heading

The NF-S12A marks the third generation of Noctua’s signature S12 series quiet case fans, which have received more than 250 awards and recommendations from the international press. Featuring a further refined blade design with Anti-Stall Knobs that works in tandem with the new AAO (Advanced Acoustic Optimisation) frame, the NF-S12A improves the airflow/noise efficiency of its renowned predecessor by up to 8%. The PWM version sports Noctua’s custom designed NE-FD1 IC for fully automatic speed control via 4-pin fan headers and comes with a Low-Noise-Adaptor to reduce the maximum speed during PWM control from 1200 to 900rpm. Its superb running smoothness, SSO2 bearing and Noctua’s trusted premium quality make it an elite choice for quiet case cooling.

  button  Anti-Stall Knobs 
button  AAO Frame
button  Stepped Inlet Design 
button  Inner Surface Microstructures 
button  SSO2 Bearing
button  Metal Bearing Shell 
button  NE-FD1 PWM IC 
button  Which Noctua 120mm fan should I choose?
Details
Award-winning S12 design

Award-winning S12 design

The NF-S12A features the third evolution of Noctua's classic Straight Blade Design that has earned its S12 series countless recommendations from hardware journalists and enthusiasts around the world. Further optimised for even better airflow/noise efficiency, it makes the NF-S12A an ideal quiet case fan.
Anti-Stall Knobs

Anti-Stall Knobs

The NF-S12A's Anti-Stall Knobs reduce flow separation phenomena in medium to high impedance situations and thereby increase the fan's stall margin. This means that the NF-S12A is even more versatile than its renowned predecessor and can achieve better performance on heatsinks and radiators.
AAO Frame

AAO Frame

Noctua's AAO (Advanced Acoustic Optimisation) 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.
Stepped Inlet Design

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

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

Integrated anti-vibration pads made from extra-soft silicone minimise the transmission of minute vibrations while maintaining full compatibility with all standard screws and other mounting systems.
Custom-designed PWM IC with SCD

Custom-designed PWM IC with SCD

Supporting fully automatic PWM speed control, the NF-S12A PWM 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 low speeds.
Low-Noise Adaptor

Low-Noise Adaptor

The NF-S12A PWM is supplied with a (L.N.A.) that reduces the maximum fan speed from 1200 to 900rpm. The L.N.A. can be used either to run the fan at a fixed speed of 900rpm or to cap the maximum speed when using automatic PWM control.
Extensive cabling options

Extensive cabling options

The fan's short 20cm primary cable minimises 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 the connection of a second fan to the same PWM fan header for automatic control.
SSO2 Bearing

SSO2 Bearing

The NF-S12A features the further optimised 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 stabilisation, precision and durability.
Metal bearing shell

Metal bearing shell

In order to guarantee the highest possible degree of manufacturing precision, minimum tolerance and excellent long-term stability, the NF-S12A sports a CNC milled bearing shell made entirely from brass.
6-year manufacturer’s warranty

6-year manufacturer’s warranty

Noctua fans are renowned for their impeccable quality and outstanding longevity. Like all Noctua fans, the NF-S12A features an MTTF rating of more than 150.000 hours and comes with a full 6-year manufacturer's warranty.
NF-S12A PWM
FAN Specification
Size
120x120x25 mm
Mounting hole spacing
105x105 mm
Connector
4-Pin PWM
Bearing
Blade Geometry
S-Series with Anti-Stall Knobs
Rotational Speed (+/- 10%)
1200 RPM
Rotational Speed with L.N.A. (+/- 10%)
900 RPM
Min. Rotational Speed (PWM, +/-20%)
300 RPM
Acoustical Noise
17,8 dB(A)
Acoustical Noise with L.N.A.
10,7 dB(A)
Static Pressure
1,19 mm H₂O
Static Pressure with L.N.A.
0,73 mm H₂O
Max. Input Power
1,44 W
Max. Input Current
0,12 A
Voltage
12 V
MTTF
> 150.000 h
Scope of Delivery
  • Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)
  • 4-Pin Y-Cable
  • 30cm Extension Cable
  • 4 Vibration-Compensators
  • 4 Fan Screws
Warranty
6 years
NF-S12A PWM
NF-S12A
Video Reviews
The following video reviews have not been created by Noctua. Responsibility for the information and views expressed in the videos lies entirely with the authors.
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30.03.2013 // eTeknix.com
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NF-S12A PWM Review

