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Twelve CPU Air Cooler Roundup

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Noctua NH-U12S

Noctua is no stranger to the cooling market. Noctua has been producing cooling products for a very long time and their U series of coolers has won many awards. The Noctua NH-U12S is the slim version of the NH-U12 that guarantees 100% non-interference with the memory slots on the motherboard.




Socket compatibility Intel LGA2011 (Square ILM), LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1150 & AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+ (backplate required)
Height (without fan) 158 mm
Width (without fan) 125 mm
Depth (without fan) 45 mm
Height (with fan) 158 mm
Width (with fan) 125 mm
Depth (with fan) 71 mm
Weight (without fan) 580 g
Weight (with fan) 755 g
Material Copper (base and heat-pipes), aluminium (cooling fins), soldered joints & nickel plating
Fan compatibility 120x120x25
Scope of Delivery
  • NF-F12 PWM premium fan
  • Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)
  • NT-H1 high-grade thermal compound
  • SecuFirm2™ Mounting Kit
  • Anti-vibration pads and fan-clips for second NF-F12
  • Noctua Metal Case-Badge
Warranty 6 Years
Fan specifications
Model Noctua NF-F12 PWM
Bearing SSO2
Max. Rotational Speed (+/- 10%) 1500 RPM
Max. Rotational Speed with L.N.A. (+/- 10%) 1200 RPM
Min. Rotational Speed (PWM, +/-20%) 300 RPM
Max. Airflow 93,4 m³/h
Max. Airflow with L.N.A. 74,3 m³/h
Max. Acoustical Noise 22,4 dB(A)
Max. Acoustical Noise with L.N.A. 18,6 dB(A)
Input Power 0,6 W
Voltage Range 12 V
MTBF > 150.000 h


 DSC_0208 DSC_0210

The packaging for the Noctua NH-U12S is very elegant. Noctua’s earthy colors and tones set the stage for the product. The features and specifications pepper both the front and the back of the box.



I really like the way Noctua packages up the NH-U12S. Everything is in its own compartment. This should make it easy to keep track of all the different mounting parts as well as keep them safe from damage.


DSC_0223Stripped of its fan, the Noctua NH-U12S is one of the lightest and smallest coolers in the roundup. The tower measures in at 158x125x45mm.



Fin spacing on the Noctua NH-U12S is good and appears to facilitate good airflow through the cooler. I figure if we can see through the cooler then the air flow should follow.


DSC_0226The base of the Noctua NH-U12S is very well done. It is highly machined both around the base and on the surface of the base. Very light machining marks are barely visible.


DSC_0228While the base on the Noctua NH-U12S is not a mirror finish, it is reflective enough to give a good indication of the flatness of the base. The reflected lines show the base is flat. The distortion in the lines is caused by the light machining marks.


DSC_0231The NF-F12 PWM fan included with the Noctua NH-u12S is slightly different than the NF-P12. The fan is 120x120x25 mm and is rated at 300-1200 RPM with a noise profile of 18.6-11.4 dBA.


DSC_0232While the fan appears to be a normal fan, taking a look at the back reveals that it is not. The focused flow series of fans put angles on the stator guides to control the airflow when it leaves the back of the fan. By adding various angles to each of the guides, airflow can be directed and minimize the dead spot in the center of the fan’s hub. The notches on the guides are called Vortex-Control notches. They are designed to spread the sound from the fan over a greater frequency spectrum, thus changing the sound profile.


DSC_0233So far installing all the coolers has been very similar and the Noctua NH-U12S is not much different. The back plate for the Noctua NH-U12S comes completely assembled. So far in the round up this is the thickest back plate of the bunch.


DSC_0234The back plate must be installed in the correct position. This position is shown above. Take note of the locations of the holes in the Noctua back plate.


DSC_0235The next step in the process of installing the Noctua NH-U12S is to install the plastic spacers on each of the four bolts that stick up through the motherboard.


DSC_0236The retention brackets can be installed two ways which positions the cooler in either a front to back or top to bottom orientation.  To keep things the same through all the coolers, I choose the front to back orientation.


DSC_0239The fan assembly went on without an issue. The memory clearance with the Noctua NH-U12S clears all four memory slots on our 1150 motherboard.


DSC_0241With everything installed and looking good it is time to head to the test bench.

Time to look at the BeQuiet! Shadow Rock 2

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Tom Brokaw

Tom is a network and computer hardware enthusiast. He has been reviewing hardware products around for various sites around the net since 1999. He has modded a few cases back in the day.

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