Introduction

Noctua has released a new cooler NH-D12L in the midst of the NH-U12 series coolers. This was a bit of surprising news for me. In my book, Noctua has raised their bar by itself after releasing the high-performance NH-U12A. But this time, Noctua has provided a cooling option for the users who would want to have the blend of features from NH-U12S and NH-U12A while making the new cooler even more compatible with the PC Cases, PCIe slot, and DIMM slot in a smart design and doing this by actually reducing the overall height of the cooler from 158mm to 145mm comparing to the NH-U series coolers. This makes the new NH-D12L more compatible with 4U enclosures as well as narrower tower cases.

Noctua has also released a new fan NF-A12x25r PWM fan with this cooler. This fan has the same bells and whistles as the regular and highly popular NF-A12x25 PWM fan has but the difference is the rounded frame on the NF-A12x25r PWM hence the letter ‘r’ is there in the name.

The Nh-D12L has a low-height, dual-tower design comprising of 5x copper heat pipes and soldered assembly with a polished nickel-coated copper base. the cooler comes with a single NF-A12x25r PWM fan which gives this cooler a good enough clearance from all aspects.

The NH-D12L is rated for EUR/USD 89.90 whereas the NF-A12x25r PWM is rated for EUR/USD 29.90 at the time of review. Both products have a 6-year warranty from Noctua.

Purchase links:

NH-D12L AMAZON US AMAZON UK
NF-A12x25r PWM AMAZON US AMAZON UK

 

Specifications

Packing and Contents

The cooler is shipped in a cardboard-made packing box finished in chromax theme.

The mounting hardware is provided in a dedicated box.

The cooler is provided in a dedicated cardboard box.

The following are included:

  • 2x User Guides
  • 2x NM-AMB11 Mounting Bars
  • 4x NM-APS4 Plastic Spacer for AM4
  • 4x NM-APS5 Plastic Spacer for AMD
  • 4x NM-ALS1 Screws
  • 1x multi-socket Intel backplate
  • NM-IMB3 Mounting Bars
  • 4x Plastic Spacers [Black color for Intel LGA 1500/1200 sockets]
  • 4x Plastic Spacers [Blue color for Intel LGA 1700 socket]
  • 4x Bolts
  • 4x Thumbscrews
  • 4x Long Screws
  • 6x Lockers
  • 1x NT-H1 Thermal paste
  • 1x Screw Driver
  • 2x NA-RC14 LN Adapter
  • 1x Metal Noctua Case Badge
  • 2x Fan Clips for the second fan mount [Optional]

Noctua has also sent us a dedicated NF-A12x25r PWM fan which has allowed us to test the cooler in push/pull configuration. The fan comes in paperboard packing.

The following are included:

  • 1x NF-A12x25r PWM fan
  • 1x Installation Guide
  • 4x Anti-Vibration mountings
  • 4x Self-Tapping Screws
  • 1x NA-YC1 PWM cable splitter
  • 1x Low Noise Adapter Cable
  • 1x Extension Cable

Closer Look

Let’s start with what Noctua has to say about the cooler and chromax accessories. “The NH-D12L is a low-height 120mm class CPU cooler that has been conceived to combine outstanding quiet cooling performance with superior case compatibility. At a height of only 145mm (13mm lower than Noctua’s regular 120mm models), it fits many 4U enclosures as well as narrower tower cases that have been previously limited to solutions with 92mm fans. At the same time, its five heatpipe dual-tower design and state-of-the-art NF-A12x25r 120mm fan allows it to achieve a level of efficiency that surpasses many full-height 120mm models. Thanks to its single-fan configuration and asymmetrical fin stacks, the NH-D12L provides 100% RAM compatibility on AMD AM4/AM5 and LGA1700/1200 by staying clear of the memory slots. Topped off with the renowned SecuFirm2™ mounting system, Noctua’s award-winning NT-H1 thermal compound, and a 6-year manufacturer’s warranty, the NH-D12L is the perfect choice for applications that require serious cooling performance but cannot fit the larger NH-U12A.”

