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Noctua NH-U12S Review

ccokeman    -   December 4, 2013
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Noctua NH-U12S Conclusion:

Noctua continues to put together cooling solutions to meet the needs of the enthusiast market by leveraging the engineering behind the company to deliver an excellent product. That design excellence does come at a cost, but that cost is tempered by the long term cooling performance you get in return for your hard-earned dollar! At $69, the NH-U12S is in the upper range of what most people will spend on the cooling solution for their computer. When you look at the performance levels you get by adding a second NF-F12 Focused Flow fan, you certain add to the price, but you also push the performance up another level for your added coin. The bottom line is that cooling performance comes with a price; always has and always will. Comparing the NH-U12S to other top-level heat sinks and taking the thickness of the fin array into account, shows that it performs above its size in all cases. A truly impressive feat at only 45mm thick.

A well designed base and heat pipe system is part of the reason for the great cooling performance, but is only half the solution. You need a fan(s) to transfer the thermal load from the fin array to the surrounding environment. For this purpose, Noctua uses the NF-F12 Focused Flow fan. This PWM fan is built using some truly unique features, which include a stepped inlet to the fan body to promote turbulent airflow into the fan, small inner micro-structures that improve airflow and static pressure efficiency on the suction side of the Heptaperf fan to reduce the fan noise, and a "Focused Flow" frame, where the airflow is straightened, channeled, and "Focused" by 11 stator vanes. A second generation SSO2 full metal bearing is machined from solid brass for improved fan life by improving blade stabilization. The NF-F12 PWM has removable rubber vibration dampers, while the motor houses a new NE-FD1 PWM IC to reduce noise at very low fan speeds. It would seem that fan innovation drives performance.

One of the main reasons for the slim-down in depth is that many sockets now have compatibility issues with larger performance memory modules. To get around these issues in the past, you either bought low profile DIMMs, did not populate several slots that interfered with the heat sink and fans, or you had to offset the fan and compromise cooling performance. This is something I have had issues with for years now and have at times had to employ each of those solutions in turn. Noctua's S revision to its NH-12 series addresses this concern with space to spare, allowing me to populate all four DIMM slots on the test motherboard with absolutely no interference. Noctua's SecuFirm2 mounting system covers all the latest sockets and is one of the most comprehensive installation kits you will ever receive, with everything you need to install the NH-U12S on any modern board. The mounting system is so well thought out that it truly allows for one of, if not the easiest heat sink installations on the market.

As a purveyor of low-noise, high-performance cooling solutions, Noctua take noise seriously and does everything it can to keep noise levels low. At maximum RPM, the NF-F12 fans are rated at 22.4 dBA – not loud by any stretch of the imagination and inaudible from three feet away when locked in a chassis. If that is still too loud, Noctua includes an L.N.A., or Low Noise Adapter, that drops the maximum fan speed down with a corresponding reduction in the noise level to 18.6 dBA. At 18.6 dBA, the NF-F12 fans are dead silent for all intents and purposes. When you get to the point of making a choice on your cooling solution, you really cannot go wrong with the NH-U12S. It has got enough technology built in to make your head spin, runs dead silent, looks great, fixes one of the greatest cooling challenges, and comes with a six-year warranty to make sure you are happy with your purchase in the long term. The NH-U12S does it all and does it well!

 

Pros:

  • Cooling performance
  • Memory compatibility
  • Low noise
  • Lower noise options
  • SecuFirm2 mounting
  • Focus Flow PWM fans
  • Vibration dampening
  • Good looks
  • Innovative designs
  • Six-year warranty
  • Solid build quality
  • Multi-fan capable

 

Cons:

  • Price


 

Editors' Choice



  1. Noctua NH-U12S: Introduction & Closer Look
  2. Noctua NH-U12S: Closer Look (Continued)
  3. Noctua NH-U12S: Specifications & Features
  4. Noctua NH-U12S: Testing Setup & Results
  5. Noctua NH-U12S: Conclusion
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