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Noctua NF-F12 120mm PWM Fan Review

When it comes to reviewing products fans just aren’t something very exciting, unless they’re from our friends at Noctua who always seem to be innovating and improving the designs of their fans. They spend quite a bit of time, effort and money on improving fans. Most people take them for granted really. Today for review I’ve got their newest fan called the NF-F12 PWM which is a 120mm fan with lots of new features and it has a very unique look to it. So read on…

Tech Specs,Features or the Basic Info:


Teaming up eleven stator guide vanes with a specially conceived seven blade impeller, the NF-F12’s Focused Flow system creates outstanding static pressure and focuses the airflow for superior performance on heatsinks and radiators. At the same time, a wide range of advanced aerodynamic design measures, second generation SSO-

Bearings and Noctua’s new, custom designed PWM IC for fully automatic control guarantee astounding quietness of operation. The NF-F12 comes with modular cabling, integrated anti-vibration pads and two speed settings for full flexibility. Its commanding performance, exhaustive set of features and Noctua’s trusted premium quality make it an elite choice for use on air coolers, radiators and other pressure demanding applications.


Focused Flow Frame

Designed for pressure demanding applications such as heatsinks and radiators, the Focused Flow frame features eleven stator guide vanes that straighten, channel and focus the airflow, which allows the NF-F12 to rival the performance of conventional fans running at much faster speeds

Varying Angular Distance and Vortex Control Notches

The NF-F12’s stator guide vanes are set out in Varying Angular Distance and feature Vortex-Control Notches. Both measures help to spread the noise emission over a broader frequency spectrum and thus make the fan’s sound pattern more agreeable to the human ear.

Heptaperf Impeller

Custom designed for the new Focused Flow frame and to work in tandem with the eleven stator guide vanes, the NF-F12’s seven blade Heptaperf impeller has been carefully optimised to achieve a perfect balance between power and quietness.

Stepped Inlet Design

Noctua’s Stepped Inlet Design adds turbulence to the influx in order to facilitate the transition from laminar flow to turbulent flow, which reduces tonal intake noise,improves flow attachment and increases suction capacity, especially in space restricted environments.

Inner Surface Microstructures

With the tips of the fan blades ploughing through the boundary layer created by the Inner Surface Microstructures, 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.

Integrated Anti-Vibration Pads

Integrated Anti-Vibration Pads made from extra-soft silicone minimize the transmission of minute vibrations while maintaining full compatibility with all standard mounting systems and fan clips used on heatsinks.

SSO2 Bearing

The NF-F12 is the first fan to feature the further optimized second generation of Noctua’s renowned, time-tested SSO bearing. With SSO2, the rear magnet is placed closer to the axis to provide even better stabilization, precision and durability.

Metal bearing shell

In order to guarantee the highest possible degree of manufacturing precision, minimum tolerance and excellent long-term stability, the NF-F12 sports a CNC milled bearing shell made entirely from brass.

Custom designed PWM IC with SCD

Supporting fully automatic PWM speed control, the NF-F12 uses Noctua’s novel, custom designed NE-FD1 PWM IC that integrates Smooth Commutation Drive (SCD) technology. By providing smoother torque impulses, SCD suppresses PWM switching noises and thus makes the fan quieter at lower speeds.

Ultra-Low Power Consumption

The NF-F12 draws only 0.6W, which is more than 50% less than many fans in the same speed range. This doesn’t only make it eco-friendly but also cuts down the electricity bill: Compared to a typical 2W fan, this allows you to save about half the price of the NF-F12 after 5 years of continuous use.

Low-Noise Adaptor

The NF-F12 is supplied with a Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.) that reduces the maximum fan speed from 1500 to 1200rpm. The L.N.A can be used either to run the fan at a fixed speed of 1200rpm or to cap the maximum speed when using automatic PWM control.

Extensive Cabling Options

The fan’s short 20cm primary cable minimizes cable clutter in typical applications while the supplied 30cm extension provides extended reach when necessary. Both cables are fully sleeved and a 4-pin y-cable allows to connect a second NF-F12 fan to the same PWM fan header for automatic control.

6 years manufacturer’s warranty

Noctua fans are renowned for their impeccable quality and outstanding longevity. Like all Noctua fans, the NF-F12 features an MTBF rating of more than 150.000 hours and comes with a full 6 years manufacturer’s warranty.


Size: 120x120x25 mm

Connector: 4-pin PWM

Bearing: SSO2

Blade Geometry: Heptaperf

Frame Technology: Focused Flow

Rotational Speed (+/- 10%): 1500 RPM

Rotational Speed with L.N.A. (+/- 10%): 1200 RPM

Min. Rotational Speed (PWM): 300 RPM

Airflow: 93,4 m³/h

Airflow with L.N.A.: 74,3 m³/h

Acoustical Noise: 22,4 dB(A)

Acoustical Noise with L.N.A.: 18,6 dB(A)

Static Pressure: 2,61 mm H2O

Static Pressure with L.N.A.: 1,83 mm H2O

Max. Input Power: 0,6 W

Max. Input Current: 0,05 A

Voltage: 12 V

MTBF: > 150.000 h

Scope of Delivery:

-Low-Noise Adapter (L.N.A.)

-4-Pin Y-Cable

-30cm Extension Cable

-4 Vibration-Compensators

-4 Fan Screws

Warranty: 6 years

Price: $19.79 (From Amazon at time of review)


A Better Look at Things:

The Noctua NF-F12 PWM fan comes in a nice looking box with a back section that opens to provide a full detailed explanation about the new design of this fan.

nffan1 nffan2

When you open the box you’ll find a plastic box with everything inside of it and a brief instruction manual.


When you get everything unpacked you’ll find a bag of screws, vibration dampening fasteners, ‘Y’ cable, extension cable, low noise adapter and the fan of course.

nffan4 nffan5 nffan6 nffan7

The fan is the familiar Noctua colors, it’s 120mm x 120mm x 25mm in dimensions. It’s Noctua so you know you’re getting a quality product, the fan is very well made of coruse.


The fan has got many new features over previous Noctua fans; they’re all listed above in the specs. On the inside of the fan you’ll find small dimples or notches that Noctua calls Microstructures which improve airflow and pressure efficiency


On each corner of the fan you’ll find built-in vibration dampeners to help keep things even quieter. They can be removed if need be, but why you would want to I don’t know…

nffan10 nffan11

Here’s the back view of the NF-F12, it looks very much different from any other fan out there today. It might not look like it in the picture, but the fins are actually all different angles. These are called Varying Angular Distance and Vortex Control Notches that help to spread the noise emission over a broader frequency spectrum and thus make the fan’s sound pattern more agreeable to the human ear.

nffan12 nffan13


Installation, Testing and Comparison:

The Noctua NF-F12 is really made to be used with a heatsink or radiator. I’ve stopped water cooling long ago; it just turned into being way too much of a hassle with getting cases for review and having to take everything out all of the time, so I have no radiator but I do have the Noctua NH-U12P CPU cooler on my CPU. I think that will work just fine for testing. The cooler has a Noctua NF-P12 fan on it, so I’ll be comparing the two.


Here’s the NF-F12 installed on the cooler:


Getting it installed was simple as the cooler just uses clips and the anti-vibration attachments didn’t get in the way of the installation at all.

The NF-P12 is not a PWM fan like the NF-F12 is, so I have it running with the ULNA adapter or at 900RPM, which provides decent cooling ability while being quiet. The NF-F12 is PWM so it varies in speeds from 300RPM to 1500RPM.

This is my gaming/HTPC system which has an Intel Core2Quad 9650 in it.

For testing I just stressed the CPU with two instances of Orthos Stress Prime to get 100% load on all four cores. I then used Coretemp to record and log the temperatures, and then I averaged them out to get a single number to use for the graph below.

Ambient room temperature during testing was 20.3C (+/- .3C).

So here are the results of my testing:


As you can see there’s not much difference at idle, I didn’t expect there to be really. Under load though the NF-F12 helps drop the CPU temperature by about 3C, which isn’t bad for just swapping the fan out.

Running at full speed the NF-F12 is audible, but only if you get close to the case. It is louder than the NF-P12, but it’s running faster so it should be.

The new design works and apparently it works very well.


Summary and Comments:

So the newly designed Noctua NF-F12 PWM has more than just a unique look to it, these design improvements really work to help the fan move air more efficiently for improved cooling performance while remaining virtually silent doing so.

It is Noctua so it’s no surprise that it’s a quality product with a nice assortment of extras included and a fan that is very well made and designed.

Just something simple as swapping a fan can improve the cooling performance of your CPU cooler, but you have to make sure you get the right fan, and the NF-F12 is that fan.

If you want a fan that works well then you can’t go wrong with the NF-F12 PWM fan.




+Very well made

+Cools better than other fans

+Accessories included

+Silent under normal conditions

+Unique design that works



-Can get audible at full speeds

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