Noctua NH-U12P SE1366 review
As promised, here's my review of the Noctua U12P SE CPU cooler. I purchased this specific one because of the price (€60 was the same as a TRUE w/ bolt thru kit), and just because I wanted a premium brand like Noctua :+
So, let's get to the point.
The packaging of the Noctua is - as I expected - quite classy. A small window in the front reveals a part of one of the two supplied fans with the cooler behind it. The front also shows the packaging contents, but after that it's kept as clear as possible.
The top is supplying the reader with exact specifications of the cooler and its fans. The other sides are listing about all features of the components, from the mounting system to the 'vortex control notches' on the fan blades.
Two of the sides are dedicated to displaying how many international websites approve of the NH-U12P cooler. The right side displays the mounting system along with some quotes from sites like AnandTech and HardOCP, and the left side tells us in six languages how much the cooler is appreciated. More interesting is the lower side of this panel, as there's a whole bunch of approvals displayed:
Has anyone looked properly? No? Let me enlarge it for you:
Yes yes. Our nice site here has been spotted by Noctua
Once opening the package the first thing we encounter are two smaller boxes. The largest contains the cooler itself and one fan, the smaller package contains a whole lot of accessories.
Included in the package are:
* Large box:
- NH-U12P SE1366 cooler
- One NF-P12 120mm fan
* Smaller box:
- 2x L.N.A. reducing the voltage to a fan to 7v.
- 2x U.L.N.A. reducing the voltage to a fan to 5v.
- 4x fan wire
- NF-P12 120mm fan
- NT-H1 thermal compound
- Noctua case badge
- Installation guide
- Fan vibration dampening strips
- A basic philips screwdriver
Opening the smaller box reveals a lot of scary looking fan connectors... Just hope I do not have to manage all that in my case
The accessories of the U12P: fan wires, LNA's, ULNA's, thermal compound, vibration dampening strips and two case badges. One of the badges was supplied seperately with a pen in my shop package, so not everyone may get that one.
And inside this smaller box there's a small cardboard box with the mounting kit, called SecuFirm2 by Noctua:
Upon opening the larger package we find the NH-U12P itself:
When looking at the base I found a lot of small channels running through it. I can't tell if it's a machining error or a feature, but feeling the fragility of the channels (a nail scratch already damages them), I think it's a feature to spread the thermal compound properly. I failed to take a clear picture of it, so you'll have to do with this one:
As a summary, we have this:
To display how easy the cooler is to install I will go through the installation process step by step. Not every step has quality pictures as I was also in a hurry to get my rig together for the first time, but it's not bad enough to make me tear it apart again.
First I'd like to advise anyone who purchases this cooler to follow the supplied installation guide to install your cooler. Despite being 'Ikea style' (lots of images, barely any text) it really helps you install your cooler and will probably prevent you from making any serious mistakes.
Before you start installing your cooler you should place the vibration dampening strips on the cooler as indicated in the installation manual. The strips are slightly long, but a pair of scissors or a Stanley knife are a quick solution to that
The first real step in installing the cooler is, as anyone who has done this before - installing the backplate. The backplate itself is made of cast iron, making it quite heavy but also giving you a feeling this will be able to handle some serious load. In this backplate you screw four screw-like rods, and then you can put the backplate onto your motherboard over the stock backplate already in place:
After turning around your motherboard you can install the spacers, mounting bars and thumb screws/bolts. Make sure you place the mounting bars the way displayed on the picture (bend to the outside) or your cooler will not fit...
Then it's time to attach the fastening brackets, as Noctua calls it, to the base of your U12P. This is done using four very small Philip's head screws.
After applying your thermal paste you can install the cooler by screwing the Philip's heads on the fastening brackets. The brackets will screw on the mounting bars and your cooler will be installed tightly. Do not worry about overtightening, as the screws will stop very clearly when you have reached the right tension.
After this you can install the fans using the supplied fan wires, which is a pain in the proverbial. When completed it should look like this:
This is of course the section why most of you started reading after all. To immediately disappoint you: I do not have a good comparison test comparing this cooler to for example the TRUE with bolt thru kit or even the Intel stock cooler. I have immediately installed this cooler without ever using another cooler. What I can give you are my load and idle temps:
- GigaByte UD5
- Core i7 920
- Cooler master HAF 932
- ATi radeon HD4850 with Scythe Musashi VGA cooler
Ambient temperature was measured with a Scythe Kaze Master Ace temperature probe. To establish an idle temperature I waited for 10 minutes after the Windows boot. The load temperatures were taken after 10 minutes of Prime95 small FFT's. All core temperatures were measured using RealTemp 2.90.
The HAF932 fans were at set to 50% using the Scythe Kaze Master Ace. The Noctua push fan was connected to an L.N.A. (7v) and the pull fan was intelligently controlled by my Gigabyte UD5 motherboard fan header. This way the rig was acceptably silent during both load and idle, but still noticeable.
With the 920 at stock clocks (2.66gHz @ 1.18 vCore BIOS and 1.1VTT):
Idle min: 31/32/33/31
Idle max: 32/33/35/33
Load max: 51/53/52/52
With the 920 overclocked (3.7gHz @ 1.35 vCore BIOS and 1.34 VTT):
Idle min: 36/37/38/36
Idle max: 42/39/39/39
Load max: 70/72/68/69
Costing about €60, this cooler certainly is not one of the cheapest around. However, with such a bundle, silence and performance I would say this cooler is more than worth it. Installation was way easier than I expected upon seeing the sheer size of the thing, only the fan wires were a major hassle. The fins feel quite sturdy and everything is finished nicely.
Performance could be increased just a bit more by setting both fans to 12v, but personally I did not find the few degrees C worth the extra sound.
- Good cooling performance
- As good as silent, somewhat audible at load
- High build quality
- Pretty easy to install
- Don't have to remove the motherboard when remounting the cooler
- The <...> fanwires