I don't often write reviews, although I do read those posted by others as part of the extensive research that I undertake before making any significant purchase. In general professional reviews for the Noctua NH-C14 CPU Cooler were good, although some complained about one aspect or another. The main aspect, namely the cooling performance of this device, was universally praised. I took the plunge anyway and I have to say that the results are excellent. The cooler is beautifully made and extremely well packaged, but that's what you'd expect from an Austrian outfit. Even the sticker for the front of your case is actually a metal badge. Fitting on an AMD-based motherboard was a breeze (sorry about the pun) as the motherboard does not have to be removed from the case. Just replace the original heat sink clips ONE SIDE AT A TIME and you won't need to worry about anything dropping inside. Apparently it's a bit more fiddly for Intel-based boards. Remember to connect the cables to the fan before securing the cooler to the board as its size will probably prevent you from reaching the socket; that's advice from experience. On the question of size, yes it is big, but I chose it because I have a padded case that limits the height of those vertical coolers that are available. The horizontal mounting provides more options and, as an added benefit, the output from the fans blows nicely on the other heat sinks around the CPU.
Some reviews complained about the fans not being controllable by PWM and so they were running at full speed. Whilst it's true that the fans are not specified for PWM, apparently they hunt, that shouldn't be a problem if your motherboard can use "voltage" control instead of PWM. Most modern motherboards can do that. Just have a look in your BIOS settings for fan control; some have an "auto" setting and that works well with these fans. Having said all of that, even if you have to run the fans at full speed, the whole thing is still very quiet. Noctua supplies a couple of in-line resistors that can be used to select one of two lower speeds where you cannot control them any other way but are looking for quiet or ultra-quiet operation. Cooling performance is, as noted in every professional review, excellent. Currently my CPU is running 4 degrees BELOW the ambient temperature in the box and the fans on the Noctua are running at only 650 rpm. Somehow I'm not sure about the science of that statement; I'm merely reporting what my systems monitoring is saying.
At the time that I ordered this item, the picture on the web page wasn't correct and certainly didn't inspire. It showed just a fan ... with a price of nearly £70. Helping Amazon, it's worth pointing out that you really are ordering the whole cooler: heat sink, two fans, fixing kits for both AMD and Intel, a tube of Noctua's own quality thermal compound ... the works and it's worth every penny. Have a look at Noctua's site ([...]) for a real picture. Maybe the only thing that you won't like if you have one of those see-through cases is the colour of the fans - they're a sort of light beige.