The Noctua 1200RPM fans (FLX and ULN) posted generally better scores than the SilverStone AP123 fans despite running at lower RPMs and being quieter. I think the results speak for themselves. [...] So we have a great deal of performance flexibility across the whole NF-S12A series, we have the extensive Noctua accessory bundle with each fan giving you even more flexibility to use your fans whichever way you want, we have the usual top notch build quality and reliability backed by Noctua’s 6 year warranty, we have mind boggling levels of research and development that have gone into these products and most importantly a price which is still competitive despite this best-in-class excellence that you just don’t expect to find on most fans. As I always seem to say with Noctua fan reviews the price is justified by the premium nature and excellent all-round capabilities of the product. If you want some excellent case fans then you cannot go wrong with the NF-S12A series. My only concerns are that relatively speaking the price is high, but like I have said I still feel this is justified, and again the aesthetics will not be to everyone’s tastes but the brown and beige colour scheme is what makes Noctua products unique. Without it they would just blend into to a market full of average fans when their fans are certainly far from average, though I do feel they could have made an effort to braid the cables all the way into the motor so the multi-coloured cabling on the rear isn’t visible.
Test verdict: "Noctua products never cease to amaze me with their innovation and performance and if I was going to put some 120mm fans into my case then these would be my first choice, without a doubt. That said, these fans are in my opinion deserving of the eTeknix Editor’s Choice award." (Ryan Martin, eTeknix.com)
29.08.2013 // TecCentral.de
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NF-S12A PWM Review

Im Einsatz zeigen die neuen Noctua-Lüfter dann sofort und nahezu uneingeschränkt ihre Stärken. Schon nach wenigen Sekunden ist klar, das sich die Geräuschemissionen des schon vom Werk aus recht leisen Nanoxia Deep Silence 1, noch weiter senken lassen. Als wäre dies nicht genug, lassen sich die beiden NF-S12A, wie auch der NF-A14 in ihrer Arbeitsgeschwindigkeit leicht nach unten korrigieren, ohne dabei an Performance, in diesem Fall Kühlleistung bzw. Luftdurchsatz, zu verlieren. Ein klares Zeichen, das Noctua mit der dritten Generation seiner NF-Lüfter, doch noch einen, wenn auch nur kleinen Schritt nach vorn machen konnte und im Premium-Segment nicht nur bei der Ausstattung, sondern auch der Leistung weiterhin Maßstäbe setzen kann. Ebenfalls lobenswert ist das breite Drehzahlband, welches von den NF-Lüftern abgedeckt wird. Die Spanne reicht hier, fein gestaffelt, von einer Anlaufgeschwindigkeit knapp unterhalb von 600 U/min. (ca. 50 %), bis hin zu leistungsorientierten 1200 U/min. (100 %).
Test verdict: "Noctua beweist mit der aktuellen Generation der NF-Lüfter sein geballtes Know-How im Bereich der Luftkühlung und bietet für nahezu jeden Einsatzzweck das passende Produkt in seinem Sortiment. Ganz klar haben die Österreicher es nicht geschafft, das Rad oder in diesem Fall den Gehäuse-Lüfter komplett neu zu erfinden, können aber mit Stolz behaupten, das mit Abstand Beste Gesamt-Konzept für performanceorientierte Silent-Systeme zu bieten. Die Fülle an wohl durchdachten Detaillösungen machen die Noctua NF-Lüfter zu einem ganz besonderen Gut und verhelfen diesen zu einer Art Ausnahmestatus. Materialwahl, Verarbeitung und alles in Summe, die Gesamtqualität, sind überragend und garantieren somit in ihrer Gesamtheit eine besonders lange Lebensdauer, was Noctua mit einer gewährten Garantiezeit von 6 Jahren unterstreicht." (Frank Meyer, TecCentral.de)
29.06.2013 // Vortez.net
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NF-S12A PWM Review

