For many years I was convinced that Fans were Fans. There were subtitle tweaks that made a fan different but at the lowest level they are designed to move air from one location to another using a motor. In the early days this was especially true given that very few companies made fans and there was no badge of honor to improve a particular design.
This is where specialized companies started to take over. The first LED fans were an attempt to spice up a cooling device and make them a little different. Unfortunately LED lights don’t control noise levels or change the way air is channeled though the fan frame. Companies also experimented with making fans quieter and by doing this in the worse way possible, by slowing them down. I was always annoyed when I got heatsinks in for review with the “EU” fans since they never did perform well.
Noctua is an Austrian company and honestly I suspect they were just as upset as I was with coolers retrofitted with “detuned” fans and made it their mission to doi things better. In this review we looked at the Noctua NF-A12x25 and NF-P12 Redux fans.
The NF-A12x25 is the newest and most advanced fan that Noctua sells with extremely tight tolerances and a combination of every performance enhancement feature that Noctua has ever developed make it a premier design worthy of the title.
In fact this fan is so advanced that it is only available as a 120mm fan. This is where most companies would simply scale the fan up (or down) to fill out the product line however, Noctua has determined that scaling the fan doesn’t work and fails their reliability testing. To address this Noctua offers a 120mm to 140mm fan adaptor allowing you to run your NF-A12x25 on 140mm and 280mm radiators.
There was no decline in cooling performance using the adaptors since they both blocked reverse airflow through the radiator and actually covered the same surface a 140mm fan would.
The second fan we looked at was the NF-P12 Redux line of fans. These are a lower cost offering to the discontinued NF-P12 designed for radiator cooling. The Redux features the same basic design with a few technologies removed to keep the costs down. I don’t have a previous generation P12 to test against but the fans worked wonderfully and aside from the new color scheme I doubt anyone would notice a difference.
Noctua fans are extremely good at what they do and I have to say I am really impressed with the new NF-A12x25 design. The company really pulled all the stops on paper and using the person it is simply impressive. Spinning the fan you don’t feel any of the stator “thumps” as it spins and the heavy steel core stores fan inertia offering an ultra smooth operation when the fan is changing speeds. The blade design is configured for high pressure applications and doesn’t have the typical cone shaped exit profile making it a great fit for radiator and case cooling.
When it comes to noise the NF-A12x25 was near silent in the normal operational range. This is an expected outcome and illustrated in the specs. However, when the PWM and FLX variations are running full tilt you can tell and personally I’m not bothered by this.
So which fan should you buy?
That is a difficult to question to answer mostly because there are so many variables to consider including cost and performance. I can say that both the PWM and FLX versions of the A12x25 are the same cost on Amazon and personally I prefer PWM if you will be running them from a motherboard.
If you have a static power situation I would suggest the FLX and dial them back with the LNA adaptor if they happen to spin too fast. Of course if cost is a factor the NF-P12 Redux is an excellent alternative and the same rules apply. PWM for motherboard controls static speed for static voltage.
Ultra Smooth Operation
Available in Three Versions
High Pressure Construction
High Flow When Needed
2000rpm Version Available
No 140mm version, yet