Motherboard NH-C14S and Z490 Mini-ITX board compatibility

synchronos

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Tl;dr: Based on the pictures of the boards, the only Z490 Mini-ITX board definitely compatible with NH-C14S in either orientation is Gigabyte Z490I Aorus Ultra. ASRock Z490M-ITX/ac possibly is. Others seem to be only compatible in the orientation where the heatpipes are towards the PCIE slot. Is there anybody who could confirm?

Now that the first Intel 10th Gen Mini-ITX boards, namely the ones with the Z490 chipset, are out, I thought to check for the compatibility with the NH-C14S. (I'll probably eventually build a rig with those, but not before the next RTX 30x0 cards are out.) A huge cooler with a huge fan, but can still fit e.g. a Streacom DA2 or Ncase M1 (with the cooler below the heatsink).

Even with the Z390 boards there was a problem with the huge VRM heatsinks these motherboards started boasting, with big shrouds enclosing the whole IO shield area. I didn't own any, but I don't think any one of those could fit the C14S in the preferred orientation (in the Streacom DA2, the only orientation where you can fit it below the top dust filter), that is, the heatpipes towards back of the board (the IO shield side). The ASRock's non-Phantom board perhaps was the only board fully compatible, as it didn't have that kind of shroud.

With the new Z490 boards the situation hasn't changed much. The heatsinks with their shrouds are still huge, height as much as the IO shield and width of about 42 mm. But at that point below the C14S's heatpipes there's only 33 mm of room. Noctua lists all those boards as "fully compatible", but I don't trust them. Noctua only makes their compatibility reviews based on estimation from the motherboard pictures and only try borderline cases with actual physical boards. I believe with these, just as with Z390 boards, they've either inaccurately estimated the Z dimension requirements with the heatpipes, or just list the boards as fully compatible, if the cooler can fit in at least one orientation (the one where the heatpipes are towards the PCIE slot; however, with ever enlarging M.2 heatsinks, you can't be sure of that either).

Hopefully the picture below illustrates the problem. This one is with Asus ROG Strix Z490-I Gaming and this preferred orientation. MSI's MEG Z490I Unify and ASRock's Z490 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB3 seem to suffer from this problem as well.



However, the positive surprise is the Gigabyte board (image below). This time they've gone with an efficient VRM cooling solution, it seems. While others go with active cooling, which doesn't seem to help anything (According to Optimum Tech), Gigabyte's VRM cooling seems to be both small, passive (i.e. not contributing to any noise) and cooling just as well. Based on the images of the board, I'd say the cooler will easily fit in both orientations. In the other orientation, it's not as clear a case, but based on the pictures I'd say that the M.2 heatsink height is below the 33 mm limit.



Even ASRock's Z490M-ITX/ac board (image below) now has a big heatsink. That one isn't a clear case as the VRM heatsink is sloped. It's really hard to accurately estimate its height at the lower end of the slope, so that one is a definite "maybe". The slope may be at the required 33 mm height, but it's so close that only with pictures I wouldn't trust my estimate would be accurate enough. [Edit: The heatpipes do clear, but the offset of the whole socket towards the top may pose a problem with the top of the case. See more in the comments below.]



If somebody happens to already own one of these boards and a NH-C14S cooler, could you confirm my estimates? I already emailed Noctua's support with my question as well.

And naturally, this is just based on the boards au naturel. If you just strip off the VRM heatsink and make your own custom cooling solution, this doesn't matter.
 
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tinyitx

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I have an Asus Z390-I Gaming with NH-C14S installed. The orientation shown in your pic above is not feasible. As shown in your pic, the physical conflict is there.

Now, the height of the IO shroud of the Asus Z490-I Gaming is going to be equal (at least) or slightly taller than the Z390-I, judging from pics showing the rear IO layout.
 

tinyitx

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I have the ASRock Z490M-ITX/ac coming Friday so I can confirm if the C14S fits, will update this post when I get the chance.
Please report with details (eg max height of memory modules, are all four orientations of the C14S fit?).
 

synchronos

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Jan 20, 2019
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Please report with details (eg max height of memory modules, are all four orientations of the C14S fit?).

