The cooling performance and build quality of Noctua’s entire fan range is phenomenal and a significant step above the competition. As with any industry-leading product, you have to pay a premium to get the best money can offer. At approximately £17-20 per fan for the mainstream 120mm/140mm models, the Noctua product line is restricted to higher end customers and out of the reach of most PC users. However, Noctua have acknowledged this and decided to implement a new, more affordable set of fans which revolve around a few minor cost-cutting exercises. This budget-friendly option is called the Redux and retails between £8.99 and £13.99 depending on the fan size. The question remains though, where have these cutbacks been made and has this impacted on Noctua’s infallible reputation?
Noctua has reduced the packaging size as each fan comes bundled in a compact square shaped box. This is a major deviation from the standard range which features a larger cardboard shell and window so you can see the product in all its glory. There is a greater demand for recyclable and more environmentally friendly packaging so this is a positive move. Despite these cosmetic alterations, you don’t feel that the product is any less of a high-end premium unit because the new slimline packaging is sublime.
The box contains an embossed glossy Redux logo on the front with specific details about rotation speed and fan size. This front area is finished in a stunning, sharp grey colour and the sides adopt an imposing brown hue which coincides with Noctua’s signature branding. The contrast between these colours is impeccable and works magnificently. On the rear is a summary of technical data for those who wish to read the individual specifications. The packaging is opened via a fairly strong flap but will rip if you are a little overzealous. Inside the box is a cardboard square which houses the fan and has a small indent to feed the cable underneath and hold it in place.
There has been a few cutbacks made in terms of the accessories included which always added some value to the most expensive fans Noctua produced. The Redux SKU doesn’t include a Low Noise Adapter, Y Cable, 30cm Extension Cable or Anti Vibration mounts. However, you can purchase these extras for an additional fee. Noctua sell a 20 Anti Vibration mount pack and a box of 3 Low Noise Adapter cables. It is clear that Noctua has attempted to reduce costs and hit an aggressive price point and one way to achieve this was the removal of these often underutilized accessories. Noctua do provide options though if you are concerned by the stated rotation speed as PWM fans can be purchased which offer noise reduction via the BIOS. You shouldn’t require any cable extensions as the Redux’s cable length is 40cm whilst the standard fans are only 20cm. You also get a set of screws to mount the fan inside your case.
A large proportion of enthusiasts have been vehemently opposed to Noctua fans based entirely on the ostentatious and garish colour scheme which looks out of place in certain builds. After a long and arduous wait, Noctua has finally listened to these concerns and opted for a more neutral colour scheme. The Redux employs a light grey casing and infuses this with dark grey fins which appear aesthetically pleasing without being too overpowering. I love this new design and felt the fans oozed a sense of professionalism. It can be an almost impossible task to please a wide assortment of consumers who all have different tastes. Some prefer the bright and vivid LED look whilst others see this as tacky. I have to commend Noctua because I feel they got the balance right and created a fantastic looking fan which should cater to most consumers’ needs.
The Redux fans have a staggering build quality especially when you take the asking price into account. These fans are based on the award winning NF-P14 model and implement a wide array of advanced, patented technology which makes Noctua’s product line incredibly quiet whilst having a substantial amount of airflow. The blades use a bevelled tip design and positioned remarkably close to the outer housing. This allows the blades to be longer and increases the airflow through an efficient and streamlined approach. The combination of bevelled tips and longer fins are a superb balance in terms of the noise/airflow ratio. The Redux range is based on Noctua’s innovative Self-Stabilising Oil-Pressure bearing (SSO) mechanism. In basic terms, the SSO bearing works to stabilize and center the rotor axis which prolongs a fan’s lifespan.
This is why Noctua supports each model with a 6 year warranty due to the ludicrous >150.000h MTBF. Traditionally, high quality ball bearings are very reliable but this comes at the cost of an increased noise output. Noctua’s invention though manages to be virtually silent and very difficult to damage. However, it’s important to note that the Redux uses version 1 of this technology and not version 2 which places the motor closer to the rotor axis. Having the motor in this position increases the rigidity and overall reliability. Another inclusion is the Smooth Communication Drive (SCD) which aims to eliminate sudden changes in sound between the stator coils. There is a influx of noise when an axial fan with non brushless motors transitions to the next coil. Noctua’s SCD device enables a more continuous and smooth switching mechanism which reduces sudden changes in pitch which are very noticeable to the human ear.
So what has been removed from the more expensive models? The Redux fans are missing features such as the Advanced Acoustic Optimisation (AAO) Frame, Stepped Inlet Design, Inner Surface Microstructures and Metal Bearing Shell. As a result, you won’t be benefiting from Anti-Vibration pads or textured Microstructures designed to heighten aerodynamic airflow and reduce friction. The brass bearing reinforces each fan and improves longevity. Even though these are clear reductions, they are only going to have a miniscule effect which the budget user shouldn’t notice. Noctua has prioritized the most important elements like the SSO system which is paramount to their fan’s lifespan.
Noctua have manufactured a wide array of fan speeds, sizes and even shapes to suit the needs of every customer. Personally, I dislike round frame 140mm fans so it is pleasing that Noctua have given the option for a square variant. This improves compatibility with 3rd party cooling devices and especially radiators which can have clearance issues with rounder fan shapes.
From a performance standpoint, the Redux fans are impressive and got incredibly close to Noctua’s flagship model. I put the entire range through its paces using OCCT to give a worst case scenario and a number of demanding games to see the impact on system temperatures and overall noise levels. Noctua’s 120mm range works a lot better as a direct system airflow fan instead of being used for optimized static pressure. The 140mm set is fantastic for use on Closed Loop coolers such as the H100i due to its improved static pressure performance.
Acoustically, they are louder than Noctua’s standard range by around 1-2dbA but still practically silent and 3-4dbA quieter in my test rig than Swiftech’s Helix fans. One of Noctua’s main competition comes from the Corsair AF140 Quiet Edition fans which operate at 1150rpm with an airflow of 115 m³/h and a 24 dbA rating. The Noctua NF-P14s Redux follows a similar specification but is significantly quieter. This fan has spins at 1200RPM, has an airflow of 110,3 m³/h and acoustic level of 19.6dbA. As you can see, there is a much better noise/performance ratio with the Noctua line of products.
Replacing the stock fans in my case which are OEM AF140s improved the temperatures under load by 3 degrees and as previously mentioned made the system a lot quieter. I also saw a significant bump in performance when replacing the default H100i fans and the difference in dbA was staggering. This actually made the H100i usable. Compared to Noctua’s standard line, the Redux fans perform slightly worse and increased the temperatures by 2c on average. However, given the price and build quality of these fans, I am thoroughly impressed by the cooling and low noise levels under heavy applications.
Conclusion – Is It Worth Your Money?
Noctua’s new fan range is a wonderful display of their commitment to high end products at reasonable prices. The Redux line is backed by a 6 year warranty and > 150.000h MTBF. They feature rock solid reliability due to the SSO bearing system and perform brilliantly with near silent operation. While there has been cutbacks, they have been intelligently done and not at the expense of Noctua’s faultless reputation. The Redux fans, are by a significant margin, the best value-for-money cooling product I’ve used and a worthwhile investment.