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.

Noctua NH-U12S Redux

Noctua has released a new iteration of their ever-popular NH-U12S air cooler. Meet the new NH-U12S Redux. Noctua is aiming at the budget segment with this Redux variant of NH-U12S. There are some key differences between the standard version and the Redux version which we will cover shortly. The NH-U12S Redux is a single tower air cooler comprising of 4x copper heat pipes in nickel plating combined with the aluminum fins. The cooler comes with the NF-P12 redux-1700 PWM fan. We have reviewed their new Redux series fans earlier. Click here to read that review. Noctua has provided 4x NA-AVP1 chromax.grey anti-vibration pads. Optionally, the user can buy an NA-FK1 Redux pack to get a second Redux fan for push/pull setup though this would change the price bracket of the cooler effectively changing the market segment in which the cooler is expected to compete. Noctua hooked us up with the NA-FK1 for dual fan testing. The cooler is compatible with Intel LGA-115x, LGA-1200, LGA-20XX, and AMD AM4 sockets.

Item:                   NH-U12S Redux

NA-FK1 Redux

Manufacturer:  Noctua

Price:

ProductUS PriceUK Price
NH-U12S Redux49.9049.90
NH-FK1 Redux16.9016.90

 

Specifications

NH-U12S Redux

NA-FK1 Redux

Packaging and Unboxing

NH-U12S Redux

The cooler and fan are shipped inside the cardboard packing box in Redux theme styling.

Noctua NH-U12S Redux Box

The box has Noctua NH-U12S Redux cooling solution inside which is based on their premium single tower cooler NH-U12S. The cooler comes with the same SecuFirm-II mounting hardware which is a hallmark of Noctua in giving highly convenient installation hardware.

The specifications are printed over here along with the EAN and UPC labels. The cooler is manufactured in Taiwan and carries Noctua’s 6 years warranty.

Some key features of the cooler are printed. There are block diagrams showing the dimension of the cooler. The height of the cooler is 158mm with a depth of 71mm with the fan.

Opening the box will show the brown-colored accessory box placed on the top. This box is different than the one provided in their other coolers.

Removing the accessory box will show the cooler tucked inside the cardboard box container. It seems like Customs opened the box and put the cooler in the wrong direction here. Since this cooler comes with the pre-applied thermal paste, I did not find any protective measure on the base to ensure that the user gets the cooler in the same condition as shipped from the factory.

Content

The following are provided with the cooler:

There is a brown color simple box containing the mounting hardware. It does not have a top cover neither it has a multi-section layout.

We have:

  • 1x Noctua Backplate
  • 2x NM-IMB3 Intel brackets
  • 2x NM-AMB7 AMD brackets

Noctua has provided 4x Long screws and 4x gray spacers for AM4 mounting.

We have:

  • 4x Black Spacers
  • 4x Thumb Nuts
  • 4x Intel LGA-20XX standoffs

NA-FK1

The NA-FK1 is also shipped inside a cardboard box.

The pack contains one NF-P12 redux-1700 PWM fan. This fan has 9 pressure-optimized blades.

The specifications of the fan are printed on the backside of the main packing box. The contents of the box are also printed. The installation mechanism is also printed.

The fan can be seen placed on the top after opening the box.

Contents

The following are provided in the box:

  • 2x Metal Clips
  • 3x Cables
  • 4x NA-AVP2 Anti-Vibration pads
  • 1x NF-P12 redux-1700 PWM fan

Following cables are provided:

  • 1x NA-YC1. This cable allows two fans to be connected to a single fan header.
  • 2x NA-RC14. These are Low Noise Adapter cables. This cable is required to be connected directly to the fan before connecting the NA-YC1.

