Noctua NH-D12L Low-Height, Dual-Tower Cooler Review

Today we will be taking a look at the latest Noctua cooler – the NH-D12L. At the first glance, this cooler doesn’t look any thing special. However when we check the specifications, then it’s clear that not many other coolers can share its versatility. The key feature seems to be its low-height of only 145mm, which makes this cooler fit in nearly all ATX cases, even those compact models designed for AIO liquid coolers.

The NH-D12L is unique also because of other features, but I won’t share everything in the introduction. The cooler will be tested with the i5-12600K CPU which is one of the most popular options for gamers in the last months and perfectly balances high performance with acceptable heat.

Let’s begin with the specifications and features of the new Noctua cooler.

 

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The NH-D12L is a low-height 120mm class CPU cooler that has been conceived to combine outstanding quiet cooling performance with superior case compatibility. At a height of only 145mm (13mm lower than Noctua’s regular 120mm models), it fits many 4U enclosures as well as narrower tower cases that have been previously limited to solutions with 92mm fans. At the same time, its five heatpipe dual-tower design and state-of-the-art NF-A12x25r 120mm fan allow it to achieve a level of efficiency that surpasses many full-height 120mm models. Thanks to its single-fan configuration and asymmetrical fin stacks, the NH-D12L provides 100% RAM compatibility on AMD AM4/AM5 and LGA1700/1200 by staying clear of the memory slots. Topped off with the renowned SecuFirm2™ mounting system, Noctua’s award-winning NT-H1 thermal compound and a 6-year manufacturer’s warranty, the NH-D12L is the perfect choice for applications that require serious cooling performance but cannot fit the larger NH-U12A.

 

 

 
145mm height for broader case compatibility

145mm height for broader case compatibility

While Noctua’s regular 120mm CPU coolers stand 158mm tall, the NH-D12L measures only 145mm. This allows it to fit not only a wide range of 4U rackmount server cases and many tower-style enclosures that are not wide enough for 158mm units, but also some larger Small Form Factor (SFF) and Mini-ITX chassis.
 
More performance at lower height

More performance at lower height

Despite its reduced height, the NH-D12L easily outperforms 92mm coolers. It can even surpass renowned 120mm units such as the NH-U12S and often comes close to Noctua’s award-winning 120mm flagship model NH-U12A.
 
Round-frame NF-A12x25r PWM fan

Round-frame NF-A12x25r PWM fan

Introduced in 2018, Noctua’s NF-A12x25 is widely considered to be the best 120mm fan on the market. The round-frame variant used on the NH-D12L provides the same renowned quiet cooling performance yet makes it possible to reduce overall cooler height without risking compatibility issues with tall motherboard heatsinks or shrouds.
 
100% RAM compatibility on LGA1700/1200 and AM4/AM5

100% RAM compatibility on LGA1700/1200 and AM4/AM5

Due to its asymmetric design, the NH-D12L does not overhang the RAM slots on Intel LGA1700 (LGA17xx family)/LGA1200/LGA115x and AMD AM4/AM5 based motherboards, which ensures easy access to the modules and 100% compatibility with DIMMs that feature tall heat-spreaders or RGB lighting. On LGA2066, the rear fin stack will overhang the RAM slots on the left-hand side of the socket, so RAM modules must not exceed 45mm height.
 
PWM support and Low-Noise Adaptors

PWM support and Low-Noise Adaptors

The NF-A12x25r 120mm fan supplied with the NH-D12L supports PWM for convenient automatic speed control through the motherboard: full performance under load, virtually silent at idle! In addition, the maximum fan speed can be reduced from 2000 to 1700rpm using the supplied Low-Noise Adaptor for even quieter operation.
 
Dual-fan options

Dual-fan options

The NH-D12L ships with a second pair of fan clips that can be used to install a second NF-A12x25r PWM fan either on the front or on the rear fin stack. However, it must be noted that the second fan will usually sit on top of either the RAM or I/O panel and thereby increase the total height beyond 145mm.
 
SecuFirm2™ multi-socket mounting system

SecuFirm2™ multi-socket mounting system

Noctua’s SecuFirm2™ mounting systems have become synonymous with quality, safety and easy installation. Supporting Intel LGA1700 (LGA17xx family), LGA1200, LGA115x (LGA1150, LGA1151, LGA1155, LGA1156) and LGA20xx (LGA2066, LGA2011-0, LGA2011-3), as well as AMD AM4 and AM5, the SecuFirm2™ mounting included with the NH-D12L is straightforward to install, provides perfect contact pressure and will stand the test of time even under heavy use.
 
Compatibility with past and future sockets

Compatibility with past and future sockets

Thanks to Noctua’s SecuFirm™ ecosystem, the NH-D12L can be made compatible with the older LGA1366 and LGA775 sockets using the optional NM-I3 mounting kit, which is provided free of charge. If technically possible, Noctua will also provide upgrade kits for future sockets, which makes the NH-D12L a safe long-term investment.
 
NT-H1 thermal compound

NT-H1 thermal compound

Noctua’s much-acclaimed NT-H1 is a pro-grade TIM solution that provides minimum thermal resistance, excellent ease of use and outstanding reliability. Chosen again and again by overclockers and enthusiast users worldwide, it has established itself as a benchmark for premium-quality thermal compounds.
 
Soldered interface between heatpipes and fins

Soldered interface between heatpipes and fins

With many heatsinks, the fins are press-fitted to the heatpipes. Due to the different thermal expansion coefficients of copper and aluminium, this fit can loosen over years of thermal cycling, which may lead to reduced performance. By contrast, the NH-D12L’s fins are soldered to the heatpipes in order to guarantee a superior thermal interface that doesn’t deteriorate even after many years of usage.
 
6-year manufacturer’s warranty

6-year manufacturer’s warranty

Noctua products are renowned for their impeccable quality and outstanding longevity. True to this legacy, the NH-D12L heatsink is built to last, and like all Noctua fans, the supplied NF-A12x25r features an MTTF rating of more than 150,000 hours. The entire package comes with a full 6-year manufacturer’s warranty.

 

 

You can buy the Noctua NH-D12L cooler from Amazon US, for around $89.90 – https://amzn.to/3l4maB0

About Bartosz Waluk 480 Articles
Bartosz Waluk aka Woomack is from Poland. He's been interested in computer hardware and extreme overclocking for over 15 years. Bartosz has also over 12 years experience in IT what includes sales, technical support and computer building ... but not only. He joined the Funky Kit team in January 2013.