iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Noctua NH-U12P CPU Cooler

A very interesting premium-class product.

May 21, 2008

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Test results

First of all, let's see how the NH-U12P performs in the quietest mode (conditionally noiseless domain) in comparison with several competitors of the same class.

Chart 1. Temperature readings (CPU core temperature, conditionally noiseless domain)

Chart 2. Thermal resistance (conditionally noiseless domain)

As we can see, at the speed of 700 rpm (noise reference mark - 23 dBA) this cooler demonstrates an apparent advantage in thermal results and outperforms all serious competitors, including Scythe Ninja Plus Rev. B, which is designed for weak-pressure airflows. But the assembly with the stock Scythe Minebea fan is less coordinated - to provide equal noise characteristics, it should drop fan speed to 500 rpm, leading to the inevitably lower airflow. Another interesting observation - at the speed of 600 rpm, noise generated by the NH-U12P comes close to the reference low value of 20 dBA. That is, the cooler becomes truly noiseless in this mode, not just conventionally noiseless (subjectively, you cannot distinguish it from the passive fanless configuration).

Now let's have a look at the situation in the low-noise domain, where we selected not only High-End products, but also several Mid-End products - Cooler Master Hyper TX2, GlacialTech Igloo 5750 PWM, and Scythe Mine Rev. B.

Chart 3. Temperature readings (CPU core temperature, low-noise domain)

Chart 4. Thermal resistance (low-noise domain)

Well, the situation repeats - the NH-U12P is still a leader. Only Zerotherm Nirvana NV120 (optimized for weak airflows) and Scythe Mugen (with the stock Minebea fan) can boast of similar results. The "NH-U12P + Minebea fan" assembly also performs well, closing down the thermal gap to the equally-noisy stock configuration.

Now let's have a look at the results demonstrated in the ergonomic domain (noise reference mark - 31 dBA).

Chart 5. Temperature readings (CPU core temperature, ergonomic domain)

Chart 6. Thermal resistance (ergonomic domain)

Absolutely all contenders provide comfortable thermal conditions for the testbed CPU (its operating temperature does not cross the red line of 80°C). However, the NH-U12P is still at advantage - this cooler again demonstrates its maximum efficiency, both in its stock configuration (1300 rpm NF-P12 fan) and with the Scythe Minebea fan (1200 rpm).

In conclusion of this section we publish comparative charts of temperature readings and thermal resistance for nominal/reference configurations of today's contenders (maximum fan speed), a chart with temperature readings of near-socket inductive elements (low-noise domain), as well as efficiency-noise ratings (low-noise and ergonomic domains).

Chart 7. Temperature readings (CPU core temperature, nominal/reference modes)

Chart 8. Thermal resistance (nominal/reference modes)

Chart 9. Temperature readings (temperature of near-socket components)

Chart 10. Efficiency/noise ratio

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