Noctua NH-L12 Contents
The Noctua NH-L12 ships with quite a robust bundle, allowing it to be installed on just about any CPU socket made today (and even some from quite a while ago, such as LGA755):
The “Case Installation Kit” is a nice bonus – in case you don’t need to use the NH-L12 in dual fan mode, you can simply install the 120mm fan as a case fan. Also included are some bolts that facilitate installation on Mini-ITX motherboards that do not allow the socket to be removed.
Noctua NH-L12 Fans
The Noctua NH-L12 comes with a pair of fans, both already parts of the Noctua lineup.
As usual, we’re not about to waste a bunch of your time by cutting and pasting specs in our review, so instead I’ll just direct you to the pages for the NF-B9 (90mm fan) and NF-F12 (120mm fan). Both fans feature Noctua’s innovative noise reducing technologies, such as the notched fans and stepped/beveled blade tips. You can read all about these technologies on the product pages. As far as whether they do anything, all we can do is test the performance.
The NF-B9 spins at 1600 RPM at full speed, and 1300 RPM when the Low Noise Adapter is used. The NF-F12 spins at 1500 RPM at full speed, and 1200 RPM with the LNA.
Both fans are 4-pin PWM controlled, and can be installed using an included Y splitter cable when necessary. One extension cable is also included if you need to reach the bottom side of a motherboard. The 120mm fan comes with rubber vibration dampeners, since the heatsink doesn’t have rubber pads on the top side (there are two rubber strips on the bottom side for the main fan).
Speaking of the heatsink, let’s take a closer look at it:
Noctua NH-L12 Heatsink
The NH-L12 heatsink’s fins are 0.5mm thick, and spaced 0.5mm apart, showing that this is intended to be used as a silent cooler. Any tighter, and the CFM needed to cool the heatsink would be too loud. To distribute heat to the fins, four 6mm copper heatpipes are routed through.
The heatpipes make contact with the CPU through a nickel-plated copper base that is soldered on – not the most direct form of contact, but it is flat, and I noticed no gaps in between the plate and pipes. The pipes are not very exposed – only a few inches of bare pipe can be seen, as the vast majority are making contact with the base or the fins.
There is no support between the base and fins; the only thing holding them apart are the pipes. So be very careful when installing the NH-L12. Even slightly bending a heat pipe will ruin its ability to transfer heat efficiently.
The Noctua NH-L12 heatsink may be low-profile at 66mm, but it is not “small”. With a width of 128x148mm, it will still take up quite a bit of horizontal real estate inside a case. Subsequently, you may run into problems installing it on certain motherboards. Noctua keeps a list of known compatible and incompatible motherboards. If you don’t see yours listed, you can contact them for advice. I didn’t run into problems on either motherboard I installed it on, but they were both full ATX boards which were probably intended to house a big cooler. It will get in the way of high profile heatsinks though, so be sure to make the right choice when selecting your memory. We recommend Kingston HyperX Genesis due to its low price, high performance, and low profile heatsinks.
On the next page, we’ll go through the installation process on an LGA-1155 motherboard: