Noctua NH-U12P-SE2 Review

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Hello again, O/C’ers!  Today’s article will be a review of the cooler, which comes with a bundle of features and accessories for a competitive price.

Background:

Noctua is a company famous for their extremely low noise fans.  They have also gained some footing recently in the HSF portion of the PC market.  The NH-U12P-SE2 is one of Noctua’s newest coolers, as well as one of their more popular.  But enough fluff, lets get straight to the cooler itself.

Unboxing:

The U12P comes in a pretty large box with the standard Noctua blue and brown coloring.  Through the front plastic you can see the famous Noctua NF-P12 fan sticking out for everyone to see.  Upon opening the box, you will see two smaller boxes.  One box is for accessories, such as AM3, 775, and 1366 mounting hardware.  Also in the accessories box, is another NF-P12 fan, and clips to hold both fans to the heat sink, as well as anti-vibration strips.  Inside the larger of the two boxes is the heat sink itself, with that first NF-P12 fan we saw earlier.

Specs:

Socket compatibility:
AMD – AM3, AM2, AM2+
Intel – 1366, 1156, 775

Fan specifications:
Bearing type – SSO
Speed – 900, 1100, and 1300 RPM

Heat sink specifications:
Height – 158mm
Weight – 940g (w/ both fans)
Material – Copper base, aluminum fins, nickle plating

Accessories specifications:
2x NF-P12 premium fan
Ultra-Low-Noise Adapter (U.L.N.A.)
Low-Noise Adapter (L.N.A.)
NT-H1 high-grade thermal compound
SecuFirm2™ Mounting Kits

As you can see, the NH-U12P-SE2 is compatible with nearly every current desktop socket, which is good news.  What is also good is that the HSF comes with ALL the mounting kits, so you won’t have to buy one to fit your specific socket.  It also comes with two of the P12 fans, which retail for around $20 each, and even comes with NT-H1 thermal paste, which I would rank up there with the “big dogs” such as Arctic Silver 5.

Test Results

Before moving to the U12P, I was cooling my Phenom II 955 with a Thermaltake SpinQ.  My SpinQ did alright, but it was inhibiting my chip from clocking past about 3.8 GHz.  The cooler was fine handling the heat of stock voltages with the Phenom II, but once I tried to up it to around 1.4v, the cooler started to get a lot hotter than I was comfortable with.

The NH-U12P-SE2 has fixed that problem for me, I am very happy to say.  Here are the differences between the two coolers.  Ambient room temperatures are about 18°C during both tests.  My PII 955 was clocked at 3.6 GHz, with stock voltages.  I used this to simulate a mild overclock that an average user might have.  I was also using both fans with the U12P, and both were set to 900 RPM, which were near silent.

Test Results

CPU Cooler Thermaltake SpinQ Noctua NH-U12P-SE2
Idle
35°C 29°C
Load
54°C 44°C

Final Thoughts:

As you can see above, the U12P lowered my idle temperatures by 6°C on average, and my load temperatures by 10°C.  Eventually, after a few tweaks, this did allow me to safely reach 4 GHz, which was a goal of mine for the processor.  This isn’t to say that the NH-U12P-SE2 is a perfect cooler though.  In fact, it has a few very slight things that I wasn’t too fond of.

For one, on stock speed without the adapters, the fans are actually pretty loud.  This is because of the fins of the heat sink, though.  Mounted in my case, these fans are dead silent at any speed.  On the HSF though, I had to use the adapters to achieve a noise level that I found acceptable.  As always, you may or may not have the same listening preferences as me.  Aside from that though, I would say this heat sink is excellent.

For about $65, it is competing right up there with the TRUE and Megahalems, and it includes two fans, whereas the TRUE and Mega don’t include any, and it is necessary to buy mounting kits for them if you aren’t using a certain socket.

The Good:
Accessories included
SecuFirm2 mounting, very stable mechanism, easy to install
Noctua NF-P12 fans included
Anti-vibration strips
Thermal paste

The OK:
Fan noise, a tad loud without adapter

The Bad:
None

James Temple

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