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

Cooling
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MP3 SOUND RECORDINGS

The recording begins with the ambient noise of the test room. Please set your playback volume so that the ambient noise is almost inaudible, then don't adjust the volume control again. For best results, save the sound file to your own PC, then listen.

Noctua NH-C12P with stock NF-P12 fan at 5V, 7V, 9V and 12V at 1m The recording starts with 5 seconds of the ambient in the room, then goes through 5 seconds at each of the four voltages.

Reference Comparatives

Nexus "Real Silent 120mm fan" (at 5V, 7V, 9V and 12V at 1m)

Scythe Slip Stream SY1225SL12L (at 5V-7V-8.4V-9V-12V at 1m)

Scythe Andy Samurai Master w/stock fan (at 5V, 7V, 9V and 12V at 1m)

Scythe Zipang with stock DFS132512L 14cm fan (at 7V, 9V, and 12V at 1m — the fan was not recorded at 5V, because it was too close to the ambient.)

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Noctua NH-C12P proved to be the best top-down cooler we've tested. It is also a formidable alternative to tower heatsinks, performing similarly to the Scythe Ninja Copper. What is the reason for its success? It's really the whole package — the design is very well thought out. Great care was taken into how the fins and heatpipes are shaped, bonded and spaced, and the mounting system Noctua came up with is extremely secure. OK, it does require access to both sides of the motherboard, but for high performance cooling, this is mandatory even with heatsinks that use stock retention devices, because their sheer size makes them difficult to install with the motherboard inside the case. We applaud Noctua's efforts. In comparison, push-pins on other large, heavy heatsinks worry us not only about proper heatsink/CPU contact, but also about long term mechanical security. About the only quibble might be that installation on an AM2 board can only be done one way, but this is much less of a concern that on blow-across, tower heatsinks.

The NF-P12 fan that ships with the heatsink is interesting. Its notched blade design definitely alters the acoustic profile, producing a unique sound. Whether it is more pleasant than typical fans may come down to personal preference. All we can say is that it definitely sounds different. Unfortunately, despite its "high pressure" design, at maximum speed, it failed to provide better cooling on this heatsink than our reference Nexus 120mm fan or a Scythe Slip Stream L. As mentioned earlier, the NH-C12P heatsink did not benefit at all from the high airflow or pressure of this fan. The saving grace is the inclusion of the speed-reducing in-line adapters, which obviates the need for other fan control devices and brings the noise level down to virtual silence.

The NH-C12P is currently retailing for around $65, a price inflated, no doubt, by the cost of the included NF-P12 fan. This is about our only criticism of the Noctua NH-C12P. Other than the choice of stock fan, we can honestly say this is a great heatsink.

Noctua NH-C12P
PROS

* Top-notch performance
* Secure and easy to use mounting system
* Top-down cooling
CONS

* Very expensive
* Fan unnecessarily powerful

Our thanks to Noctua for the review sample.

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Articles of Related Interest
Thermalright HR-01 Plus: 2nd Gen Killer Tower Cooler
Scythe Zipang 14cm fan "blow-down" CPU cooler
Cooler Master Hyper Z600 CPU Cooler: A Real Heavyweight
Intel's HSF for high-end Core 2 Extreme CPU cooler
Thermalright XP-120
Thermaltake MaxOrb Heatpipe Cooler: Maximum Orbness

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