Noctua NH-L12 Low Profile CPU Cooler

Posted by on Friday, June 1, 2012 - 3:36pm

Noctua NH-L12Noctua’s newest cooling product is the NH-L12 processor cooler. Unlike their D14 and many other coolers the L12 is not designed for the overclocking enthusiast but the media buffs and small form factor freaks. The group of people that have a higher chance of using a smaller than normal size PC case. And with this being the case you know we will not be see one of those famous tower designs we have been reviewing over the past few months.

Introduction to the Noctua NH-L12 Low Profile CPU Cooler

Noctua has being a solid force in the world of air cooling. Their fans are some of the best ever produced and they D14 dual tower CPU cooler is one of the best ever as well. And it seems that Noctua put quite a bit of pride into everything they bring to market. I don’t think anybody can say they have seen a ‘cheap’ product from Noctua.

Noctua’s newest cooling product is the NH-L12 processor cooler. Unlike their D14 and many other coolers the L12 is not designed for the overclocking enthusiast but the media buffs and small form factor freaks. The group of people that have a higher chance of using a smaller than normal size PC case. And with this being the case you know we will not be see one of those famous tower designs we have been reviewing over the past few months.

Noctua’s take on the NH-L12

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 need into a highly compact package.

“Caution: The NH-L12 is a low-profile quiet cooler designed for use in small form factor cases and HTPC environments. While it provides first rate performance in its class, it is not suitable for overclocking and should be used with care on CPUs with more than 95W TDP (Thermal Design Power). Please consult our TDP guidelines to find out whether the NH-L12 is recommended for your CPU.”


Specifications

Socket compatibility  

Intel LGA2011, LGA1366, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA775 & AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1 (backplate required)

 
 
 

Height (without fan)

 

66 mm

 
 
 

Width (without fan)

 

128 mm

 
 
 

Depth (without fan)

 

150 mm

 
 
 

Height (with fan)

 

93 mm

 
 
 

Width (with fan)

 

128 mm

 
 
 

Depth (with fan)

 

150 mm

 
 
 

Weight (without fan)

 

415 g

 
 
 

Weight (with fan)

 

680 g

 
 
 

Material

 

Copper (base and heat-pipes), aluminium (cooling fins), soldered joints & nickel plating

 
 
 

Fan compatibility

 

120x120x25mm & 92x92x25mm

 
 
 

Scope of Delivery

 

  1x NF-F12 PWM premium fan
  1x NF-B9 PWM premium fan
  2x Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)
  Y-Split Cable
  NT-H1 high-grade thermal compound
  SecuFirm2™ Mounting Kit
  Mini-ITX Mounting-Kit
  Noctua Metal Case-Badge

 
 
 

Warranty

 

6 Years

 
 
 

Fan specifications

   
 
 
 

Model

 

Noctua NF-F12 PWM & Noctua NF-B9 PWM

 
 
 

Bearing

 

SSO-Bearing

 
 
 

Max. Rotational Speed (+/- 10%)

 

1500 / 1600 RPM

 
 
 

Max. Rotational Speed with L.N.A. (+/- 10%)

 

1200 / 1300 RPM

 
 
 

Min. Rotational Speed (PWM)

 

300 / 300 RPM

 
 
 

Max. Airflow

 

93,4 / 64,3 m³/h

 
 
 

Max. Airflow with L.N.A.

 

74,3 / 52,6 m³/h

 
 
 

Max. Acoustical Noise

 

22,4 / 17,6 dB(A)

 
 
 

Max. Acoustical Noise with L.N.A.

 

18,6 / 13,1 dB(A)

 
 
 

Input Power

 

0,6 / 0,96 W

 
 
 

Voltage Range

 

12 V

 
 
 

MTBF

 

> 150.000 h

Features

120/92mm dual fan design
Thanks to its exquisite dual fan setup consisting of Noctua’s highly optimised NF-F12 (120mm) and NF-B9 (92mm) premium fans, the NH-L12 pushes the bar in terms of low-profile quiet cooling performance.

Extra-low profile in 92mm single-fan mode
The NH-L12 can be used with the NF-B9 92mm fan only in order to reduce the overall height to 66mm. This way, the cooler is suitable for many typical µATX or Mini-ITX enclosures and ideal for whisper-quiet HTPC systems.

PWM support and Low-Noise Adaptors
The NH-L12’s NF-F12 and NF-B9 fans support PWM for convenient automatic speed control. In addition, the maximum fan speed can be reduced to 1200/1300rpm using the supplied Low-Noise Adaptors for even quieter operation.

SecuFirm2™ mounting system
Noctua’s enthusiast grade SecuFirm2™ multi-socket mounting provides broad socket compatibility (LGA 2011, LGA1366, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA775, AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1) and meets the highest demands in safety, performance and ease-of-use.