The cooler has a dimension of 145x125x113mm (HxWxD) with fans. The dimension without the fan remains the same because this is a single fan, dual-tower configuration. The depth of the heatsink is 113mm thanks to the dual tower configuration. The base and the heat pipes are made of copper material whereas the fins are in aluminum material. The complete assembly is soldered and nickel-plated.

We can spot the dual-tower configuration of the cooler with the front side tower having a slim outlook standing at 32mm thick as compared to the 54mm thick rear tower. The top plate of the heatsink has Noctua branding in the middle. There is a sufficient gap between both towers giving access to the pre-installed mounting bar on the base. We can also spot the terminating tips of the heat pipes. The front tower has a similar layout on both sides as we have seen on the Noctua NH-U series coolers whereas the rear tower has a different design on both ends.

The above picture shows the close-up of the pre-installed mounting bard on the base of the cooler. Its code is NM-SFB4. It is removable. The mounting bar has two spring-loaded screws for convenient installation.

The heatsink has the same layout on the exterior sides of the towers. We have 40 aluminum fins that are nickel-plated. The pointer here is that combining both towers’ depths, we have 86mm of a total depth as compared to the other NH-U series coolers. This gives us more surface area on this cooler but keeps in mind that we don’t have a 86mm thick single tower but two towers each of varying thicknesses.

The left and the right sides of the cooler are identical. There is a bit of recessed area which is supposed to catch the locking handles of the fans’ metal clips. The complete assembly is soldered. This gives the cooler the ability to retain its performance over time (durability in terms of the performance). We can spot the different thicknesses on the towers.

Since this cooler has two low-height towers which have different thicknesses, this makes the cooler asymmetrical design offering universal clearance for the RAM.

The above picture shows the inner side of the rear tower. We have a triangle shape layout here which helps in reducing the turbulence from air resistance. The 120mm fan sits on this side.

The above picture shows the inner side of the front tower. It is Noctua’s standard layout.

The above picture shows the close-up of the heat pipes. The Noctua NH-D12L 5x 6mm copper heat pipes are nickel-plated. They are designed to make maximum contact with the fins for effective heat dissipation.

The cooler has a copper base which is nickel coated in mirror finish. It measures 37x39mm approximately. The heatpipes are making contact with the copper base from inside the base plate. This is in direct contact. The machining and milling work is adequate.

The NH-D12L comes with a single NF-A12x25r PWM fan. We have already done a detailed review of the NF-A12 series of fans which can be found here. The round-frame NF-A12x25r features a custom hole spacing of 93x83mm. Please keep in mind that this rounded frame is not compatible with 105x105mm standard space mounting. This makes the fan only compatible with the heatsink using fan clips.

Here is what Noctua is saying about these fans, “The NF-A12x25r is a round-frame version of Noctua’s award-winning flagship model 120mm NF-A12x25 fan. Its round shape makes it ideal for use on low-height dual-tower CPU coolers like the NH-D12L as well as other space-restricted applications that cannot accommodate square-frame 120mm fans. Just like the square NF-A12x25, the round NF-A12x25r uses a record-tight tip clearance of only 0.5mm, which is made possible by using the novel Sterrox® liquid-crystal polymer (LCP) compound as well as a metal-reinforced motor hub and axis for ultimate precision. Sharing the same state-of-the-art impeller design with Flow Acceleration Channels, the NF-A12x25r achieves the same class-leading quiet cooling performance as its square-frame sibling. It also supports fully automatic speed control via PWM fan headers and comes with a Low-Noise Adaptor to reduce the maximum speed from 2000 to 1700rpm. Topped off with exceptional running smoothness, Noctua’s reference-class SSO2 bearing, a rich bundle of accessories and 6-year manufacturer’s warranty, the NF-A12x25r is a premium-quality product through and through. Its superior efficiency, cutting-edge construction and pioneering materials make it an elite choice for all 120mm applications that require a round frame.”

