Noctua NH-U12S CPU Cooler Review
Features and Cooler Design
Courtesy of Noctua
- Award-winning NH-U12 series
- 100% RAM compatibility
- Classic 120mm tower size for excellent overall compatibility
- NF-F12 120mm Focused Flow™ fan
- PWM support and Low-Noise Adaptor
- Anti-vibration pads and fan-clips for second NF-F12 (optional)
- SecuFirm2™ mounting system
- Compatibility with past and future sockets
- NT-H1 thermal compound
- 6 years warranty
The Noctua NH-U12S CPU air cooler is a large cooler with a single radiator tower, featuring a 120mm fan, nickel-plated copper heat-pipes and CPU base plate, and an aluminum-finned radiator. The heat pipes are copper-based, optimizing heat absorption from the CPU base plate and transfer to the radiator. The aluminum radiator optimizes the transfer of the heat from the copper heat pipes to the air medium. Noctua added a thin coat nickel-plating to the heat-pipes and the copper base plate for corrosion and scratch resistance, as well as for aesthetics purposes, giving the copper a click chromed appearance.
The tower radiator designed into the NH-U12S has a fin density of 12 fpi (fins per inch) with a width of approximately double that of a standard 25mm case fan. The fin density gives the cooler the ability to work well with slower speed fans while the radiator thickness adds surface area to better disperse heat from the aluminum fins as it is transfered from the copper heat pipes. Further, the aluminum fins are individually soldered to the heat pipes to ensure an optimal heat transfer interface between the two metals. The unit's base has an integrated hold down plate with two spring-loaded screw-in nuts, giving the base plate a good amount of focused force to ensure a solid mount with the CPU surface.
From the side view, you are better able to see the size of the unit. The unit comes with a single 120mm fan, held to the radiator by wire-based holders, but can support dual fan mode in a push-pull configuration. The unit's five heat pipes are oriented in a U-shape, terminating in the radiator's top plate, and passing through the unit's copper base plate.
The radiator's rectangular shape gives it the ability to maximize its internal surface area while minimizing its depth footprint for motherboard compatibility. The top plate is stamped with the Noctua corporate logo and name, acting at the termination point for the five embedded heat pipes. The heat pipes are soldered in place and capped to ensure heat pipe integrity, keeping the contents under pressure and promoting the phase change required for the heat pipe transfer medium to be effective. Integrated into the sides of the radiator are dual hook configurations to hold the fans in place. The wire fan holds have two set of straight sections that lock into the hooked sections of the radiator to firmly secure fans to the front and/or rear sides of the radiator.
The unit's base plate is a nickel-plated, seamless copper plate. The nickel-plating helps to prevent corrosion and surface scratches on the CPU mounting surface of the base plate, minimizing surface imperfections that can lead to less than optimal heat transfer from the CPU. The base plate sandwiches the copper heat pipes with an upper plate with the hold down assembly is fixed to the upper plate as well. The heat pipes run through the center portion of the base plate to ensure optimal heat transfer. The base plate is machined flat and polished to a mirror finish, ensuring a near perfect mating surface for the CPU.
When mounted to a Z87-based board, the cooler clears the board's VRM heat sink on all sides. There is more than sufficient clearance for the cooler to mount without the side heat pipes contacting the heat sinks. There are are no fit issues to the front and rear of the cooler - you should even be able to use all four DIMM sockets without issue.
The closeup shots give you a really good perspective on just how precisely Noctua designed the NH-U12S to the socket specifications. They don't exceed the specs in any way, but come close to the right and left of the socket, especially with those larger VRM heat sinks on the MSI Z87 MPOWER board. The really nice feature is the ability to use front and rear fans on the unit without space contention issues.