Noctua NH-U12P SE 1366 Review

ccokeman - 2008-11-03 23:19:44 in CPU Cooling
Category: CPU Cooling
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: February 9, 2009
Price: $69.95 - $84.99


So you just got that new Intel Core I7 rig put together and found out the stock heatsink is good for just that, stock speeds and voltages. The Core I7 chips have a tendency to get hot really quick when the voltages are even marginally increased. For this purpose, the stock heatsink just will not do. With a new socket, the choices are usually pretty slim at the beginning of its life span. The Core I7 uses a 1366 pin socket with a built-in stiffening plate for the socket, so most older high performance heatsinks will need an adapter kit that takes the new socket configuration into account.

A couple of these were available right off the bat with the Noctua NH-U12P SE 1366 and the Thernmalright TRUE, arguably two of the best aftermarket heatsinks on the market. The difference between the socket 775 version of the Noctua NH12-P and this version, amount to just a couple of things - the addition of a socket 1366 mounting kit and a second fan. The mounting kits are still included for both socket AM2 and socket 775 processors. Buying this heatsink kit is a great idea if the Core I7 is in your future. With four dual heatpipes, wide spaced fins for excellent airflow, an expansive bundle and two of Noctuas premium NF-P12 fans the NH-U12P should be able to cool a stout processor. We shall see, as my hot running I7 965 is looking for a cooler to tame the heat it generates.

Closer Look:

The packaging the NH-U12P  SE 1366 arrives in is just chock full of information. The only panel that does not carry any information about the product is the bottom. The front panel gives a view of the NF-P12 fan through the window as well as listing several of the attributes of the heatsink such as the 4 dual heatpipes, U-type design, improved compatibility and the Secure-firm2 mounting method. The right side contains mounting information as well as the dimensions of the NH-U12P. The left side carries product info in 6 different languages and some of the awards the NH-U12P has won. The rear shows the contents of the package and illustrates the specifics of the NF-P12 fan. Even the top panel is chock full of information, including the specifications and features of the fan and heatsink.










The contents of the box are contained in two separate boxes - one that includes the NH-U12P heatsink and the NF-P12 fan and the second has the box of accessories. The socket 1366 adapter kit came as a separate item with this package. This is a free upgrade if you currently have the Noctua NH-U12P heatsink on your current setup and are looking to make the move to an Intel Core I7 setup. Just one less thing to worry about when you make the move to upgrade; Noctua has you covered.


The accessories that came packaged are representative of the NH-U12P heatsink with the 1366 adapter as an add-on. What comes with the non-socket 1366 heatsink package, is the mounting hardware for both AMD socket AM2 and Intel Socket 775. In addition there is a common parts bag that includes the fan mounting clips, a tube of Noctua's NT-H1 thermal compound, two adaptors to reduce the fan speed and noise for low and the other ultra low fan speeds, rubber insulators to eliminate any noise from the fan/heatsink interface point and a bag of screws for use in mounting the NH-U12P.




The socket 1366 adapter kit contains all the parts that you need to mount the NH-U12P onto that brand new platform. The instructions are detailed and provide clear directions on the proper way to to install the adapter kit. The kit makes use of Noctua's Secure-firm 2 mounting method to have a repeatable mount each time you remove and remount the heatsink. While that may not be an everyday occurrence for the vast majority of people, I have found it to be incredibly useful. No need to wonder if you have tightened the screws too tight or not tight enough. Everything goes to a positive stop, so there is no question as to when the mounting pressure is correct.




Let's see just what the NH-U12P has to offer.

Closer Look:

The NH-U12P is unchanged from the current design, with the exception of the socket 1366 mounting kit and second NF-P12 fan that is included in the SE 1366 kit. The NH-U12P is a composite copper aluminum based heatsink that features 4 copper U shaped heat pipes that run through the copper base and aluminum upright tower style fin array. The fin array offers plenty of space in between the fins for an unobstructed path for the airflow moved by the two NF-P12 fans. Fans can be mounted on both sides of the NH-U12P with the included mounting clips. These attach to the heasink via a slot seen on the side view of the NH-U12P.


















The base and heatpipes are made of copper that has been nickel plated for a uniform look. The four heatpipes go through what appears to be a two piece base assembly. The top piece is the mounting point for the SecureFirm2 mounting assembly. The base of the NH-U12P is noticeably choppy with the marks left from the cutter easily visible. Not as bad as some coolers I have seen, but rough nonetheless. I wonder just how much this will impact the performance of this high end heatsink.



The fans that Noctua has included with this kit, are their award winning NF-P12 120x25mm fans that use a 9-bladed design with vortex control notches in each blade to reduce the noise signature, while still maintaining excellent static pressure to move air through restrictive fan grills and heatsinks. If you look at the blades, you will notice the vortex control notches are offset from one blade to the next. This helps increase static pressure without the noise penalty normally associated with increasing static pressure. The NF-P12 fans are rated to run at 1300 R.P.M and push roughly 55 C.F.M worth of airflow. The wiring is sleeved with a rubber-like material that is quite flexible.



The Noctua NH-U12P SE 1366 is a large heatsink assembly. It may not fit into some smaller chassis, so some forethought into the size of your case is in order before you spend your hard earned dollars. To see just how much room it would take up, I installed the Intel Core I7 based system into a CoolerMaster Mystique 632 - a nice mid-tower design just to see what I was left with for room. This chassis was used for all of the testing as both heatsinks fit the chassis.


Can the Noctua NH-U12P handle the load? That is the question.



Socket compatibility

Intel Socket LGA 1366

Weight (with fan)

770g (940g with 2 fans)
Copper (base and heat-pipes),
aluminium (cooling fi ns), soldered
joints & nickel plating

Fan compatibility





120 x 120 x 25 mm


Blade Geometry

Nine Blade Design with VCN

Input Power

1.08 W

Input Current

0.09 A

Voltage Range

12 V

> 150.000 h

with L.N.A.
with U.L.N.A.

Rotational Speed +/-10%

1300 RPM

1100 RPM

900 RPM

Airfl ow
92.3 m³/h
78.5 m³/h
63.4 m³/h
Acoustical Noise

19.8 dB(A)

16.9 dB(A)

12.6 dB(A)

Static Pressure

1.68 mmH2O

1.43 mmH2O

1.21 mmH2O




All information courtesy of Notua @


To put the NH-12P to the test I will be making a comparison of the temperatures at idle and under load, both while the CPU is at the stock voltages and clock speeds, as well as when the CPU is overclocked and over-volted to show what kind of performance the best Noctua has to offer, compared to the Thermalright TRUE. These two heatsinks will be tested head-to-head as they are delivered from the manufacturer. I could throw in a bunch of testing variables, but it is not what the products are capable of as delivered. To test the idle temperatures I will allow the computer to stay idle for 30 minutes and take the idle temperature at this point. For the load testing I will use Prime95 version 25.7 and choose the blend testing and allow the processor and memory control to heat up to the maximum temperatures. The time frame is a four hour run to allow the temperature to peak usually in test 14. Hyperthreading will be enabled to generate the most possible heat with 8 threads running. I will use Real temp 2.70 to take the high and low temperatures and average the temperatures generated over the 4 cores as my temperature.


Testing Setup:



Comparison Cooler:





Lower Temperatures = Better


The results at idle were fairly close between the two heatsinks. When it came time to load up the heat the NH-12P 1366 at stock took a nice 9 degree Celsius lead from what is usually regarded as the standard bearer for high performance cooling. Now when I put the screws to the poor 965, the Noctua and Thermalright were neck and neck. 1.4125 volts is just a bit too much for either heatsink to handle for the long term. The other option is to of course, set my sights a little lower with the voltages.



The biggest thing I can bring forward here is the fact that no matter what cooler you have the I7 is going to run warm. The key is finding the combination of heatsink and fans that meet your needs. As delivered from the manufacturers, both the Noctua NH-12P 1366 and TRUE 1366 are nice pieces in their own right. The performance of the Noctua NH-U12P in this test was what I would call excellent in the face of disaster. It delivered great temperatures by comparison and did so with virtually no noise. The NF-P12 fans run at a low 1300 R.P.M. and are practically inaudible. This initially caused me some concern with temperatures creeping into the 80+ Celsius range I was sure the computer had shut down multiple times due to overheating but was pleasantly surprised each time to see the fans chugging away doing their best to help dissipate the heat load generated by the Core I7 965, both at the default and overclocked frequencies. That says something about the design of the heatsink as well as the NF-P12 fans used. While at the stock settings, the idle temperatures were not really a factor between the two heatsinks but under load at stock settings, the NH-U12P yielded a load temperature difference of 9 degrees Celsuius lower than that delivered by the competitor. That's huge! At the overclocked settings I used though, there was no difference in temperatures with both coolers sitting at the 84 Celsius mark. The point of difference is in the noise department. The combination of dual fans and a blow through unobstructed design, delivers a heatsink that does its job with a minimum of impact on your personal space. You can go lower on the noise with the supplied low noise adapters that reduce the voltage to the fans for a silent environment. The penalty is the increase in temperatures. Installing the cooler does require you to remove the motherboard if it is already installed in the chassis. Nothing new there in the world of high-end air cooling. But the method of mounting the NH-U12P is fairly simple and straight forward. The instructions are well laid out and are easy to understand. The SecureFirm2 mounting method offers repeatability of the mount so you do not have to worry about over or under tightening the screws. They feature a positive stop mounting method so there are no concerns with a funky mount. The clips to hold the fans on are easy to use, but can be a challenge in a tight chassis. When it comes to pricing, high-end heatsinks tend to have a price on the high side of the scale. The NH-U12P is not immune to this phenomena but at a price of $69.95 it does offer a $5 discount over the competitors package. All things considered the Noctua NH-U12P does what it is designed to do - dissipate heat with a minimum of noise. These two things it does quite well!