Noctua NH-U12F: Quiet Air Cooling from Austriaby Wesley Fink on April 25, 2007 4:00 AM EST
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Cooling at Stock SpeedSome users will never overclock their CPU, but they still want to run the coolest CPU temperatures possible to enhance stability and extend CPU life. The Noctua NH-U12F comes complete as a kit with a low noise Noctua fan, so stock speed tests were run with the stock Noctua fan. Cooling results are also reported with two Noctua fans in a push-pull configuration and with a SilenX high-output fan.
Where the very good Intel stock cooler keeps the X6800 at 41C at idle, the Noctua manages 30C. The SilenX high-output fan achieves the same results at stock idle, which was a bit of a surprise considering the rated difference in fan output. The best Noctua results were with a push-pull fan configuration at 29C. The Thermalright coolers at the top of our heatpipe tower performance charts cool to 26C. The Noctua is obviously not the best stock idle cooler we have tested, but it is broadly competitive within this group.
It is more difficult to effectively simulate a computer being stressed by all of the conditions it might be exposed to in different operating environments. For most home users CPU power is most taxed with contemporary gaming. Therefore our stress test simulates running a demanding contemporary game. The Far Cry River demo is looped for 30 minutes and the CPU temperature is captured at 4 second intervals with the NVIDIA monitor "logging" option. The highest temperature during the load test is then reported. Momentary spikes are ignored, as we report a sustained high-level temp that you would expect to find in this recording configuration.
Cooling efficiency of the Noctua NH-U12F was compared under load conditions at stock speed to the retail HSF and other recently tested CPU coolers.
The NH-U12F under load at stock speeds reached a maximum temperature of 40C in both stock and SilenX configurations. Best performance was with a push-pull fan configuration at 39C. This compares to the Thermalrights at 32C and 33C, the Tuniq at 34C and the Cooler Master Hyper 6+ and Zalman 9700 at 36C. Stock load performance is average among tested coolers.