Introduction

Noctua originates from a collaboration between the Austrian Rascom Computer distribution Ges.m.b.H. and the Taiwanese cooling specialist Kolink International Corporation, pooling more than thirty years of experience in the development, manufacturing, and marketing of high-end cooling components. Established in 2005, Noctua took international silent enthusiasts’ hearts by storm and quickly developed into one of the most acclaimed suppliers of premium quality quiet cooling products. Today, Noctua is present in more than 30 countries across the globe and working with several hundred sales partners. Chosen by noise-conscious PC users, system integrators and industry clients alike, Noctua has become synonymous with impeccable quality, excellent customer service, and class-leading quiet cooling performance.

Today, I took a look at the Noctua NH-U12S. This is their premium 120mm, single tower heatsink design. The Series has the highest compatibility and the clearance from RAM with just 45mm depth to them. It is bundled with the NF-F12 Focused Flow fan to provide the utmost cooling performance at silent levels. Quiet operation and excellent thermal performance are what I was expecting from this cooler. How did it perform? Let’s see.

 Item: NH-U12S

Manufacturer: Noctua

Price: UK £54.90 / USD 57.99 [At the time of the review]

 

Specifications

 

Packaging and Unboxing

The Noctua NH-U12S comes in a standard Noctua style and colored cardboard box packing. The top side has the cooler’s model printed on the top of the box. It is a U-Type Tower CPU Cooler. Salient features of the cooler are printed under the model no. A silver stamped sticker is pasted on the right side mentioning that it is based on award-winning NH-U series. The cooler’s model is printed on the left side in vertical layout. Noctua brand name and logo are printed on the bottom right side.

The left side of the packing box highlights the salient features along with the diagrams in the main section. The cooler comes with the Noctua’s premium thermal paste NT-H1 and features the legendary mounting mechanism i.e SecuFirm2. This cooler has outstanding compatibility out of the box. It will be covered later in the Compatibility section. The cooler’s model is printed on the right side in vertical layout. The cooler has Noctua’s 6 years of warranty. The cooler is made in Taiwan.

The right side of the packing box has the specifications of the cooler and the fan printed on it. Tow diagrams are printed on the bottom right side highlighting the dimensions of the cooler.

The backside of the packing box has the cooler’s highlights printed in the 8 different languages. The EAN and the UPC labels are printed on the bottom left side.

The front cover of the packing box has the cooler’s model printed on the left side in the vertical layout. The salient features are printed in the main section. The Noctua brand name and the logo are printed on the bottom right side.

The contents of the parcel are placed inside two recycled cardboard boxes. When we open the box, there is an accessory and hardware box placed on the top side. Taking it out would reveal the cooler nicely tucked inside the rugged packing which is the Noctua’s standard and I really appreciate Noctua for this level of protection being provided through their packing.

Let’s open the accessory box. It has three sections which is a typical Noctua layout. The left side has the common parts like the screwdriver, thermal paste, a low noise adapter etc. The right side has two sections. Top one contains the Intel mounting hardware and the bottom section has the AMD mounting hardware. There are 3 manuals. One is for the AM2, one is for the Intel LGA 2011(3) and the last one is for the Intel LGA-115(x). Manuals are very well laid out and provide pictorial information on how to install the cooler.

  

Accessories

Accessories include: –

  • 2x NM-AMB3 Mounting Bars
  • 4x NM-ALS1 Screws
  • 4x NM-APS1 Plastic Spacer
  • 2x NM-IMB3 Mounting Bars
  • 4x NM-IBT2 Bolts
  • 4x NM-ITS1 Thumbscrews
  • 1x NM-IBP2 Backplate
  • 4x NM-IPS1 Spacers
  • 1x NT-H1 Thermal paste
  • 1x Screw Driver
  • 1x NA-RC7 LN Adapter
  • 2x Metal Fan Clips
  • 1x Metal Noctua Case Badge

 

NH-U12S Closer Look

The NH-U12S is a 120mm U-Type Tower cooler, based on the award-winning NH-U series. It features the 5 copper based heat pipes with the copper base. NF-F12 focused flow fan is provided with the heatsink for the optimal cooling performance. Let’s take a close look at the design.

Let’s take a look at the heatsink from the front side. The front and the rear sides are identical in layout. It has 50 aluminum fins which are joined from the left and the right sides. The dimensions of the heatsink only from this side (not incorporating the heatpipes) are 125mmx105mm (WxH). The fins are bit wider for more and better air flow through them. This 120mm heatsink is packed with the 5 heatpipes being on any side of the heatsink.

