Tom's Hardware's 2010 Gift Guide: Part 1, For System Builders

Heatsink: Noctua NH-C14

www.noctua.at
$85
By: Chris Angelini

Noctua should already be familiar to our readers as one of the most extreme vendors catering to proponents of air cooling. Its designs are some of the largest around, and we’ve used its NH-D14 in the past as a reference for our more ambitious attempts at pushing 5 GHz overclocks on air.

The problem with air cooling, of course, is that it relies on the quick dissipation of heat through one or two materials (usually a copper base and aluminum fins), relying on ample airflow to then transfer that heat into the surrounding environment. Improving cooling capacity necessitates more metal, better mechanisms for dissipating heat evenly, and fans powerful enough to prevent saturation. As heatsink vendors continue pushing the envelope, coolers not only get more expensive, but also larger, increasing the likelihood of a compatibility issue with motherboard-based components or chassis clearance.

Noctua’s latest release isn’t as aggressive as the NH-D14, but it does offer a ton of flexibility for enthusiasts who still want ample overclocking potential in a more specific operating environment. The NH-C14 employs what Noctua calls a C-type flow design, where the unit’s base sits on the CPU surface and six pipes transfer heat to an array of fins parallel to the motherboard’s surface.

You can use the NH-C14 in its most effective dual-fan mode, with one 140 mm on top of the fin array and another below, you can use it in a low-profile mode, with just the bottom fan in place, or you can use it in high-clearance mode, with just the top fan installed. There are clearly usage models where all three configurations could come in useful. But Noctua bundles two of its NF-P14 fans (which sell for $30 each, separately) with the kit anyway. Also included is a syringe of Noctua’s NT-N1 thermal compound.

At the end of the day, $85 is a lot to spend on a heatsink. But if a sub-$100 cooler helps take your $300 Core i7-950 beyond the performance of a $1000 Core i7-975 at lower temperatures than Intel’s stock cooler, consider that money well-spent. Best of all, the NH-C14 is compatible with Intel’s LGA 1366, 1156, 775, and 1155 processors, along with AMD’s AM2, AM2+, and AM3 CPUs.

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  • alexttlyrocks
    I'm only reading this article to look at the chicks
  • LuckyDucky7
    Alternative title:
    Gift Guide Part 1, for Deep Pockets :)
  • Other Comments
  • alexttlyrocks
    I'm only reading this article to look at the chicks
  • rohitbaran
    ^ Keep reading!
  • dogman_1234
    Wait until SB and BD.
  • Anonymous
    Radeon 6870 girl ... someone forgot to photoshop her ^^
  • LuckyDucky7
    Alternative title:
    Gift Guide Part 1, for Deep Pockets :)
  • squanto
    scroll...picture....next...scroll..picture...
  • cangelini
    LuckyDucky7Alternative title:Gift Guide Part 1, for Deep Pockets


    Phenom II for under $100? You must have those pockets that are sewn shut at the top, for decoration! =)
  • Bluescreendeath
    girls > computer parts that we already know about
  • Silmarunya
    Nice review, but I'd have liked to see advice for different budgets. For example, you could recommend a budget, mid range and high end product. For example, I'm currently in the market for a discrete sound card, but don't such an expensive one. On the other hand, I wouldn't be satisfied with a Phenom II X2. It's still a great article, mind you, but it'd have been nice to see some love for every end of the market.
  • Onus
    ntrRadeon 6870 girl ... someone forgot to photoshop her ^^

    No, it's the taint that a Diamond product radiates. They're #2 on my personal "Do not buy" list, right after Belkin.
  • garyshome
    The ps costs as much as the cpu and mb? So much for the budget.
  • sandmanwn
    Quote:
    Ed: You'll have to pardon this little gem missing out on the gift guide photo shoot.

    Off with his head!!!
  • nevertell
    The phenom II x2 555 is some of the BEST bang for the buck. I dropped it in my build, got a quad core running at 3,6 ghz for about 25 $ per core, and I didn't even have to disable any of the powersaving features or anything actually to get it working like this.
  • mi1ez
    Why the hell does the US site work fine and the UK site have it'ss CSS in a twist?
  • tony singh
    Some one gift me please....:)
  • cknobman
    I have no clue what products Toms is actually recommending here, too busy looking and the beautiful product modelers and not the actual products!!!
  • fausto
    Toms needs to spend more money on the holiday Models department. seen much better chicks at Quakecon 2008. No offense to the ladies but some of you are not booth babe material
  • ta152h
    Bluescreendeathgirls > computer parts that we already know about


    If you're that desperate to see pictures of girls, you're probably right; you must know computer parts better than girls.

    It's pretty sad when pictures of girls gets so much of a reaction. I swear if you get out of the house, you'll actually see them in real life. I'm not lying. You can even say "Hi" to them, and they'll probably even give you a response. I know it sounds far fetched, but I'm really confident about this, so just trust me.
  • ta152h
    faustoToms needs to spend more money on the holiday Models department. seen much better chicks at Quakecon 2008. No offense to the ladies but some of you are not booth babe material


    The pathetic part is, how it's still getting these desperate guys worked up.

    Some of the pictures are just bad too, like the one with the Radeon.
  • accolite
    TA152H, I'm not desperate... I'm married, but I enjoy a good looking woman more than looking at some hardware components after all we are guys! If you don't your probably a woman yourself or a homo!