Noctua NH-C12P: A Top-Down Cooler Rises Up

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The NH-C12P is essentially a "classic" design with C-shaped cooler similar to most top-down heatsinks, but there are many unusual features.

The NH-C12P, sans fan.

With its notched fins, the top of the heatsink resembles a bed of nails. From the side they look like a row of mechanical teeth. The ends of the heatpipes stick out in a slight curve like a six-clawed paw or a series of spearpoints. Overall, the NH-C12P looks a bit menacing, like it's ready to do battle.

Notched fins.

While most of the fins have the dimensions of the end piece in the photo above, 15 fins are differently shaped, with the bottom portion extended in a trapezoid shape to connect directly to the base. The bottom of the fins look like they may be fitted into slots cut into the top of the base, and also soldered. These 15 fins naturally carry heat directly from the base. This is similar to the old Thermalright XP-120, which was one of the first heatsinks to employ heatpipes and very successful in its day.

Double-curved heatpipes for better clearance.

The main heat transfer path between the base and the fins are the six heatpipes, which are double-curved, like the ones on the recently reviewed Xigmatek HDT-D1284. The double curve is probably there to provide clearance for components around the CPU socket or memory sticks.

It's easy to see the evidence of soldering at almost all the connecting points between parts. Show below is a closeup of two heatpipes as they enter the first fin. The traces of solder are visible all around the insertion point. Soldering should improve heat transfer.

Evidence of soldering.

The six heatpipes are evenly spread out through the fins, which allows each pipe plenty of breathing room. Interestingly, the 15 fins that extend down to make direct contact with the base are not as wide as the others, which leaves a couple of gaps in the fin array. It's a clever design: These gaps provide convenient screwdriver access for installation. It allows the heatsink to be mounted in any rotation, as dictated by the impediments on the particular socket 775 motherboard and case.

Top view: The holes in the fin array provide access to mounting screws.

Each layer has punched notches, creating a series of support flaps, reinforcing the areas around the heatpipes. Structurally, it's very stable — it takes some force to bend or otherwise manipulate the fins. The rectangular holes also help reduce impedance to airflow. The recently reviewed Thermalright HR-01 Plus has the same feature, but its "through-holes" are much more numerous.

From underneath.

The NH-C12P base was flat and finished to a dull shine — there were some very light machine marks. There was also some tarnishing around the base and on the mounting plate, possibly a byproduct of the bonding process.

The base.

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