Noctua NH-L12 Low Profile Cooler

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The most critical aspect of installation is that the heatsink be securely mounted. A firm mating results in good contact between the heatsink's base and the CPU heatspreader and more efficient heat conduction. Ideally it should also be a simple procedure with the user having to handle as few pieces of hardware as possible.

The NH-L12 uses the same reliable mounting system Noctua has used for several years now. It is simple to install, though there are many steps, and very secure when complete. About the only down side is that the clip on a motherboard which locks a CPU in place may be impeded by the hardware, which means you might have to remove all the hardware to change the CPU. This is not an issue for most users, who (unilke hardware reviewers) don't often swap out CPUs.

Mounting the NH-L12 on an AMD motherboard is simple as it uses the stock backplate. The plastic retention module on the top is removed, four plastic spacers go on the mounting holes and two steel arms are screwed into the backplate.

The heatsink is then bolted to the steel arms, via two strategically located holes on the heatsink. The fans have to be removed for this step.

Fully mounted with both fans.

RAM clearance was an issue on our board. With the heatpipe bends facing the memory slots, the first slot would only accept a bare DIMM. The advantage of this orientation is additional cooling for the VRMs.

Reversed, the heatsink body covered the first three memory slots on our board. This is a good thing if you want to keep the memory cool, but it creates a height limit of 47 mm. The Corsair Dominator memory pictured above is 49 mm tall, only able to fit in the last slot.

The 120 mm fan fit underneath but the fins had to be bent upward when we were slipping the fan in. We also had to angle it off-center in order to plug in the AUX12V connector.

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