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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  • Wesley Fink - Friday, March 21, 2008 - link

    We covered the Thermalright question head on in the Final Words. The Thermalright is not really set up for push-pull fans so you have to jury rig to get two fans on the cooler. We stated clearly the Thermalright would likely outperform the Noctua with the same fan, but if you wanted to conveniently mount two fans the Noctua was a better choice. Several readers have detailed instructions in the comments on how to mount two fans on the U120 eXtreme with Zip Ties.

    BTW we have tested every heatsink that was setup for multi-fans with both single and push-pull configurations, so your comment is not fair or accurate. The Thermalright is not really set up for two fans and you end up ripping open the fan wire holders if you try to force two fans. That is why people resort to jury-rigging and Zip ties. We hope Thermalright will address this in the near future as the Thermalright could othwerwise easily mount push-pull fans.
    Reply
  • poohbear - Saturday, March 22, 2008 - link

    oh ok, i dont recall reading that part of the article, my bad. yea if Thermalright isnt setup for a push/pull config from the factory, it wouldnt make sense to start making customizations just to accomodate it. cheers though. Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Friday, March 21, 2008 - link

    At first I was little taken back by the airflow numbers of the fan, but then I noticed they where reporting in Cubic Meters Per Hour instead of the normal Cubic Feet Per Minute. Do you have CFM numbers so this fan can be compared to other fans on the market?

    Air Flow 92.3/78.5/63.4 cubic meters/hour (1300 stock/1100 LNA/900 ULNA)
    Reply
  • poohbear - Friday, March 21, 2008 - link

    its 54cfm @ 1300rpm.

    1 foot = 0.3048 metres; therefore
    1 cubic foot = 0.3048*0.3048*0.3048 cubic metres = 0.028316846 cubic metres
    and
    1 hour = 60 minutes

    therefore 1 m3/h = 0.5885778 cfm

    hence 92 m3/h * 0.5885778 = 54.1491576 cfm

    cheers.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, March 21, 2008 - link

    Some simple math should suffice....

    1 cubic meter = 35.31467 cubic feet
    60 minutes per hour

    That gives 54.326/46.203/37.316 CFM, assuming they didn't just put in the wrong abbreviation.
    Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Saturday, March 22, 2008 - link

    Those numbers make much more sense. Other ~1000RPM 120mm fans also push in the 36ish CFM range.

    I was hoping Anandtech would put the CFM numbers in the article, it could be misleading if readers don't notice that the rates are not listed in the standard measurement. Anyone who buys a whole bunch of these $21 fans because they think they're putting out 63.4CFM at 900RPM and 12dba is going to be upset.
    Reply
  • Baked - Friday, March 21, 2008 - link

    If you're not overclocking, Freezer 7 Pro should be the no brainer HSF of choice. Reply
  • Baked - Friday, March 21, 2008 - link

    Why bother wasting all that money on trivial performance gain. Just get the Freezer 7 Pro and be done with. Oh wait, I forgot about the epeen factor. Reply
  • poohbear - Saturday, March 22, 2008 - link

    freezer pro 7 won't give u a 50%-70% overclock. a 70% overclock is hardly trivial, this is'nt video card overclocking wherein people usually get a 10%-15%. Reply
  • Basilisk - Saturday, March 22, 2008 - link

    "freezer pro 7 won't give u a 50%-70% overclock"

    What am I missing here? As I read the charts in this article, the best listed cooler gave 34% OC on this CPU, while the AFP7 gave 31%. Maybe I'm missing the obvious; or are you reporting un-cited data?

    My instinct was the same as others: the AFP7's the better performance/$$ unit, although this new kid has a slight upper end edge.

    Not that I don't appreciate the fan improvements. My instinct is there are several further improvements to reduce flow turbulence [noise/efficiency], but we don't see much change in fans.
    Reply

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