Noctua NH-U12A Review 54

Noctua NH-U12A Review

(54 User Comments) »

Value and Conclusion

  • The Noctua NH-U12A has an MSRP of $99.90/€99.90.
  • Good performance
  • Perfect socket clearance
  • Good noise profile
  • Exceptionally easy to install
  • Good build quality
  • No RGB will appeal to some
  • Exceptional warranty
  • Expensive for a standard tower cooler
  • Brown and tan fans are not exactly pretty
  • Bare aluminium is a fingerprint magnet
  • Lack of RGB for the gamer crowd
Where to begin? From a performance and quality standpoint, Noctua manages to surprise yet again. While the NH-U12A fails to beat the NH-D15 or NH-D15S, it does put up some decent numbers, coming in just 1–2 °C behind its larger brothers. Taking that into account and considering this is a single-tower design using 120 mm fans with no issues in regards to memory or graphics card clearance, it makes quite the showing indeed. Even noise levels, which were higher than expected, are still quite good. At low loads and lower fan speeds, the new cooler is very quiet, essentially inaudible. The only time you will notice the NH-U12A is when the fans are maxed out. At that point, it will hit 45 dBA and becomes somewhat noticeable; however, I would still consider its noise output easy to ignore even then.

As is the usual with Noctua coolers, the NH-U12A is exceptionally easy to install with the SecuFirm2 mounting hardware remaining one of the best designs on the market. Not only does it work well and is compatible with current, past, and even future socket, but overall build quality is again amazing and covered by an exceptional 6-year warranty. My only grievance is with all the extras they include, such as low noise adapters. Some cotton gloves as the bare aluminium is an absolute fingerprint magnet would be nice—once you get oil from your fingers on the cooler, it is a pain to get it clean and pristine again.

The only other issue otherwise, or non-issue depending on which camp you belong to, is the Noctua NH-U12A's lack of RGB LEDs. Rather than give in to market pressure, Noctua has stayed true to their roots with the fans coming in that lovely brown and tan you know and love or likely hate. Still, this is a minor issue in the grand scheme of things, especially compared to the price tag. Costing more than the NH-D15 and D15S while being a bit louder and offering slightly less performance means Noctua has better and quieter performers available for less. The main benefit of the NH-U12A is better memory and graphics card clearances because of its smaller size.

Overall, the NH-U12A is an exceptional cooler that has an impressively high price tag to match. Even so, looking at build quality, performance, noise levels, and warranty, I have no issue recommending the cooler. It just won't be winning any value awards.
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