Noctua NH-U12A Review

9.6

The Noctua NH-U12A is the newest product from the company’s 5th generation series of 120-millimeter CPU coolers. It is believed to push the envelope of the 120-millimeter factor by combining two flagship model PWM fans with a redesigned heatsink.

The heat sink features seven heat pipes and more fin surface area for better heat dissipation. With this design, the Noctua NH-U12A can match the performance of tons of 140-millimeter coolers while simultaneously providing a 120-millimeter class-case and PCIe compatibility.

With its design, characteristic colors, build, and its recognition for air cooling products, you know that Noctua has come up with another excellent product. So today, we’re going to take a look at the Noctua NH-U12A and see what its specifications and features are. Plus, we will also observe how well it performs to know if it’s something worth investing in and purchasing.

Noctua NH-U12A Review – What’s in the Box?

The Noctua NH-U12A came in a sturdy box that is about 21.6 x 17.8 x 17.1 centimeters (L x W x H). At the top of the package, you will find details about its various features such as the dual NF-A 12×25 fans. There is also information on the 100% RAM compatibility for standard sockets, plus the availability of a 6-year warranty.

The front part of the box provides you with the same information from earlier, but with a close-up image of the base. If you need in-depth information about the NH-U12A’s features, these are all listed on the left side of the package.

When you look at the back portion of the box, you will find a paragraph providing information about the Noctua NH-U12A. It tells you that the unit is from the 5th generation of NH-U12 products, while the specifications of the fans and heatsink are on its right. Aside from these, you will also find a quick scope of delivery, as well as a little mechanical drawing that details the Noctua NH-U12A’s measurements.

If you’ve already purchased Noctua products, opening the box will let you see the typical packaging that Noctua brings. All the mounting hardware is in a separate box, while encased in a smaller cardboard tray are the fans and heatsink.

The Noctua SecuFirm2 mounting system has all the essential things you need for installing the Noctua NH-U12A on every current socket. Older and upcoming sockets are also supported by using optional add-ons, so you don’t have to worry about not being able to use the product.

All in all, what you’ll find in the package includes two NF-A 12×25 PWM 120-millimeter fans, two LNA’s or low-noise adapters, a 4-pin PWM Y-cable, an NT-H1 thermal compound, the SecuFirm2 mounting system for AMD and Intel, plus a Noctua metal case badge.

The Product

Noctua NH-U12A Review

The Noctua NH-U12A is a classic tower-style heatsink built using up to fifty aluminum fins. Heat transfers to these fins from the base using the seven available 6-millimeter nickel-plated copper heat pipes. The product itself is conveniently compact, and its height makes it compatible with most of the current tower cases available today.

When it comes to its width, the Noctua NH-U12A is carefully selected to prevent interference with top-most PCIe slots on micro-ATX & ATX motherboards.

In its small frame, the company opted to squeeze in seven U-shaped heat pipes made from copper. To make it even better, all of these were treated to nickel plating as well. As described, the Noctua NH-U12A has a thoroughly optimized layout since the pipes are all soldered to the aluminum fin stack. Noctua claims that the cooler has 37% more fin surface area than their NH-U12S.

Its heat pipes have a copper base plate that also has a nickel plating. And because of the increased copper amount, it generally provides adequate weight to the product while keeping the build quality up to Noctua’s usual high-quality standards.

Out of the box, the Noctua NH-U12A comes with two of the company’s NF-A 12×25 PWM fans. The build quality of these fans is also high, and these are evident in the details like the rubberized corners, which help reduce rattle.

Heatsink Compatibility

For its socket compatibility, the Noctua NH-U12A can work with the Intel LGA1151, LGA1150, LGA2011, LGA1155, LGA1156, LGA2066, plus the AMD AMR(+), AM4, FM1, AM2(+), & FM2(+).

Without the fan, the Noctua NH-U12A weighs 760 grams and measures 158 x 125 x 58 millimeters (H x W x D). With the fan, it weighs 1,220 grams and measures 158 x 125 x 112 millimeters (H x W x D). The product is compatible with fans that measure 120 x 120 x 25 millimeters. For the warranty, Noctua included a 6-year warranty for it.

Fan Specifications

The fan used is the Noctua NF-A 12×25 PWM bearing SSO2 and has a maximum rotational speed of (+/-10%) 2,000 RPM. With LNA, its maximum rotational speed becomes (+/-10%) 1,700 RPM.

