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NOCTUA NH-L12S CPU Cooler Review

  1. About the Noctua NH-L12S CPU Cooler…
  2. CPU Cooler Design and Layout Impressions
  3. How its tested??
  4. Temperature Readouts and Observations
  5. Conclusion
  6. Online Purchase Links
  7. View All

Disclosure: The NH-L12S CPU cooler is sent by Noctua.

About the C-Type CPU coolers

I love C-Type CPU air coolers because of a used Thermaltake Big Typhoon during the end of socket 939 days. Due to the platform jump towards AM3+ and TtBT’s incompatible mounting kit, I purchased a Noctua NH-U12P-SE2 CPU cooler. Years have passed and after I’ve started Hardware BBQ, eventually I got my hands on another C-type CPU cooler- the Noctua NH-C14S which I use regularly. While I prefer using the NH-U12S, NH-U14S and the NH-D15 to show the motherboard’s layout compatibility, NH-C14S is a good performer and a great CPU cooler to look at. Unlike CPU tower coolers, it made a good impression and also was a solid performer, but a limitation of mounting a single fan.

The NH-L12S CPU Cooler…

This is the Noctua NH-L12S, a smaller and slimmer version of the NH-C14S. While it maintains that low-profile look, it isn’t as low profile as many ‘pancake coolers’ like the NH-L9x65. it is bundled with a 15mm fan where you can install it underneath or over the heatsink.

The TDP limitation is somewhere between 95-Watts and 112-watts for mainstream CPUs and 165-watts for Skylake-X. Noctua has a detailed list of that which you’ll see in its specifications.

Packaging

Noctua’s packaging is quite an attraction in itself design to protect its CPU coolers and organize its tools and screws. Noctua bundles few things that others wouldn’t, such as NT-H1 thermal paste syringe, a Philips head screwdriver and metal brackets and backplate.

Specification

 

  • Cooler Specification
    Socket compatibility
    Intel LGA2066, LGA2011-0 & LGA2011-3 (Square ILM), LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1151, LGA1150 & AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, AM4, FM1, FM2, FM2+ (backplate required)
    Height x Width x Depth (without fan)
    70 mm x 128 mm x 146 mm
    Height x Width x Depth (with fan)
    70 mm x 128 mm x 146 mm
    Weight (without fan)
    390 g
    Weight (with fan/s)
    520 g
    Material
    Copper (base and heat-pipes), aluminium (cooling fins), soldered joints & nickel plating
    Max. TDP
    see TDP guide
    Fan compatibility
    120x120x15 & 120x120x25
    The scope of delivery
    • 1x NF-A12x15 PWM premium fan
    • Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)
    • NT-H1 high-grade thermal compound
    • SecuFirm2™ mounting kit
    • Noctua metal case-badge
    Warranty
    6 Years
  • FAN Specification
    Model
    1x Noctua NF-A12x15 PWM
    Bearing
    SSO2
    Max. Rotational Speed (+/- 10%)
    1850 RPM
    Max. Rotational Speed with L.N.A. (+/- 10%)
    1400 RPM
    Min. Rotational Speed (PWM, +/-20%)
    450 RPM
    Max. Airflow
    94.2 m³/h
    Max. Airflow with L.N.A.
    70.8 m³/h
    Max. Acoustical Noise
    23.9 dB(A)
    Max. Acoustical Noise with L.N.A.
    16.8 dB(A)
    Input Power
    1.56 W
    Voltage Range
    12 V
    MTTF
    > 150,000 h

Noctua mentions in its specifications about its fan compatible extending up to 120 x 120 x 25 mm fans. It is bundled with NT-H1 thermal paste, a screw driver, a Low-Noise Adapter and a metal case badge.

The fans are interesting, its a slim profile 120MM PWM fan with its proprietary SSO2 bearing with maximum speed up to 1850 RPM and minimum 450 RPM without the Low Noise Adapter which reduces maximum speed to 1400 RPM.

CPU Cooler Design

With some notable differences, one will say this is a mini NH-C14S. It has four nickel plated copper heatpipes going through flat heatsink on one end and through the heatsink at the other. The bundled fan is a slim profile NF-A12x15 120x120x15 mm CPU fan. Because of the design of the heatsink, the fan can be installed underneath the heatsink, thus maintaining its 70mm height. But if you install the fan over the heatsink, it becomes 85mm.

GPU Cooling Fan Design

The Noctua NF-A12x15 PWM fan is a seven-blade design which uses its tried and tested SS02 bearing, of which you can see a part of it towards its air intake direction. Many of Noctua’s fans have a proven track record of having least possible noise and made for very long use. As a result, its retail fan kits have six years warranty. The Noctua NH-L12S kit also provides six years warranty.