Noctua has devoted itself to quiet cooling. In that they have succeeded well. One measure of their insistence on quietness was their not bringing PWM products to market until they were ready to do it the Noctua way. “Fans” of Noctua’s fans long wrote about how they wanted PWM versions, yet there were no PWM fans from Noctua. But it turned out that Noctua was not ignoring PWM; their engineers were working on developing a silent PWM control. The clicking seen in other PWM fans – even quiet clicking – is completely absent in Noctua PWM fans. This started with their NF-F12’s, and has now extended to their A series. All are clickless. As well as can be measured in a non-professional setup, Noctua’s airflow specifications are accurate. You can listen to a fan and hear if it is quiet or not, and whether it makes unpleasant noises (Noctua fans are free of unpleasant noises). But airflow is another matter. Airflow takes special instruments to measure. It is comforting to know Noctua’s specifications on this are accurate; so you can use those specifications in your buying decisions. The various Low Noise Adapters and Ultra Low Noise Adapters are different for each of the fans. Clearly, they are tailored to achieve particular results. This may or may not be unique to Noctua fans. Interestingly, Noctua says nothing about it. The Noctua accessories are of good quality, and appear likely to last in extended usage. They are all handsomely sleeved as well. The fan frames are sturdy, and the corner cushions do not extend into the screw holes. That means the fans can be securely fastened with or without the cushions.
Test verdict: "Overall, the Noctua A series is a fine set of fans. Careful attention to airflow and acoustics, along with the best PWM circuits in existence, make these superb fans." (Ed Hume, Vortez.net)
26.04.2013 // HiTechLegion.com
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NF-S12A PWM Review

Noctua products are far from typical, not just in terms of aesthetic with the unique love-it-or-hate-it beige and brown color scheme but in terms of build quality as well. At its core, a cooling fan is essentially just a set of impellers rotating to push or pull air but Noctua fans takes the idea one step further and hones the science of cooling to an art form. This is evident from the moment you open the box and see the organized packaging and the accessory kit, carefully chosen with so much consideration. Every cable is covered and even the labels are printed in thick glossy paper and will not easily come off over time. The Noctua S12A series fans are premium products after all and it is also very evident in the price. While most case fans have an MSRP of $10 to 15 USD, the Noctua S12A costs $27 USD per fan (The lowest price currently that I could find is $23 from Amazon.com). Considering how much R&D Noctua puts in to their fan designs however, this isn’t surprising. Also, the build quality is beyond compare so it is somewhat justified. Is it practical? It is about as practical as a Ferrari in that it is an investment for the long run instead of just for the current build. With a MTBF of 150,000 hours and 6-year warranty, the Noctua S12A will outlast multiple system builds so it essentially pays for itself after a while. In terms of performance, the Noctua S12A series are designed primarily as a case ventilation fan. Despite improvements in design compared to its predecessors, Noctua offers the NF-F12 and the NF-P12 fans as superior choices for heatsinks and radiators due to their static pressure performance which the NF-S12A lacks. In our testing, the S12A was noticeably very quiet without any high pitch whine at maximum voltage and had a very even airflow distribution compared to other fans. Even when the low-noise and ultra-low noise adapters were added, the performance did not drop significantly and still cooled the overclocked CPU decently.
Test verdict: "Overall the Noctua S12A series provides flexible cooling options across three different versions. The price is noticeably higher than other fans but considering the longevity promised by the excellent build quality and the lengthy 6-year warranty, users eventually get their money’s worth. For the Noctua S12A’s technological innovations, unique design and extremely silent performance, it earns the HiTechLegion Editor’s Choice Award." (Ron Perillo, HiTechLegion.com)
22.05.2017 // Gizcomputer.com
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NF-S12A PWM Review

Pasamos ahora a repasar lo que tienen en común estos ventiladores, además de su aspecto y forma. Lo primero y mi juicio más importante es la garantía de 6 años que nos ofrece el fabricante. Además Noctua nos asegura que superarán las 150.000 horas de uso, que son unos 17 años de uso continuado. Los cojinetes SSO2 están diseñados para conseguir la mejor estabilización. Además está recubierto en metal mejorando la durabilidad y resistencia. Por otra parte, las pequeñas protuberancias en las aspas de los ventiladores permiten mejorar el flujo de aire. Además tenemos los pads antivibracioón antes comentados.
Test verdict: "Pueden no ser los ventiladores más bonitos y no, no tienen LEDs, pero si buscas ventiladores silenciosos, fiables y muy bien construidos, estos son perfectos para ti." (Diego Egido, Gizcomputer.com)
19.04.2017 // Gamepur.com
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NF-S12A PWM Review

