Noctua NH-U12P tower Cooler

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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-U12P 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)


The Noctua NH-U12P is possibly the best heatsink we've tested thus far, rivaling the Thermalright HR-01 Plus for the CPU cooling crown. It excels no matter how much airflow is applied. With our reference Nexus fan, its performance scaled very well as the fan speed was decreased, making it a very versatile product for silent PCs. Mounting can be somewhat tedious, but getting to the back of the motherboard is a necessity for all through-the-board bolt-and-spring systems, which we feel is the best for large heavy heatsinks.

The improved soldering process and base "tweaking" mentioned in Noctua's email to us appears to have made a difference in reducing thermal resistance. The NH-U12P is substantially better than the original U12.

All of our current top ranked CPU heatsinks have extremely secure/tight mounting systems comprised of spring-loaded through-the-board bolts. The only exception is the Xigmatek HDT-S1283, but it is quite light and it has direct touch heatpipes, which one can argue, makes up for its push-pin mounting system. Scythe, once dominant in the field, has fallen from grace. The Zipang, and Ninja Rev. B don't match the level of cooling we've seen lately from other heatsinks with more secure mounting. Is their use of plastic pushpins for LGA775 installation and the absence of solder on most internal joints a coincidence? We think not.

To editorialize a bit further, the highest performance low noise heatsinks today feature:

  • multiple heatpipes; the more the better
  • many large, thin fins with greater than 2mm spacing between them
  • solder as well as tight press fit to maximize heat transfer in joints within the heatsink
  • flat copper or direct heatpipe contact base
  • high, even pressure on the interface between CPU and heatsink base, best achieved with through-the-board spring-loaded bolts

The NF-P12 fan is interesting. Its notched blade design alters the acoustic profile, producing a unique sound. Whether it is more pleasant than other fans may come down to personal preference. We prefer our reference Nexus fan or any of the Scythe Slip Stream varieties, which sound very smooth, benign, and consistent throughout their speed ranges. It is quite possible, however, that the higher airflow of the NF-P12 fan at 12V will be useful for hotter CPUs that are overclocked.

Noctua NH-U12P

* Top-notch performance
* Secure mounting system
* Fan very quiet when used with supplied adapters

* Expensive

Our thanks to Noctua for the NH-U12P heatsink sample.

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Articles of Related Interest
Noctua NH-C12P: A Top-Down Cooler Rises Up
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
Thermaltake V1: "Peacock Tail" Cooler

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