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The NH-U12S follows a long line of high performance heatsinks that have kept Noctua a premium brand over the years. As slimmer tower coolers go, the U12S is certainly the best choice we've encountered. It offers strong performance, a nice set of accessories focused on noise and vibration reduction, and a solid mounting system. It's yet another complete package from Noctua that's worthy of your attention.
The U12S currently carries a street price of about US$60, a bit costly considering its size. However, if you're looking for a very thin 120 mm tower, the next closest competitor is the slightly thicker Prolimatech Panther, a US$50 cooler that isn't widely available and is hampered by an underperforming stock fan. There are also few HDT models to consider like the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus, an old favorite of ours and an excellent value at US$30, and the US$40 TRUE Spirit 120M, but both are about a full centimeter thicker than the U12S.
Whether or not the U12S is the right choice for you boils down to how thin a heatsink you truly need. The problem heatsinks like the U12S solve is memory interference for which desktop memory with tall heatspreaders seem to be the root cause; Perhaps the best advice we can give is to avoid them altogether seeing as they offer no benefit outside of aesthetics. If you use a set of standard height DIMMs, you'll have infinitely more choices for a cooling solution, and if it hangs over a stick of memory, it's at worst, a minor inconvenience.
A final factor that hangs over every consumer product is distribution and availability. We seen many reader references in the forums recently that specialist brands Thermalright and Scythe are suffering in both categories. In contrast, Noctua remains one of the best distributed, widely available heatsink brands. Easy availability trumps price and even performance: If you can't find the others, there's simply no choice.
Our thanks to Noctua for the NH-U12S CPU cooler sample.
Noctua NH-U12S is Recommended by SPCR
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SPCR Articles of Related Interest:
Cooler Master Seidon 240M: Dual Fan Liquid CPU Cooler
Phanteks PH-TC12DX CPU Cooler
Phanteks PH-TC90LS Mini Cooler
Thermalright TRUE Spirit 120M CPU Heatsink
Noctua NH-L9i Low Profile CPU Cooler
Prolimatech Panther CPU Cooler
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this article in the SPCR forums.
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