Noctua NF-S12A series is ideal for case fans, you can apply multiple fans on the front, top or on the back of a case. As we had said already having a decent CPU cooler matters a lot to get maximum from the case fans. For Air Coolers on CPU, these fans help a lot to draw out heat and push more and more cooler air. This maintains a decent CPU temperature on long run.
Test verdict: "Through our test we can conclude these fans are really designed for sheer performance. They are quite silent on high rpm and durable." (Joey S, Gamepur.com)
08.04.2017 // deviron.ru
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NF-S12A PWM Review

Во время проведения тестирования, шум данных вентиляторов практически не был слышен, поскольку был полностью заглушен корпусными вентиляторами.
Test verdict: "Несмотря на то, что данная серия была выпущена в начале 2013 года, она всё ещё не потеряла свою актуальность и предоставляет потребителю бескомпромиссное решение, обеспечивающее высокую производительности при низком шуме." (Vasily Klokov, deviron.ru)
07.04.2017 // TechLipton.pl
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NF-S12A PWM Review

Wydajność przy zastosowaniu radiatora powodującego jednak opór powietrza stoi na dobrym poziomie. Trzeba pamiętać, że ten model Noctuy nie jest produktem przeznaczonym typowo na chłodzenia, lecz do wentylacji obudowy. Mimo tego – jest naprawdę dobrze, niewiele gorzej niż w testowanych poprzednio Corsairach ML120.
Test verdict: "Wentylatory Noctua NF-S12A ULN, FLX oraz PWM nikogo nie pozostawią obojętnym. Albo się je lubi, albo nie – głównie ze względu na kolorystykę. Sama jakość wykonania, kultura pracy, wydajność oraz bogate wyposażenie to niewątpliwe plusy." (Krzysztof Hukałowicz, TechLipton.pl)
15.02.2017 // PcGaming.games
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NF-S12A PWM Review

Estos ventiladores tiene una calidad desde que tienes el producto en tus manos hasta que lo montas, impresionante. La capacidad de refrigeración de estos ventiladores resulta muy importante en mi caso, vivo en una zona muy cálida de España y llegamos en verano a temperaturas de hasta 38 grados en la sombra. Todos los años mi pc alcanza altas temperaturas por culpa del verano y unos ventiladores con estas capacidades mi PC lo agradecerá.
Test verdict: "Realmente lo que más me ha sorprendido son los niveles de ruido que genera, son prácticamente inapreciables incluso en el modelo ” que más ruido genera”." (Carlos Carraveo, PcGaming.games)
09.02.2017 // TechHardware.it
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NF-S12A PWM Review

A pieno regime risultano essere quasi inudibili, risultando più silenziose delle standard Cooler Master, migliorando ulteriormente la quantità di aria immessa, abbassando le temperature. Le ULN invece, sono assolutamente silenziosissime ed inudibili anche a case aperto.
Test verdict: "Le ventole si sono dimostrate eccellenti in tutto, c’è poco da dire. Packaging perfetto, prestazioni molto buone per la silenziosità offerta e ben sei anni di garanzia." (Tommaso Biallo, TechHardware.it)

Installation Manual (PDF)

Information Sheet (PDF)

The supplied y-cable is missing a wire at one of the two connectors, is it faulty?

No. As mainboards can process only one rpm-signal per fan header, it would cause problems if the cable transmitted rpm-signals of both fans. For this reason, one of the two connectors does not have an rpm wire and only the fan on the other connector will transmit an rpm signal. Automatic speed control of both fans will work independent from the second fan’s rpm signal.

I get a CPU fan error despite the fan is running!

Some mainboards display a CPU fan error when the fan speed falls below a certain threshold, e.g. 900rpm. If you want to run the fan below this speed (e.g. using the supplied U.L.N.A.), please adjust the threshold in the BIOS or disable CPU fan error warning.

Can I disassemble my fan for cleaning (or other purposes, e.g. painting)?

In order to ensure flawless operation over many years of usage, all Noctua fans come with a premium grade SSO bearing, which is fully sealed to prevent the entering of fine dust particles. Please note that the fan is not designed to be taken apart by the user. Removing the impeller from the frame will break the sealing of the bearing and results in a loss of warranty.

It is thus recommended to clean your fans using a duster, slightly moist tissue or canned air. Please be careful not to use too much force in order to prevent any damage to the fan. Please don’t use a vacuum cleaner as this may apply excessive force to the fan.

Can I paint my Noctua fan in order to change its color?

