Unboxing and Review of Noctua NH-L12 Ghost S1 Edition CPU Cooler

Noctua NH-L12 Ghost S1 Edition CPU Cooler

Noctua has collaborated with LOUQE to bring back the original NH-L12 CPU cooler specifically for the Ghost S1 PC case. Both companies aim to provide the best air cooling solution for the compact ITX chassis with this special edition.


Noctua NH-L12 Ghost S1 Edition CPU Cooler

The NH-L12 Ghost S1 cooler retains the same packaging design in brown and white. The model name and the silver LOUQE sticker are the two ways to distinguish it from the regular version. Eight features are listed on one side, such as great RAM clearance.

Noctua NH-L12 Ghost S1 Edition CPU Cooler

Short descriptions are translated into seven different languages. A few specification tables are printed with information about the cooler’s heatsink and included fan.

Noctua NH-L12 Ghost S1 Edition CPU Cooler

The CPU cooler and accessories are separated and protected from each other with cardboard boxes.

Noctua NH-L12 Ghost S1 Edition CPU Cooler

The NH-L12 is installed with the reliable SecuFirm2 mounting system. It supports almost all modern CPU sockets from both Intel and AMD, such as the latest LGA1200 and AM4.

There are a long screwdriver, low-noise adaptor and three different user manuals in the box. Different from the regular version, Noctua includes the NT-H2 thermal compound (its review here) for the Ghost S1 edition, instead of the NT-H1.

Noctua NH-L12 Ghost S1 Edition CPU Cooler

Noctua NH-L12 Ghost S1 Edition CPU Cooler

The heatsink of the Noctua NH-L12 has a height of 66 mm, width of 128 mm and depth of 150 mm. There are four 6 mm nickel-plated copper heatpipes are bent into a C/L-shape through the aluminum fin stack. Anti-vibration rubber pads are absent from all corners of the cooling fan. There are two thin rubber strips on the bottom of the heatsink to reduce vibration noise.

Noctua NH-L12 Ghost S1 Edition CPU Cooler

The CPU contact base is polished to create a smoother surface, and is also plated with nickel.

Noctua NH-L12 Ghost S1 Edition CPU Cooler

Noctua pairs the NH-L12 with a single NF-B9 PWM fan, which was originally discontinued and replaced by the NF-A9 PWM. It is a 92 mm fan, that can spin from 300 RPM to 1600 RPM. The speed can be controlled via a 4-pin PWM connector, as well as a low-noise adaptor. It also has rated MTBF of over 150,000 hours.


Noctua NH-L12 Ghost S1 Edition CPU Cooler

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 three 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 and Cinebench R20 are used to simulate real-world CPU load (like video-editing or rendering). It will be run continuously for three times. Ambient temperature is around 24°C.

Results will be taken at a 50% and 100% fan speed, controlled via the motherboard CPU PWM header. Stress test will run for at least 15 minutes. Once the CPU has reached the equilibrium temperature, we will record both the average and highest temperatures of the CPU package/hottest core with HWiNFO in the next 5 minutes.


Noctua NH-L12 Ghost S1 Edition CPU Cooler

The CPU hovered around 33°C to 35°C at idle. In the AIDA64 stress test, our overclocked i7-9700K reached temperature over 99°C and experienced thermal throttle (reducing clock speed) at 50% fan speed (~1000 RPM). Ramping up the fan to full speed improved the situation hugely. The Noctua NH-L12 was able to keep the average CPU package temp at 88°C. The hottest package and CPU core temperatures were up to 90°C.

Noctua NH-L12 Ghost S1 Edition CPU Cooler

At both fan speeds, the NH-L12 could complete the Cinebench R15 without thermal throttle. The highest CPU package temperatures were at 96°C and 86°C respectively.

Noctua NH-L12 Ghost S1 Edition CPU Cooler

Cinebench R20 produces more heat than R15, resulted in similar temperatures in AIDA64. The CPU temperature stayed at 89°C at 100% fan speed.


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On all three tests, the NH-L12 Ghost S1 performed about 4°C better than the NH-L9x65 (its review here), with a thinner but wider heatsink. Compared to the single-tower NH-U12S (its review here), it was around 14°C hotter.

*Since we recently changed the CPU to an Intel Core i7-9700K in our test bench, we have to retest all CPU coolers. We will add the results back to the charts in the near future.


Unboxing Treatment Recommendation

The Noctua NH-L12 Ghost S1 Edition offers very respectable cooling performance on the proven design of the original NH-L12 cooler. It has the same solid Noctua-level build quality. With the top 120 mm fan removed, it is a relatively low-profile cooler, capable to install on tiny ITX PC cases. It did marginally better than the smaller NH-L9x65, but I would not suggest using it for an overclocked CPU.

The NF-B9 PWM is able to push a decent amount of air through the heatsink with near-silent operation.

The NH-L12 is provided with a 6-year warranty, and is priced at $54.90 USD (MSRP). It costs around $5 USD more than the NH-L9x65 and NH-L12S at the time of this review. It is a rare option in the market with great performance, compact size and outstanding build quality, especially if you are a LOUQE Ghost S1 case owner.

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

Thanks Noctua for providing us the cooler for review. (Review Sample)

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