Closer Look

Let’s start with what Noctua has to say about their cooler. “True to the spirit of Noctua’s redux line, the NH-U12S redux is a streamlined, accessibly priced version of the iconic NH-U12S that has established itself as a benchmark for slim, highly compatible 120mm CPU coolers. The redux version uses the same proven heatsink layout that guarantees 100% compatibility with tall RAM modules as well as excellent case and PCIe compatibility. Thanks to the popular NF-P12 redux-1700 PWM fan with automatic speed control, it provides high performance under load and runs whisper-quiet at idle. At the same time, Noctua’s renowned, professional SecuFirm2™ mounting system and the pre-applied NT-H1 thermal compound make installation child’s play. Backed up with Noctua’s trusted 6-year manufacturer’s warranty, the NH-U12S redux is a smart, affordable choice for a quiet, high-quality 120mm cooler. Following the idea of Noctua’s redux line, the NH-U12S redux takes the proven concept of the original NH-U12S and reduces it to its essential core: a quiet, quality-made 120mm cooler with streamlined accessories that is highly compatible and easy to install.”

The dimension of the heatsink is 158x125x45mm (HxWxD). This is without the fan. With the fan, the dimension is 158x125x71mm (HxWxD). The weight of the cooler is 755g with the fan. The cooler is compatible with Intel LGA2066, LGA2011-0 & LGA2011-3 (Square ILM), LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1151, LGA1150, LGA1200, and AMD AM4 sockets. The cooler has 6 years warranty from Noctua.

The top cover is in shiny silver color. REDUX by NOCTUA is printed in the center. We can see the tips of 4x heat pipes terminating on this end. The pipes are not soldered with the fins. The top cover is thicker than the rest of the fins and is attached to the fin stack using 4x screws. Take a note of the fins design pattern. We have v shape notches followed by the straight-line design. The layout is identical to the standard or original NH-U12S.

The front and rear sides are identical. The heatsink comprises 50 aluminum fins. The fin stack is less dense. The symmetry of the heat pipes inside the fin stack is identical to the original design though with one less heat pipe. The V-shaped design helps in reducing resistance to the airflow and turbulence.

The above picture shows the displacement of the heat pipes inside the fin stack. The Redux version has 4x heat pipes compared to 5x heat pipes on the original NH-U12S and its chromax.black variant.

The left and right sides of the heatsink are identical. This side shows the slim design of the heatsink making it compatible with almost every socket area and it does not overhang the DIMM slots which adds to the universal compatibility with the RAMs in terms of their height. The solution stands at 71mm with the fan in depth. There are cut-outs on both sides running across the length. This is where the fan clips are inserted when installing the fans on the heatsink.

The Noctua NH-U12S Redux has 4x copper heat pipes which are nickel coated. The heat pipes are going inside the heatsink in the U shape to cover a large surface area for maximum heat dissipation. The heat pipes seem to have a 6mm thickness.

The Noctua NH-U12S Redux comes with pre-applied NT-H1 thermal paste in a honey comb design. This is another difference between the Redux version and the standard version as the standard version carries a tube of NT-H1 for roughly 5x applications.

The copper base has 38mmX40mm size. It is nickel coated. The picture is taken after removing the pre-applied thermal paste.

The mounting plate is already installed on the base of the cooler. Its code is NM-SFB4. It is secured using a screw in the middle. The plate can be removed by taking out the screw. The plate has two spring-loaded screws on both ends.

Noctua has provided the NF-P12 redux-1700 PWM fan with the cooler. This fan is optimized for pressure-demanding applications such as on heatsinks. The PWM variant allows for automatic speed control to achieve an optimal balance between the performance and the silence. The fan has dimensions of 120x120x25mm and it is using Noctua’s SSO bearing. The fan has 9 blades design. The frame of the fan is sturdy and we did not see any flex in it. The blades are in a dark grey shade whereas the frame is in a light shade. There are not anti-vibration pads on the front which makes sense. The fan makes contact with the heatsink from its backside and Noctua has provided pads on the backside for that matter.

There are directional arrows on the frame side. These are there to provide a visual aid to the user in identifying the direction of the airflow and the direction in which the blades would spin.

The opposite side of the frame has Noctua branding in the middle.

There is a 4-arm assembly on the backside of the fan. One of the arms is wider and carries the wire from the motor of the fan towards the frame. SSO Magnet is printed in the middle with a glimpse through the cutouts.

