If you are looking for something amazing cooling performance and superior chassis compatibility? Then you can consider Noctua NH-D12L as a thermal solution for your computer system, it will cover you the way you want. The L alphabet in its names refers to this CPU cooler, short for low height. Due to its low profile fan it suits for many 4U enclosures and other similar chassises.
- Noctua NH-D12L Review
Noctua NH-D12L Review
Do you really think Noctua needs any introduction? This company is top of the world and famous for providing best performing and quietest cooling solutions on the market. Noctua just released a new CPU cooler in the midst of the cooler series of NH-U12. On the lovers of compact size gaming enthusiasts they released a shorter version 120 mm of CPU cooler.
They can install this CPU cooler even within some cases of mini ITX form factor. You have NH-D12L as a CPU cooler for your rig on your table with the promise to deliver quiet cooling performance of your choice. With a reputation of amazing performance, exceptional quality, at ultra-low noise levels, Noctua remains a famous manufacturer due to their production of PC-cooling products. Let’s dive in, to know more about this amazing cooler!
Aesthetics & Design
If you have interest in PC DIY then you must know that the products of Noctua are very less controversial. Brown/beige hues can be the choice of both who love colors and also those who want simplicity. Regardless of the hues, the users want quality and durability which is simply too amazing.
Every company has its own house of color schemes and trademarks. Like Gigabyte uses Blue and ASUS ROG prefers Red, we should also appreciate Noctua’s dilemma. Comes with a heatsink which is nickel-plated aluminum. There is a beige-brown NF-A12x25r fan that is placed between the 2 towers.
Furthermore, the CPU cooler is utilitarian in design and lacks visual nuances. And the heat pipes are exposed and there are no coverings or other gimmicks. Consists of a beige-brown heatsink with a fan. And the heatsink fins are straight and they do not bend just like the other lesser CPU coolers.
Noctua NH-D12L’s heat sink is large and high-quality and it has 38 tightly spaced fins which emit a lot of heat in a better way. And give the same performance even on a tiny area. This credit goes to the pressure-optimized fans.
There are 5 heat pipes that are nickel-plated copper neatly soldered throughout the stack while passing through a smooth contact plate. And the product dimensions are 4.45 x 4.92 x 5.71 inches and the weight is 1.96 Pounds. We recommend you to check its compatibility with your case before making the decision of its purchase.
So after a short review of the product you must want to know its specifications in detail. This is as good a product as the other manufactured by Nactua. Before making any decision you must know its specifications. Because only the base of its features you can determine whether it will suit your computer system or not.
So without further ado let’s check them out!
There are 2 kinds of sockets and their support is necessary because with the help of socket you will install your CPU cooler on your system. The Intel sockets are:
And AMD Supported Sockets Are:
- Dimensions: 145 x 125 x 113 mm
- Weight: 890 g (w/fan)
- Material: Aluminum (Fins)
- Copper (Heat pipes)
- Heat pipes: Ø6 mm – 5 pcs
- Dimensions: 120 x 120 x 25 mm
- Model: NF-A12x25r PWM
- Fan Noise: 22.6 dBA (maximum)
- Fan Airflow: 60 CFM (maximum)
- Fan Speed: 450–2000 RPM (PWM)
Some Salient Features Of The Fan
- Award-winning NF-A12x25 impeller
- Round frame design
- Highly optimized P/Q curve
- AAO frame
- Flow Acceleration Channels
- Integrated anti-vibration pads
- Metal-reinforced motor hub
- Ultra-tight tip clearance
- Stepped Inlet Design
- Sterrox liquid-crystal polymer compound
- Inner Surface Microstructures
- SSO2 bearing
- Custom-designed PWM IC with SCD
- Smooth Commutation Drive 2
- Metal bearing shell
- Next-generation performance
- Stops at 0% PWM
- Low-Noise adapter included
- Compatible with both future and past CPU sockets and with SecuFirm2 mounting system
- 100% RAM compatibility on some sockets like LGA1200, LGA1700 and for AMD sockets AM4 and AM5
- 5 heat pipe dual tower design
- Soldered interface between heatpipes and fins
More performance at lower height
Noctua NH-D12L is capable enough and even with its reduced height it can easily outperform other 92 mm CPU coolers. It can even surpass the 120 mm award winning flagship model NH-U12A. Additionally, you can get more performance, do not think it can not perform well because of its small size.
