Unboxing and Review of Noctua NH-U12S CPU Cooler

Noctua NH-U12S CPU Cooler

The NH-U12S is Noctua’s premium single-tower CPU cooler, that aims to provide great cooling performance in a more compact form factor. How does the NH-U12S stack up against other larger coolers in the market?


The NH-U12S cooler uses the same styled packaging like any other Noctua CPU coolers. A white and brown colored cardboard box with the model name and key features highlighted at the front.

At the back, there are the detailed specification lists of the cooler’s heatsink and the included NF-F12 fan. You can also find short descriptions about a few features of the NH-U12S, such as 100% RAM compatibility and PWM fan control.

The cooler and its accessories are packed in separate boxes, both are protected and secured in place by the cardboard.

The NH-U12S supports both CPU sockets from Intel and AMD with the SecuFirm2 mounting system. Out of the box, you can use the cooler on Intel LGA 2011/2066, LGA 115x and AMD AM1/AM2/AM3 and FM1/2. If you are using AMD AM4 socket, you will need to have the NM-AM4-UxS mounting kit.

Moreover, you get the NT-H1 thermal paste, additional anti-vibration pads and mounting clips for the second NF-F12 fan (not included). There is also an low-noise fan adapter if you want more quiet operation.

Noctua NH-U12S CPU Cooler

The Noctua NH-U12S cooler uses a traditional single-tower heatsink design, with heatpipes passing through from the bottom to the top in an “U” shape.

Without the fan, the heatsink has a height of 158 mm, a width of 125 mm and a depth of 45 mm. There are five copper-based 6 mm heatpipes on the NH-U12S. They are aligned in six columns to help transfer heat to more parts of the fin stack.

Both ends of the five nickel-plated heatpipes are terminated on the top of the heatsink. A Noctua Logo and name are embossed on the top aluminium fin.

The CPU contact plate is nickel-plated and polished to a mirror-like finish.

Noctua includes their premium NF-F12 fan for the cooler. The NF-F12 is a 120 mm fan with SSO2 bearing. It has a RPM range from 300 up to 1500. Each corner has installed the anti-vibration pads to reduce noises. The fan has a rated MTBF of over 150,000 hours.


We have updated our CPU cooler tests to more reflect real-world cooling performance of coolers.

Testing Methodology

To find out how the cooler performs, a total of two benchmarks are included. AIDA64 is used to run a CPU stress test. CPU, FPU and system cache are all stressed to create as much heat output as possible. Also, Cinebench R15 is used to simulate real-world CPU load (like video-editing or rendering). It will be run continuously for three times. The highest CPU package temperatures are recorded. Ambient temperature is around 26°C.

Results will be taken at a 50% fan speed and 100% speed, controlled via the motherboard CPU PWM fan header. Both single-fan and dual-fan configurations of the cooler will be tested separately.


Noctua NH-U12S CPU Cooler

For a single-tower cooler, the NH-U12S performed exceptionally well. Our Ryzen 5 1600X CPU is kept around 60°C most of the time, when running the AIDA64 stress test. Though the temperature increased to 67°C, if only the single-fan configuration at 50% speed. Adding an additional fan (50% speed) decreased the temperature by 8.96% to 61°C. Spinning up the fan to the maximum speed at around 1400 RPM did help vastly reduce the temperature to 58°C (around 14.4% improvement).

Noctua NH-U12S CPU Cooler

In a more real-world scenario, the NH-U12S provided adequate cooling to the CPU. The lowest temperature is at 55°C, while the highest reached 58°C. All configurations were able to maintain the temperatures under 60°C.

Noctua NH-U12S CPU Cooler
All fans were running at full speed. Results were the temperature differences between the CPU and the ambient room.

Even compared with a dual-tower cooler with much more surface area for heat dissipation, the NH-U12S did not lag behind as much as you may think. The CPU temperatures are generally 1°C to 2°C higher than the GELID Phantom Black. And in some cases, the differences were less than 1°C, which were within the margin of error.


Unboxing Treatment Recommendation

Overall, the Noctua NH-U12S is an all-rounded and compact cooler, that is capable of cooling almost every type of CPUs, including the overclocked one. Its performance is comparable to a larger dual-tower cooler. The single-tower design also offers users great motherboard heatsink and RAM clearance/compatibility. Installation is easy and fast with the SecuFirm 2 mounting system.

The NF-F12 PWM fan is one of the most famous premium fan in the market. It pushes a decent amount of air through the fin stack, while remaining reasonably quiet. I do recommend adding an extra fan and run both fans at lower RPM, to strike a balance between performance and silence.

The NH-U12S is backed by a 6-year warranty as any other Noctua coolers. It is priced at $57.99 USD (MSRP), which offers not only nice build quality and accessories, but also great cooling performance. You do have to pay a little more for the NH-U12S than other similarly-sized air coolers, but I think you would not be disappointed.

You can purchase the cooler from your local/online resellers or the links below from Amazon and Newegg.

Thanks Noctua for providing us the NH-U12S for review. (Review Sample)

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