The last time this manufacturer delivered a CPU cooler to me, it left me remembering two things. First and foremost was the very limited noise that emanates from these coolers, even at maximum RPM. The second thing that comes to mind is the weight and feel of these coolers. It has an industrial well built feel about it. If you haven't guessed by these two factors, I'm referring to my last test of the Noctua CPU coolers. Noctua's main goals are to efficiently remove heat from a processor and doing this with the lowest noise level possible. The last review left me feeling overwhelmingly, that Noctua had done just that.
The last review I did for Noctua was of the NH-U9B which is sort of the little brother to the NH-U12P that Chris reviewed for us earlier on. This time Noctua sends the newest variation, the NH-U12P SE1366 CPU cooler. The SE or "Special Edition" refers to this model being Core i7 specific. The NH-U12P tested very well amongst our other coolers, so I expect no less from Noctua with this SE version.
The whole idea here is that Noctua has taken an already proven cooler and "spiced it up" a bit to handle the demand of the new Core i7 processors. Noctua has designed and engineered their new mounting system and named it the SecuFirm2. This is a Corei7 specific mount which means that this cooler is only applicable to said processors and motherboards. Time again to get some images and strap the NH-U12P SE1366 CPU cooler to the T.E.C.C. and see if Noctua, has once again, provided end-users with another way to silently handle our processors.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The specifications of the NH-U12P SE1366 might seem familiar from the NH-U12P, as they are the same exact cooler. With the SE, Noctua adds a second NF-P12 premium, nine bladed fan to the included hardware, as well as the SecuFirm2 Core i7 mounting kit. While this cooler at maximum weight, with both fans attached, is at 790g, it's not quite the heaviest cooler, but still weighty. This cooler is designed to take the heat from the CPU with a copper heat-sink that delivers the heat to four, copper heat-pipes, which are both nickel-plated. This "Special Edition" comes with the premium accessory kit as well. This kit includes a tube of NH-H1 thermal compound, the SecuFirm2, the two fans I addressed above and power adapters for the fans to reduce noise levels and fan speeds even further.
I just went to look, and Google shopping shows the NH-U12P SE available from around twenty or so e-tailers at the moment. Of course, Newegg is one of those. Every link I hit took me to in stock listings, which means getting one is easy right now. With that in mind, after the review if you feel inclined to purchase the NH-U12P SE to cool your Core i7, you shouldn't have any issues making this acquisition.
As a buyer, you have to realize that with a premium accessory and mounting hardware, that the NH-U12P SE1366 would likely be outrageously priced like some of the other coolers on the market. However, this doesn't seem to be the case in this instance. Taking a look at Newegg, I found the NH-U12P SE selling for $76.99 US dollars, plus shipping. This is a fair and comparable asking price, basing my thought on the original NH-U12P, with an asking price of $60 US dollars. The additional "goodies" more than make up for the cost. There are cheaper coolers on the market, but are they all even in performance? - I think it's about time we find out.
Noctua ships the NH-U12P SE1366 cooler in the usual packaging that we have become accustomed to seeing from them. The front brandishes many places that this is a Special Edition and is Core i7 specific. The top right of the package displays a checklist of all that comes in this premium kit, not including the accessories package.
Turning the NH-U12P SE to the right, again, displays this is a LGA 1366 CPU cooler. Eight reviewers comments surround an image of the cooler and how to assemble the included SecuFirm2 hardware.
Spinning the box around to the back, we find a brief statement from Noctua about the NH-U12P SE1366. There are also five features of this kit that they display above the fan information. The NF-P12 fans that are included use this technology, including the Vortex-Control Notches, to keep performance up and sound levels down.
The last side of the Noctua package has the same brief statement from the back repeated in six various languages. At the bottom of this side Noctua proudly displays their various awards from all the different tech sites.
Noctua, again using all the available space, displays all the specifications the end-user could need on the top of the package. The opposing side is another drawing of the NH-U12P. The middle contains three bubbles that give a close-up look at the Vortex-Control Notches, the thickness of the fan blades and the "ribbed" texture of the thick aluminum fins.
Removing the outer packaging reveals two smaller containers, one of which contains the NH-U12P and one NF-P12 fan, while the second contains all the hardware I will discuss a bit later.
I wanted to remove the cooler from the package so you get a good look at how it's sent. The fan snugly sits in place during shipping and left no damage to the fins of the cooler. Noctua also takes the extra step with using a plastic molded "cup" to surround the base of their coolers, versus the usual plastic sticker most manufacturers use.
The Noctua NH-U12P SE1366
As you can plainly see, this is in fact a NH-U12P, as promoted; there aren't any modifications done to the amount of fins or the tried and true design of their coolers. This is a four heat-pipe cooler and both the pipes and the base are nickel plated copper, the fins remain, Noctua logo stamped, aluminium.
From the side you can see the staggered placement of the heat-pipes within the fins. This allows for each pipe to get more airflow directly on each heat-pipe. The side bends of the fins are there for support, but also aid in keeping the air directed to the rear, instead of letting it get wasted out the sides.
