While a stock cooler is supplied with most retail CPUs, enthusiasts often want something better; be it a more powerful cooler, a quieter cooler, a liquid cooler, etc. As a result the market for third-party coolers remains strong, providing variety against the backdrop of more limited stock coolers. And with that, there's no shortage of designs, with coolers for pretty much ever need, want, budget, and size limitation.

In today's review we are taking a look at the NH-U12A, a tower CPU air cooler made by Noctua. Noctua is a company renowned for its advanced products that usually – and deservedly – carry a premium price tag. The NH-U12A is the latest version of their family of 120 mm-based single-tower CPU coolers, which are designed to offer a balance between performance, cost, complexity, and compatibility.

Overall, the NH-U12A is designed to fit top-tier cooling performance into a more compact 120 mm cooler, as opposed to larger and more traditional 140 mm coolers. In this respect, it's especially useful for users building compact and transportable gaming systems.

Diving right in, we received the NH-U12A in an exceptionally sturdy cardboard box. Noctua is using the same simple artwork on the packaging of all their products, focusing on elegance and the provision of information rather than an eye-catching design.

 

Inside the box, we found the cooler very well protected, placed below layers upon layers of thick cardboard packaging. The supplied mounting hardware and extra items can be found in a smaller, compartmentalized cardboard box.

Aside from the typical mounting hardware necessary to mount the NH-U12A onto a CPU socket, Noctua also supplies a basic screwdriver, a fan power splitter cable, two fan “low noise” adapters that limit the speed of the cooling fans, a tube of NT-H1 thermal grease, and a metallic case badge.

The Noctua NH-U12A CPU Cooler
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  • mobutu - Friday, July 12, 2019 - link

    Way way way too expensive so totally out of the realm of even considering this product.

    For Ryzen is even totally unnecessary unless your into heavy overclocking. You can get mild overclocking with the free included wraith cooler.

    Spending that 100 usdollars into a better cpu/gpu is a no brainer.
    Reply
  • sonny73n - Friday, July 12, 2019 - link

    +1

    Only idiots overclock the CPU and spend more money for the cooler.
    Reply
  • azrael- - Friday, July 12, 2019 - link

    There's some very important info missing from the review: the weight!

    The first thing I look at with a cooler is its weight, considering how most of them hang off the motherboard. There's a reason AMD and Intel have cooler weight recommendations.

    And yes, I know I can simply look up the cooler on Noctua's web site, but that doesn't change the fact that this information should be part of the review.
    Reply
  • jabber - Friday, July 12, 2019 - link

    People always go on about the Coolermaster 212 but it has the suckiest mounting system in HSF history. I detest the things. My heart sinks if a customer brings in a system with one of those. Reply
  • DanNeely - Friday, July 12, 2019 - link

    "Overall, the NH-U12A is designed to fit top-tier cooling performance into a more compact 120 mm cooler, as opposed to larger and more traditional 140 mm coolers."

    This seems like a bit of an odd turn of phrase. AFAIK dual 120mm fan tower coolers have been around almost as long as single 120mm models; which has been a lot longer than 140mm models of any sort started to show up.
    Reply
  • vailr - Friday, July 12, 2019 - link

    For half the price, the Scythe Mugen 5B (~$45 on Amazon) seems to offer equivalent CPU cooling. Reply
  • D@ Br@b($)! - Saturday, July 13, 2019 - link

    +1 and it's more quiet too. Reply
  • djayjp - Friday, July 12, 2019 - link

    Yeah sure 250W load at 7v and only like 55C lol. Bs Reply
  • Soulkeeper - Friday, July 12, 2019 - link

    What was the RPM on the fans ?
    Did they manage to spin at their rated 2000rpm during the testing ?
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Friday, July 12, 2019 - link

    https://images.anandtech.com/graphs/graph14621/111...

    We reached 1920 RPM, which is well within the manufacturer's margin of error for the fans.
    Reply

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