Since even small variations in the layer of paint can lead to an imbalance of the impeller, resulting in vibrations, higher noise levels, increased stress on the bearing and thus reduced lifespan, we do not recommend painting the fan. Please note that for the reasons stated above, painting the fan will void your warranty.

Can I run 4-pin PWM fans on 3-pin fan headers?

PWM fans come with a 4-pin connectors for fully automatic speed control via your mainboard’s 4-pin PWM fan headers. Please note that 4-pin fans can also be connected to your mainboard’s 3-pin fan headers though. When connected to 3-pin fan headers, the fan will run at full speed (unless the mainboard supports voltage based speed control).

What pin configuration do Noctua 12V fans use?

All Noctua fans feature the standard pin-configurations set out in the Intel and AMD specifications. These standard pin-configurations are used on most mainboards and fan controllers today:

pin configuration

How can I find out the direction of airflow and sense of rotation?

When looking at the fan so that the circular sticker with the Noctua logo is facing you, the direction of airflow is towards you and the sense of rotation is clockwise:

P14

How should I clean my Noctua fan?

Fans inside computer cases tend to accumulate dust over longer periods of usage. In order to maintain maximum performance, please clean your fans regularly using a duster, slightly moist tissue or canned air. Please be careful not to use too much force in order to prevent any damage to the fan. Please do not use a vacuum cleaner as this may apply excessive force to the fan and do not put the fan under running water as water residues inside the motor may lead to short circuits.
In order to ensure flawless operation over many years of usage, Noctua’s premium grade SSO bearings are fully sealed to prevent the entering of fine dust particles. Please note that the fan is not designed to be taken apart by the user. Removing the impeller from the frame will break the sealing of the bearing and results in a loss of warranty.

My Noctua PWM fan starts to spin when the PC boots but then stops, what is wrong?

Some mainboards feature 4-pin fan headers that actually don‘t use a PWM signal on Pin 4 to control the fan speed but rather reduce the voltage on Pin 2 (like a standard 3-pin fan header). In this case, it may occur that the mainboard reduces the voltage so much that the fan stops. Please refer to your mainboard manual to check whether or not your mainboard has 4-pin fan headers that control the fan speed by reducing voltage on Pin 2 rather than by changing the PWM duty cycle on Pin 4:

4 pin fan header types

Note that mainboard manufacturers use different terms to indicate that Pin 4 is not being used for PWM control (e.g. “+5V”, “VCC” or “NC”), but if one of these terms is used, you can be sure that the fan header does not support PWM. If Pin 4 is described as “Speed Control” or “PWM” or the like, you can be sure that the fan header supports PWM.

Unfortunately, the description of Pin 2 is not always a clear indication as some manufacturers use terms such as “Fan PWR” or “Power” for both types of fan headers. However, if Pin 2 is described as “Speed Control”, you can also be sure that the fan header does not support PWM based speed control. If Pin 2 is described as “+12V”, this is a clear indication that the fan header supports PWM.

Please also note that in some cases, the descriptions of the pin layouts in the mainboard manuals may not be correct and some models actually allow you to switch the fan headers from voltage control mode to PWM control mode in the BIOS even though the pin descriptions do not indicate PWM support. We thus recommend to look for these options in the BIOS before taking other measures. In case of doubt, please contact your mainboard manufacturer.



To resolve the issue, you can:

  1. Choose a higher fan speed profile in the BIOS (e.g. „normal“ instead of „silent“, etc.) or deactivate automatic fan speed control and use a Low-Noise Adaptor instead.

  2. Use the mainboard‘s fan speed control software or 3rd party tools like Speedfan to regulate the fan speed. Unlike BIOS based fan speed control, the supplied software usually checks whether the fan has stopped and increases voltage accordingly or at least offer more options to set up the fan properly.

  3. If your mainboard features other 4-pin fan headers that use PWM for speed control, you can run multiple fans from these headers using Y-split cables. Make sure not to exceed the specified maximum power draw of the fan headers (usually 10-12W) though.

My Noctua PWM fan runs at a much higher minimum speed than advertised, what is wrong?

The specified minimum speed refers to the speed at 20% PWM duty cycle. There can be several reasons why the fan doesn‘t go as low as indicated:

  1. Many mainboards do not go below 40%, 50% or even 60% PWM duty cycle on case fan headers. Please refer to your mainboard manual to verify whether the fan header actually goes down to 20% duty cycle. If that's not the case, in some cases you can use the fan speed control software supplied with your mainboard to overcome these limitations and reduce the fan speed even further. However, 3rd party tools like SpeedFan offer greater flexibility and better options to work around the limitations imposed by the mainboard vendors.