PWM support and Low-Noise Adaptors
This CPU cooler consists of a 120 mm NF-A12x25r fan and comes with PWM. So that is required to control speed automatically through the motherboard. It can perform well even under the heavy load and high temperature.
Best of all, it performs silently in idle situations. If you use a low noise adapter it can reduce fan speed from 2000 to 1700 RPM. when you use a low noise adapter with supply it will give more quieter operations.
The NH-D12L comes with the support of dual fans; you can use another Nh-A12x25r PWM fan for improved performance. You can install that fan on the rear or front of the fin stack. However, keep in mind that it will always come on the top of graphics RAM or I/O panel.
SecuFirm2 multi-socket mounting system
Noctua’s SecuFirm2 mounting is a system that is used for easy, safety and quality installation of CPU coolers on your system. With the compatible socket you can straightforwardly install it. Also it comes with an upgrade kit so it can also be used for future sockets. If you install your cooler properly it will work perfectly even under heavy load.
NT-H1 thermal compound
Noctua’s much-acclaimed NT-H1 is known as a pro-grade TIM solution which offers minimum thermal resistance, outstanding reliability and is easy to use. It is considered as a benchmark for premium quality thermal compounds. That is why enthusiast users choose it again and again.
After buying NH-D12L, the main step is its installation. You can do it by reading the user’s guide which will be provided to you in the box by the manufacturer. After its proper installation you will be good to go to manage the temperature of your system. The process of installation is easy to set up just like the other Noctua CPU coolers. Let’s check out the steps that you need to follow for its installation!
Accessories Included In The Box
- 1x NF-A12x25r PWM fan
- 4x Self-Tapping Screws
- 1x Installation Guide
- 1x NA-YC1 PWM cable splitter
- 4x Anti-Vibration mountings
- 1x Extension Cable
- 1x Low Noise Adapter Cable
- Ensure your processor is free of any prior thermal paste residue
- You can remove it with rubbing alcohol
- Take up the bracket
- Use lockers to secure the long screws with the bracket
- Install the bracket onto your motherboard after the lockers are locked
- Check the right spacers for your socket and set them in a proper position before arrange your mounting bars
- You must know the direction where you have to install NH-D12L
- Put the bars
- Attach them with the use of thumb screws that are provided by Noctua
- Ensure that connection is secure and stable
- Place your cooler on top carefully by applying a small amount of thermal paste
- Ensure that mounting base screws must be aligned with the spring loaded screws of heatsink
- Tighten the screws
- Set up single fan in between 2 towers
- Connect the fan to PWM header of fan on the motherboard
You are ready to go!
A lot of the users face clearance difficulty while using a larger air CPU cooler. Especially if they are using a large sized cooler in a compact PC case. RAM clearance is not a big issue if you use your cooler with a single fan. With the single fan set up your CPU cooler will not overhang any DIMM slots.
But yes with a 2 fan configuration it can be a difficult story. If you put a second fan on the top of a slimmer tower of your cooler than RAM clearance gets in trouble. That is why it is necessary to adjust the second fan according to the space. However the best thing is that this cooler has 100 percent PCIe compatibility.
Even if you use it with a large sized graphics card for example ASUS RTX, there will still be a lot of room in between the CPU cooler and graphics card.
Temperature Benchmark of NH-D12L
To fully determine the performance for this cooler we need to put in testing. So we can get the results whether it is right that Noctua claims or not. Let’s check out!
We selected Intel Core i9-12900K as our testing companion. And the other specifications that we using while testing are:
Board: MSI MAG B660 Tomahawk WiFi DDR4
Case: MSI SEKIRA 500G
Hard Drive: Intel S3500 128GB
RAM: Corsair Vengeance RGB PRO SL (16GB)
Power Supply: Corsair RMx850
While using these hardware components we tested NH-D12L in the idle and load temperature. We get the Delta results in the celsius. While in the idle situation at 305 RPM and the results are 9.4 degree celsius.
On the other hand, when we run our system under heavy load at 1148 RPM. we saw that the temperatures went to 38.8 degree celsius. The range of delta temperature is quite better, but keep in mind that lower temperature is always better.
Single vs Dual Fan Configuration
You can use noctua NH-D12L either with single or dual fan, it is completely up to your choice and requirement of your system. You can use a dual fan by the use of push pull method. If we set up 1 fan at maximum RPM the temperatures roughly went to 53 degrees.
While both fans are working on auto RPM there is a substantial temperature differential of 3 degrees. However when fans were at the maximum RPM the difference was only 2 degrees. If you are very concerned about the temperature of your system then a 2 fan setup can suit you better.
