Noctua NH-U12P CPU Cooler Review

Overclocking and tweaking are a way of life for most enthusiast users. We love squeezing every little bit out of our rigs, and pushing limits, to get the most we can out of our machines and our hobby. What are some of the bottlenecks of overclocking and tweaking? For one, hardware is of course the first major factor. Two having bios that will allow you to overclock etc. Once you have the checklist of all the enthusiast-grade components you can begin. The number one OC killer as I am sure any enthusiast can tell you is temperature. When you start increasing voltages you start getting your CPU nice and toasty. This is simply unacceptable if you want a stable clock speed, this is where after market coolers like the Noctua NH-U12P CPU Cooler come into play. Let’s see what kind of benefits a cooler like the Noctua NH-U12P has over your run of the mill stock cooler:

Product provided by: Noctua

Closer Look:

The packaging, as with all Noctua products, is very well designed. I love the addition of a window in the packaging it lets you see what you are getting without ripping the packaging apart. As with the Noctua thermal paste there is the pretty Redhead on the packaging which is also a nice addition to the packaging. Everyone likes pretty Redheads on there computer parts packaging. The one thing I don’t understand is what the dude on the computer is doing. But I digress; the packaging includes all of the pertinent information one would need in order to make an informed purchase.

The cooler it self is a very well designed piece of hardware. The heatsink fins are very rigid and durable. The overall height is towering, but still just the right amount or girth to height ratio needed in order to fit easily into more cases while still maintaining the best possible cooling solution. Although I love the look of copper, the chrome on the Noctua NH-U12P CPU Cooler looks incredible. I personally love the design of the coolers similar to this one such as the True and Core Contact Freezer.

A key component to a solid thermal connection between your CPU and your cooler is how well machined the cooler and CPU are. Most of the time lapping a CPU is not needed but nine times out of ten you will need to do some lapping on CPU coolers. The engineers at Noctua are doing something right. The Noctua NH-U12P CPU Cooler is very well lapped right out of the box. If  you are the anal type I am sure you can lap the Noctua NH-U12P CPU Cooler even more, but straight from the box it is good to go.

The addition of 8 heat pipes to the design of the cooler is a testament to its ability to keep your CPU nice and chili. The purpose of the heat pipes is to pull the head away from the CPU, and return cool temperatures to the CPU through the auxiliary heat pipes.

The raised design of the heat pipes insures that your cooler sits above some of the newer motherboards chipset heat pipes, other important capacitors, and the ram. The thickness of the cooler “foot” insures a measure of heat spreading on the CPU, insuring no “hot spots” which can be cause by cheaper coolers or poorly lapped coolers.

Let’s see whats included with the Noctua NH-U12P CPU Cooler

Closer Look:

Included with the Noctua NH-U12P CPU Cooler is everything you need to get started: 2 sets of fan mounts, thermal paste, screws, springs, rubberized anti vibration strips, and 2 converter cables for varying degrees of fan speed for added silence.

There are two mounting bracket styles included: those for AMD based CPU’s and those for Intel Based CPU’s (Intel Socket LGA 775, AMD AM2, AM2+). Also included are a screw driving tool and the instruction manual (DO NOT THROW AWAY!)



Of course the most important addition to any cooler is the fan, and the people at Noctua included one of their top NF-P12 fans in this package which is an incredible bonus. I sang the praise of this fan in our previous review and it is good to see it being used in this application because it is a fantastic fan.

Let’s check out the specs and feature on this unit:


Socket compatibility Intel Socket LGA 775, AMD AM2, AM2+ & AM3, AMD K8 (754, 939, 940) on request
Height (without fan) 158 mm
Width (without fan) 126 mm
Depth (without fan) 71 mm
Height (with fan) 158 mm
Width (with fan) 126 mm
Depth (with fan) 95 mm
Weight (without fan) 600 g
Weight (with fan) 770 g
Material Copper (base and heat-pipes), aluminium (cooling fins), soldered joints & nickel plating
Application Intel all frequencies, AMD all frequencies
Fan compatibility 120x120x25mm / 120x120x38mm (2 fans can be installed)
Scope of Delivery 
  • NF-P12 premium fan
  • Mounting-clips for 2 fans
  • Ultra-Low-Noise-Adaptor (U.L.N.A.)
  • NT-H1 high-grade thermal compound
  • SecuFirm™ mounting kits for LGA & AM2(+)
Warranty 6 Years

Fan specifications

Model Noctua NF-P12
Bearing SSO-Bearing
Blade geometry Nine Blade Design
Rotational Speed (+/- 10%) 1300 RPM
Rotational Speed with L.N.A. (+/- 10%) 1100 RPM
Rotational Speed with U.L.N.A. (+/- 10%) 900 RPM
Airflow 92,3 m³/h
Airflow with L.N.A. 78,5 m³/h
Airflow with U.L.N.A. 63,4 m³/h
Acoustical Noise 19,8 dB(A)
Acoustical Noise with L.N.A. 16,9 dB(A)
Acoustical Noise with U.L.N.A. 12,6 dB(A)
Input Power 1,08 W
Voltage Range 12 V
MTBF > 150.000