  2. Some mainboards feature 4-pin fan headers that actually don‘t use a PWM signal on Pin 4 to control the fan speed but rather reduce the voltage on Pin 2 (like a standard 3-pin fan header). As the fan speed at minimum voltage is usually higher than the speed at 20% PWM duty cycle, the fan can not reach as low minimum speeds under voltage control as under PWM control. Please refer to your mainboard manual to check whether or not your mainboard has 4-pin fan headers that control the fan speed by reducing voltage on Pin 2 rather than by changing the PWM duty cycle on Pin 4:

    4 pin fan header types

    Note that mainboard manufacturers use different terms to indicate that Pin 4 is not being used for PWM control (e.g. “+5V”, “VCC” or “NC”), but if one of these terms is used, you can be sure that the fan header does not support PWM. If Pin 4 is described as “Speed Control” or “PWM” or the like, you can be sure that the fan header supports PWM.

    Unfortunately, the description of Pin 2 is not always a clear indication as some manufacturers use terms such as “Fan PWR” or “Power” for both types of fan headers. However, if Pin 2 is described as “Speed Control”, you can also be sure that the fan header does not support PWM based speed control. If Pin 2 is described as “+12V”, this is a clear indication that the fan header supports PWM.

    Please also note that in some cases, the descriptions of the pin layouts in the mainboard manuals may not be correct and some models actually allow you to switch the fan headers from voltage control mode to PWM control mode in the BIOS even though the pin descriptions do not indicate PWM support. We thus recommend to look for these options in the BIOS before taking other measures. In case of doubt, please contact your mainboard manufacturer.


    If your mainboard features other 4-pin fan headers that use PWM for speed control, you can run multiple fans from these headers using Y-split cables. Make sure not to exceed the specified maximum power draw of the fan headers (usually 10-12W) though.

I'm experiencing fan speed issues with my motherboard from Supermicro, what can I do?

The BIOS of many motherboard models from Supermicro expects a certain minimum fan speed (usually 700rpm), which is higher than the minimum fan speed that can be achieved with Noctua's PWM fan models. The BIOS may interpret the low minimum RPM of Noctua fans as a fan error and thus try to run the fan at 100% for a short period before going back to automatic control.. This can result in oscillating fan speeds and fan speed warnings in the BIOS or the fan management console.

Unfortunately there is usually no option to set a lower minimum value that would suit the low minimum speed of Noctua PWM fans.The issue can thus only be resolved by either disabling automatic fan speed control in BIOS, which will cause the fans to run at a constant speed, or by requesting a modified BIOS file from Supermicro, which takes the minimum fan speed of Noctua fans into account (charges might apply).

Can I use Low-Noise Adaptors with y-cables / multiple fans?

Yes, Low-Noise Adaptors (L.N.A.s) can be used with y-cables, but please make sure to use one L.N.A. per fan and to place the L.N.A.s between the y-cable and the fans as shown below. Never use one L.N.A. for two (or more fans) by placing it between the mainboard and the y-cable!

D15S

How can I check if my 4-pin fan header supports PWM?

Some mainboards feature 4-pin fan headers that actually don‘t use a PWM signal on Pin 4 to control the fan speed but rather reduce the voltage on Pin 2 (like a standard 3-pin fan header). As the fan speed at minimum voltage is usually higher than the speed at 20% PWM duty cycle, the fan can not reach as low minimum speeds under voltage control as under PWM control. Please refer to your mainboard manual to check whether or not your mainboard has 4-pin fan headers that control the fan speed by reducing voltage on Pin 2 rather than by changing the PWM duty cycle on Pin 4:

4 pin fan header types

Note that mainboard manufacturers use different terms to indicate that Pin 4 is not being used for PWM control (e.g. “+5V”, “VCC” or “NC”), but if one of these terms is used, you can be sure that the fan header does not support PWM. If Pin 4 is described as “Speed Control” or “PWM” or the like, you can be sure that the fan header supports PWM.

Unfortunately, the description of Pin 2 is not always a clear indication as some manufacturers use terms such as “Fan PWR” or “Power” for both types of fan headers. However, if Pin 2 is described as “Speed Control”, you can also be sure that the fan header does not support PWM based speed control. If Pin 2 is described as “+12V”, this is a clear indication that the fan header supports PWM.

