water 3.0 Performer C
  • Samsung 840 EVO 250GB
  • Corsair AX 1200i

Testing was performed on the Microsoft Windows 10 x64 Professional edition build version 1607. Noctua NT-H1 thermal paste was used. The fans were put on 100% of their speed. The pump of the CLC was put on 100% of the speed. Asus RealBench v1.44 was used to stress test the CPU. RealTemp was used to monitor the temperatures.

First, the stress test was run on the stock clocks of 3.6GHz with the turbo boost of 38GHz and Turbo Boost II of 4.0GHz at 1.16V VCore. XMP was loaded all the times. Reported temps are delta ones which are calculated by subtracting the average of each core’s maximum temps from the ambient temp. The benefit of using delta temps is that it covers the variation in the temperatures under uncontrolled environment.

Next, the Chip is overclocked to 4.3GHz at 1.350V VCore. XMP is loaded as well. The stress test is run again using the same methodology as described above and delta temps are noted.

The stock fan on the Thermaltake Water 3.0 Performer C has rated speed of 2000RPM with airflow of 99.105CFM and 39.9 dB(A).

Here are the results.

The numbers are pretty much self-explanatory. Noctua has delivered in plain and simple words.

With 6850k overclocked to the 4.3GHz, the Noctua NF-F12 industrialPPC-3000 PWM has solid lead by 8.6°C over the Thermaltake stock fan. We all know what does the reduction of 8~9°C in temperatures imply in terms of the thermal performance. At 75%, the Noctua NF-F12 industrialPPC-3000 PWM fan has a lead of 3.6°C. At 50% of the rated speed, the Noctua NF-F12 industrialPPC-3000 PWM fan trails by 1.9°C.

Acoustics

As expected, 48dB(A) was the reported sound level on the sound meter at 100% fan speed which is roughly +10% over the rated sound level.

Conclusion

The Noctua NF-F12 industrialPPC-3000 PWM fan is a ruggedized, high-speed version of the award-winning retail version NF-F12. This fan comes under the iPPC line up of the fans from the Noctua. iPPC stands for the Industrial Protective Performance Cooling. It is not just a name but a combination of innovative technologies and features that have enabled the Noctua to push the envelope further.

Fan’s dimension is 120x120x25mm. Its rated voltage is 12V DC. The rated speed of the fan is 3000 (±10%) RPM. Minimum rated RPM is 750. Our sample struggled to go beyond the 1350 RPM. Rated airflow is 186.7m³h which is roughly equal to the 109.96 CFM. Acoustical noise is rated 43.5 dB(A). Rated static pressure is 7.63mmH₂O. Maximum input power is 3.6W with 0.3A. MTTF rating is 150,000h.

It features a custom designed impeller that works in tandem with the Focused Flow frame particularly with the stator guide vanes to achieve a better mix of the power and the noise. The diameter of the motor hub is 40mm. These fans feature the Noctua AAO technology. AAO stands for the Advanced Acoustics Optimization. It features integrated anti-vibration pads, the stepped inlet design on the frame and inner surface microstructures. This technology helps in fine-tuning the fans’ performance/noise efficiency.

The fan comes with the silicon made anti-vibration pads in dark brown color. These pads help in reducing the noise due to the vibration coming from the surface contacts. They are designed in such a way that there is more than enough clearance for mounting holes. Plus there is an added advantage as these pads are not fixed permanently and can be taken off, so the user can buy different color pads from the Noctua under their Chrmoax lineup and mix/match the color scheme of the build.

Both the impeller and the frame of the fans are made entirely from fiberglass reinforced polyamide. This material can withstand temperatures of 140°C and makes the fans even more robust and break-proof than the Noctua’s fiber-glass reinforced PBT fans.

These fans feature the Noctua’s Focused Flow technology and are best suited for the radiators/heatsinks or the surface with more resistance to the air flow though not restricted to use only for this purpose. There are 11 stator guide vanes on these fans. A closer look would reveal that they are set out in an angular but varying distance and that they have notches towards the frame side. These are called Vortex Control notches. They both serve the purpose of spreading the noise emission over the broader frequency spectrum making the fan’s sound pattern more agreeable to the human ears. In addition to that, these stator guide vanes straighten, channel and focus the airflow hence enabling these fans to have more focused flow yet at the higher speed of operations.

These fans feature the Noctua’s SSO2 bearings. These fans motor hub features a CNC milled brass made metal bearing shell. These fans feature the fully automatic PWM speed control. They are using Noctua’s custom designed NE-FD2 PWM IC for three-phase motors. The industrialPPC fans feature the three-phase motors with 6 slots which provides the smoother transition between the slots enabling these fans to run much smoother, reduce vibrations and more efficient operations.

They have a special varnish coating on the motor and the PCB. Hence, they comply with the ingress protection rating IP52 making these fans highly dust resistant and withstanding dripping water equivalent to 3mm rainfall per minute.

The Noctua NF-F12 iPPC-3000 PWM fan is listed at $24.90 and performance is right on the money though users would have to bear the high level of sound on these fans. This is a fair tradeoff for the sheer performance that these fans offer.

 

Tech4Gamers Must Have Award