Chad's CPU Cooler Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Maximus VIII HERO (Intel Z170) - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- CPU: Intel Core i7 6700K - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Memory: Patriot Viper 4 3000MHz 4X4GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Graphics Card: MSI GeForce GTX 1060 6GB OC - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Storage: Corsair Neutron XTi 480GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Case: INWIN D-Frame - Read our review
- Power Supply: Thermaltake Toughpower DPS 1050W - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64-bit - Buy from Amazon
- Software: RealTemp 3.70, AIDA64 Engineer 5.75.3900, and CPU-z 1.77.0 x64
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.
Using the default CPU speed, we went forth with the testing and found the NH-U12A delivered a 56-degree result, which seems good until you look a bit closer. As far as single 120mm fan cooled towers, both the very old NiC C5 and the new-ish Windale 6 can do better. Third place in its class isn't bad at any rate, but it is seventh place overall in air cooling results.
Adding more heat to the situation with the overclock applied, we see that the NH-U12A comes in with a 71.75-degree result, again, in seventh overall with air coolers. Sadly, everything that can best it, outside of the NH-D15 is also more affordable.
With two and a half degrees left in the tank with the supplied fans running at full speed Noctua's NH-U12A jumps into fourth place for any of the air coolers listed. While most of the competition here is comprised of more expensive AIO solutions, all of the better performing air coolers are either a much bigger overall design or uses 140mm fans to gain the advantage.
Noise Level Results
With the pair of 120mm fans spinning at 950RPM during the standard stock run of the testing, we found them to deliver just 24 dB into the room. Inside of a chassis they will never be heard at this point, and while not the best results we have ever seen, they are still right there in the mix at the top of the chart.
Testing with an overclock applied adds more heat, and in turn, the PWM signaling increases to spin the fans faster. At this time, still under PWM control, we saw the fans top out at 1400RPM and sending 28 dB into the room. Again, if inside of a closed chassis, this is not able to be heard, and even in the open air, you have to be within six inches of the cooler to listen to the light hum.
Giving the fans a chance to run free with 12V going to them all of the time, we saw readings of 2050RPM. At this time, the noise increases into the audible level, even if inside of a chassis, but just barely, with the 35 dB, we heard from them in testing.