Noctua NH-U12DX i4 CPU Review – Cooler Review. We’re going to check out the Noctua NH-U12DX i4 CPU cooler. I’ve got a couple of these that I’ll be using to cool my dual socket Xeon server build, so let’s find out how they perform.
Inside the box we have the instruction manual, and then the fan which is attached to the heatsink. There’s also a bag that includes additional mounting hardware, thermal paste, a low noise adapter cable, and additional fan mounts if you want to add another fan. There’s also a second smaller bag which contains four anti vibration pads. Finally there’s a screwdriver like tool that is used to install the cooler. The included fan is Noctua’s NF-F12 120mm fan, it mounts to the heatsink with the included clips as you can see here.
The heatsink itself has aluminium cooling fins, with a copper base and heat-pipes. It weighs 580g without the fan, or 755g in total with the fan mounted. The dimensions of the heatsink without fan are 158mm in height, 45mm in depth, and 125mm in width. With the fan the height and width are of course still the same, while the depth increases to 71mm, however this could vary if you intend on using some other fan.
The cooler has support for Intel’s LGA2011 socket, which is what I’m using here. It supports both square and narrow ILM, as well as LGA1356 and LGA1366 sockets. In my case I’m dealing with a square ILM so I can just get on with the installation, however if your socket is narrow ILM then you’ll need to use the included mounting pieces as outlined in the instruction manual. To prepare for installation, place the CPU into the socket and apply thermal paste.
I used Noctua’s included NT-H1 thermal compound and have been getting decent temperatures so far. Next simply take off the plastic protective cover on the bottom of the heatsink, and remove the fan by undoing the clips. Once ready to install, place the cooler on top of the CPU and tighten the screws with the included screwdriver tool until tight. Once complete reattach the fan by clipping it onto the heatsink, then plug the fans 4-pin connector into the CPU fan header on the motherboard.
The fan supports PWM, so the speed will change automatically based on the temperature reported by the CPU. The included NF-F12 fan has a max speed of 1500 RPM, however this can be reduced to a fixed speed of 1200 RPM with the included low noise adapter, or instead to modify the maximum cap from 1500 to 1200 RPM with PWM control.
Noctua claim that at the max 1500 RPM speed we can expect the maximum noise to be 22.4 decibels, however I was not able to test this, as even in the quietest room in my house with nothing happening I was recording slightly above this. I can tell you that even with two of them in my server though, they are very quiet. The additional fan clips can be used to add a second fan if you want to implement a push/pull configuration, I’ll just be sticking with a single fan per cooler here as my temperatures are acceptable and I’m not looking to introduce additional noise.
Compared to other larger coolers, this heatsink has a 45mm fin depth which allows it to support easy access to the RAM. As someone that installed the CPU cooler before the RAM by mistake, I can confirm this to be true, I was just barely able to slide all my RAM sticks in without having to take off the cooler. With parallel memory the fans should not overhang any RAM slots, even if you add a second fan on the back, I wasn’t able to test this as you can see my memory slots go the other way, however the thin cooler still helped here. Despite the heat sink looking quite thin, it was able to cool both of my Intel E5-2670 8 core CPUs.
As my motherboard is dual socket I didn’t feel comfortable putting two large heatsinks on it, normally with a server motherboard it would lie flat in a server case, however as you have seen I went with mounting it in a standard PC case, the Phanteks Enthoo Luxe in this case, pun probably intended. After being installed for weeks I’ve not had any sag so that’s good, the coolers are comfortably in place and I don’t feel like they will rip out a chunk of the board, always a bonus.
In terms of temperatures with an ambient room temperature of 21c, at idle I’m averaging between 29c to 37c over all 16 CPU cores, and while maxing all 16 cores out for close to an hour this increases to 58c to 63c, so overall I’m pretty happy with the cooling being provided, with the case on it doesn’t get very loud at all even while maxed out. The idle temps weren’t the best, but I can live with that, and it is probably more to do with the fact that these are 4 year old 8 core CPUs.
Regardless I’m definitely happy with the temps at max. The cooler comes with a 6 year manufacturer’s warranty, which is pretty awesome! My longest PC still in use is a little over the 6 year old mark now, so it’s good to know that I can get my CPU coolers in the server replaced over this time if needed, because this things probably going to be around for a while.
Overall I found the cooler extremely easy to install, and it’s been working very well for me so far. The temperatures of both CPUs are decent, and the noise levels are great. I’ll be doing a full build video on this server once it’s complete, so keep an eye out for that!
Noctua’s DX line of coolers has become a default choice in high performance quiet cooling solutions for Intel Xeon CPUs. The latest i4 revision supports LGA2011 (both Square ILM and Narrow ILM), LGA1356 and LGA1366 based Xeon platforms and the 12cm model NH-U12DX i4 comes equipped with Noctua’s award-winning NF-F12 Focused Flow™ fan with PWM for automatic speed control. Due to its slim design, the NH-U12DX i4 now provides easy access to the memory slots and better compatibility with tall modules. Fitted with the professional SecuFirm2™ mounting system and bundled with Noctua’s industrial-grade NT-H1 thermal compound, the NH-U12DX i4 forms a complete premium quality package for quietly cooling Xeon based workstations and servers.
Price from $69.99
So what did you guys think of the NH-U12DX i4 CPU cooler from Noctua? Be sure to let me know your thoughts down in the comments, and leave a share on the post if you found it useful.