[Review] Noctua NH-L12

Introduction

Noctua is back in the house. It’s always good to have them here. We appreciate the work and effort that is put into these cooler designs and their build quality. Although some of the designs or color schemes might not speak to everyone, the performance is far from lackluster. Noctua is a respectable contender on both fronts. We will be looking at the Noctua NH-L12 today. The Noctua NH-L12 is a top-down low-profile CPU cooler geared towards the small spaces such as HTPC’s and other small form factor scenarios. With a total height of just under 100mm this cooler could even be used in a 3U server rack.

Noctua NH-L12 - Profile

We have seen many companies including Noctua implementing dual fan setups. Usually with one fan in “Push” while the second is in a “Pull” configuration. This configuration has not exactly proven to be a dramatic performance enhancement; however, it has shown better overall performance and stability as well as predictability under higher frequencies and load, besides a nice side effect of reducing noise. The Noctua NH-L12 implements a second fan but not in a traditional setting. The main fan is a 120mm in “Push” mode while the “Pull” fan is only 92mm. We will explore this setup a little bit more later in the review. The build quality is as usual on the upper end of the spectrum and the ease of use is not to far behind.

About Noctua:
Noctua comes from a cooperation of the Austrian Rascom Computerdistribution Ges.m.b.H. with the Taiwanese cooling specialist Kolink International Corporation, pooling more than ten years of experience in the development, manufacturing and marketing of high-end cooling components. Established in 2005, Noctua took the international silent enthusiasts’ hearts by storm and quickly developed into one of the most acclaimed suppliers of premium quality quiet cooling products. Today, Noctua is present in more than 30 countries across the globe and working with several hundred sales partners. Chosen by noise conscious PC users, system integrators and industry clients alike, Noctua has become synonymous with impeccable quality, excellent customer service and class leading quiet cooling performance.

What Noctua has to say about this cooler:
The NH-L12 is a low-profile quiet cooler designed for use in small form factor cases and HTPC environments. With its flexible NF-F12 (120mm) / NF-B9 (92mm) dual PWM fan setup, the NH-L12 can be configured either for full performance in dual fan mode or extra-low profile (66mm) with the top fan removed. Bundled with the award-winning NT-H1 thermal compound and Noctua’s SecuFirm2™ multi-socket mounting system, the NH-L12 packs everything a premium quality quiet cooler needs into a highly compact package.

Features:

  • 120/92mm dual fan design
  • Extra-low profile in 92mm single-fan mode
  • PWM support and Low-Noise Adaptors
  • SecuFirm2™ mounting system
  • Mini-ITX mounting without backplate
  • NT-H1 thermal compound
Supported Sockets:
Intel 775 / 1156 / 1155 / 1366 / 2011
AMD AM2 / AM2+ / AM3 / AM3+ / FM1

Next: Unboxing, Packaging and Accessories

The Verdict

7Good
The Good:   HTPC Ready, Dual Fan, Low noise, replaceable fans, Good quality
The Bad:    Only 4 heatpipes, Fans can be difficult to mount, not top level performance