The salient features of the fan are:

  • Award-winning NF-A12x25 impeller
  • Round frame design
  • Highly optimised P/Q curve for all applications
  • Flow Acceleration Channels
  • Ultra-tight tip clearance
  • Metal-reinforced motor hub
  • Sterrox® liquid-crystal polymer compound
  • AAO frame
  • Inner Surface Microstructures
  • Stepped Inlet Design
  • Integrated anti-vibration pads
  • SSO2 bearing
  • Metal bearing shell
  • Custom-designed PWM IC with SCD
  • Stops at 0% PWM
  • Smooth Commutation Drive 2
  • Next-generation performance

There is a 4-arm assembly connecting the motor hub with the frame. There is a sticker pasted on the axis hub. The middle portion is showing a metal bearing shell in golden color.

The arrow directions can be seen on one side of the frame.

The Noctua branding is on the opposite side of the frame.

NSPR

The NSPR is Noctua’s platform-independent classification scheme in which they rate their cooler for efficiency. The NH-D12L has an NSPR rating of 148 which is less than that of the NH-U12A and higher than that of NH-U12S.

 

Since we are testing the cooler on Intel i7 12700, the NH-D12L is shown to be fully compatible with this CPU including the overclocking and Turbo boost headroom.

In case you are wondering, which NH-U/D series cooler in the 120mm class is suitable for your requirement, the above picture summarizes the differences/similarities of the 4x listed coolers.

Installation

We are no longer covering the detailed instructions for the installation. Please use the user guide provided with the cooler for that purpose. We will only highlight if there is any issue or challenge faced during the installation. All-in-all we are dealing with 18 pieces to install the mounting hardware only. This was not the case before the release of the Intel Alder Lake platform. Noctua has provided single mounting hardware under SecuFirm-II to cater for all Intel LGA20xx and LGA1200/115x/1700 sockets as well as AMD AM4/AM5 sockets. The installation was convenient and there is nothing as such to report.

Clearance

The NH-D15L in a single fan, dual-tower configuration does not overhang the DIMM slots hence we don’t have any RAM clearance issue. However, for a dual-fan configuration where another NF-A12x25r PWM is installed (optionally) on the front tower, the RAM height should not be more than 45mm.

In our case, the XPG Lancer RGB 6000 32GB DDR5 kit has a height of 40mm excluding the pins or an overall height of 44mm and this makes the front fan to be adjusted. This has increased the overall height of the cooler. Keep that in mind if going this route.

The upper portion of the cooler is not taking much space either and there is no limitation recorded with respect to the top of the PC case.

There is no hindrance from the motherboard’ IO side to the heatsink.

There is no obstruction or clearance issue with respect to the first PCIe 30/4.0 x16 slot of the motherboard.

Here are a few pictures of the assembled cooler:

Testing

The following test bench is used: –

  • Intel i7 12700k
  • GIGABYTE Z690 AERO G
  • XPG Lancer RGB 6000 32GB DDR5 kit
  • GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 3070 VISION OC
  • Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus 2TB PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD
  • be quiet! Straight Power 11 850W Platinum PSU
  • Thermaltake Core P6 TG Snow Edition in an open-frame layout

Here is the settings table for testing:

P-Cores Clock (MHz) 4700 All Cores
E-Cores Clock (MHz) 3600 All Cores
VCore (V) 1.20
Turbo Boost Disabled
C-States Disabled
Speed Step Disabled
Thermal Paste Noctua NT-H1
Thermal Paste Application 4 small and 1 large dots on the IHS.
Test Run Time 30 minutes for XTU Stress Test

20 minutes

Idling Time 10 minutes
Fan Speed 100% PWM Duty Cycle
Header CPU_Fan/CPU_Opt Headers
Software Intel XTU and CINEBENCH R23

 

This is our first regular cooler being tested on the newly established 12th gen hence there is no graph being plotted at the moment. The graph will be added once more coolers are tested.

The ambient temperature was in the range of 23.5° ~ 24.5°C. Let’s take a look at the results.

