Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
It seems since forever ago when we last saw a strong entry to the high-end CPU air cooler segment from Noctua, but today we are together to have a look at just that. Part of the fifth generation of the line, this latest cooler packs quite a bit of punch into a smaller package than many others need to accomplish similar results.
What we mean to say is that Noctua has increased the surface area of their fin stack, opted for more heat pipes, which enables this cooler to deliver the performance of a 140mm fan-cooled design, without all of the compatibility and clearance issues such coolers tend to have.
Immediately, when reading what the product page delivers, we think back to the D-14 and D-15 coolers, which at their time of release, were the flagship, must-have, cooler designs of the day. On top of that, when it came to air coolers, there was nothing on the planet that could keep up with them outside of liquid cooling options.
It has been a long time since we had such high hopes for a cooler design, where we are feeling that the company is taking all of the right steps to try to smash into the lead with CPU air cooling supremacy. Of course, we do not have to tell you that Noctua coolers are a tad expensive compared to many of the current offerings, but not once have we been let down previously to this, and we expect the same sort of satisfaction this time around as well.
As we take a look at and test the latest cooler to come from Noctua, we will see just how strong of a competitor the NH-U12A is, and whether or not the investment is justified. With stiff competition to the supremacy of air coolers already in place from the likes of Scythe with their budget-friendly designs as well as a multitude of AIOs at the top of the chart, the NH-U12A has a tough climb to the top. Stick with us as we get into the fine details and see if the newest of the Noctua family is the cooler you need to have on your CPU.
Moving into the specifications that Noctua offers on its product page, we see that the NH-U12A fits all sorts of sockets. On the Intel side, it fits LGA115X and LGA2011/2066, but with an additional kit of hardware, it can be made to fit other models as well. As for AMD, the FM sockets are covered as well as all of the AM sockets. Height of the tower is 158mm, its width is 125mm, and the depth of the cooler is only 55mm, but increases to 112mm with both fans attached.
The tower alone weighs in at 760 grams, but again, with fans and clips, the weight jumps to 1220 grams. What comprises this cooler are copper, used for the base and the seven heat pipes, aluminum for the fin array, with solder used for all of the joints, and nickel plating applied to the pipes and the base. As for the TDP, Noctua does not give a hard number, but rather a chart of all current CPUs with icons next to them showing compatibility and potential for overclocks.
Cooling this single-tower design is a pair of NF-A12x25 PWM fans, which are 120mm in size, and used in push/pull on the tower. These fans spin on an SSO2 bearing at speeds as high as 2000 RPM, with the minimum speed being 450 RPM. Airflow is rated at 102.1 cubic meters per hour, which translates to roughly 60 CFM per fan, and we also see the maximum noise level is said to be 22.6 dB(A). The last couple of things worth mentioning from the chart are the notation of the 150,000 hours of fan life, as well as the six-year warranty offered along with the NH-U12A.
As we type this review, we had a look to see if we can locate the NH-U12A in the wild. Even though locations are still a bit limited at this time, we were able to find it at Newegg. It is there that we see the $99.99 price point, which at first glance is a tad expensive. However, if you have ever held a Noctua cooler, you can instantly feel the robustness and professional-grade quality that is rarely there in any other CPU cooler design on the market.
You will have to pay up for the excellence that is Noctua, but we will have to wait for the thermal and audio results before we can assess value overall. At the same time, we do feel what you are about to see is well worthy of your time, as we see what Noctua can do in the more compact 120mm fan cooled product. It competes with much more expensive solutions already at the top of our charts, and the few similar designed coolers that we have raved about for a while now.