Please also note that in some cases, the descriptions of the pin layouts in the mainboard manuals may not be correct and some models actually allow you to switch the fan headers from voltage control mode to PWM control mode in the BIOS even though the pin descriptions do not indicate PWM support. We thus recommend to look for these options in the BIOS before taking other measures. In case of doubt, please contact your mainboard manufacturer.


If your mainboard features other 4-pin fan headers that use PWM for speed control, you can run multiple fans from these headers using Y-split cables. Make sure not to exceed the specified maximum power draw of the fan headers (usually 10-12W) though.

Which Noctua fan or CPU cooler should I buy? How to choose the right model?

Not sure which Noctua product to buy? Our detailed buying guides for fans and CPU coolers help you to choose the model that works best for you.

Can Noctua fans be used to replace noisy stock fans in NAS devices?

Noctua fans such as the 40, 60, 80 or 92mm NF-A series models are ideal for replacing noisy stock fans in NAS devices in order to make them quieter and thousands of users have managed to significantly reduce the noise levels of their NAS units this way. However, while it is easy and straightforward to replace the fans in some cases, it can be very difficult in others, so Noctua strongly recommends that users carefully research if it is possible to easily replace the fan(s) of their NAS device before purchasing a Noctua fan for this purpose. Some of the common issues that can occur when replacing NAS fans are:

  • Different pin assignment: Whereas Noctua fans use the standardised pin assignment for PC fans (see this FAQ for details), some NAS units use different assignments. For example, some devices have the power and GND or rpm and PWM pins swapped. Therefore please carefully verify that your NAS device uses the same pin assignment as standard fans. Experienced users may also change the pin assignment by cutting and resoldering the fan cables, but please note that this will void your Noctua manufacturer’s warranty.
  • Different pin functions: Noctua fans use the standardised pin functions for PC fans (see this FAQ for details); however, some NAS units use fans where certain pins serve a different function. For example, some devices use the RPM pin for “power good” signals. Therefore please carefully verify that your NAS device uses the same pin functions.
  • Firmware speed control: Some NAS devices demand a certain maximum or minimum fan speed. If the new fan doesn’t have the same or similar maximum or minimum speed, the device may display errors or even shut down.
  • Different starting voltage: Most NAS devices use voltage-based speed control. If the new fan has a higher starting voltage than the original fan, it may not start up right away. This may lead the NAS device to display errors or even shut down because it suspects a fan failure.
  • Different power draw: Some NAS devices monitor the fan’s power draw. If the new fan has a lower power consumption than the stock fan, the device might display errors or even shut down.

Please note that most NAS manufacturers don’t provide detailed documentation regarding fan compatibility and control, so users who want to replace the fans of their devices usually have to rely on “How to” guides, blog and forum posts or video tutorials. For example, there are excellent video tutorials available for changing the fans in popular Synology NAS models (DS416j, DS1515+ and DS1812+ in English, DS416/DS415/DS916/DS216/DS214 and DS1515+ in German). Please also note that fan compatibility and control can vary from model to model and even from revision to revision even if the devices stem from the same manufacturer. As a result, it is important to make sure that the information or guidelines you rely on when replacing your NAS fan are applicable to your specific model as well as your specific hardware and firmware revision.

Due to the possible issues listed above, Noctua recommends that only experienced users attempt to replace their NAS fans. Please note that since there are so many different NAS models and most of them lack documentation for aspects such as fan compatibility and control, Noctua customer support cannot assist you with compatibility issues when replacing NAS fans. Please contact your NAS manufacturer for any questions regarding aspects such as the device’s pin alignment or fan monitoring and control.

Can I use Noctua fans in my system from Acer, Apple, Dell, HP, Lenovo or other major brands?

Noctua 12V fans comply with the established specifications for standard PC systems issued by Intel and AMD. Systems from Acer, Apple, Dell, HP, Lenovo or other major brands often deviate from these specifications e.g. by using proprietary fan headers, custom pin-alignments or pin-configurations, different methods of fan speed control, etc. This can lead to compatibility issues when using Noctua fans in systems from said brands. Some of these problems can be avoided with some technical knowledge, but especially BIOS related issues (e.g. errors or shutdowns due to low fan speed) can often not be resolved. As a result, Noctua does not officially support systems from Acer, Apple, Dell, HP, Lenovo or other major brands.

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