Mounting System

The SecuFirm2 mounting system is the best installation experience you’ll get in a CPU cooler. Simple, quick and efficient installation. I would like to call it as an ‘idiot proof’ design. Many other CPU coolers take a bit more time but eventually leads to an easy installation, while others like the Gigabyte XTC700 is not user-friendly at all. This becomes important in a time when PC case manufacturers market their cases to have heatsinks and liquid coolers installed after installing the motherboard. Many would prefer mounting the CPU air cooler on the motherboard first and later to install it on a PC case, but the design will comfortably let you install in any way of the two.

Installation Experience and Layout Impressions

Because of the CPU cooler and NF-A12x15 PWM fan design, it allows its fan to be installed underneath the heatsink array. This is the fan setup that comes out of the box where the air is pushed upwards, away from the motherboard. While the nature of this CPU cooler is meant to be low profile, the fan would come in the way of many memory kits, as I was able to use only the heatspreader-less memory sticks (typical of the Value series). Not even the low-profile heatspreader memory kits will allow this fan configuration.

This is the common fan setup for such CPU heatsink design- like its bigger older brother the NH-C14S. The fan will push the air through the heatsink array, on the top of its heat base and the motherboard. As a result, you’ll have adequate space to accommodate those memory kits with standard size heatspreader. While its height is increased by 15mm, Its still low profile as its well under the height of a GPU’s I/O shield.

There’s another reason why you’ll prefer this fan setup over the former when you see the test results.

Test Setup

It gives me great pleasure every time I put up a review. It’s always good to appreciate the support that the manufacturers give from time-to-time to review their own products and others on behalf of the readers. Thanks to companies such as Asus, Gigabyte, Kingston, WD and Coolermaster who give me hardware support by updating my test rig no strings attached. Thumbs up to these guys! I would like to thank

  • Gigabyte India for providing Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming GT motherboard
  • Kingston Taiwan for providing hardware support with memory kits and SSD drive.
  • WD India for providing WD 300GB HLFS Velociraptor Hard Drive.
  • Coolermaster India for providing Coolermaster GX450 RS-450-ACAA-D3 Power Supply
Test Setup for Noctua NH-L12S CPU Cooler
MB+ Processor Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming GT (F6 BIOS) + Intel 4790K Processor
Memory Kingston HyperX Blu 8GB 1600MHz DDRIII
Primary OS drive SanDisk Extreme 240GB SSD+ WD Red 3TB NAS Drive
Power Supply Cooler master GM450
Chassis Lian Li A70F Full Tower PC Case

Pre-Testing setup

Turbo: off

EIST and other power saving features: off

Thermal Controls: off

Thermal Paste

I’ve used Noctua NT-H1 thermal paste (Pea Method) System kept on idle for 30 minutes before testing to record minimum temperatures. I did not use the provided thermal paste as all the CPU coolers were tested with the NT1, and hence wanted to use the same for comparable results. The test is done in closed case setup with case’s ambient temperature (recorded via Temperature probe) of 37 degrees with erratic +/- 1-2 degrees fluctuation.

Want to know more about CPU coolers? Check out our guide!

I am testing the Noctua NH-L12S CPU cooler at full fan speed. I have two fan orientation- the default where the fan is installed below the heatsink, blowing the air upwards blowing the air away from the motherboard and installing it on the top, blowing the air downwards towards the motherboard.

Base Clock Speed Testing

The top placement fan has a minor advantage for air cooling on the NH-L12S. Its also the likely fan setup you’ll use because of the clearance required for the memory heatspreaders.

Overclocked Testing

Considering the NH-L12S can accommodate a single 120 mm fan, the performance is comparable with the NH-U9S with a push-pull 92 mm setup.

Coming to the end…

For a single setup C-Type 120mm slim profile CPU cooler, the Noctua NH-L12S performs admirably. There are no complaints, apart from the clearance with the memory heatspreaders.  I would prefer the top placement as C-type coolers indirectly cool the surrounding components while blowing through its heatsinks- such as the VRM, MOSFETs and the memory kit.

The Noctua NH-C14S is an async design, like the NH-D15S and the NH-U14S. The NH-L12S is a slim profile design where is allows enough clearance with the first PCIe slot and near the I/O area. In a time when motherboard manufacturers have a redundant plastic housing around the CPU socket (especially for the I/O), this becomes a good choice. Mind you, none of the CPU coolers mentioned above has any clearance issue with the motherboards tested so far. Noctua has a done a great job of maintaining a generalization that choosing its air CPU cooler is a good decision. For the price, quality and form factor, 50$ USD with six years warranty provides incredible value.

India US UK
NA  $49.90  £44.99

  • Form Factor
  • Slim Design
  • Tried and tested SecuFirm2 mounting system
  • Good Performance in stock and OC configuration
  • Nothing significant
The fan is installed underneath the heatsink out of the box, however, an end user will typically re-install it above the heatsink for the purpose of getting better cooling performance and better clearance with the RAMs.

NOCTUA NH-L12S CPU Cooler Review from hardware


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