The top side of the heatsink has the Noctua brand name and the logo in the middle. We can see 10 heatpipes are terminating on the top in 2 groups each with 5 heat pipes. There is a bit of curvature layout in the middle of the heatsink which is implemented as an inset in a triangle shape. There is a hole in the center. It is used to remove the screw on the mounting bar to take the mounting bar off the block. Notice that this cooler mounting makes it compatible with NM-IMB3 mounting bars. It won’t work with the NM-IMB2 mounting bars. Maybe the idea of a removable mounting bar on the base block is to provide compatibility with the NM-IMB2 for which separate mounting bar would be needed but I am not confirmed about it. The top side only has the dimensions of 125mmx45mm (WxD).

The left and the right sides of the heatsink are identical in the layout. The edges are raised and the center has a large fin joint assembly from top to the bottom. The angled edges help in mounting the fan(s) with the clips. The dimensions of these sides only are 110mmX45mm (HxW).

Let’s take a look at the bottom side of the heatsink. The dimensions of the bottom fin are 110mmX45mm (HXW). We have 5 heat pipes going inside the heatsink from different points to maximize the point of contact with the fins hence covering the large surface area for maximum heat dissipation.

Below picture is to show the heatpipes displacement inside the heatsink.

This cooler has 5 6mm copper based heatpipes which are nickel plated. The base top has a removable mounting bar labelled NM-IFB4 with two spring loaded screws on each end and a screw on the center to install the bar on the block. The copper base has 38mmX40mm size.

Noctua has supplied their premium NF-F12 Focused Flow fan with this cooler. This fan has the dimensions of the 120x120x25mm. This fan has the Noctua’s legendary SSO2 bearing.

The fan bears SSO2 bearing which is Noctua’s own design. The self-stabilizing oil-pressure bearing (SSO-Bearing) system has always been at the heart of Noctua’s award-winning premium fans. SSO combines the proven concept of oil-based hydrodynamic bearings with an additional magnet that supports the self-stabilization of the rotor axis. Due to the axis being stabilized by the magnetic field, Noctua’s SSO Bearing achieves higher precision and better longevity than conventional ball-, sleeve- or hydrodynamic bearings. SSO2 is the further optimized second generation of SSO. Made possible by the use of metal bearing shells and new injection molding techniques, the magnet is now placed closer to the rotor axis and thus exerts higher magnetic force to it. This results in even better stabilization, precision, and durability.

The fan has a maximum speed of the 1500 ±10% RPM. With LNA, this speed is 1200 ±10% RPM. Minimum rotational speed is 300 ±20% RPM. Maximum static pressure is 2.11 mmH₂O. With LNA the static pressure is 1.06 mmH₂O. The fan takes input power of the 0.6W at 0.05Awith the 12V DC. The maximum airflow is 55.6 CFM. With LNA it is 43.76 CFM. Maximum acoustical noise is 22.4 dBA. With LNA it is 18.6 dBA. The fan has a 4 pin PWM connector. The cable’s length is approximately 205mm. It comes in the typical brown color scheme. There are rubber mounts on the mounting holes to prevent the vibration noise. There is an 11-arm assembly on the backside holding the motor hub and connecting it to the mainframe. Quality is top notch as is the case with the Noctua’s products. There is a sticker on the backside of the fan. It has Noctua brand name and the logo printed on it. The fan is connected using two metal clips. Noctua has supplied two metal fan clips and 4 anti-vibration rubber pads for the second fan which needs to be purchased separately in case one wants to go for a Push/Pull setup.

Installation

The cooler was tested on the LGA-1151 using Intel i7 7700k and Asus Z170-P. Place the Intel backplate on the backside of the motherboard by matching the holes on the backplate with three screws coming out of the socket mounting.

Put the black color spacers on each of the screws of the backplate from the front side of the motherboard.

Decide the orientation of the cooler then place the mounting bars accordingly. Do it so that the raised part of the central edge faces outwards.

Use the thumbscrews to secure the mounting bars with the backplate.

Apply the thermal paste. Place the cooler on the top of the IHS by aligning the spring-loaded screws with the standoffs on the mounting bars. Start screwing in the spring-loaded screws with few torques on each one at a time to ensure the even pressure and correct installation. Install the fan using the two metal clips. Connect the 4-pin connector on the CPU fan header or any other header of your choice. This would complete the installation.

