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Old 28-12-08, 06:55 PM
monkey7 monkey7 is offline
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Review: Noctua NH-U12P SE1366

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.

Packaging

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

Bundle

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:



Installation

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:



Performance

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:

Testing system:

- 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):

Ambient: 18.3

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):

Ambient: 18.2

Idle min: 36/37/38/36

Idle max: 42/39/39/39

Load max: 70/72/68/69

Conclusion

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.

The good:

- 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 mediocre:

- Price

The bad:

- The <...> fanwires

Performance: 9.5/10

Value: 8/10

Presentation: 9/10

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  #2  
Old 29-12-08, 06:35 PM
SwaleSmith SwaleSmith is offline
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nice review monkey7 have just ordered one of these fans for my rig gonna need to mod my case skeleton a little more hopefully should be fine...couldn't resist them temps may unlock the 4ghz
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  #3  
Old 29-12-08, 06:50 PM
Youngie1337 Youngie1337 is offline
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Gotta say from just a quick read sounds really good . I like your layout, gonna give it a read over.

Mine will be here tomorrow , you beat me to the review of it :P.

Nice to see OC3D on it .

Nice 1 mate.
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  #4  
Old 29-12-08, 07:01 PM
Youngie1337 Youngie1337 is offline
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Quote:
Then it's time to attach the fastening brackets, as Noctua calls it, to your the base of your U12P. This is done using four very small Philip's head screws.
Little mistake you need to fix matey .

All good, I was expecting some lower temps tbh, hope I can get this Q6600@3.6 like people said I could .

The leads in which you have plugged the fans into are controlling the speed, remove them and have it running @ full speed, you think that lowers the temps?
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  #5  
Old 29-12-08, 08:03 PM
AntiHeroUK AntiHeroUK is offline
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Good review mate
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  #6  
Old 29-12-08, 08:57 PM
monkey7 monkey7 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Youngie1337'
Gotta say from just a quick read sounds really good . I like your layout, gonna give it a read over.

Mine will be here tomorrow , you beat me to the review of it :P.

Nice to see OC3D on it .

Nice 1 mate.
Yeah I was quite suprised by the OC3D ^^ And yes I knew someone else wanted to write one too so I wrote a little faster Wouldn't be bad to see a second user experience though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Youngie1337'
Little mistake you need to fix matey .

All good, I was expecting some lower temps tbh, hope I can get this Q6600@3.6 like people said I could .

The leads in which you have plugged the fans into are controlling the speed, remove them and have it running @ full speed, you think that lowers the temps?
Fixed.

Yes you will be able to get your q6600 to 3.6 if the chip is not limiting you. Please remember that the i7 has a MUCH higher TDP than the q6600, and mine is running at 3.70 too. Running the fans at 12 volts will decrease the load temps slightly, a few degrees C max. But that could also be because of the crazy airflow in my case ^^

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='AntiHeroUK'
Good review mate
Thanks I'm looking forward to your motherboard review

The next review should be a Gigabyte budget case I used today for my sister's build. Will be taking some more pictures tomorrow, review could be written tomorrow evening and maybe up then too, if Jimbo approves it quickly :')

Quote:
After this you can install the fans using the supplied fan wires, which is a pain in the proverbial.
Whahaha I only noticed now when rereading for mistakes for the second time Jim xD Nice edit :')
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  #7  
Old 29-12-08, 11:52 PM
w3bbo w3bbo is offline
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It's always easier to find mistakes in other peoples work. 2 or 3 people have to proof my reviews before going live to the public. Don't sweat about it, it's the content that matters and from what I have read thus far, your reviews have some great content and are in interesting read. Keep up the good work!

Regarding this review, I would personally like to have seen Prime blend as this puts a lot more stress on the i7 cores (sometimes 10c higher than small fft's - opposite to what we had with skt775) due to the cache also being stressed more. It's a shame you didn't use the stock cooler first as a comparison as the figures you present are, no offence, worthless without comparison to base them upon.

Regardless, it was a good review, thx for sharing.
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  #8  
Old 29-12-08, 11:58 PM
monkey7 monkey7 is offline
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Yeah, I already knew that without comparison the numbers wouldn't exactly be worth a lot. Maybe when I have a lot of spare time I'll put on the stock cooler. That might be this week, I don't have to work until friday.

Prime blend didn't get any higher than the small FFT's. I've ran it for about 18 hours, stayed just below 70 because back then the fans were still on full. Also ran it for an hour or so with my current layout and stayed around the same temperatures as small FFT's.
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Old 30-12-08, 12:08 AM
w3bbo w3bbo is offline
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Thats odd, was HT enabled? I know blend temps soared for my i7 test setup on the stock cooler compared to small ffts.
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  #10  
Old 30-12-08, 12:35 AM
monkey7 monkey7 is offline
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Hmm don't remember exactly. I think it was on with the 18 hour test as I was trying to make things as difficult as possible to my cpu.

However, I have been fiddling with the settings a lot lately and I could for example have upped the voltage a few steps. I will do a proper 1h small and 1h blend tomorrow and see what the results are.

As said - when I have some serious spare time I will start comparing the stock and Noctua cooler

Should I use mx-2 or the pre applied thermal crap on the stock cooler?
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