Noctua NH-U12S redux CPU Cooler – Unboxing and Review

Noctua NH-U12S redux CPU Cooler

In March 2021, Noctua released the first ever CPU cooler from their budget-friendly redux line. The NH-U12S redux has a simplified and modified design than the normal NH-U12S cooler. We are interested to know the difference in cooling performance between the two.


Noctua NH-U12S redux CPU Cooler The NH-U12S redux is shipped inside a grey cardboard box, with some signature brown accent color. Key features of the cooler are mentioned with a few short descriptions.

Noctua NH-U12S redux CPU Cooler

Specifications lists about the heatsink and fan are located on the side of the box, having information like dimensions, weight and RPM range.

Noctua NH-U12S redux CPU Cooler

Identical to any other Noctua CPU coolers, the NH-U12S redux is protected and separated from the accessories box by cardboard.

Noctua NH-U12S redux CPU Cooler

The first difference we see from the NH-U12S redux is the lack of additional accessories. There is no low-noise fan adapter, thermal compound, screwdriver, extra set of fan clips and anti-vibration rubber pads. Only the installation manual and necessary mounting hardware can be found.

The NH-U12S redux is compatible with most recent generations of CPU sockets using the reputable SecuFirm2 system. You can install the cooler on AMD AM4, Intel LGA115x, LGA1200, LGA2011 and LGA2066 platforms.

Noctua NH-U12S redux CPU Cooler

Noctua NH-U12S redux CPU Cooler

The NH-U12S redux uses the heatsink with identical physical dimensions as the NH-U12S. It is 158 mm in height, 125 mm in width and 45 mm in depth. It should have the same outstanding RAM and PCIe slot compatibility.

However, the redux model features one less 6 mm nickel-plated copper heatpipes. To bring down the manufacturing costs, the four heatpipes are not directly soldered to the aluminium fin stack, which may mildly impact the overall thermal transfer efficiency.

Noctua NH-U12S redux CPU Cooler

The NT-H1 thermal compound is pre-applied on the smooth machined surface of the nickel-plated copper CPU contact base. (38 mm x 40 mm)

Noctua NH-U12S redux CPU Cooler

Instead of the NH-F12 PWM, Noctua paired the NH-U12S redux with the NF-P12 redux-1700 RPM cooling fan. It runs slightly faster from 450 RPM to 1700 RPM, thus can push more airflow at 70.75 CFM (vs 54.97 CFM). Fan speed is controlled via the 4-pin PWM connector. Only the four corners facing the heatsink have anti-vibration pads. Although it is equipped with the first generation SSO bearing, its MTBF is still rated for over 150,000 hours.

Noctua NA-FK1 redux Fan Kit

Noctua NH-U12S redux CPU Cooler

The NA-FK1 redux is an optional fan kit ($16.90 USD) for those who wants to add another NF-P12 redux-1700 PWM fan to the cooler. You can make a push/pull dual-fan setup for increased cooling performance.

Noctua NH-U12S redux CPU Cooler

Apart from the fan, you will have four thick anti-vibration pads, a set of fan clips, a 4-pin PWM Y-cable and two low-noise adapters in the box.


Noctua NH-U12S redux 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 23°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-U12S redux CPU Cooler

We tested the NH-U12S redux cooler in the default 1-fan and 2-fan (push-pull with two NF-P12 redux-1700 PWM) configurations in 50% and 100% PWM fan speeds (~950 RPM and ~1600 RPM). In comparison, the NF-F12 PWM in the NH-U12S runs at ~750 RPM and ~1350 RPM respectively. Idle CPU temperatures hovered between 30°C to 35°C. Ambient temperatures remained at around 22°C to 24°C.

With one fan spinning at 50% speed, the CPU package reached a maximum load temperature in AIDA64 at 83°C, same as the hottest core. Full fan speed resulted in the highest package and core temp dropping to 76°C and 77°C. We saw another 2°C to 3°C decrease, after installing an additional fan to the cooler.

The dual-fan NH-U12S redux managed to be on par with the standard NH-U12S at full fan speed. Temperature difference (ΔT) values are only separated by 0.9°C (51.5°C vs 50.6°C), within the margin of error of the tests. The default 1-fan configuration for the redux model trailed behind the NH-U12S by about 2°C (52.8°C vs 50.6°C).

Noctua NH-U12S redux CPU Cooler

A similar picture can be observed in Cinebench R15 and R20. The NH-U12S redux kept the temperatures at 77°C and 76°C, which are around 3.4°C hotter than the NH-U12S with a single fan at 100% fan speed (53.8°C vs 50.4°C) after considering the ambient temperature differences.

Noctua NH-U12S redux CPU Cooler

In Cinebench R20, all configurations of the redux cooler beat the NH-U12S at 50% PWM speed. The CPU temperatures topped out at 76°C for the NH-U12S redux with one fan at full speed, which are about 2°C to 3°C higher than the standard version.


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The NH-U12S redux was able to roughly match the cooling performance of the NH-U12S, behind by around 2°C to 4°C. Unsurprisingly, larger 140 mm-class air coolers, like the CRYORIG R5 and Noctua NH-U14S, could outperform it by a decent margin.


Unboxing Treatment Recommendation

Based on the reputable NH-U12S cooler, the NH-U12S redux maintains the same compact form factor, solid build quality and good cooling performance we come to expect from Noctua’s product. Despite having one less copper heatpipe, the NH-U12S redux was able to hold our overclocked i7-9700K CPU (~150W TDP) under 90°C and in the mid-80°C in most of our benchmarks. The NA-FK1 fan kit or an additional fan is required to squeeze every bit of the thermal performance from the cooler, via push-pull configuration.

The NF-P12 redux-1700 PWM fan produces a tad more noise than the NF-F12 PWM, because of the higher max RPM. It can generate a higher amount of airflow and slightly better static pressure.

The NH-U12S redux is priced at $49.90 USD (MSRP) with a 6-year warranty, which is about $20 USD cheaper than the standard NH-U12S. Considering the comparable cooling capability, the redux model is an awesome option, if you are in a tighter budget. Other 120 mm-class slim CPU coolers, such as be quiet! PURE ROCK 2, ARCTIC Freezer 34 eSports and Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO V2, cost around $44.90 USD and $44.99 USD (MSRP) respectively.

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

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

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unboxing-and-review-of-noctua-nh-u12s-redux-cpu-coolerThe Noctua NH-U12S redux is a more budget-friendly option for the NH-U12S cooler, which maintains the same physical dimensions. The cooling performance is slightly behind the standard model with one fan, and can be further improved with an additional fan for push-pull configuration. As always, build quality is great with a 6-year warranty.


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