Noctua / Coolink Tower Heatsinks

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January 18, 2006 by Devon Cooke

Noctua NH-U12 / Coolink U8-120-1600
120mm Tower Heatsink

Noctua NH-U9 / Coolink U8-92-1900
92mm Tower Heatsink
NH-U12: ~€40 (~US$45)
NH-U12: ~€50 (~US$60)

The arrival of a large box from Coolink caused quite a surprise at the SPCR lab when it showed up one morning. Eager to see what was inside, we slit the packing tape, opened the box and...

"Gee, that looks familiar — I think I've seen that before. No — I'm sure I've seen it before." <Eyes look up to the shelf holding Noctua's recently arrived heatsinks. Eyes look back down at the Coolink heatsinks in the box.> "They're identical."

Two pairs of identical heatsinks.

A closer inspection revealed that the two different brands were, in fact, identical. Even the retail boxes were similar in size and shape, though the individual logos were different of course. Further digging on Noctua's web site uncovered the reason for the multiple identities: The Noctua is the result of a collaboration between the Austrian distributor Rascom and Taiwanese heatsink OEM Kolink (note the phonetic similarity of "Kolink" and "Coolink"... and "Cooling").

Brief introductions are in order. Rascom is a European distributor of PC hardware that specializes in low noise components. Their inventory consists of the same kinds of products that get reviewed on SPCR: Things that make your PC quieter or improve system airflow. Prominently located on their home page is a link to a "Silent Guide" that does a fairly good job (if a little dated) of covering the basics for building a low-noise system. Their distribution network appears to be limited to the EU at this time.

Coolink is an established OEM for heatsinks, although they have sold retail models directly in the past. Their most recent retail products were released around 2002-2003 — back when the Athlon XP was considered a hot processor and Intel's Prescott processor had not yet created the need to use heatpipes for proper cooling.

Together, Rascom and Coolink have created a large tower heatsink that looks worthy of taking on the big boys. It's the same basic design as the Scythe Ninja and Thermalright HR-01 (and many other tall heatsinks that integrate heatpipes): Lots of heatpipes and widely spaced aluminum fins. But, as they say, the devil is in the details, and it will be the small things that make or break this heatsink.

Both Coolink and Noctua shipped us two versions of the heatsink, so we had four samples to play with. One model (Noctua NH-U12 / Coolink U8-120) is compatible with 120mm fans, and one (Noctua NH-U9 / Coolink U8-92) is for use with 92mm and 80mm fans. Aside from their size and price, the two models are the same: The base, the heatpipes, even the included hardware and instruction manuals are identical for the different size models.

Side by side, the different pieces included in the different packages is obvious; Coolink on the left, Noctua on the right.

Strictly speaking, the Coolink and Noctua packages weren't quite identical. The Noctua products include a fancy full-color installation manual with "Designed in Austria" prominently displayed on the front. It also includes a glossy brochure full of marketing material. The Coolink package is less refined but more practical. Here, the installation instructions consist of a single photocopied sheet of paper, but there is also a fan and a fan controller. Aside from the fan accessories, however, the two packages are identical: They contain the same heatsink and mounting hardware.

Shaped cardboard holds the heatsinks in place and protects against shocks in transit.

Each heatsink comes nestled in a shaped cardboard insert for safe transportation. There is about half an inch of empty space surrounding the heatsink on all sides, so it should be safe enough in the original packaging.

Noctua / Coolink: Feature Highlights (from Noctua's product web page)
Feature & Brief Our Comment
4 Dual-Heat-Pipes
"Dual" heatpipes meaning that heat is dissipated from both ends, like almost every other tower-style heatsink.
38 aluminium-fins with more than 5000cm² (NH-U12) or 3800cm² (NH-U9) of surface area
Greater surface area means that heat can be transferred into the air more quickly.
Soldered joints for optimal heat-transfer
Improves efficiency slightly between the heatpipes and the individual fins. Not all heatsinks have (or need) this.
Superior performance both with silent and high-performance fans
Effective through a wide range of airflow; doesn't just rely on high airflow for good results.
Screwless fan-mount including anti-vibration strips
Anti-vibration strips to cut down on fan noise...
Universal fit (Socket 478, LGA, K8)
"Universal" no longer includes older sockets, like Socket A for AMD Athlon XP processors.
Includes high-grade thermal paste & installation manual
Expected of any retail heatsink.

Noctua / Coolink Specifications (from Noctua's product web page)
Noctua NH-U9
Noctua NH-U12
Socket compatibility
Intel Socket 478 & LGA 775, AMD K8
Heatsink Dimensions (H × W × D)
Without Fan
128 × 95 × 70 mm 155 × 124 × 70 mm
Heatsink Dimensions (H × W × D)
With Fan
128 × 95 × 95 mm 155 × 124 × 95 mm
570 g (650 g with fan) 700 g (800 g with fan)
Copper (base and heatpipes), aluminum (cooling fins), soldered joints
P4 all frequencies, AMD all frequencies
Fan Size
92x92x25mm, 80x80x25mm
(2 fans mountable)
120x120x25mm, 120x120x35mm
(2 fans mountable)
None for Noctua models
Coolink VS12-1600 for Coolink U8-120-1600
Coolink VS9-1900 for Coolink U8-92-1900

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