Noctua NH-U12A CPU Cooler Review

Closer Look / Product Photos

The package of the NH-U12A cooler is in a typical for Noctua products design. A mix of white and brownish colors with a well-described exterior and everything we may need for installation inside the box.

The NH-U12A uses 120mm fans, and the total height of the cooler is 158mm. This means that the cooler can be installed in most popular PC cases which have enough space for a 160mm cooler. It can also be installed in some cases where specification limits maximum height to 155mm as there is sometimes additional 3-5mm space, but it’s better to confirm that before purchase. For sure the NH-U12A is smaller than most dual-tower coolers and for sure is not as tall as coolers with 140mm fans.

I already mentioned that the NH-U12A looks similar to most other single-tower coolers, but when we take a closer look, then we can see all the differences. The cooler has a quite large heat exchange surface. It’s about the maximum that will fit and won’t cause any issues with tall memory modules. There are also seven thick heat pipes which are soldered to the heatsink fins and are covering the entire base of the cooler. The base is made of nickel-plated copper. It’s about the best option available on the market.

The NH-U12A is designed to work with all modern desktop processors except AMD Threadripper which is using a larger socket and has its own dedicated cooler series. All Noctua coolers designed for the Threadripper were reviewed on Funky Kit in the past, and all received our awards.

Noctua NH-U12A is compatible with all modern Intel and AMD processors up to 200W+ TDP but have to be sure that the airflow in the PC case is good enough. I can already tell you that the i9-9900K in a small case with limited airflow will throttle even on a cooler like the NH-U12A. There is one more thing. It’s easier to cool down processors with a larger die. Don’t be surprised if higher TDP processors from Skylake-X series will be easier to keep stable or overclock than something like the i7-9700K or i9-9900K. Maximum CPU power which is under the throttling point on the i9-9900K will be about 220W even though the cooler can handle more. Keep that in mind planning your PC and picking the hardware.

For sure there are no issues with compatibility because of the size of the NH-U12A. We can install any memory we wish, and the back fan fits perfectly between air shroud and the heatsink. We’ve tested that on ASUS Maximus and ASRock Phantom Gaming motherboards. You can see some photos taken on the second motherboard.

Below you can see how well looks the base of the cooler. It maybe doesn’t have a mirror finish, even though it seems like that, but it’s close and thermal grease spreads well.

Noctua NH-U12A comes with the NT-H1. It’s an excellent thermal grease. However, if we wish to use something a bit better, then Noctua recently released the NT-H2 which spreads a bit better what gives a chance on a bit better CPU temperature. We will cover the NT-H2 in a separated article. Above you can see the package of a 10g tube.


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About Bartosz Waluk 284 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.