One can see the notches on the trailing edges of the impellers. Noctua’s signature Vortex-Control Notches split up trailing edge vortices and thus spread the fan’s noise emission over a wider range of frequencies. This measure makes the fan sound more pleasant to the human ear. Noctua is using Smooth Commutation Drive 2 in these fans which is the latest version of Noctua’s advanced Smooth Commutation Drive system ensuring superb running smoothness by eliminating torque variations and switching noises. This makes the fan remarkably quiet even at very close distances. The PWM versions are using custom-designed PWM IC with a smooth commutation drive. Supporting fully automatic PWM speed control, the fan uses Noctua’s custom-designed NE-FD1 PWM IC that integrates Smooth Commutation Drive (SCD) technology. By providing smoother torque impulses, SCD suppresses PWM switching noises and thus makes the fan quieter at low speeds.

The fan has a 4-pin PWM connector.

Here are the specifications of the fan:

Dimension (mm)120x120x25
Speed (RPM)450 ± 20% ~ 1700 ± 10%
Airflow (m³/h)120.2
Noise [dB(A)]25.1
Voltage (V)12
MTTF> 150,000 hrs

Installation

We have recently upgraded our Intel test bed and are now on the Intel LGA1200 socket. Installation is as follow:

Place the backplate on the backside of the motherboard so that the standoffs pass through the mounting holes.

Insert the black color spacers on the standoffs.

Place the brackets on the standoffs. Check the mounting plate on the base of the cooler to ensure the proper orientation of the brackets.

Secure the brackets using thumb nuts.

The above picture shows the backplate after the installation.

Place the cooler on the CPU by aligning the spring-loaded screws of the mounting plate with the standoffs on the mounting brackets. Screw-in the spring-loaded screws to complete the installation of the heatsink on the motherboard.

Attach the fan to the heatsink using the metal clips and connect the 4-pin PWM connector to the 4-pin fan header on the motherboard. This would complete the installation.

Clearance

The dimension of the cooler is 158x125x71mm with the fan. Here the height of the cooler is 158mm. Make sure your chassis has clearance for this much height of the cooler.

There is no clearance issue with respect to the top side of the motherboard.

There is no clearance issue on the IO side of the motherboard.

There is no clearance issue with respect to the first PCIe X16 slot on MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK.

The fan does not overhang the DIMM slots and did not pose any issue to the T-Force NightHawk DDR4 RGB kit.

Being a slim 120mm cooler, the Noctua NH-U12S Redux has universal clearance for the RAM and PCIe slot.

Push/Pull Configuration

We have also tested the cooler in push/pull configuration for which NA-FK1 pack was used. With NH-FK1 the price of the cooling solution will be USD/Euro 66.80 which is roughly $6 above the USD pricing of the standard NH-U12S whereas the Euro pricing remains less than the standard edition. Not a bad move but we need to evaluate this pricing against the performance.

Noctua has provided NA-AVP2 with the NA-FK1 which is a thicker anti-vibration pad as compared to the NA-AVP1 provided with the NH-U12S Redux. Noctua has informed that this is done to have better input acoustic on the rear fan.

The above picture shows the side of the assembled cooler with both fans. Notice the wider gap between the heatsink and the rear fan.

Here are few pictures of the cooler.

Testing

We have upgraded our Intel test bed recently. Following test benches have been used: –

  • Intel i7 10700k
  • MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK
  • T-Force NightHawk RGB 16GB @ 3200MHz
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 FE
  • addlink S70 256GB NVMe SSD
  • bequiet! Straight Power 11 850W Platinum PSU
  • Open-air test bench

Here is the settings table for testing:

