Noctua NH-U12P tower Cooler

Cooling
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TEST RESULTS

Stock Fan Testing

The stock fan is the NF-P12. To maximize pressure, the nine fan blades have less curvature than typical fans and there is very little separation between them. This also results in more noise, so Noctua implements something they call "vortex-control notches." According to Noctua, these notches reduce turbulence and spread the noise generated over a wider frequency range, making for a more pleasant sounding fan. A summary of their claims can be read here.

Brand Noctua Power Rating 0.09A
Model Number NF-P12
Airflow Rating 92,3 m³/h
Bearing Type SSO (Sleeve variant)
RPM Rating 1300
Hub Size 1.61" Noise Rating 19.8 dBA
Frame Size 120 x 120 x 25 mm Header Type 3-pin
Weight 1700g Starting Voltage 4.8V

Voltage
Noise
RPM
12V
32-33 dBA@1m
1330 RPM
9V
22 dBA@1m
1060 RPM
7V
16 dBA@1m
840 RPM
5V
<15 dBA@1m
600 RPM

This fan model was also used on the NH-C12P, and it sounded identical. We also have a third sample, a retail version of the fan, and we noted very little variance between them.

Fan @ 12V: The fan was fairly loud at 32-33 dBA. It also throbbed with resonant beats. Analysis of the acoustic profile revealed a tonal peak at 380Hz. The throbbing, while less aggressive sounding than the normal buzz and whine common with high speed fans, can be just as irritating. It has a much lower pitch than most fans spinning around this speed.

Fan @ 9V: The fan was much quieter, registering only 22 dBA. However, it generated an unusual sound effect, that of a distant aircraft engine — a low-pitched, resonating hum. It hit just the right frequency and tone to create this eerie effect in our test room. Analysis showed it developed tonality in the 360Hz range.

Fan @ 7V: The fan was almost silent and very smooth. Close-up it was still audible, and the same airplane-type noise persisted though to a lesser degree.

Fan @ 5V: The fan was effectively silent.


Low-Noise-Adapter on top, Ultra-Low-Noise-Adapter on the bottom. Each appears to have an in-line zener diode to drop the voltage to the fan to about 9V and 7V.

Cooling Results

During testing the NH-U12P showed itself to be an exceptional performer with the stock Noctua NF-P12 fan. At 12V, the temperature increase above ambient was only 12°C — an excellent result. Lowering the fan speed led to very little detriment in performance. The temperature increased by two degrees at 9V and an additional one degree at 7V. Not until 5V did the temperature spike significantly.

Noctua NH-U12P with stock fan
Fan Voltage
Noise @1m
Temp
°C Rise
°C/W
12V
32-33 dBA
34°C
12
0.15
9V
22 dBA
36°C
14
0.18
7V
16 dBA
37°C
15
0.19
5V
<15 dBA
42°C
20
0.26
Noctua NH-U12P with reference fan
12V
21 dBA
36°C
14
0.18
9V
18 dBA
38°C
16
0.21
7V
16 dBA
39°C
17
0.22
5V
<15 dBA
43°C
21
0.27
Load Temp: CPUBurn for ~10 mins.
°C Rise: Temperature rise above ambient (22°C) at load.
°C/W: based on the amount of heat dissipated by the CPU (measured 78W); lower is better.

Our reference Nexus fan performed very similarly to the NF-P12, off by no more than a degree or two at similar noise levels. Acoustically however, in our opinion, the Nexus is superior, sounding far more innocuous than the NF-P12, despite what the SPL registered. Combined with our results from our NH-C12P review, we conclude that the "high-pressure" design, if it does in fact work properly, is not advantageous when used in conjunction with either of Noctua's current CPU heatsinks. It may perform better on a poorer quality heatsink with tighter fin spacing, where high pressure would be needed more and any difference in performance easily recognized.

Comparables

Comparison: NH-U12P vs. Competition
Fan Voltage
Noise @1m
°C Rise Above Ambient Temperature
HR-01 Plus
NH-U12P
Ultra-120 eXtreme
HDT-S1283
Zen FZ120
12V
21 dBA
13
14
12
13
15
9V
18 dBA
15
16
14
15
16
7V
16 dBA
16
17
17
18
19
5V
<15 dBA
20
21
24
24
24
All results generated with our reference Nexus 120mm fan.

The NH-U12P turned out to be a superb performer, coming within one degree of our current champ the Thermalright HR-01 Plus across the board. Such a small difference can be considered negligible — they essentially perform the same. While the Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme edges both heatsinks with higher airflow, we appreciate low airflow results more and thus award the HR-01 Plus and NH-U12P the top spots.

The data from the orginal NH-U12 is not included here as it is not directly comparable; the earlier test was done on a different CPU and motherboard. The original U12 never made the top of our charts, however.



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