The fan has a total airflow of 102.1 m³/h and a range of 12 Volts. With the LNA, it has a maximum airflow of 845 m³/h and an acoustical noise of 18.8dBA, and without the LNA, its maximum acoustic noise is 22.6dBA. The MTTF> is at 150.000 h.

Product Features

Outstanding Series

The NH-U12 series has earned hundreds of awards and recommendations from top international hardware magazines and websites. It’s the new addition in this prestigious series of Noctua and is an established benchmark for the top-quality 210-millimeter coolers.

120 millimeters with the Performance of140-millimeter Coolers

The NH-U12A features a thoroughly optimized layout with seven heat pipes, as well as added 37% fin surface area. Aside from that, there is also a dual-fan push & pull configuration that utilizes advanced NF-A12x25 fans, which make the NH-U12A boost its performance and match 140-millimeter coolers.

Full RAM Compatibility on AM4 and LGA115x

Since the NH-U12A has an asymmetrical design, it does not overhang the RAM slots on AMD AM4 and Intel LGA115x motherboards. With that, accessing the modules is easy, and it’s also fully compatible with tall heat spreaders.

Classic 120-millimeter Size for Chassis and PCIe Compatibility

With its height of 158 millimeters, the NH-U12A can fit most of the mid and high-end tower chassis today. With its fan and fan clips, its width is 125 millimeters, making it 100% compatible with multiple GPU setups.

Dual NF-A12 120-millimeter Fans

The 120-millimeter NF-A12x25 is a highly efficient fan optimized for the next generation. It integrates Noctua’s newest innovations in aerodynamic engineering to attain an unparalleled level of silent cooling performance. This top-quality fan in a push/pull dual fan configuration is one of the foundations of the NH-U12A’s excellent performance and acoustic efficiency.

Low-Noise Adaptors and PWM Support

The 120-millimeter NF-A12 comes with low-noise adaptors for quiet operation. Aside from that, it also has PWM-support for automated speed control via the motherboard, full performance under load, and adjustable fan speed from 2000 to 1700 rpm.

NT-H1 Thermal Compound

Noctua’s NT-H1 is a premium-quality thermal compound that provides minimum thermal resistance. It’s easy to use and is truly reliable. It’s the first choice of overclockers and enthusiasts around the world.

Compatibility and Flexibility

Noctua’s SecuFirm ecosystem makes the NH-U12A compatible with older LGA775 and LGA1366 sockets with the optional NM-I3 mounting kit, which is free of charge. If possible, Noctua will also offer upgrade kits for new sockets in the future. The NH-U12A is a long-term investment that is sure to last for long periods.

Soldered Interface Between Fins and Heat Pipes

With a lot of heatsinks, the fins are thoroughly press-fitted to the heat pipes. With various thermal expansion coefficients, thermal cycling can loosen this fit, resulting in reduced performance. Since there are soldered fins on the heat pipes, the NH-U12A can guarantee an exceptional thermal interface that is sure to last for years of use.

Specifications

Using the Product

From a quality and performance standpoint, Noctua was able to surprise us again. And while the NH-U12A can’t completely match the NH-D15S or the NH-D15, it was able to put up notable numbers during our tests, coming at only a few degrees Celsius behind its bigger siblings.

When it comes to the noise, the Noctua NH-U12A is audible when both fans are running, but the good thing is that the fans are not loud at all. Making use of the LNA cables reaches about 300 RPM or so of its maximum speed, but it appears to have been chosen carefully since the noise noticeably decreases.

Keep in mind that you’ll still hear it over a quiet system, but it isn’t annoying and still has a good balance between noise and performance. What we consider as an optimum setup is by having both LNA cables in place, while both fans are mounted while utilizing a PWM curve.

In situations of both rest and stress, the Noctua NH-U12A can decrease system temperatures adequately compared to some other series that we’ve tested in the past. So with that, we can say that the NH-U12A performed well, so we’re giving it a thumbs up for it.

Conclusion

The NH-U12A is the evidence of Noctua’s unparalleled reputation in the industry of cooling systems. It has an excellent construction high from every angle – the heatsink, the fans, mounting brackets, as well as its cables. With other superior features such as SecuFirm 2, the NH-U12A continues to impress enthusiasts and overclockers.

It’s easy to install, delivers excellent cooling performance, and operates without noise. If you’re looking for a cooling system for your computer, we highly recommend Noctua NH-U12A.

Where to Buy

If you want to purchase Noctua NH-U12A, check out the store locator on the company’s official website to see the authorized dealers that offer this product.

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