Load Clock Idle Temperature Load Temperature
Intel XTU CPU Stress Test 4700MHz P-Cores

3600MHZ E-Cores

25.2°C P-Cores Average: 72.1°C

E-Cores Average: 62.7°C

CINEBENCH R23 with AVX 4700MHz P-Cores

3600MHZ E-Cores

26°C P-Cores Average: 80.3°C

E-Cores Average: 70°C

 

The above is a good score from the cooler. The above test run is from using a single fan configuration. Next, we added another NF-A12x25r PWM fan on the front, and tests were repeated in Push/Pull configuration. Here are the results:

Load Clock Idle Temperature Load Temperature
Intel XTU CPU Stress Test 4700MHz P-Cores

3600MHZ E-Cores

24.2°C P-Cores Average: 70.3°C

E-Cores Average: 60.5°C

CINEBENCH R23 with AVX 4700MHz P-Cores

3600MHZ E-Cores

25°C P-Cores Average: 77.7°C

E-Cores Average: 66°C

 

We saw a reduction of 1.8°C on the P-Cores temperatures under the standard CPU Stress test. The difference under AVX load was 2.6°C on the P-Cores.

Noise

We are not measuring the noise level at the moment. Based on our subjective assessment of what we heard with sitting close to the test bench, the cooler was running silent with both fans set to run at full speed which is remarkable.

 

Conclusion

Noctua has released a new cooler in the 120mm class named NH-D12L. The salient feature of this cooler is its overall low height of 145mm as compared to the 158mm height of NH-U12S and NH-U12A variants. This low height makes this cooler even more compatible with many 4U rackmount server cases as well as many tower-style enclosures that are not wide enough for 158mm units.

This cooler sits in between the NH-U12S and NH-U12A in terms of thermal efficiency, clearance for PC Cases, RAM, and PCIe slots. This is a dual-tower configuration with a single NF-A12x25r PWM fan. Noctua has also released the rounded-frame version of the highly popular NF-A12x25 PWM fan for this cooler. The user can optionally buy a second fan for push/pull configuration. The NF-A12x25r PWM has retailed all the features and functions of the regular NF-A12x25 PWM with the only difference coming from the shape of the frame. This rounded shape has reduced the mounting space to 93x83mm which would mean these fans are not compatible with standard 105x105mm mounting spacing.

The cooler has a dimension of 145x113x125mm with and without a fan. It has a weight of 890g with a fan. The cooler is compatible with AMD AM4/AM5 and Intel LGA20xx/1700/1200/115x sockets. Noctua has provided everything in the accessory box that the user would need to install the cooler including an extra set of fan clips.

Each tower has 40 aluminum fins. The front tower has 32mm depth as compared to the 54mm depth of the rear tower making this an asymmetrical design for universal RAM clearance using a single fan. The heatsink is a soldered assembly of aluminum fins with 5x copper heat pipes. The complete assembly is nickel-plated. We have the same mirror finish nickel-plated copper base measuring 37x39mm approximately.

The NF-A12x25r PWM fan has a maximum speed of 2000 ±10% RPM. With LNA, this speed is 1700 ±10% RPM. The minimum rotational speed is 450 RPM ±20%. The maximum static pressure is 2.34 mmH₂O. With LNA the static pressure is 1.65 mmH₂O. A fan takes input power of the 1.68W at 0.14A with the 12V DC. The maximum airflow is 102.1 m³/h. With LNA it is 84.5 m³/h. The maximum acoustical noise is 22.6 dBA. With LNA it is 18.8 dBA. Each fan has a 4-pin PWM connector. The cable’s length is approximately 200mm.  This fan has Noctua’s SSO2 bearings. We have already done a detailed review of the NF-A12 series of fans which can be found here.

Noctua has come up with a single backplate to provide for all supported Intel sockets including LGA 1200 and 1700 though doing this has actually increased the installation steps which is where Noctua always had a competitive edge. Now we are dealing with 18 items for the installation of the mounting only. Previously they were 11. The blue color spacers are to be used for the Intel LGA1700 socket and the black color for the other sockets. The installation was convenient and there is nothing particular to report.

The NH-D12L is rated for EUR/USD 89.90 whereas the NF-A12x25r PWM is rated for EUR/USD 29.90 at the time of review. Both products have a 6-year warranty from Noctua. The cooler is tested on the Intel i7 12700k and it has performed quite well. Even in push/pull configuration, the cooler was not making that much of a noise showing the powerful magic of the NF-A12x25r fans. The cooler was able to handle the AVX load gracefully. Though it was not tested with serious overclock, from the given stats, it can surely handle AVX load with mild overclocking.

Thanks to Noctua for the provision of NH-D12L for the testing.