As much as I sit here and try to find fault with the NH-L12, I really can't come up with anything. All I could remember were all the good things the cooler offers. While it is designed for 95W TDP processors, my testing shows, while on the warm side, it was capable of handling my 2600K overclocked pretty well.
What was the best part is that this cooler that can be as short as 66mm tall and still leaves room for the memory. I did have issues with the pipes hitting the PWM coolers, but testing with the board laying flat on the test bench, I have the liberty of positioning the pipes in any direction. Even with the pipes on the bottom of the cooler, I was left with ample room to get the video card in and out easily.
I have to agree with Noctua that out of the box and allowing the PWM on the fans to have the control, the NH-L12 is better suited to HTPC installations or any lower powered rig that deserves a small, effective and silent cooling solution. What I liked most about the Nh-L12 is that if you are willing to up the fan voltage and can handle a bit of heat, you seen it took all my 2600K had to give and left me some room to not have to worry about a thermal shut down.
For a cooler so small, the NH-L12 just seems to be able to not only convert and shape shift to accommodate smaller spaces, but it also allows me to have a small cooler that can take my overclock. Noctua even thinks about the guys using Mini-ITX motherboards where limited space on the top of boards lead the manufacturer to place components on the back of the socket. Noctua has you covered as well with a set of studs just for that purpose.
Silence and performance are what we expect from anything Noctua and they prove that you don't need a humongous cooler in the build to get either of them. With a trend from most manufacturers showing that bigger is usually more quiet and usually performs better, the NH-L12 outdid the Enermax solution and the Enermax solution is a much larger cooler and isn't as easy to install as this is.
So, it all comes down to the pricing and for what you get in the NH-L12. I think the $75 price point is a touch high, but still worth it in the end. I can take this cooler off the test bench and slam it into some of the tiniest HTPC solutions, it doesn't interfere with the memory and even when abused well beyond its specified limits, it takes it well. Even if you don't need a cooler that can get under a 66mm height clearance issue, the NH-L12 has its place in almost any build, so it is well worth considering this for its silence and its ability to handle almost any CPU cooling situation.
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