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Noctua NH-U12S CPU Cooler Review

The NH-U12S now comes in stealthy black color!

Aside from Noctua‘s NH-D15 edition that we’ve tested recently, we also have its cousin NH-U12S on the labs to test out as well, giving our thoughts about how this popular cooler will perform.

Without further ado, let’s dive in to our review.

What’s in the box?

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Noctua’s Chromax product line packaging is unique unlike other Noctua products, which comes in the usual white/dark brown box.

As we unbox the NH-U12S, we found these inclusions on the box.

In the box:

• Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)
• Black anti-vibration pads and fan-clips for second NF-F12 fan
• NT-H1 thermal compound
• Mounting screws/screwdriver
• Black SecuFirm 2 Mounting Kit
• Mounting Guides
• Noctua Metal Case Badge
• Black NH-U12S heatsink
• 1x NF-F12 PWM premium fan

It also includes a 6-year full manufacturer warranty, in case you get trouble with the fan.

Design and Build Impressions

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Being based on the award-winning NH-U12S, the version of this cooler comes in pure black fashion, with exception of the base being silver. Everything, from the aluminum fins and heatpipes, up to the fans, clips, screws and SecuFirm 2 mounting kit, all comes in black.

The NH-U12S is definitely a champ when it comes to ease of mounting. After you install the included SecuFirm mounting kit for your platform, all you have to do is to put an appropriate amount of thermal compound on your CPU and then put the cooler down and screw it.

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Here’s how the cooler would look like if mounted (two different test systems).

Just served with the liking of the original NH-U12S, its base plate is composed of six copper-based, nickel-plated black coated heatpipes inside the aluminum black coated fins, which should dissipate heat away from your CPU.

The included NF-F12 PWM fan is more than capable of cooling the fins at an excellent rate.

In terms of build quality, it is more than reliable enough for us to serve as one of our main coolers for test benches. It can withstand frequent swaps and re-installations, and in no doubt, the cooling tower is sturdy.

Notably, Noctua’s design of these coolers are efficiently transferring heat out of the CPU to the heatsinks.


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Cooler Specifications

Socket compatibility: Intel LGA2066, LGA2011-0 & LGA2011-3 (Square ILM), LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1151, LGA1150 & AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+ (backplate required), AM4
Height (with/without fan): 158 mm
Width (with/without fan): 125 mm
Depth (with/without fan): 45 mm
Weight (without fan): 580 g
Weight (with fan): 755 g
Material: Copper (base and heat-pipes), aluminum (cooling fins), soldered joints & nickel plating
Max. TDP: see CPU compatibility list
Fan compatibility: 120x120x25

One NF-F12 PWM fan in variant is included on the package.

Cooling Fan Specifications

Model: Noctua NF-F12 PWM
Bearing: SSO2
Max. rotational speed (+/- 10%): 1500 RPM
Max. rotational speed with L.N.A. (+/- 10%): 1200 RPM
Min. rotational speed (PWM, +/-20%): 300 RPM
Max. airflow: 93,4 m³/h
Max. airflow with L.N.A.: 74,3 m³/h
Max. acoustical noise: 22,4 dB(A)
Max. acoustical noise with L.N.A.: 19,2 dB(A)
Voltage range: 12 V
MTTF>: 150.000 h

Performance Test

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Our test system for this is my current system which uses a non-standard motherboard (using an old Dell Precision T5500 motherboard) equipped with Intel Xeon X5675 six-core processor @3.06GHz with a TDP of 95W. This is in order for us to get an idea of how this cooler will perform on a more heat-generating CPU, such as an Intel Xeon, and it is currently our available test system on hand, since our AMD Ryzen system had a problem with temperature readings that we decided to scrape it out on our current reviews.

We also used the ID-Cooling AuraFlow X 360 and Cooler Master ML120 RGB AIO liquid coolers to compare against the NH-U12S, as well as other Noctua CPU coolers such as the NH-D15 and NH-L12S and NH-D15S, which we have in inventory.

Our tests are conducted in an air-conditioned room with around 28°C room temperature. All the coolers are re-tested repeatedly using the NT-H1 thermal compound provided by Noctua and are averaged after 2 successful 15-minute runs, in order to properly get the results.

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Intel Xeon X5675 @ 3.06GHz, 95W TDP | AIDA64, HWMonitor 1.4

Based on our test runs, the Noctua NH-U12S performs well, even on par with some other high-end coolers on this test. While the results are seemingly near with the NH-D15, the NH-U12S would be a great fit as well for those folks who really want to save space or just an easy-to-mount solution.

The test data are gathered using HWMonitor 1.4, and the max, load & idle data are both averaged from 2 successful 15-min stress tests from AIDA64 with each cooler.

At max loads, the NF-F12 PWM fan is not really audible at all. I really wanted to measure the sound levels for our tests, but we haven’t got our hands on a new sound pressure tester yet.


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With a small footprint yet a great cooling performance, the NH-U12S is definitely a good contender for those folks who wants an easy-to-use solution, a stylish, and a reliable air cooler.

And by seeing the fact that Noctua made a version of this cooler in order to meet fans’ demands, this only puts the NH-U12S once again into the list of respectable CPU coolers out there.

Compatibility-wise, Noctua had it supported even with older processors out there, making it an appeal, even to the old system’s owner who doesn’t want to upgrade. Noctua will even send you an upgrade kit for free in the future in case you need it and the cooler still supports the new processor/socket. Also, that 6-year warranty is something that Noctua is really proud of.

With that said, we’re proudly recommending this cooler to everyone that we’re giving the Noctua NH-U12S our ‘Recommeded’ and ‘Editor’s Choice’ awards.



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