Compatibility and the Clearance

Being a Tower cooler we need to check for the clearance with respect to the PC Chassis, first PCIe slot and the RAMs.

The cooler has a height of the 158mm. So, any chassis with the height of more than 158mm has support for this cooler. The cooler has the depth of 45mm. Adding 25mm of the fan’s depth to it, we get 70mm of the total depth. I saw no issue what so ever in terms of the clearance for the RAM. This cooler has zero RAM incompatibility on the LGA-115(x). This cooler also has clearance for the first PCIe lane.

 

Test Bench

The following test bench was used to test the cooler:

  • Intel i7 7700k [Thanks to the PCFanatics]
  • Asus Z170-P [Thanks to the PCFanatics]
  • Corsair 2x8GB Vengeance Red LED @ 2666MHz
  • HyperX 120GB SSD
  • Thermaltake TP DPS RGB 750W PSU [Thanks to the Thermaltake]

Asus Realbench 2.44 and the RealTemp 3.70 are used for the stress test and the temperature monitoring. The Noctua NT-H1 thermal paste is used to test all the coolers on my test benches. This helps ensure the standardization and to reduce the effect of any bundled thermal paste that could benefit the performance.

Methodology

First, the cooler is tested on the stock clocks i.e 4.2GHz at manual 1.16V Vcore. The average of the core temps is calculated to provide the temps at idle and under the load. The ambient temps are subtracted from these temperature readings to give the delta temps. My graphs report the delta temps. This helps in an uncontrolled environment to mitigate the temperature variation.

Next, the CPU is overclocked to 4.7GHz using manual 1.22V VCore. Three runs of the stress test program are carried out. The average of each run is separately taken and the highest reading of the three tests is used. Ambient temperatures are subtracted from the selected average temperature reading and delta temperature is reported on the graph.

Without a further due, let’s take a look at the results.

Results

On stock testing, the Noctua NH-U12S has topped with the delta temperature of 36°C.

With overclocking, the NH-LU12S again came out as the winner with the temperature of 46.5°C.

Maximum noise level on the NF-F12 at the full speed was 26 dBA which is still good though higher than the rated one.

 

Conclusion

The Noctua has provided an ultimate cooling solution in the form of their premium NH-U12S cooler under their award-winning NH-U series. This cooler is a U-Type Tower cooler of 120mm size. It has 5 copper based heat pipes each of 6mm thickness making a linear contact with the fin stacks. The base of the cooler is copper made with the nickel coating. The heatsink has 50 aluminum fins on it. The heatsink has the dimensions of the 158x125x45mm. This cooler has the depth of just 45mm making it universally compatible with any height RAM.

The Noctua has provided an NF-F12 PWM fan which is a 120mm Focused Flow series fan. The fan has a maximum speed of the 1500 ±10% RPM. With LNA, this speed is 1200 ±10% RPM. Minimum rotational speed is 300 ±20% RPM. Maximum static pressure is 2.11 mmH₂O. With LNA the static pressure is 1.06 mmH₂O. The fan takes input power of the 0.6W at 0.05Awith the 12V DC. The maximum airflow is 556 CFM. With LNA it is 43.76 CFM. Maximum acoustical noise is 22.4 dBA. With LNA it is 18.6 dBA. The fan has a 4 pin PWM connector. The cable’s length is approximately 205mm. It comes in a typical brown color scheme.

This fan has Noctua’s SSO2 bearings. SSO2 is the further optimised second generation of SSO. Made possible by the use of metal bearing shells and new injection molding techniques, the magnet is now placed closer to the rotor axis and thus exerts higher magnetic force to it. This results in even better stabilization, precision, and durability. The Noctua has bundled a plethora of accessories with the cooler. They have provided a Low Noise Adapter, their legendary NT-H1 thermal compound, three users guides (AMD, Intel 2011, Intel 115x/755) and even a screwdriver. And did I forget to mention that this cooler has 6 years warranty!

Value

The price of the Noctua NH-NH-U12S at the time of this review is $57.99 making this cooler better value for your cooling needs.

Performance

The cooler was put to cool the Intel i7 7700k. The thermals on the Kabylake chips are on high side resultantly many users are forced to delid their chips to achieve better thermals. My chip is not delidded but still, this cooler has performed really well to keep the temps low and done that with good acoustic level.

The Noctua NH-U12S has won our Performance Award based on the best balance between the thermal and the acoustic performance.

I am thankful to Noctua for giving me the opportunity to review their NH-U12S.