Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
We are always pleased when it comes time for Noctua to release samples, and we get the email asking if we want to test it. Mainly, this is because out of all of the CPU coolers making products, it is hard to beat the build quality, efficiency, and even the looks of what they produce. Some may prefer coated or painted fins, and it seems all the rage to flog Noctua for their fan colors; call us old-school if you must, but we dig exposed aluminum and the way a Noctua fan colors set their coolers aside from all the rest.
With one glance, there is no need to ask who makes the cooler, and you are only left to guess the model and cost associated with it. Honestly, we give Noctua praise for sticking to their guns amidst all the hate, and for those who want change, they have the Redux, Industrial, and Chromax lines to get a fan from if it is that big of a deal.
Rather than develop something entirely new to the market, we find Noctua is revisiting a cooler we last saw in 2012. It was them when we first got our hands-on the NH-L12. The idea then is much the same as it is now, to offer cooling options for those restricted to small cases with little headroom for tower CPU coolers. Some changes have been made with the latest version though. Rather than a pair of fans, this time we are sent only one.
TDP for all of the processor sockets has remained the same, however. The cooler is slightly smaller this time around, and this is due to the fan change mostly, as the new cooler stands just 70mm tall, where the NH-L12 was 93mm tall. That being said, we are lead to believe that we should see similar performance to the original, while being more compact, as well as updating the mounting hardware.
We have you here now to discuss the newest of the Noctua CPU coolers, the NH-L12S. As we mentioned, changes are afoot in the design, which should improve things for the user along the way. There are options to put the fan above or below the fins, and we saw this as NH-L coolers lie over on their side, running parallel to the motherboard.
For those of you using an HTPC chassis, a Mini-ITX chassis, or anyone not planning to overclock their processors in any other chassis will find the NH-L12S to be right up your alley. If low noise, much thought into the design, and buying a solid cooler that will last you years with free hardware as sockets change, Noctua and their NH-L12S may be what you are searching for.
Looking at the compatibility of the NH-L12S, it does not appear that any current and many older sockets are not included, and as long as your processor falls within the TDP chart found on site, you should be good to go. The height of the cooler may vary, as the fan comes shipped with the fins, gives the overall height of 70mm. However, the fan can also go above the fins, but doing so will increase the height to 85mm.
The 146mm depth is down from 150mm in the previous model, but the 128mm width has stayed the same. Without the fan the NH-L12S weighs just 390 grams, and even if the fan is added, it only weighs 520 grams at that point. The base is made of copper, and so are the four 6mm diameter heat pipes, but both have been nickel plated. The pipes are soldered into the base but are also soldered to each of the fifty-eight thick aluminum fins.
Rather than using the NF-F12 PWM fan and the NF-FB9 PWM fans the NH-L12 offered, this time we find the tower cooled with a single NF-A12x15 PWM fan. This 120mm fan is only 15mm thick, but boasts some impressive specifications. The fan will top out at 1850 RPM while pushing 94.2 cubic meters of air an hour. There is no mention of static pressure in the chart, but looking up the fan we saw it is listed at 1.53 mmH2O. With a 23.9 dBA rating, this fan is built upon an SSO2 bearing, and is built to last 150,000 hours.
With a premium product, we do expect the price to have a premium added to it as well. However, the NH-L12S is not that far up the scale when it comes to competitive pricing. Newegg has a listing for the cooler, but at this time, shows them to be out of stock. We then looked to Amazon to see what they have going on, and it is there we found the NH-L12S listed at just $49.90.
Compared to the typical 120mm tower cooler, this is a great price for one of those. While many of the compact coolers can be had for less of an investment, many of them cannot complete our testing without failure. What if we told you that not only can you have a compact cooler that is a top-tier product, but it can also do the job it is intended to do, and that keeps the CPU cool, even if you want to push your luck a wee bit.
PRICING: You can find the product discussed for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link below to see real-time pricing for the best deal: