Noctua has released the chromax.black edition of NH-U12A CPU cooler and NF-A12x25 PWM fan. We have recently tested the NH-U12A chromax.black cooler, this time we are testing the NF-A12x25 PWM chromax.blackswap. The NF-A12x25 PWM is based on 4.5 years of research and the outcome is the new generation of fans that are optimized for better noise-to-performance ratio out-of-the-box. We have already tested the NF-A12x25 series fans which can be found here. The chromax.black edition is every bit of it the same fan as the regular NF-A12x25 PWM but in the black color and other supported chromax accessories. The NH-U12A also comes with the two same NF-A12x25 PWM fans though the user has to purchase the related chromax accessories for them. The NF-A12x25 PWM chromax.black.swap has an MSRP of $32.90 which is quite a bullet to digest but given that Noctua has provided 4x anti-vibration pads in 7 different colors and gasket style anti-vibration pad along with the fully sleeved NA-EC1 30cm PWM cable in the black color, the price is sort of justified in our opinion.
Packaging and Contents
The fan is shipped inside a cardboard based packing box finished in chromax theme.
The NF-A12x25 PWM chromax.black.swap comes with anti-vibration pads in 7 colors (4 pads each) including the gray. Gray is a new color here as we have seen 6 color pads earlier in the chromax series.
The fan is made in Taiwan and comes with 6 years warranty. It is rated for up to 2000 RPM ±10% generating an airflow of up to 102.1 m³/h.
The presentation is the same as we have seen on the earlier chromax series fans from Noctua. Personally speaking, this presentation is on the next level. The gray color pads are pre-installed on the fan whereas 6x pads are placed on the container showing each color of the pad provided with the fan and available separately as well (on purchase).
The box comes with
- 1x NF-A12x25 PWM chromax.black.swap fan
- 30cm NA-EC1 Extension Cable
- 4-pin y-cable
- 4x Silver Self-Tapping Screws
- Anti-Vibration gasket for water cooling radiator
- (4×7) Anti-Vibration pads
Since we already have tested the NF-A12x25 series fans in detail (Link here), we will be giving an overview of the chromax.black.swap edition of this fan followed by the thermal testing.
The keynote of this fan is the black color coating on it. Noctua has spent considerable time in testing and ensuring that the black edition fan would offer the same level of performance as the regular NF-A12x25 PWM fan. The fan has 9x blades. Each mounting corner has a gray color anti-vibration pad. The user can swap them with 6 other color pads provided in the box. Please note that only 4x pads of each color are provided which would mean you can customize only one side of the fan. In order to have dual-sided customization in the same color, 8x pads of that color would be needed for which the user has to buy 4x more pads from Noctua. These pads are available in a pack of 16 per box separately as well. Last time we raised the same point to which Noctua mentioned that providing 8x pads in all colors would have increased the price further and they wanted to keep it competitive as well. Noctua’s AAO (Advanced Acoustic Optimization) frames feature integrated anti-vibration pads as well as Noctua’s proprietary Stepped Inlet Design and Inner Surface Microstructures, both of which further refine the fan’s performance/noise efficiency.
The blades have a textured surface in black color. Each blade has raised surfaces towards the trailing edge. These are forming the air channels on the blades which Noctua refers to as Flow Acceleration Channels. By speeding up the airflow at the crucial outer blade regions, this measure reduces suction side flow separation and thus leads to better efficiency and lower vortex noise.
The motor hub has a diameter of 50mm which is quite large as compared to the standard axial fans. Fan blades are also less wide as compared to the blade design optimized for the high static pressure. This motor hub is metal reinforced which has added more to the weight of the fan but it has a crucial function in the overall design of the fan. The centerpiece of the NF-A12x25’s motor hub is made entirely from steel and the axle mount is reinforced with an additional brass structure. The very reason why there is metal construction and brass reinforcement is to reduce the impeller creep.
The chromax.black.swap edition of NF-A12x25 PWM is using the same liquid-crystal polymer material (Sterrox) as is on the regular version of this fan. Sterrox® is Noctua’s own customized type of fiber-glass reinforced LCP. The Sterrox has enabled the Noctua to maintain the gap between the impeller and the frame to be 0.5mm which is a huge milestone in the Fan’s technology as it will help fight the back pressure from the resistant surface and air leaks. Noctua is still using stepped inlet design on the frame border but with reduced steps as compared to the NF-F12. This is understandable as there is a gap of only 0.5mm between the impellers and the frame.
The backside of the fan has a steep inward slope on the four sides with the central mast having a straight-line design. There is a 4-arm assembly connecting the motor hub with the frame. The fan draws 0.14A at 12VDC using 1.68W power. There are no anti-vibration pads on this side of the frame. This is what we have mentioned above.
Noctua is using their proprietary bearing design i.e SSO2. With SSO2, the rear magnet is placed closer to the axis to provide even better stabilization. The NF-A12x25 PWM chromax.black.swap features a CNC milled bearing shell made entirely from brass. These fans are using Noctua’s custom-designed NE-FD1 PWM IC that integrates Smooth Commutation Drive (SCD) technology.
The fan has 4x gray color anti-vibration pads on the mounting corners.
There is an inscribed Noctua branding on one side of the frame.
There are arrow indicators on one side of the frame. These show the direction in which the blades will spin and the direction of the airflow through the fan.
The fan has a small-length flat cable (1cm) with a 4-pin PWM connector. The very purpose of the small length is to connect the NA-EC1 cables which are also available in 6 different colors. Don’t worry, Noctua has provided 1x NA-EC1 black color extension cable in the box.
The above picture shows the NA-EC1 attached to the fan.
Noctua has also provided a single anti-vibration gasket (NA-AVG1) in the black color. This gasket is to be attached to the side of the fan which will face the radiator. The gasket runs on the entire frame of the fan.
The above picture shows the gasket attached to the backside of the frame.
The above picture shows the eye candy of this fan. We have 7 colors of anti-vibration pads (NA-AVP1) provided with the fan. The picture is showing 6 colors pads as the gray color pads come pre-installed on the fan.
The above picture highlights the very idea of chromax accessories. The user can customize the fan using colored anti-vibration pads and extension cables to color coordinate the themed build.
Our main focus here is to test the thermal performance of NH-A12x25 PWM chromax.black.swap against the regular NF-A12x25 PWM and see if there is variation in the performance or not since both are essentially the same fans in different colors.
The thermal performance of the fan was tested on this test bench:
- Intel i7 10700k [4.8GHz, 1.268v]
- MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK
- Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black in a single fan configuration
- Noctua NT-H1
- T-Force NIGHTHAWK RGB DDR4 16GB 3200MHz CL16
- Addlink S70 NVMe 250GB SSD
- be quiet! Straight Power 11 850W Platinum PSU
The fans were tested at full speed.
4.8GHz Full Speed
We observed no difference in the thermal performance as both coolers were within 1°C.
We have repair work going on here and not measuring the noise output due to environmental noise. Based on our subjective hearing, this fan was almost silent which is too good!
Noctua has released the chromax edition of a high-performance NF-A12x25 PWM fan. The NF-A12x25 PWM chromax.black.swap is an all-black edition of the regular NF-A12x25 fan and this particular model comes with NA-AVP1 anti-vibration pads in 7 color (4x each). Noctua has also bundled the NA-AVG1 gasket in the box which is to be used when installing these fans on the liquid cooling radiators. The fan has every bit of the same design as the regular NF-A12x25 PWM fan. The chromax edition fan has a short power cable (1cm). This is to provide further color customization for the power cable of the chromax series fan using NA-EC1 extension cables available in 6 colors. Noctua has provided a 1x NA-EC1 black color extension cable in the box.
Speaking of the features, the NF-A12x25 PWM chromax.black.swap fan has the same building block and design as is the regular NF-A12x25 PWM. This includes:
- AAO (Advanced Acoustic Optimization) Frame
- Stepped Inlet Frame
- Inner Micro Structure
- Sterrox material derived from LCP (Liquid-Crystal Polymer) used on the impeller
- A gap of only 0.5mm between the impeller and the frame
- Motor hub made of steel
- Additional brass structure to reinforce the axle mount
- CNC milled bearing shell
- Flow Acceleration Channels on the blade edges
Since we have already tested and reviewed the NF-A12x25 series fan (link here), we have not gone into the design detail here. We were more interested in testing this fan against the regular NF-A12x25 PWM fan and this is what we have exactly done. Our findings based on our testing are that there is no difference in the thermal and noise performance between the regular edition and the chromax edition of the NF-A12x25 PWM fans.
The Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM chromax.black.swap fan has an MSRP of USD/EUR 32.90 which is quite a steep pricing but would make sense given the plethora of the accessories provided with the fan like a total of 28x anti-vibration pads, 1x anti-vibration gasket, 1x 30cm 4-pin extension cable along with the fan. Noctua is giving a 6-year warranty on these fans.
The thermal and noise performance of chromax edition fan is similar to the regular series NF-A12x25 PWM fan and with this level of customization, the NF-A12x25 PWM chromax.black.swap is hard to miss fans when it comes to a requirement of balanced and optimized cooling operations.
We are thankful to Noctua for the provision of NF-A12x25 PWM chromax.black.swap fan for the testing.