Noctua is a truly international cooling company, with design in Austria, manufacturing in Taiwan, and marketing throughout the world. Some markets may know the Noctua brand better than others, but where Noctua is well established its name is synonymous with quiet. That is a good reputation to have in a market with segments obsessed with silence.

As quiet as Noctua's solutions proved to be in our review of the NH-U12F, Noctua has knocked at the top performance door but has not yet managed to break through. Top air-cooling performance continues to belong to Thermalright, with Tuniq, Scythe, and a few others following close behind.

Noctua does have some significant resources in its "Designed in Austria" approach. Rascom Computerdistribution Ges.m.b.H. is based in Austria and handles the design and distribution of new Noctua products. Rascom is a principal in Österreichisches Institut für Wärmeübertragung und Ventilatorentechnik - ÖIWV (The Austrian Institute for Heat-Transmission and Fan Technology). This development partnership between Noctua and ÖIWV brings extensive scientific resources to Rascom that greatly enhances the product design process.

These resources come into play with the latest Noctua design, which is the subject of this review. Noctua is determined to produce the top air-cooler on the market, period. The company also believes it can do that without compromising the low noise for which its coolers are already famous. The result of these latest design efforts is the Noctua NF-P12 fan.

Noctua fans are already justifiably famous for low noise and long service, but the NF-P12 adds a number of innovations to move the design to new performance heights - and they say they have done it without compromising noise. These include a pressure-optimized Nine-Blade design, SC (Smooth Continuous) Drive to reduce torque variations, and a new SSO (Self-Stabilizing Oil-pressure) bearing for exceptional quietness and long-term stability.

Perhaps the most interesting innovation is the notches you see in the blades of the above fans. Noctua calls these Vortex Control Notches. These notches are "psychoacoustic optimizations", staggered to reduce noise levels from the fan.

All of these fan innovations have one real goal in mind: to run the NF-P12 fans faster without introducing more noise. In the end, such optimizations can skirt laws of physics but they can't really break the laws. For improved air-cooling, you need to remove heat efficiently with a great heatsink design, but that heat must be dissipated with sufficient airflow to be effective.  Higher airflow means higher noise, but the large fan size and fan design innovations aim to provide the needed high air flow while still maintaining low noise.

Noctua believes their current top heatsink design, which we first saw on the NH-U12F, is as good as anything on the market. They have coupled that heatsink with the NF-P12 fan and they claim this combination will move them into serious competition at the top of our performance charts while still maintaining lowest noise. Does this work; has Noctua found a way to accomplish both highest performance and incredibly low noise? This review of the Noctua NH-U12P will find out if Noctua has accomplished the seemingly impossible.

The Noctua NH-U12P Cooler


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  • n7 - Friday, March 21, 2008 - link

    I can't believe no one here knows Thermaltake sells additional clips for fans for their coolers.

    You don't have to do any ghetto zip tie mods either.

    Simply purchase an extra set of clips, install two Noctuas, & you have what i run:">

    I am a huge Noctua fanboi too.
    I own over 15 of their fans, as they just exude quality with their lovely sleeved cables, nice design & color, & low RPM adaptors, nevermind the packaging.

    But as much as i like Noctua, they don't make the best CPU heatsinks. Not yet anyway.

    So i use a TRUE + their fans.
  • Syzygies - Friday, March 21, 2008 - link

    It's Thermalright, not Thermaltake. What isn't clear is that buying additional clips also buys you additional gel strips. That's the only part one can actually use, as the Thermalright clip holes are sized for one fan clip, not two. Been there. Zip ties are wonderful, they're my universal modeling clay. Reply
  • Sargon - Monday, March 24, 2008 - link

    Yes, buying the additional clips will get you additional gel strips. You do not use the same holes but the ones next two it. In other words you just place the second clips over one cooling fin.

    The reason I actually posted is that I just replaced a Scythe Ultra Kaze (3000rpm) with two of these Noctura fans om my Thermalright 120 Extreme (push/pull). Not only is the setup very quite it works very well due to the air pressure these fans produce.
  • n7 - Friday, March 21, 2008 - link

    Sorry, i'm asleep :(

    I have a TT case...but run a TRUE.

    FWIW, i'd rate the Noctua cooler + fan as a better overall package.

    But for those wanting the best, a TRUE + a couple P12 fans is a bit better...though you might have the lap the TRUE (poor TR QC IMO vs. excellence from Noctua in that regard).

    And yes, i know the holes are technically designed for just one set of clips, but i didn't find it impossible to clip in a second set by any means.
  • KainAT - Friday, March 21, 2008 - link

    I think many users know that they sold that separately.
    But if you dont buy the clips when you buy your heatsink or any other hardware you may need to pay extra for the shipping and just for a par of clips.

    Thermalright could give 1 USD on price for the cooler including 2 pairs if they want, but this is the important part of the noctua service as I see.

    Also, gheto is not really difficult.
    On the other hand, Thermalright has 2 holes for thwe clips and the other ones even they can be used for clips are not really meant for it as you can see.

    Anyway. Im not defending Noctua or anything here. Im big Thermalright user so I have no problems there.

    Finally, for the reviewer: When you said about the Noctua inluding the fan which is another cost, you may also want to say that thay also include the NT-H1 Thermalpaste and also has a value for the user.

  • Ytterbium - Friday, March 21, 2008 - link

    Could you test the Thermalright IFX-14, this looks like an interesting design Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, March 21, 2008 - link

    The early versions of the IFX-14 were not competitive with the other top coolers from Thermalright. Thermalright has promised us a revised version for months now but we have yet to receive it.

    In our converstaions with Thermalright we have been clear that we can't recommend the IFX-14 unless it actaully outperforms the U120 eXtreme since the IFX-14 costs a good deal more. Perhaps your question will light a fire.

  • KainAT - Friday, March 21, 2008 - link

    Im in this with you.
    For the ones who really want to know the performance, I already did the tests,. and yes, the TRUE wins by 2-3 degrees depending on wattage created when OCing. The more heat you create, the more difference (which ios ionly 1 degree or 2 aprox).

    What you can do to have 2 fans on TRUE is simple. One clip for one side and one clip to another.

    I have some photos for you here:">">

    I think the analisys on this working on TRUE is not the most properly because the article is from Noctua, not thermalright.
    Anyway, the analysys later would be very good :)
  • varneraa - Friday, March 21, 2008 - link

    Given how close the 120-Extreme is in performance to the stock noctua unit, I wonder how a 120-Extreme with push-pull fans would do? Reply
  • poohbear - Friday, March 21, 2008 - link

    i know, i hate it when reviewers just omit these questions that they KNOW everybody will be asking. c'mon anandtech, why give us a review of a TRUE without a push/pull config and test the other heatsink with it? Reply

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