Clock (MHz)3800 All Cores
Voltage (V)1.025
Clock (MHz)4700 All Cores
Voltage (V)1.255
Clock (MHz)5100 All Cores
Voltage (V)1.345
Turbo BoostDisabled
C-StatesDisabled
Speed StepDisabled
Thermal PasteNoctua NT-H1
Thermal Paste ApplicationDot Method in the center.
Test Run Time30 minutes
Idling Time10 minutes
Fan Speed100% PWM Duty Cycle and Auto PWM
HeaderCPU_Fan header for the fans
SoftwareAIDA64 6.3 Extreme [FPU]

 

We are using Noctua NT-H1 thermal paste for coolers testing. Using the same thermal paste for all coolers would ensure standardization. Delta temperatures are reported on the graphs. The testing is done on an open-air bench system. Once inside the chassis, the temperatures are expected to rise and would largely depend upon the optimal airflow inside the chassis.

Not every run of the stress test may yield the same result. This could well be due to many factors like mounting pressure, thermal paste application, varying ambient temperature. Not to mention the silicon differences even among the same category of the chips. Hence, it is pertinent to mention the testing methodology along with the specifics.

The coolers are also tested using the Auto PWM function. MSI is using Smart Fan mode in the UEFI/BIOS which is not pure Auto PWM but it is what is available to us. The above picture shows the MSI default fan curve for the Smart Fan mode. Since all the coolers will be tested using the same configuration and settings, the same margin of error applies to all.

Let’s take a look at the results.

3.8GHz All Cores

The Noctua NH-U12S Redux is doing 25.9°C almost sitting at the bottom. The same cooler with push/pull configuration came on top of all the single 120mm coolers with 23.3°C. 3800MHz is not a tough ordeal by any means. I am more interested in knowing if this cooler can handle the job under extreme heat output load.

4.7GHz All Cores

The Noctua NH-U12S Redux was ding 49.4°C as compared to the standard NH-U12S 47.7°C with a difference of 1.7°C. The same cooler in push/pull configuration came within the margin of error with standard NH-U12S. We saw an improvement by 2.2°C with push/pull configuration over the single fan configuration.

4.7GHz All Cores [Auto PWM]

Auto PWM will be important with respect to the push/pull configuration since both fans will ramp up only under load and we can have a better acoustic profile with better thermal performance. The NH-U12S Redux was doing 50.9°C in a single fan configuration as compared to 51.6°C on the standard NH-U12S with only 0.7°C difference which is well within the margin of error. The same cooler in push/pull configuration was doing 48.1°C. We saw an improvement of 2.8°C between the single fan and dual fan configurations.

5.1GHz All Cores

Now coming to the ultimate test of stress load with all cores on 5.1GHz. The heat output under this load is not easy to handle by all the coolers. Roughly all the single towers in 120mm size were sitting in the upper 80s and 90s. I am not comfortable with the temps in the 90s and one must use the cooling solution accordingly.

The NH-U12S was doing 65.1°C delta temperature. The maximum temperature on any core was 95°C which is just 5°C shy of getting throttle. The standard NH-U12S was doing 63.4°C. The push/pull configuration resulted in 62°C with an improvement of 3.1°C. Only such heat output and load could be truly benefited from the dual-fan configuration.

Fans’ Speed on Auto PWM

The above graph shows the maximum speed attained by the fans on the Auto PWM. For comparison, we have included the rated speed of the fans to have a reference in determining the Auto PWM range. The speed of the front fan is reported through the 4-pin PWM connector. The speed of the fan was 1556 RPM.

Noise

The maximum recorded noise level on the Noctua NH-U12S Redux was 51 dBA in an ambient noise level of 33 dBA. This noise output was using a single fan configuration. The noise output was 54 dBA in push/pull configuration. The noise output was measured at full fan speed.

Conclusion

Noctua has released what they are referring to a streamlined, accessibly priced version of their award-winning slim design single tower air cooler NH-U12S. The new cooler is from the Redux lineup hence named NH-U12S Redux. The NH-U12S Redux is a U-type air cooler in 120mm size. It has the same heatsink with a key difference of one less heat pipe. The dimension of the hetasink is 158x125x45mm (HxWxD) without fan. The dimension is 158x125x71mm (HxWxD) with the fan. The weight of the cooler is 755 g with the fan. The cooler is compatible with Intel LGA20XX, LGA115X, LGA1200, and AMD AM4 sockets. This is another difference over the standard NH-U12S as the standard version has support for AM3 sockets as well.

