Noctua NF-A12x25 120mm Fan Review


Introduction

During COMPUTEX 2018, Noctua debuted some new colors for their mainstream lineup but as a man who likes innovation and performance above all else, their hero product of the show was the NF-A12x25. Brandishing some of the new “most” in the cooling industry, the introduction of the NF-A12x25 fans made me really proud to have visited Noctua’s booth during its public demo. Today, we now have these fans in review and while it’s been a while since COMPUTEX 2018, these fans are still hitting the market and as of this moment only a Noctua U12A single tower cooler has been optimized for this fan.  We look forward to checking out the NH-D15 or the NH-U12A models when they release to the public. As of now though, the big star of Noctua’s lineup for 2018, the Sterrox-built Noctua NF-A12x25 is in the. Let’s check it out and see if these news fans will blow us away!

Read on!

Specifications

Models Available
Model Noctua NF-A12x25 ULN Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM Noctua NF-A12x25 FLX
Speed 1200RPM 2000RPM 2000RPM
Noise 12.1dBA 22.6dBA 22.6dBA
Airflow 55.7CFM 102.1CFM 102.1CFM
Dimensions
Length 120mm 120mm 120mm
Width 25mm 25mm 25mm
Height 120mm 120mm 120mm
Weight 355g 355g 355g

Official product page (PWM)

Closer Look

The NF-A12x25 comes packaged in full color print boxes and if that PREMIUM fan in the model name doesn’t say it enough, yes, this is a premium fan. Now most RGB fans may come off as premium, they just have a lot of knickknacks and cable but packaging wise, they’d be crammed in pack boxes with molded tops and that’s it.  Noctua has their signature style on these boxes with the unique label layout.

The key note to take here is the variant sticker. The Noctua NF-A12x25 comes in various models. What we have here is the PWM model for PWM-controlled applications. The FLX variant for high-versatility speed control and the ULN version that or Ultra Low Noise. Now while PC users can easily go for the FLX or PWM option, non-controlled applications that demand ultra-quiet cooling will be the target for the ULN variant.

Besides specs and connector differences, the package contents for the NF-A12x25 are the same: the fan, rubber mounting grips, a rubber dampening frame, mounting screws and varying connectors depending on which model you have.

The model will be listed in the back of the fan so you can check which one you have when they’re out of the box. Besides the PWM model, the ULN and FLX will have 3-pin connectors while the PWM has a 4-pin PWM connector.

Up close with the fan, its gonna look like any old fan except that its Noctua chocolatey brown but at closer inspection on the fan blade themselves, we’ll notice 2 things: the particularly swirly trace on the material on the blade and the incredibly tight clearance of the fan blades to the frame. Noctua uses Sterrox liquid crystal polymer and the science behind this is that this material has reduced expansion when heat and rotation is applied. The material also helps reduce acoustics due to its inherent nature.  Both front and back of the fan have dampeners on all corners on each side allowing for further noise reduction in most use-case especially when used against a chassis.

The dampening pads stay in place with soft molded pegs. The pads are designed so that they only add a slight thickness offset on the fans which make them  highly compatible for most use-case, radiator or case it may be.

Included in the package as shown is a larger dampening frame that forms a gasket-like build on the side its on. The manual shows it to mount on the airflow direction which is the one pictured above. This is meant to reduce vibrations more than the corner pads and I personally like using it especially when used with radiator to reduce overall vibrations. Using the dampening frame does not hinder the rubber mounts and you can use both in tandem if you plan to mount the A12x25 on a case directly.

Performance Testing

Test System (AMD)

Processor: AMD R7 2700X
Motherboard: AORUS X470 Gaming 7
Memory: G.Skill TridentZ DDR4-3200 16GB (2x8GB)
Graphics Card: ZOTAC GTX 1050 Ti
Power Supply: Seasonic P1000
Storage: WD Blue SSD 1TB
Monitor: ViewSonic VX2475SMHL-4K
Cooler: Cryorig H7

As Noctua is still working on their own coolers to take advantage of the full potential of the A12x25, we’ll have to work with what we have and the immediate concern here is that this just not optimized to take advantage of these fans. In our setup, we’ll be using Cryorig H7 which has s light honeycomb pattern on the front end to increase surface area. If I recall correctly, the NH-U12A will have tighter fin stacks so I’m guessing the logic is Noctua is maximizing the power of these fans to push air through tighter spaces so something with dense fins would take advantage of the performance of the fans.

