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Noctua NH-L12S CPU Cooler Review

By Chad Sebring from Feb 17, 2018 @ 20:00 CST
TweakTown Rating: 97%Manufacturer: Noctua

Chad's CPU Cooler Test System Specifications




To see our testing methodology and to find out what goes into making our charts, please refer to our CPU Cooler Testing and Methodology article (October 2016) for more information.



Thermal Results




Well within the TDP limits, the stock testing of the CPU results in temperatures that are 61.5-degrees, averaged across all cores. At first glance, it does not seem to favor Noctua, but look at how close to an AIO it is, and consider the size of a few coolers it is better than.




We did not have high hopes for the overclocked testing of the CPU, as we know we were going beyond the TDP. However, even with the fan still in PWM mode for power, we stopped just short of eighty degrees. Considering the facts and recommendations from Noctua about the TDP, we feel the results are pretty darn good for a cooler such as this.




Noctua has set the PWM curve to favor less noise, but we feel they use a happy medium. The reason we say this is that with a 500 RPM bump in speed, and the noise that comes with it, we feel the two-degree advantage is not worth the effort, and Noctua does not leave much on the table.



Noise Level Results




The fan will idle at 645 RPM, and is only 23 dB at that time. During testing at stock settings, the fan needed to increase to 1000 RPM to deliver the results we saw, and showing at 25 dB on the meter. Not bad for a 15mm thick fan, most other similar fans are much louder at this point.




Using larger or thicker fans makes it much easier to keep noise levels low for many other Noctua Coolers, but the 32 dB we heard when the PWM circuit had the fan at 1289 RPM. The results are very acceptable; it is just a bit more than we have gotten in the past from Noctua Coolers.




If for some reason, you need those extra two degrees of cooling power, or just want to run the fan at full speed, you will get two things to happen. The fan spins up to 1739 RPM, and it delivers 40 dB of noise. The only reason we are making a stink about noise, even though results are quite competitive, is that Noctua to us means silence along with all the other factors we expect to see.

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