In the past when a new Noctua CPU cooler arrived on my doorstep, it was pretty much a given that I would have a new performance leader for air-cooled CPU heatsinks. Times are starting to change and I am beginning to have my doubts after the arrival of the Sunbeamtech Core-Contact Freezer and ZEROtherm ZEN FZ120. It is difficult to imagine anyone making a cooler than can rival the performance numbers achieved by these two products.
Given the history I have with Noctua products, I still have confidence in the products and if anyone is going to dethrone the CCF and ZEN FZ120, Noctua will be the one to do it. The first two coolers I looked at from Noctua; the NH-U9 and NH-12U took CPU heatsink construction to a new level never before achieved in production; enthusiast class coolers. Later revisions like the NH-U12P that we reviewed last December built upon previous successes and increased construction quality by making the aluminum fins thicker. This led to cooling performance improvements and an even better cooler.
Noctua's latest offering; the NH-C12P is a totally redesigned cooler, unlike anything the company has manufactured previously. When looking back at the history of the enthusiast CPU cooler, at first glance it would appear that Noctua is actually going back in time with the NH-C12P. This cooler, unlike many of the latest enthusiast coolers, returns to the traditional down draft fan design where the fan is mounted on top of the heatsink and blows directly to the motherboard. In a conversation with a Noctua representative, I was told that the NH-C12P was created for use with motherboards that require additional cooling on their large VRM coolers to achieve stability in high overclock situations.