Noctua NH-U12S Slim Tower Heatsink

Cooling
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Stock Fan Measurements

Specifications: Noctua NH-U12S Stock Fan
Manufacturer Noctua Power Rating 0.6 W
Model Number NF-F12 PWM Airflow Rating 93,4 m³/h
74,3 m³/h with LNA
Bearing Type SSO2 Speed Rating 1,500 RPM
1,200 RPM with LNA
Frame Size 120 x 120 x 25 mm Noise Rating 22.4 dBA
18.6 dBA with LNA
Hub Size 41 mm Header Type 4-pin
Blade Diameter 113 mm Corner Type Open
Cable Length 20 cm Weight 170 g
Starting Voltage 5.5 V Retail Availability Yes
Additional notes: 4-pin LNA (low noise adapter) included

We've encountered the NF-F12 PWM previously on the NH-L12. It's one of the more radical designs we've seen in recent years featuring a series of thin, straight struts arranged like a clock around the hub with a few notches cut into each. The blades have very little curvature with the edges almost lining up perpendicular with the struts. This is the worst possible structure for limiting tonality. Interestingly, Noctua's latest line of fans, the A series, has a design that goes completely against this, with struts and blades curved in opposite directions.

Above 1,000 RPM, the acoustic profile was buzzy with a prominent high pitched tone. At ~900 RPM, it smoothed out considerably, though up close we could hear some bearing chatter. At ~800 RPM and below the fan became very quiet though it was plagued with a dull drone.

Compared to the sample from the NH-L12, this fan had a slightly poorer sound quality, a bit more tonal at high speeds. We far prefer the old trusty NF-P12 to either. Interestingly, the F12 is not equipped on any of Noctua's other coolers, nor has its design been carried over to any of their larger fan models. The F series may simply have been a short-lived experiment that has reached its conclusion.

Stock Fan Measurements
Voltage
Speed
SPL@1m
12V
1400 RPM
27 dBA
9V
1080 RPM
19 dBA
8V
970 RPM
17 dBA
7V
850 RPM
13~14 dBA
6V
730 RPM
12 dBA
Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle from the center of the heatsink.
Ambient noise level: 10~11 dBA.

The fan had a range that should satisfy both casual and hardcore silencers. The top speed of 1,400 RPM generated a noise level of 27 dBA@1m, which is quieter than the vast majority of stock heatsink fans. It became quiet at about ~1,100 RPM and was practically inaudible at ~700 RPM.

Test Results

Noctua NH-U12S
Fan Voltage
Fan Speed
SPL@1m
°C Rise above Ambient
CPU
VRM
Stock Fan
12V
1400 RPM
27 dBA
31
26
9V
1080 RPM
19 dBA
33
29
8V
970 RPM
17 dBA
34
30
7V
850 RPM
13~14 dBA
35
31
6V
730 RPM
12 dBA
38
33
Reference Nexus 120 mm Fan
12V
1070 RPM
17 dBA
34
32
9V
880 RPM
14 dBA
35
34
7V
740 RPM
11~12 dBA
36
34

Tested on our mildly overclocked/overvolted Core i5-2400, the CPU temperature stabilized at 31°C and 38°C above ambient at 12V and 6V respectively, a low and tight range befitting a good performance cooler. As the speed was lowered there was no sudden significant drop off in efficiency, except going from 7V to 6V, at which point the cooler was already quieter than the background noise generated in a most working environments.

Our reference Nexus 120 mm fan performed similarly to the stock fan, matching it decibel for decibel, degree for degree, only taking a slight lead at inaudible levels. The stock fan was actually better by a couple of degrees when it came to VRM cooling but all and in, there was no real benefit or detriment to swapping fans. We're pleased the NF-F12 was able to keep up as the Nexus is one of our better performing models.



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