I don't think the other two orientations are possible, or at least normally usable, on any motherboard, so that's why I didn't consider them in the first place. In one, the heatsink would collide with the PCIE card, and in other, the heatsink would go beyond the IO shield, so it'd be a really weird case if there's more room on top of the IO shield. The former might be possible if you don't use any GPU card (or a very low PCIE card, e.g. a RAID controller or something), but I don't think there's much need to use C14S in those machines (unless you really need lots of CPU power for something but not GPU power at all). The latter might be usable on a testbench.
 
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synchronos

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Now that there's ASUS's B460 board, ROG Strix B460-I Gaming, I'll add it on the list. It seems this one even supports some sort of PL1 in-specs overclocking (or more like "use more of that turbo the CPU already supports"). This one's again a maybe; a definite answer would need a measurement from an actual board.



Weird is that that IO shroud is inset right there on that part where the heatpipes go, especially the centre pipe, which is the most problematic on the C14S. It's as if they were specifically designing that for more compatibility with this kind of C-type coolers.

There's also Gigabyte's H470 board, which externally seems to be identical to the Z490 one.
 
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rcodi

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Package came early, bad news is the C14S does NOT fit the ASROCK Z490M ITX/ac in an NCASE. The heat pipes DO clear the VRM sink but the socket has been offset in such a way that the heatsink extends too far over the edge of the board, at least in the ideal orientation.

Here's pictures showing heat pipe clearance and heatsink extending beyond top of case:
 
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raldian

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Package came early, bad news is the C14S does NOT fit the ASROCK Z490M ITX/ac in an NCASE. The heat pipes DO clear the VRM sink but the socket has been offset in such a way that the heatsink.

Here's pictures showing heat pipe clearance and heatsink extending beyond top of case:

What if you rotate the heatsink 90 degree so the bend is on top Like this (it's AMD, but maybe it can help because of same offset)
 

rcodi

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What if you rotate the heatsink 90 degree so the bend is on top Like this (it's AMD, but maybe it can help because of same offset)

I did not try that but it may work, I just tested real quick for this thread and put an H60 on after finding it didn't fit in the recommended orientation.
 

ignsvn

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Perhaps you can specify how many mm it protrudes beyond the motherboard boundaries, so others who are planning to use the same motherboard + heatsink combo but in different case can measure properly.
 

tinyitx

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What if you rotate the heatsink 90 degree so the bend is on top Like this (it's AMD, but maybe it can help because of same offset)
Having the heatpipes pointing south may (emphasis on the potential but not the absolute) diminish the cooling efficiency of the cooler as gravity may adversely affect the thermal cycle of a heatpipe. Usually cheaper heatpipes are more easily affected, so some coolers might be affected more than the others. If one wants to confirm his cooler, just flip the case upside down and run the same benchmark to look for difference in max CPU temp. If possible, I would avoid this orientation.
 

rcodi

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Perhaps you can specify how many mm it protrudes beyond the motherboard boundaries, so others who are planning to use the same motherboard + heatsink combo but in different case can measure properly.

I’m estimating 15mm over the edge on this specific board, not an exact number I’m too lazy to swap coolers again after cable managing for an exact measurement.
 
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synchronos

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I’m estimating 15mm over the edge on this specific board, not an exact number I’m too lazy to swap coolers again after cable managing for an exact measurement.

Sounds about right. With photo fitting I can get a measurement of 17 mm.



For comparison, on the Gigabyte board the overshoot on the top edge is about 5 mm.

For the curious, the overshoot on the right edge is on the ASRock board about 17 mm and on the Gigabyte board it's 18 mm. That is to the end of the heatpipes; the heatsink edge is about 6 mm less. My assumption is that in the Streacom DA2 case the SFX power supply can indeed still fit there, although it wouldn't hurt to get a real world corroboration for that as well.

If you turn the cooler 90 degrees counter-clockwise from above (heatpipe bend on the PCIE edge), the overshoot on the top edge is 39 mm on the ASRock board, and 28 mm on the Gigabyte board.

Maybe easier if I make a picture of each at some point. :)
 
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