CPU Coolers: Noctua NH-U12P

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noctua_nh_u12p_2When it comes to air based CPU cooling and coolers, one of the first names that comes to mind is Noctua.  We have recently tested both their TIM (NT-H1) and also their premium fan (NF-P12) and were very impressed with both.  Noctua clearly puts a great deal of thought into the engineering and design process and this results in excellent products.

The flagship cooler from Noctua is their NH-U12P and when we were given the chance to review it we jumped at the chance!  As with other Noctua products it is clearly well designed.  The main component is the heatsink tower, which is huge! (158mm x 71mm x 126mm withou the included fan).  This size, however, allows for the greatly increased surface area for heat dissapation.  The heat sink is manufactured with a copper base and heat pipes that rise up into the stacked aluminium cooling fins allowing for quick transfer of heat from the pipes to the fins.

The heatsink comes bundled with the Noctua NF-P12 fan which has an excellent static pressure to really push air between the fins and transfer heat away.  Also included are SecuFirm mounting kits for both AMD AM2 and LGA 775 motherboards.  Mounting kits are also available for the new Intel I7 and Xeon motherboards.  As a TIM material Noctua even include a generous amount of their Noctua NT-H1 in a syringe applicator.

noctua_nh_u12-2Following the instructions included, installation of the heat sink is relatively straight forward, although it does require removal of the motherboard so as to fit the SecuFirm kit.  We fitted the Secufirm LGA 775 kit to our Abit IP35 motherboard in our test rig.  The benefit of using the mounting kit becomes obvious when installing the heat sink, where there is no need to put pressure directly on the motherboard for fitting (something that generally happens when fitting standard, cheaper CPU coolers using the push fit connectors).  The heat sink is mounted using a set of two springs and screws to provide the optimum pressure over the TIM and CPU for the best heat transfer between the surfaces.

The provided NF-P12 fan is held in place using spring clips and the fan is offset from the heatsink using included silicon buffers to prevent vibrational noise, although from our previous tests with this fan it is unlikely even at its highest speed.

In our testing we compared the Noctua NH-U12P against the Nexus PHT-7750 which also incorporates copper fins to provide a larger surface area for heat dissapation.  The same TIM was used for both coolers and the tests were run consecutively.  In order to fully load the CPU OCCT was used in both tests and the results compared.

noctua_nh_u12p_se1366_2The Nexus PHT-7750 at idle gave readings of 29C, and under 100% CPU load 52C, which is respectable in comparison to the OEM cooler provided with the CPU.  The Noctua NH-U12P gave similar readings at idle of 29C, but really blew us away with the temperature readings under 100% CPU load, where we observed consistent readings of 42C, a clear 10C less than the Nexus PHT-7750 could manage.  A temperature change of only 13C between idle and full load is verging on the results seen with water cooling, so we were suitably amazed!  Not only that, but whilst maintaining the temperature under full load the fan was practically inaudible, and even a little quieter than the Nexus PHT-7750.

We were truly amazed with the performance of the Noctua NH-U12P over the Nexus PHT-7750, which is itself a good CPU cooler.  Despite the slightly more difficult installation process, we would highly recommend the Noctua NH-U12P for any system builder that wants to take the air cooling route, especially those that want to try their hand at overclocking because this CPU cooler is more than up to the job.

Available from:

Amazon: Noctua NH-U12P