Today we’re reviewing the Noctua NH-U12S. This is the little brother to the NH-U14S, which is so far the best cooler we have ever tested on an open bench – this includes dual fan closed loop coolers. The U14S sets a high standard, and it will be interesting to see if the NH-U12S can follow up on it.
Although not as tall as its big brother, the NH-U12S is not a tiny cooler either. It measures in at 15.8 cm tall when a fan is installed. This is plenty short enough for most tower cases, but if you have a fan installed on the door of a mid-tower case, that may cause issues. Be sure to check your specifications before proceeding.
It comes equipped with a single 120mm NF-F12 fan, and can accommodate a second fan by installing the extra tall rubber pads and using the included brackets. At full voltage, the fan spins at 1500 RPM, and can push air at a rate of 93.4 m³/h. Noctua includes a Low Noise Adapter that lowers the speed to 1200 RPM max, lowering the airflow to 74.3 m³/h. Noctua rates the sound levels at 22.4 dB and 18.6 dB, which should easily be below ambient sound in most scenarios.
The heatsink itself measures in at 15.8 x 12.2 x 4.5 CM. As you can tell, it is quite slim (which is what the “S” stands for in the name). Even with a fan installed, it is only 7.1 CM deep. It comes with 5 custom heatpipes which Noctua say are an all new design for the U12S and U14S. As you’ll see in our performance results, these new heatpipes lead to some pretty amazing results. Whatever Noctua did with these (and they won’t tell me exactly), they did it right.
The NH-U12S comes with a thick copper plate which has a slight convex shape to it, to really push into the heat plate of today’s modern CPUs. It doesn’t have a mirror finish, which apparently is not the best finish to have between a CPU and a heatsink. This might go against conventional wisdom, but Noctua will let the performance results speak for themselves.
The Noctua NH-U12S mounting bundle includes everything you need to install it on pretty much any modern CPU. On the Intel side, compatibility goes back as far as LGA 1156. LGA 2011 is supported, and is still my favourite way to install CPU coolers. Extra accessories are included to support a second NF-F12 fan. Note that these extra rubber pads are NOT the same that come pre-installed on the fan. They must be used on the second fan to lower noise caused by turbulence.
We’ll cover installation on the next page: