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Noctua NH-U12P CPU Cooler Review

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The Noctua NH-U12P will be tested directly against the Thermalright Ultra 120 on the same system. Both heatsinks were tested with one fan blowing against the heatsink, or two fans in a push-pull configuration. For these tests, Noctua NF-P12 and Panaflo FBA12G12M1A fans were used to cool the heatsinks. The average (mean) temperature of the CPU cores will be recorded when the CPU is at idle and at load (four core load from Prime95 v25.3, Torture Test, Large FFTs), for scenarios when the CPU is at stock speed/volts (Q6600 @ 2400 MHz, 1.296v/1.280v), and also overclocked/overvolted (Q6600 @ 3400 MHz, 1.536v/1.504v).

Testing Setup:

  • Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 G0
  • DFI NF680i LT (bios 10/18/2007)
  • 2x 1GB Geil Ultra C4 PC2-6400 (4-4-4-12)
  • Noctua NH-U12P CPU heatsink
  • Thermalright Ultra 120 CPU heatsink
  • 2x Noctua NF-P12 (120x120x25 mm) fans
  • 2x Panaflo FBA12G12M1A (120x120x38 mm) fans
  • Point of View 7800GT 256MB
  • PC Power & Cooling Silencer 750W
  • 2x 160GB Hitachi 7K160 SATA1 (RAID-0)
  • 4x 250GB Hitachi T7K500 SATA2
  • 2x 250GB Hitachi T7K250 SATA2
  • 200GB Hitachi T7K250 IDE
  • Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2

Overclocked settings:

  • CPU Speed: 8x425 = 3400 MHz
  • CPU Voltage: 1.500v x 104% (bios), 1.536v idle (CPU-Z), 1.504v load (CPU-Z)
  • RAM Speed: 425 MHz
  • RAM Voltage: 2.38v
  • RAM Timings: 4-4-4-12-1T

Cooled by Noctua Fans

With the Noctua fans being used on the heatsinks, there is very little in it at stock speed/volts. But, when the speed and volts are increased to the overclocked settings, the gap between the NH-U12P widens. There is only a soft whirring sound with both Noctua fans running.

Cooled by Panaflo Fans

These Panaflo fans are server/industrial class, and produce a lot of airflow at the cost of noise. You can see that two Panaflo fans in push-pull provide the best cooling for both heatsinks. With this higher airflow, the gap between the NH-U12P and Ultra 120 is smaller compared to when using the Noctua fans. Subjectively, the two Panaflo fans at full speed are only just tolerable for short periods.

Overall, the Noctua NH-U12P lagged behind the Thermalright Ultra 120 consistently. The difference in temperatures was at most 2°C at stock speeds when using the same fan configuration. Things get a bit worse when overclocked, resulting in a maximum difference of 5°C when using the same fan configuration.

Cooled using a single Noctua fan with the noise reduction adapters

Subjectively, the Noctua fan at full speed has a very soft whirring/whooshing sound. With the Low Noise Adapter (L.N.A.), the fan is just barely perceivable, and with the Ultra Low Noise Adapter (U.L.N.A.), the fan becomes inaudible. So it's quite a pleasant surprise to see that the temperatures don't go up very much when silencing the fan!

  1. Introduction & Closer Look
  2. Closer Look (Continued)
  3. Installation
  4. Specifications & Features
  5. Testing
  6. Conclusion
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