Noctua NH-U12P

CPU Coolers, Reviews

Noctua NH-U12P CPU Cooler Review


The Noctua NH-U12P is the latest of a whole series of coolers from Noctua. This latest version with so-called greater “main board compatibility” aims to be as successful as it predecessors especially with its acclaimed quiet cooling performance. However, has this heatsink and fan combination really surpassed expectations enough to warrant claims as being on a whole new level as its manufacturers would have us believe?

About Noctua

“Noctua aims at establishing a new level of quality and performance "Designed in Austria" through paying attention to the users’ needs in a market burdened with all kinds of frills and furbelows and providing sound-optimised premium components, which serve their purpose in a smart, precise and reliable manner.”


  • 4 Dual Heatpipes
  • NH-U Design
  • NF-P12 premium fan
  • Improved compatibility
  • SecuFirm™ multi-socket mounting system
  • Noctua NT-H1 high-end thermal compound



  • Compatibility – Intel Socket LGA 775, AMD AM2 & AM2+
  • Weight – 770g (with fan)
  • Construction – Copper (base and heat-pipes), aluminium (cooling fins),   soldered joints & nickel plating
  • Warranty – 6 years


  • Model  – Noctua NF-P12
  • Size –  120x120x25mm
  • Rotational Speed – 1300rpm
  • Airflow – 92,3 m³/h
  • Acoustic Noise – 19,8 dB(A)

The Package

The NH-U12P arrives in a fairly generic cube box styled in Noctua’s usual colour scheme. Similarly, there are transparent panels enabling a sneak preview of the eagerly anticipated product although to be honest all you see is the rather ugly brown fan. Aside from the Noctua logo and a few features of the U12P, the front is comparatively plain to many of rivals which are adorned with extravagant colour schemes and other extras. Perhaps the manufactures are adhering to the phrase ‘less is more’.

Noctua NH-U12P CPU Cooler Review
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The back of the box is much more informative and describes all six of the features (previously listed) in quite substantial detail. Apart, from this and some explanation about the fan and how it works, the back too is relatively basic with a simple fade from red to black as the background.

Finally, the sides are covered with translations into six other languages as well as two diagrams showing the SecuFirm mounting system for both the LGA775 and AM2(+) models.

Noctua NH-U12P CPU Cooler Review
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Accompanying the Noctua is, of course, the infamous installation manual as well as many different back plates to fit different types of processors; these include LGA 775, AMD AM2 & AM2+. Finally, the only other freebie is the obligatory sachet of thermal paste in this instance Noctua’s NT-H1.

Noctua NH-U12P CPU Cooler Review
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The Noctua NH-U12P

Once all the packaging, including the protective shaped cardboard, has been peeled away, the resultant product is literally awe-inspiring. Built like a superhero, the 120mm model is big, solid and perfectly constructed. Layer upon layer of nickel-plated fins (38 in total) are seemingly infinitely polished; truly this image is awesome – the real deal.  

Noctua NH-U12P CPU Cooler Review
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Four shiny metal stoppers adorn the top of the cooler as if they are the jewels in the crown. Similar to the whole design and style, the stoppers are perfectly polished and are almost mirror-like. These stoppers really help to create an extra touch to the already impressively built giant as well as having the added practical bonus of hiding the ends of the crude copper pipes.

Unlike, many other coolers in the same price band, Noctua have chosen to contain themselves from adding yet another extra in the form of their logo to accompany the stoppers. As I mentioned before, the theme of ‘less is more’ is evidently appreciated within this design.

Noctua NH-U12P CPU Cooler Review
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Directly out of the box, the NH-P12 120mm fan is not attached. This is very simple to connect up though. Firstly, two rubber strips are stuck running parallel down the sides of the heatsink, then, two metal rods are slotted between a notch running through the heatsink and then the curved ends rest in the fan’s mounting holes. The fan is then very secure with no wobble and hopefully, no vibrations during usage.

Noctua NH-U12P CPU Cooler Review
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The heatpipes – located at the bottom of the cooler and as I am sure you may have guessed are also exceptionally shiny – are directly underneath the heatsink and again nickel-plated to allow them to be soldered to the fins. Also, the two clusters of pipes are situated quite far in from both sides and thus the cooler should be able to rely more heavily on system airflow to supplement the airflow produced from the main fan as there is less impedance along each edge.

The heatpipes are bent into u-shapes and clamped to a base thus two sets of four heatpipes extend from each end of the copper base.

Noctua NH-U12P CPU Cooler Review
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The base of a cooler is a fairly good indicator as to how well a product has been produced – the more flat and smooth the better. The U12P was definitely shiny but not as mirror-like as its predecessor – the NH-C12P – therefore a hazy reflection is visible. Noctua could have improved upon this and left a similar to finish to the C12P which would have looked much more stylish and professional. As it is, the image left is somewhat smeared and does not really reflect the other parts of the cooler.

Noctua NH-U12P CPU Cooler Review
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Installation proved to be relatively simple despite having to remove the whole motherboard in other to use the ‘SecuFirm mounting system’.

Firstly, after the motherboard was removed, I screwed the back plate in the motherboard and then the mounting bars into this. After that I attached the fastening brackets into the heatsink, applied the thermal paste and finally screwed the whole thing together holding it surely in place.

All that then remained was to plug in the adapter to the motherboard – the installation process was complete. 


Test Setup


Gigabyte Vento 2


Intel C2D E5550


Corsair XMS2 PC6400 (2x 1GB)


Gigabyte N650SLI-DS4L

Graphics Card

XFX 8600GT

To test CPU Coolers we simply boot the PC up into Windows Vista and measure temperatures under idle and load states. The temperature is recorded from the CPU’s own diode using SpeedFan.

For idle testing, we leave the PC doing nothing for half an hour and take 3 temperature readings at 10 second intervals after 30mins. We then use the average score from these as the result. When testing at load temperatures, we use a similar method but load both cores of our CPU right to 100% by loading two processes of ‘CPU Burn-In’.

Ambient (testing environment) temperature was 22 degrees Celsius.

We’ll be comparing the Noctua NH-U12P to the Akasa AK-965. Noctua NT-H1 is the thermal paste which will be used when testing both of the coolers.
The Stock speed of the E6550 is 2.33 GHz with a 333FSB.



Akasa AK-965

Noctua NH-U12P







Evidently, the results reinforce the fact that this cooler is definitely one of the best in the marketplace today. The Akasa, not a bad cooler by any stretch of the imagination, was far out-classed by the Noctua in both idle and even more so in load.


Unfortunately, the cost of this product is in at the deep end at approximately £50 and this is many enthusiasts budgets is slightly excessive. However, it is evident why the cost is so high – the quality of the build and performance is definitely that of a top-end product


The style of the Noctua NH-U12P has certainly been carefully considered and thus the overall image of the cooler is stunning. Furthermore, the whole product is well-built with 38 fins and 4 heatpipes giving a huge potential for passive cooling and in this respect the cooler has earned its manufacturers label of being on a whole new level.

The testing results help substantiate this claim as the results from our testing showed that the NH-U12P is certainly a top performer and one of the best in the marketplace.

Finally, the combination of copper base, multiple heatpipes and many aluminium fins is certainly a well proven one used by many manufacturers and this cooler further reinforces how good this combination really is. Good job Noctua – a fine product indeed.


  • Excellent build quality
  • Good performance
  • Very Stylish
  • Robust


  • Large and heavy
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