The top of the NH-U12P is made to accept both fans that Noctua has included with the SE packaging. The fins edge design is to increase airflow across them. Both the top and bottom outer tips on the fins are designed to snuggly hold a 120mm fan at the proper spacing to the fins edge, again to maximize airflow.
Here we have the top of the business end of the Noctua. They have taken a copper base and soldered the four heat-pipes and the top mounting plate for better heat transfer. They are in fact all copper, but have been plated in nickel for both keeping the oxidation off and for aesthetics as well. Lastly, the plastic "cup" the base is set in is stable enough to support the cooler while you are working to keep any minor mishaps from damaging it.
Here we have the business end of the NH-U12P SE1366. The camera actually picks up the milling marks more than the visible eye; this design isn't as prominent when just looking at the base. Checked against a razor, I find the base is flat as can be in every direction.
Accessories and Documentation
Opening up the box that Noctua ships inside next to the NH-U12P SE reveals a second fan and a bag of "goodies", along with a screwdriver to boot. Inside the "goodie" bag you will find more of what makes this a SE kit. Noctua includes most of the regular hardware, the screw driver, the four wire fan clips and the anti-vibration fan strips. The SE package goes a bit further. There is a metal case badge with the Noctua name and logo, some NH-H1 thermal compound and four fan speed and noise level reducers. These are what are referred to as the Ultra-Low Noise Adapters and Low Noise Adapters. They have included two of each, so if you choose to run both fans with these inline you have enough to keep things even.
Also packed inside the second box is the SecuFirm2 mounting kit and a fold-out style instruction pamphlet to use as a guide. The instruction sheet is small, but the simplicity of this mounting system doesn't need a whole lot of information to make it work.
Here is the SecuFirm2 out of the box. They have sent a LGA1366 back plate that is shielded with a layer of textured, black plastic. It's as easy as setting the board down over the back plate and start adding hardware to build it. With the plate in place you then drop the four, black spacers down on the bolts sticking up. After this you secure the curved brackets in the middle atop those spacers and secure with the thumb screws at the bottom left, stud side up. Then install the smaller brackets to the base of the cooler with the supplied screws. Add some NH-H1 and mate the NH-U12P SE and your Core i7 processor, this time using the spring surrounded screws to attach it to the studs on the base assembly.
It is a little easier to install the anti-vibration fan strips to the NH-U12P SE prior to getting the cooler mounted. When I released the fan that ships on the NH-U12P SE, it was tight and slightly tough to remove. I don't think they are going to be able to make any rattling, as secure as they are. Noctua just wants to make sure there is nothing getting in the way of some of the quietest computing possible.
Here we have a last look at the NH-U12P SE 1366 with one fan installed, ready for operation.
This time with two fans!
The final shot is what most of us will see of the NH-U12P SE1366 during its operation in through our case windows.
TweakTown uses a different method for testing CPU heatsinks which allows for an even playing field across all product tests. We feel that by using the same ambient temperature and strict lab-like testing procedures we are able to accurately compare one product to another. More information on our testing procedure can be found in the T.E.C.C. article here.
The numbers I found in the thermal testing aren't really surprising as it should test relatively close to the results Chris found with this cooler a while back, when he tested it. If you compare, we are within a degree of each other's results. This to me is very acceptable and still the performance is well above average.
As I said in my last review, even with a 92mm fan Noctua can really make the noise go away with their fans. The 120mm follows right in line. Again I found the noise level results to be spot on with what was found previously. This still has to be the quietest cooler, in a 120mm tower style, I have tested to date.
Noctua didn't disappoint me with the release of the NH-U12P SE1366 CPU cooler. They kept with older technology that has worked very well for them in the past and adapted it to perform on newer Core i7 processors. I have evolved in my own PC from outrageous fans at 100% on my X850XTPE stock cooler, to wanting as little noise as possible in my working environment. I don't personally have an i7 rig yet, but this cooler is sitting on my shelf awaiting a home when I do.
The Special Edition packaging is a nice add-on to just the ordinary cooler. Noctua again steps it up a notch from what users usually see in their package. I really liked the metal case badge and the sample of NH-H1, and of course the second fan. As I said before, the original NH-U12P for LGA775 and AMD is selling at this point for around $60 depending on where you get it. In my mind, with the i7 mounting hardware, the added fan, and the matching sets of fan adapters, the $76.99 asking price isn't out of line. Even if I hadn't received this cooler from Noctua, based on what the 92mm cooler did, my short-list of coolers would definitely include the Noctua NH-U12P SE1366 as an out of pocket expense.
I tried to sit here and pick the NH-U12P SE1366 CPU cooler apart, but there isn't anything I can find to even try to bring up. From the time I took it out of the box, on through the assembly and into testing, the NH-U12P SE has been a pleasure to test. The SecuFirm2 mounting is spot on and really easy to assemble and the images in the instructions will answer any question you may come up with. I did see a bit of a discrepancy of the testing from our previous results; again, though, these could be contributed to different TIM application, or maybe Chris got the fans that ran +10% and mine ran -10%, I don't really know. They are, however, where I like my processor to be at an overclocked state and are almost inaudible while doing so.
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