Our testing methodology will have the AMD Ryzen 7 2700X set on fixed 3.8Ghz 1.25v loaded with RealBench stress test. Only load readings are taken with the average peak reading taken. CPU Fan settings are set to max speed as well throughout testing.

To be honest I expected the results to be higher on a maxed out RPM setting. Still, we felt that the exhausted air is still too cool on our tower cooler and that it is the one limiting the performance of these fans. Still, back to the charts we see great numbers from the 2000RPM A12x25 fans. All the fans performed deadly quiet and with the exception of the High RPM Wraith Prism, our test fans are all dead quiet but nonemoreso than the Noctua A12x25 ULM, operating at 1200RPM, is the quietest fan I have never heard. Killing all the noise source from the room, there’s just no arguing the ULM model is peacefully quiet but even at 2000RPM, the Noctua A12x25 performed excellent quiet as well.

User Experience and Conclusion

There is arguably no greater innovation in the cooling fan segment than the Noctua A12x25. With RGB flooding the market and no semblance of performance-oriented improvement in sight, Noctua’s A12x25 is a welcome change. As a performance enthusiast, I put aesthetics to the side and RGB  has no greater appeal to me than a rock although I appreciate aesthetic when put in the right context. That said, Noctua has stucked to their roots, still brandishing the company’s signature brown colorway, much of which has been made into a joke by the community nowadays but with Noctua pushing their mainstream lineup in a different direction, that view of the Noctua being the brown guys may change soon. But ultimately, the Noctua A12x25 is the new flag carrier for the company, embracing newer science to improve performance as well as reduce noise, it is simply the most innovative fan of the last decade.

At $30 a unit, it will be a polarizing choice for many but with RGB fans asking for nearly $50, Noctua’s  asking price suddenly makes more sense especially if you’re after performance/noise advantage. Alas, being announced together with color options seems to hurt the price in the pricing criteria and barring maybe the highest performance score I can give a fan, the choice to go with a more neutral grey or black was a big missed opportunity for Noctua and something that could’ve shook up the PC scene as they debut a new fan tech with new colors.

Regardless, its hard to nitpick on the Noctua A12x25 but I have to talk about the science behind the fans. Noctua has shown these fans to perform on the same level as the NH-D15 and that was simply spectacular but as said, we’ve yet to see coolers from Noctua that take advantage of these fans so as it stands, the best recommendation I can make is for watercooling enthusiasts who prefer silence and performance above all.

Overall, these are those little milestones that make us performance enthusiasts very proud of companies like Noctua that persevere and not buckle under trends. In a world where how cool the RGB patterns is on a fan commands a higher price than how good it can push air through a set of radiators or how quiet it is against a case, people’s standards have significantly swayed. The Noctua A12x25 are great fans if you’re after quiet operation as well as performance, and Noctua made the fans extra premium to justify the asking price.

In conclusion, if you particularly don’t care about how your build looks say for closed or silent cases like for studio usage, there is just no going around it, the Noctua A12x25 are the best fans for you when it comes to noise:performance and I don’t see anyone stepping up to compete with Noctua in that field for years.

Noctua backs the A12x25 with a 6-year warranty. We give it our B2G Silver Award!

$29.90
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as of October 31, 2020 10:38 pm
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Noctua NF-A12x25 120mm Fan Review
Final Thoughts
If you particularly don't care about how your build looks say for closed or silent cases like for studio usage, there is just no going around it, the Noctua A12x25 are the best fans for you!
Performance
10
Build Quality
9.5
Functionality
9.5
Bundle
9
Value
8.6
Reader Rating1 Vote
9.7
Pros
Excellent noise:performance ratio. Dead quiet even on max RPM
Impeccable build quality
6-year warranty
Noise dampening pads included as well as rubber mounts
Cons
Color choices limited to classic Noctua brown
9.3
Rating