In late 2005 I heard about Noctua and their first two heatsinks, the NH-U9 and NH-U12. Both of these products have been discontinued but I still use them today. Two NH-U12s sit on a pair of AMD FX-74 processors and the NH-U9 bounces around my test bed area when I need a CPU cooler for mild overclocking without using a loud fan. Both heatsinks looked as they did when I first opened them from the package, even though the NH-U12s were involved in a shipping accident that destroyed an $8,000 USD system I put together for Corsair to show at the 2006 CES show.
When the shipping container was dropped it hit with so much force that the PSU was ripped away from the case with the screws still attached. This led to a new XFX 7900GTX 512 being shattered like glass and the dual Opteron motherboard being split into three pieces. The entire system was destroyed except for the two Noctua coolers and the $3000 USD CPUs they protected under them.
If you've never seen a Noctua heatsink, the first thing you will notice is the quality of the material used. Many heatsinks are now designed after the NH-U12 with a copper base attached to heatpipes that lead to aluminum fins, but when comparing them side-by-side it is clear that the Noctua fins are stronger, thicker and very difficult to bend. I have never taken the time to purchase a micrometer but the Noctua fins appear to be twice as thick as most, and in some cases up to four times the thickness.
Today we will be looking at the Noctua NH-U12P, a revised version of the original NH-U12. The 12P has several improvements over its older sibling, some lead to better performance and some to making the installation easier and more diverse.