Dedication to performance and quality is what we come to expect from Noctua. And after over 4.5 years of development, the NF-A12x25 fans finally became the reality in May 2018. The reputable NF-F12 and NF-S12A have already set a high standard for other manufacturers to beat. Now, with tighter build tolerances, stronger frame material and more, can the NF-A12x25 be the best cooling fan in the market?
The NF-A12x25 fans have three versions, PWM, FLX and ULN. The PWM version means the fan will be connected via a 4-pin fan header and controlled via Pulse Width Modulation by the motherboard BIOS or software. The FLX and ULN versions will have a 3-pin header and controlled via DC voltages, but the ULN runs at lower RPM for quieter operation.
The packaging of the new NF-A12x25 is the same as the other premium fans from Noctua. A box is colored in signature Noctua brown. The front shows the few key features of the fan, as well as the model name and version. There are short descriptions in 7 different languages with the specifications and package content lists at the back.
There are two flaps that can be opened. The one on the front have a small plastic window, letting you to have a glimpse on the new fan. On the left is a PQ diagram, which highlights the NF-A12x25’s all-round performance.
Opening the box, the NF-A12x25 fan and the accessories are neatly packed inside a plastic tray. A welcome letter/quick start guide is also included.
There are tiny differences in accessories between the three versions of fans. Generally, the following are included.
- Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)
- A 4-pin y-cable
- A 30 cm extension cable
- 4x NA-AV2 anti-vibration mounts
- Anti-vibration gasket for water cooling radiators
- 4x Fan screws
For FLX and ULN versions, an additional Ultra-Low-Noise Adaptor (U.L.N.A.) and a 3:4-pin (molex) power supply adaptor are included in the box.
Noctua NF-A12x25 Fan
The NF-A12x25 is a 120 mm cooling fan with a thickness of 25 mm.
The fan itself does not look much different from other previous Noctua fans. The beige and brown color scheme are here to stay apparently. However, a lot have changed and improved in the internals of the NF-A12x25.
At the front, you will see the nine curved fan blades with flow acceleration channels on the surfaces. The blades are slightly narrower than the static pressure optimized NF-F12 (its review here). The AAO frame is made from a new compound called Sterrox Liquid-Crystal Polymer (LCP), instead of the traditional PBT. LCP like Kevlar, which has much higher tensile strength, is used to make bullet-proof vests.
The increased rigidity and better chemical properties of the LCP enable Noctua to reduce impeller creep and have tighter build tolerances. Thanks to this, the NF-A12x25 has a stunning 0.5 mm tip clearance (blade to inner frame distance), which should allow less air to escape and generate higher static pressure. For reference, other fans have tip clearance ranging from 1 mm to 4 mm.
The motor hub of the NF-A12x25 is also larger than normal. The fan uses the SSO2 bearing with a steel-reinforced hub, which should provide better stability and lower noise.
Both sides of the fan have anti-vibration rubber mount on each corner. Additional mounts for an extra fan are also included.
To further reduce the noise and air leakage, you can install the anit-vibration gasket when using the fan on liquid-cooling radiator.
NA-SFMA1 Mounting Apdator
Currently, the NF-A12x25 does not have a larger 140 mm variant. Therefore, Noctua has released the NA-SFMA1 mounting adapter (its review here), that can let the 120 mm fan to be installed on a 140 mm mounting spot on either radiators or PC cases.
Inside the package, there are two of the mounting brackets, along with a total of 8 NA-SAV4 anti-vibration mounts.
Each side of the adapter has a slightly extended edge to prevent air from escaping between the radiator, the adapter and the fan. Although the NA-SFMA1 is designed with the NF-A12x25 in mind, it should be compatible with other 120 mm fans without any issues.
To determine the performance of the fan, we will measure both the airflow and CPU temperatures when using in heatsink, as well as its sound levels.
An anemometer is used to record the fan’s airflow in various RPM ranges, including 25%, 50%, 75% and 100%. The results are measured in CFM (cubic feet per minute). The distance between the anemometer and the fan is kept at around 5 cm.
A decibel/sound level meter is also used to measure the fan’s operating noise at 1000 RPM, 50% and 100% fan speeds. Results are shown as dbA. Distance between the decibel meter and the fan is maintained at around 10 cm. Ambient sound level is at around 35 dbA.
The fan is then installed on the air cooler. The CPU, FPU and system cache are stressed using AIDA64. Ambient temperature is around 26°C. The temperature of the CPU package is recorded at full load when the fan is running at full speed.
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 1600X @ 3.6 GHz (95W TDP)
- Motherboard: MSI B350M GAMING PRO (its review here)
- Air Cooler: Noctua NH-U12S (its review here)
The NF-A12x25 did the best out of all our tested fans in the airflow test. It outperformed even Noctua’s own NF-F12 and NF-S12A, producing as much airflow as their maximum output at just 75% PWM speed (55.12 CFM). The fan can also generate a 19% better maximum airflow than advertised, at 71.89 CFM.
The fan’s static pressure determines how well the air can pass through a restricted area, such as heatsinks and radiators. Different designs of the fan blades are required to optimize for either airflow or static pressure.
Every fan in this test could maintain the CPU package temperature at 31°C when idle. The NH-U12S cooler’s (its review here) default fan, the NF-F12, managed to keep the temperature difference at load at 25.6°C, which is the forth best result in the test. At full speed, the NF-A12x25 could lower the ΔT to 22.5°C, outperforming all other fans.
Again, the NF-A12x25 could keep its motor spinning silently at all RPM ranges, thanks to the SSO2 bearing. At 1000 RPM, we measured the noise at a mere 39.7 dbA, which is about 14.4% better than the NF-F12 and 2.93% lower than the Noiseblocker B12-P.
The Noctua NF-A12x25 is undoubtedly the most powerful cooling fan in current Noctua’s 120 mm lineup, and one of the best in the market. I personally do not mind the beige and brown color scheme as long as the performance is great, but a chromax edition with black blades and frame is also a welcome addition though.
All the new technologies and materials that Noctua put in to the NF-A12x25 do help improve the performance and durability. The fan’s construction is top-notch, the frame feels super solid without any flex. Because of the blade design and the 0.5 mm tip clearance, the fan becomes a impressive all-rounder, which is suitable for both case ventilation and heatsinks/radiators cooling.
To sum up, the NF-A12x25 would not disappoint you in terms of performance. The fan has a MTBF of over 150,000 hours, which is a couple times longer than competitors. Backed with the 6-year warranty, the fan for sure will last for a long time. Each version of the NF-A12x25 costs the same $29.99 USD (MSRP), while the NA-SFMA1 mounting adapter is $11.99 USD (MSRP). For the amount of accessories, build quality and cooling abilities, the fan should be a no-brainer.
You can purchase the fans from your local/online resellers or the links below from Amazon.
Thanks Noctua for providing us the NF-A12x25 fans for review. (Review Sample)
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