The heatsink comprises 50 aluminum fins coupled with 4 nickel-plated copper heat pipes. The heat pipes are terminating at the top where their pointy heads are coming out of the top fin plate. The top plate has Noctua Redux branding. The assembly is not soldered which is another key difference with respect to the standard NH-U12S. The copper base is mirror finished and has a dimension of 38x40mm. The mounting plate NM-SFB4 is already installed on the base module of the cooler. It has two spring-loaded screws which are used to secure the heatsink to the mounting hardware. The cooler has pre-applied NT-H1 on the base and there is no tube provided in the accessory box. This is another difference between the Redux and standard versions.

The Noctua has provided a NF-P12 redux-1700 PWM fan which is a 120mm fan optimized for the pressure-sensitive requirements. The fan has a maximum speed of 1700 ±10% RPM. The minimum rotational speed is 450 ±20% RPM. The maximum airflow is 120.2 m³/h. The maximum acoustical noise is 25.1 dBA. The fan has a 4 pin PWM connector. There is no Low Noise Adpater provided with the cooler.

The below table summarized the differences between the standard NH-U12S and NH-U12S Redux. This will also give an idea about where the Noctua has put a cut to make the pricing more accessible.

 NU-U12SNH-U12S Redux
Soldered InterfaceYesNo
No of Heatpipes54
NT-H1 TubeYes (for 5 applications)Pre-Applied only
Screw DriverYesNo
Extra Fan ClipsYesNo
No of User Manuals3xSingle
Low Noise AdapterYesNo
Fan1x NF-F12 PWM1x NF-P12 redux-1700 PWM
Bearing of FanSSO2SSO
Noise Output22.4 dB(A)25.1 dB(A)
Mounting HardwareSecuFirm-II for Intel LGA-115x/1200/20XX and AMD AM4/AM3SecuFirm-II for Intel LGA-115x/1200/20XX and AMD AM4
PricingUSD 59.90/  69.90 Euro

USD 69.90 / 79.90 Euro for chromax.black

49.90 USD/Euro

 

Noctua has also released a single fan pack named NA-FK1 Redux. Noctua has provided an NF-P12 redux-1700 PWM along with a Y cable and two low noise adapter cables along with a pair of metal clips. Noctua has provided 4x NA-AVP2 anti-vibration rubber pads in grey color with the box. This kit allows the user to have a push/pull configuration on the NH-U12S Redux cooler.

The MSRP of the Noctua NH-U12S Redux is 49.90 USD/Euro. Noctua is offering 6 years warranty on this cooler. Noctua is aiming at the budget segment with this cooler. The cooler on its own has performed very well in our testing though it was a tough job to handle Intel i7 10700k with all cores on 5.1GHz. The maximum temperature on any core was 95°C. Almost all the air coolers in the single tower listed in our graphs were in the upper 80s and 90s for this load. But this was changed when we introduced the second fan on the rear of the heatsink in the pull configuration though at the cost of more noise. When we tested this cooler in push/pull configuration we saw an improvement of a maximum of 3.1°C under stress test with all cores on 5.1GHz. Clearly, this much heat output is required so that push/pull configuration could actually make a noticeable difference. The push/pull configuration also gives an advantage where we can reduce the speed of the fans to yield a better noise output with a better or similar thermal performance. This is what we have seen with the Noctua NH-U12S Redux and NA-FK1.

With its utmost clearance and compatibility with respect to any height RAM and PCIe slot, decent acoustic performance at full speed, and a better performance in this price range coupled with 6 years warranty, the Noctua NH-U12S Redux comes recommended by us. Add a second fan using NA-FK1 and you have a rock-solid cooling solution though out of its aimed price range!

We are thankful to Noctua for giving us the opportunity to review their NH-U12S Redux CPU air cooler.