Noctua NH-L12 Low Profile Cooler

Cooling
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Cooling Results

Noctua NH-L12
Fan Voltage
SPL@1m
°C Rise
SPL@1m
°C Rise
Both Stock Fans
Stock 92 mm Fan (bottom)
12V
28~29 dBA
14
23 dBA
23
10V
22~23 dBA
16
19~20 dBA
26
9V
20 dBA
17
17 dBA
29
8V
17 dBA
18
15 dBA
30
7V
14~15 dBA
19
13 dBA
34
6V
12 dBA
22
11~12 dBA
40
Fan Voltage
Stock 120 mm Fan (bottom)
Ref. 120 mm Fan (bottom)
12V
26 dBA
18
14~15 dBA
21
10V
20~21 dBA
19
-
9V
18 dBA
21
12 dBA
23
8V
15 dBA
23
-
7V
13 dBA
25
6V
11~12 dBA
29
°C Rise: Temperature rise above ambient (22°C) at load.

As one would expect, using both fans generated the best results, cooling our CPU about 2°C better at the ~20 dBA@1m level and about 7°C better at ~12 dBA@1m compared to using just the stock 120 mm fan. At higher speeds the difference was minimal but the gap widened as the speed lowered.

The performance advantage of the 120 mm stock fan over its smaller 92 mm brother was much greater, 7°C in favor of the larger fan at ~15 dBA@1m. At the almost inaudible 6V level, the lead hit double digits. Our reference Nexus 120 mm fan was exceptional, delivering almost the same cooling proficiency as the stock fans combined, only a 1~2°C poorer at similar noise levels.

Heatsink Comparison Table

°C rise Comparison
SPL (dBA@1m)
20
19
18
17
16
15
14
13
12
Noctua NH-L12 (both stock fans)
17
-
-
18
-
19
-
22
Noctua NH-L12 (ref. 120mm fan)
-
-
-
-
-
21
-
23
Noctua NH-L12 (stock 120mm fan)
-
-
21
-
-
23
-
25
-
Scythe Ninja Mini
(ref. 92mm fan)
-
-
-
-
23
-
-
-
27
Xigmatek HDT-SD964
-
-
-
-
-
22
-
27
34
Scythe Samurai ZZ (ref. 92mm fan)
-
-
-
-
-
25
-
-
31
Scythe Samurai ZZ
-
-
29
-
-
30
-
-
32
Prolimatech Samuel 17
(ref. 120mm fan)
-
-
-
-
27
-
-
31
36
Noctua NH-L12 (stock 92mm fan)
26
-
29
-
30
-
34
-
Gelid Silent Spirit (ref. 92 mm fan)
-
-
-
-
-
30
-
-
36
Scythe Big Shuriken
26
-
-
-
30
-
-
37
37
Scythe Kozuti
(ref. 92 mm fan)
-
-
-
-
32
-
-
-
38
Scythe Kozuti
-
-
37
-
-
40
-
45
Gray boxes indicate failure CPU overheating.

With just the stock 92 mm fan, the NH-L12 is not very impressive considering its size, just edging out smaller, shorter Scythe Big Shuriken and being outperformed slightly by the Prolimatech Samuel 17 and Scythe Samurai ZZ. When equipped with just the stock 120 mm fan it was more formidable, leaping to the head of the pack and competing directly with tower coolers like the Scythe Ninja Mini and Xigmatek HDT-SD964. Armed with our 120 mm Nexus reference fan or both of its stock fans, the NH-L12 outpaces the entire field, particularly at ultra low noise levels.

MP3 SOUND RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. Be aware that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn't hear it from one meter, chances are we couldn't record it either!

The recording starts with 5~10 second segments of room ambiance, then the fan at various levels. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don't change the volume setting again.



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