Serious gamers love to choose their computer system or want to do gaming in a peaceful environment. If your current gaming PC makes noise then it’s time to check it to an expert for the reduction of noise. On the other hand, a solution is that you go for a CPU cooler that not only maintains its heat and controls temperature but also operates quietly.
And not as a better option as NH-D12L, it works effectively and without making noise. We test its noise level from a distance of 15 meter. on the different fan speed such as;
At 25% fan speed, Noctua NH-D12L makes 35 dBA noise. At 50% PWM the noise level of this CPU cooler is 38 dBA. While running with 75% PWM the noise level will be 45 dBA. Furthermore, we also tested it on the 100 PWM and the noise level of NH-D12L was 51 dBA. These figures are not too bad, which means it performs well with less noise level. However, the lower noise level is always a better choice.
If we talk about cooling-wise performance the NH-D12L does outstandingly with a 90 Watts processor. The performance on the default clock frequency is amazing, we can say nothing more or nothing less. But in an overclocking situation of a processor on this heat-pipe is quite not a good idea.
The price of NH-D12L is 115 dollars, which is not bad because it contains the NF-A12x25r PWM fan. And the retail price of its fan is 29.90 dollars on its own. Beside the fan it contains heatpipes too that are pricey too. In short this a very reasonable price and it justifly its price tag by delivering amazing performance.
Pros And Cons Of Noctua NH-D12L
- Dual Tower Asymmetrical Design
- SecuFirm2 multi-socket Mounting System
- Wide Range of Socket Compatibility
- Noctua NF-A12x25r PWM Fan
- Capable Performance
- 5-Year International Warranty
- RAM and PCIe Clearance
- Very Basic Aluminum Look
- No RGB
Comparison with Some Other Premium CPU Coolers
We compared Noctua NH-D12L with the other premium CPU coolers such as; NH-U12A and several 240mm AIO CPU coolers like:
- Thermaltake Tough Liquid CPU cooler of 240 mm ARGB
- Arctic Liquid Freezer II 240 mm A-RGB cooler
In comparison the performance of NH-D12L justifying and did not disappoint us due to its performance. The positive points of NH-D12L in the comparison of other CPU coolers are:
- It is a smart cooler and fits even in the smaller cases
- Easy to install
- Cooling capabilities are good as compared to the other lower end AIOs 240 mm coolers
- Even we can say that NH-D12L with 2 fan arrangement is knockout and deserve to come in the list of top of CPU coolers
Should You Get The Noctua NH-D12L?
This a dual tower 120 mm CPU air cooler, due to the reduced height it can be used even for low profile cases. That is the one of the deciding factors, and the users of compact sized systems can prefer it. The level of performance delivered by this CPU cooler does not suffer because of its lower height, it works effectively. Comes with a premium NF-A12x25r 120 mm Noctua fan that emits the heat effectively and efficiently.
Easy to install in your system, it is not rocket science. You can use it as a single fan set up or with dual fans it is up to you. Also its price justify its quality and performance. These are some deciding factors you can take them under consideration while making the best purchase decision for you.
The Bottom Line
This Noctua NF-D12L offers a high degree of performance dual-tower in a very reasonable small size. As always the manufacturer makes its quality up to the market. Overall, the CPU cooler is just like unquestionably recommended.
However, its price is a bit hefty, you should go for it if you are not concerned with the price tag. If you have a budget issue and are not interested in spending much. Then you can go for a somewhat stronger CPU cooler Noctua NH-D15 at a less price.
With the comparison to LCS, this CPU cooler is only 3-4 Degrees C away then a liquid cooling solution. Never compromise on heat management and temperature controls of your computer system. Because your heat up system can crash or damage your desktop.
For that you need a proper thermal solution. Even if you want an upgrade kit for a future CPU socket and also in this situation this CPU cooler supports.
Let’s check out a few most frequently asked questions about Noctua NH-D12L CPU Cooler.
Are Noctua coolers worth it?
Yes, Noctua CPU coolers are worth it just because they are utterly durable, quiet, and dissipate heat incredibly.
How long do Noctua fans last?
Noctua fans are famous for impeccable quality and outclass longevity. Approximately comes with an MTTF rating of up to 150.000 hours.
How many fans Can a PC have?
For a PC minimum 2 case fans are required for optimal cooling, however for ideal cooling performance it should have 3 fans.