Mini-ITX mounting without backplate
Some Intel based Mini-ITX mainboards don’t allow for the installation of backplates. The NH-L12 thus comes with an extra set of Intel mounting bolts which make it possible to install the cooler without using the SecuFirm2™ backplate.

NT-H1 thermal compound
Noctua's much-acclaimed NT-H1 is a well proven pro-grade TIM solution that provides minimum thermal resistance, excellent ease-of-use and outstanding reliability.


Closer look

There are two dominant types of CPU coolers currently available and they are the tower and the C-type. Both of which offers great cooling but comes in two different areas. The tower design has been the better type when it comes to direct processor cooling and the C-type has been the better cooling for other components surrounding the processor. Noctua has excelled in both.

But the L12 takes the form of the latter and then is shrunken down into a small package. Noctua decided that not only is CPU cooling is important in small form factor builds but because of lack of air circulating in a lot of these builds other components should be given an adequate chance at being cooled as well.

The C-type coolers takes the fan or fans depending on the models and blows down over the heat fins of the cooler, over the base of the cooler and then over the surrounding components in the adjacent areas. This design has not seen any coolers dominate the top ten when it comes to pure CPU cooling but its benefits outweigh that for many.

The nice thing about the L12 is its overall height with everything attached. The cooler is just 3.6” tall which is ideal for the smaller cases on the market. And because of the way the cooler is designed which the fins are sitting high up on the cooler interference should be no problem with taller memory modules.

The top half of the cooler is where the aluminum fins sit that will aid in the total dissipation of the heat being adsorbed by the base of the cooler. The spacing of the fins is just dense enough to take advantage of the lower fan speed of the F12 top mounted fan.

And speaking of the F12 fan check out our review here for more details. The F12 is definitely the better chance here because of its impressive amount of static pressure.

The L12 also has a second fan which measures 92mm; it’s the NF-B9. It spins between 300 and 1600 RPM at a maximum of 38 CFM at 17.6 dBA. Throw in the MNA adapter that the rotation drops between 300 and 1300 RPM at 13 CFM.

The C-type of coolers get their names from the shape of the heat pipes that attach the base to the upper half of the cooler. They are shaped like a squared off ‘C’. The same holds true for the L12 cooler. There are a total of four 6mm pipes. The pipes are copper plated with nickel.

The base of the cooler is comprised of copper and also plated with nickel. This nickel plating is very common with coolers as it does maintain a nicer color contrast and doesn’t affect the performance of the cooler. The make life easier the cooler is equipped with the SecuFrim2 mounting system. This first makes the cooler compatible with all current socket motherboards as well as makes it easier to mount.


Mounting Images


Testing Methodology

For our testing we will be using the following procedures and parameters to acquire the necessary data:

  1. Thermal compound used is Arctic Silver 5
  2. Idle temperatures are recorded after the system has been allowed to idle for thirty minutes from the point Windows has finished loading.
  3. Load temperatures are recorded by running OCCT for twenty minutes on all available threads.
  4. Real Temp is used for the recording of all temperature sensor reading.
  5. PWM function is disabled via BIOS to allow the fans to run at full speed.
  6. CPU model and overclock speed used for testing are outlined below in "Test Hardware".
  7. Each cooler is first tested with one fan supplied from the manufacturer.
  8. Each cooler is then tested again with a second fan attached if provided by the manufacturer.

Test Hardware:

1. ASUS X79 Deluxe Motherboard
2. Intel Core i7 3930K Processor
3. Kingston HyperX 1866 DDR3 16GB
4. Kingston V+ 200 120GB Solid State Drive
5. ASUS BC12B1LT BD-Rom Drive
6. Thermaltake Frio Extreme CPU Cooler
7. Microcool Banchetto 101 Open Air Test Bench
8. Silverstone Strider Gold Evolution 850W Power Supply
9. ASUS Nvidia GTX 560Ti 448 Graphic Card

Results

 


Conclusion

The NH-L12 is the perfect cooler for those what are working within tight boundaries. Or even for those that want a quiet cooling solution. With each cooler that Noctua brings to market they have a genre of users they aim that cooler at. It isn’t about producing as many models of coolers as they can and bombard the market with several coolers with the same performance just with a twist to the design. The people that fall within the types just mentioned will love the fact they have someone looking at for them.

The first thing Noctua state on their site is this cooler is not aimed at overclocking. And this is why we did not test it as such. It’s like testing a Ford Fiesta in the ¼ mile and saying it suck. When it was not built for that purpose. If you need such a cooler look at the bigger better D14.

The last of the better benefits of the L12 is that it is virtually quiet. We did not hear an ounce of noise from it and this was with the PWM shut off on our test motherboard. You basically have to put your ear right up on the cooler to hear anything. And then with the LNA adapter that made matters even better.

The Noctua NH-L12 goes for about $60 online. That is not cheap as it falls in line with some other great coolers. Coolers what probably won’t fit in the case in which the cooler is aimed.

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