Today, we will take a look at one of the latest CPU coolers from Noctua – the NH-U12A chromax.black. It’s basically a refreshed version of probably my favorite CPU cooler – the original NH-U12A. The new version is all black, and you can also get additional accessories that make it look even better. The whole set will be presented in this review, while we will focus on the performance with the latest Intel i9 12900K processor. Noctua, as one of the first brands, provided LGA1700 mounting kit with its coolers, which is included in the NH-U12A box.
Noctua never disappoints, so the only question is how well will the NH-U12A chromax.black perform with the latest processors.
Let’s begin with the specifications and features of the new Noctua cooler.
The NH-U12A chromax.black is an all-black version of Noctua’s award-winning NH-U12A premium-quality quiet CPU cooler. Thanks to the same proven asymmetrical single-tower heatsink design and state-of-the-art NF-A12x25 PWM fans, it stays true to the NH-U12A’s successful formula of fusing best-in-class cooling performance with superb quietness of operation and outstanding RAM, case and PCIe compatibility. At the same time, the chromax.black version with its black fans and black coated heatsink combines these assets with a sleek stealth look. Topped off with the renowned SecuFirm2™ multi-socket mounting system, Noctua’s enthusiast-grade NT-H1 thermal compound and a full 6-year manufacturer’s warranty, the NH-U12A chromax.black is a deluxe choice for customers who seek a highly compatible 120mm heatsink that can rival the performance of 140mm units and looks just as great as it cools.
Award-winning NH-U12A cooler
The NH-U12A has proven in countless tests that it can match or even outperform many 140mm sized coolers while offering 120mm class case and PCIe compatibility. This winning combination of top-tier performance and excellent compatibility has earned the NH-U12A awards and recommendations from more than 100 hardware website and magazines across the world.
The NH-U12A chromax.black is black from head to toe: featuring a black coated heatsink, a black fan with black anti-vibration pads, black fan clips and black mounting parts, it’s right at home in all-black builds and easy to integrate with other colour schemes.
Using the optional NA-HC7 and NA-HC8 heatsink covers as well as the NA-SAVP1 anti-vibration pads (available in black, blue, green, red, yellow, white), the NH-U12A chromax.black can be fully customised to fit popular build colour schemes such as black and red or black and white.
140mm performance in 120mm size
Thanks to its completely revised, thoroughly optimised 7 heatpipe layout, 37% more fin surface area (as compared to the NH-U12S) and a dual fan push/pull configuration that uses the new, state-of-the-art NF-A12x25 fans, the NH-U12A pushes the performance envelope in the 120mm class and can actually match or even outperform many 140mm sized coolers.
100% RAM compatibility on LGA1700, LGA1200 and AM4
Due to its asymmetric design, the NH-U12A does not overhang the RAM slots on Intel LGA17xx, LGA1200 and AMD AM4 based motherboards, which ensures easy access to the modules and 100% compatibility with tall heat-spreaders. On LGA2066, the rear fan will overhang the RAM slots on the left-hand side of the socket, so RAM modules should not exceed 42mm in height.*
Classic 120mm tower size for excellent case and PCIe compatibility
Standing 158mm tall, the NH-U12A is short enough to fit most modern mid- or high-end tower cases. Measuring 125mm wide (including fan and fan clips), the cooler stays clear of the top PCIe slot on most standard ATX or Micro-ATX motherboards, ensuring optimum compatibility with multi-GPU setups.
Dual NF-A12 120mm fans
The NF-A12x25 is a highly optimised next-generation 120mm fan that integrates Noctua’s latest innovations in aerodynamic engineering in order to achieve an unprecedented level of quiet cooling performance. Using this elite-class fan in a push/pull dual fan configuration is one of the cornerstones of the NH-U12A’s commanding performance and acoustic efficiency.
PWM support and Low-Noise Adaptors
The NF-A12 120mm fans supplied with the NH-U12A support PWM for convenient automatic speed control through the motherboard: full performance under load, virtually silent at idle! In addition, maximum fan speed can be reduced from 2000 to 1700rpm using the supplied Low-Noise Adaptors for even quieter operation.
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, AM3(+), AM2(+), FM2(+) and FM1, the SecuFirm2™ mounting included with the NH-U12A 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
Thanks to Noctua’s SecuFirm™ ecosystem, the NH-U12A 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-U12A a safe long-term investment.
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
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-U12A’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
Noctua products are renowned for their impeccable quality and outstanding longevity. True to this legacy, the NH-U12A heatsink is built to last, and like all Noctua fans, the supplied NF-A12x25 units feature an MTTF rating of more than 150,000 hours. The entire package comes with a full 6-year manufacturer’s warranty.
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.