Noctua NH-U12S CPU Cooler Review

/ 4 years ago

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Getting a CPU cooler that is; 100% RAM compatible, small enough in height to fit into most midtower cases and quiet enough for everyday usage is a tough ask. Then if you want that same CPU cooler to also have high performance cooling, you really are entering a niche market that very few companies serve. Thankfully, the product we have here today – Noctua’s NH-U12S – promises to fulfill all those criteria whilst still maintaining a reasonably competitive RRP of $64.90/€59.90.

Sitting at 158mm high the NH-U12S boasts compatibility with the vast majority of computer cases on the market, while the 45mm width of the heatsink and the 25mm width of the fan combined give a total width of just 71mm which gives 100% RAM compatibility. Noctua have also equipped the NH-U12S with their legendary NF-F12 fan, which we reviewed here, and you get all the usual Noctua goodies which we will detail as we progress more through this review. For your reference the specifications of the Noctua NH-U12S can be seen below:

SEE ALSO:  Captherm Systems MP1120 CPU Cooler Debuts At CES 2014


For that ever shrinking minority that is interested in the packaging, here below you can see the box the NH-U12S came in. It features a quick run down of some of the key features, the 6 year warranty jumps right out at me along with the included NT-H1 thermal compound.


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  • Just ask a simple question, what’s the best liquid or air cooled, I have a vantage liquid cooled the last leaked on me, which blew my XFX 6870, now have a 7970, edit to many zero’s lol

    • All out performance with no budget constraints, water cooling. You can get £200 watercooling kits that will far outperform everything. Balance between performance and price, air cooling wins every time.

      • I thank your reply, but need more feedback

        • what do you want to know? you aren’t asking specific enough questions for me to give you a useful answer

    • Ultracer

      Best air? Noctua NH-D14. Other may get better temp, but overall the NH-D14 get best temp to noise ratio 🙂

    • d6bmg

      beat without any constraint in budget?? Go for custom liquid cooled setup. 🙂
      Component price will vary from country to country.

  • d6bmg

    Great review, Ryan.
    And this sleek, low profile cooler is awesome. I wonder how good that 140mm version will be..
    Will be waiting for that review too.

  • Peter

    Nice review, Ryan.

    Are you planning to make a review for the NH-U14S as well?

    In that case it would be nice to see how the NF-A15 performs at 8V.
    Actually there is a sweet spot in noice and performance level at 8V@800RPM.

    In your latest Noctua fan review when you tested the NF-A15 on the Thermalright Macho, you made the impression that the Thermalright fan is a bit more quiet at 900RPM.
    It might be true, however according to the chart below the NF-A15 at 797RPM is a lot quiter and there is only a slight performance decrease over the tested 900RPM. It should pretty much match the noise level of the NF-A14 ULN at 800RPM, while still offer a better performance.
    At 7V or 700RPM it is still very close to the noise level of the NF-A14 ULN@650RPM.
    Basically the NF-A15 PWM is smarter choice overall, so I’m glad Noctua releases the NH-U14S with that fan.

    However I’m not sure if the heatsink is better than the Thermalright Archon, or even the Macho. The Achon has eight 6mm heatpipes, and it is a bit bulkier and taller than the NH-U14S. I think the Archon equipeed with the NF-A15 would offer a better performance.
    I believe the Noctua made a huge design flow at the top of the heatsink, as there are lot of wasted space.
    It would be really nice if you could test the Noctua fan at 8V@800RPM on those heatsinks as well, especially as we have already seen a huge benefit in case of the Macho at a much more reasonable price.

    • Hi, Yes we do have the NH-U14S review coming.

      The NF-A15 PWM is a very good fan indeed. Unforunately we only tested at PWM and Max (12V) so those are the only results we have in that review. The heatsink has six 6mm heatpipes as far as I am aware and is very dense so it will be better than the Macho but slightly worse than the Archon heatsink. However the fan makes a huge difference and the NH-U14S does better than the Archon SB-E X2 in our tests due to this.

      I disagree that space is wasted. 158mm allows it to fit more cases than the Archon which is 170mm+

      • Peter

        According to the specification the NH-U14S heatsink is 165mm tall.
        What I meant by wasted space is basically the fan way overlaps the heatsink.
        They could have easily added a few more fins at the top of the heatpipes to better match the size of the fan without actually increasing the total height of the cooler.

        Any chance you could add the Noctua fan to the Archon to see the real difference in performance between the two top of the line heatsinks?

        It would be greatly appreciated.