The NH-U12P continues the legacy of Noctua’s classic NH-U coolers, which won over 150 awards and recommendations from leading international websites and magazines. While retaining the successful design and the well-proven SecuFirm™ mounting system, the newest revision has been reworked for enhanced main board compatibility and now comes with Noctua’s NT-H1 pro-grade thermal compound. Fitted with the new NF-P12 premium fan, the NH-U12P brings its predecessors’ much-acclaimed quiet cooling performance to a whole new level!

NBD4 dual heat pipes
4 dual heat pipes, soldered joints and widely-spaced aluminium cooling fins guarantee optimal heat dissipation even at low fan speeds.


NT-H1Award winning NH-U design
Noctua’s NH-U coolers allow for perfect airflow direction and have received more than 150 awards and recommendations from leading international websites and magazines.


NT-H1NF-P12 premium fan
The NF-P12 has been specifically developed for applications like CPU cooling and brings the performance of the NH-U12 to a whole new level. Thanks to psycho-acoustic optimizations and Noctua’s premium-grade SSO-bearing, the NF-P12 achieves exceptional quietness and long-term stability.


NT-H1Improved compatibility
Thanks to its raised fin-stack, the NH-U12P offers improved compatibility with main boards featuring very high chipset coolers.


NT-H1SecuFirm™ multi-socket mounting system
Noctua’s professional SecuFirm™ mounting system for LGA 775, AM2, AM2+ and AM3 provides superior reliability and contact pressure.


NT-H1Incl. Noctua NT-H1 high-end thermal compound
Noctua’s NT-H1 is a pro-grade TIM solution that provides minimum thermal resistance, excellent ease-of-use and long-term stability.

Let’s see how well this cooler really performs:

Testing Setup:

  • Processor: Intel Core2 Quad Q9450
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-X48-DQ6
  • Memory: OCZ 2 x 2GB
  • Video Card: Nvidea 260GTX
  • Power Supply: Coolmax USA 950w Modular Power Supply
  • Hard Drive: Seagate 750GB SATA
  • Optical Drive: LG DVD
  • OS: Windows Vista Ultimate
  • Thermaltake armor


For testing I will be putting the Noctua NH-U12P CPU Cooler up against the Sunbeam Tech Core Contact Freezer, and an Arctic Cooling Alpine 7 PWM. I will be measuring load and idle temps for both stock clocks and overclocking the CPU to 3.2. The ambient temperature will remain a constant 26 degrees to insure a controlled environment.

Stock Clocks:




Arctic Cooling Alpine 7



Sunbeam Tech CC



Noctua NH-U12P







Arctic Cooling Alpine 7



Sunbeam Tech CC



Noctua NH-U12P



Over all as you can see the Noctua NH-U12P CPU Cooler beat out the competition. Although the idle and temps were not that much of a jump while under stock settings, the Noctua NH-U12P CPU Cooler dominated in the overclocking section where it really counts. I was very impressed with the monster lead it took during the overclock tests, I believe this has a lot to do with the design of the fan, and its ability to get higher RPM’s when it really counts, but also the cooler itself is designed in like manner with quality and performance in mind.

Let’s see the verdict:


I have to admit I was very impressed with the design, quality, and performance of this cooler as a whole. Although some important things to remember if you are considering purchasing this cooler are: if you are the type to remove your cooler often it is not a very easy assembly I hate having to take out my motherboard to swap out coolers. On the positive side after the labor-intensive work of attaching all of the mounts is done taking the cooler on and off (as long as you aren’t removing the whole assembly altogether) is just a matter of two screws. I understand the need for beefy hardware because this cooler is noticeably heavier than the other two coolers reviewed and you want as much of the weight carried over a broader surface as possible. You would not want to break your motherboard due to poor mounting brackets.

Would I recommend this cooler? Yes I would, while it is a bit pricey in comparison to the core contact freezer, it is far superior for overclocking purposes. I would recommend if you own a Core Contact Freezer to try picking yourself up a Noctua NF-P12 fan to replace the Sunbeam Tech fan. The Noctua fan will greatly improve your performance. Over all the Noctua NH-U12P CPU Cooler is a fantastic cooling choice for any enthusiast.


  • Quality
  • Performance
  • Design
  • The NF-P12 Fan That is Included
  • Great Thermal Paste Included
  • Forward Compatible if you Pick up the Newer Mounting Brackets When you Order


  • Heavy 
  • Price Might Be a Little Steep For Some

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