Noctua NH-L12 – Test and Review

Traditionally all Noctua products come in a massive carton box with the main technical characteristics described on the front and the details of the product are described on the side panels. Of course, this was how I received the product.

I barely managed to restrain myself from tearing the packaging apart in order to get to the main element of this article, but I somehow managed to resist the urge and gently opened the external box, reaching a smaller white one, which contained the cooler itself, neatly packed and protected during transportation.

A few seconds later, after taking the cooler out of its box, it looked like this:

According to the Noctua official information, and as you can see from the photos above, the model is low-profile and is meant entirely for HTPC systems or for work on regular systems without much load. The cooler’s base is made of copper and has four heat pipes and aluminum fins, which are entirely nickel-plated, and two fans – a 120mm NF-F12 PWM and a 92mm NF-B9 PWM. Noctua NH-L12 with mounted fans measures (W) 128mm x (D) 150 mm x (H) 93mm and weighs 680 grams. Most importantly, if you remove the top fan, the cooler has max height of 66 mm and weighs 412 grams.

Here is how the cooler looks without the fans:

And from the side:

And from below:

As you can see from the photos, there is absolutely no need to talk about quality. This is, after all, Noctua and as with the other products of the brands, this one is also perfected to the last detail. The contact base is perfectly manufactured and according to Noctua it cools all types of CPU from all modern sockets like:

  1. Intel LGA2011, LGA1366, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA775
  2. AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1 – for the AMD models you need the back plate from the motherboard.

After looking at the basic structure of the cooler, it is time I took a look into the white box that comes with the cooler.

Yes, this is the standard Noctua NH-L12 kit:

  1. Mounting kit for LGA2011, LGA1366, LGA1156, LGA775
  2. Mounting kit for AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1 using a standard back plate for the motherboard.
  3. Thermal paste NT-H1
  4. Fan splitter
  5. Cable for reducing the voltage
  6. Cable extender for one fan
  7. Four metal screws
  8. Four rubber screws
  9. A screw for mounting the cooler
  10. Detailed mounting manual
  11. A metal engraved logo sticker for the case.

Before moving on to the results from the test of the cooler, I’d like to describe the system:

CPU: AMD Athlon X4 620 at standard frequency of 2611 MHz and overclocked at 3640 MHz (at 1.475V) per core for the tests.

Motherboard: GigaByte 790X-UD3P

Video card: Sapphire 5830 Extreme 1GB DDR5 256bit

Memory: 2 x 2GB Apacer 800 MHz

Hard drive: Kingston SSD SV100S264G

Case: Cooler Master HAF 932

Power supply: Cooler Master Silent Pro 600

Cooler: Cooler Noctua NH-L12

Fans: Noctua NF-F12 PWM, Noctua NF-B9 PWM, Cooler Master Excalibur

Thermal paste: Noctua NT-H1

The tests were conducted in a closed system with:

  1. 230mm fan on the front panel putting fresh air in and spinning at about 700 rpm
  2. 230mm fan on the side panel putting fresh air in and spinning at about 700 rpm
  3. 230mm fan on the top panel taking hot air out and spinning at about 700 rpm.
  4. Room temperature of about 20 degrees.
  5. Thermal paste Noctua NT-H1 used with all tests.

After reviewing the cooler and before starting the tests I decided that it would be interesting to see how the mounted cooler looks like:

After mounting the small fan, I moved the memories to the first two slots and you can see clearly they do not overlap. Of course, this cannot happen with high-profile memories.

This is how the mounted sandwich looks like 🙂

And put back into the case:

Results from the test of Noctua NH-L12 at at standard frequency of 2611 MHz and mounted 120mm (Noctua NF-F12 PW) and 92mm (Noctua NF-B9 PWM).

Results from the test of Noctua NH-L12 at at standard frequency of 3640 MHz and mounted 120mm (Noctua NF-F12 PW) and 92mm (Noctua NF-B9 PWM).

Before summarizing the results, I’d like to make an addition to the test. Since in both tests the fan (NF-F12) was at about 1500 rpm, I decided to play with the system and add a 2200 rpm fan – Cooler Master Excalibur.

The results from the experiment are:

Results from the test of Noctua NH-L12 at at standard frequency of 2611 MHz and mounted 120mm (Cooler Master Excalibur) and 92mm (Noctua NF-B9 PWM).

Results from the test of Noctua NH-L12 at at standard frequency of 3640 MHz and mounted 120mm (Cooler Master Excalibur) and 92mm (Noctua NF-B9 PWM).

Here are the summarized results:


And fan speeds during the tests:

And in conclusion I’d like to make some comments on the product:


  1. The model is meant for mounting in HTPC cases, hence it is quite compact. At first I thought it would not handle the overclock test for it offers a fairly limited area of fins. Despite my suspicion, it turned out that the model justifies the Noctua logo it carries. I would say it offers quite a good performance for its size. As with other Noctua model, here the change of the basic fan with a significantly faster one did not lead to any change in productivity.
  2. As I already said, the model offers quite a high level of productivity and I think it is important to mention how it performs with respect to noise. Noise levels with this model, even at maximum speed is quite low, and one would hardly hear anything from the rotation of the fans at a distance longer than 70-80cm from the case.
  3. Packaging – I don’t think I need to comment on it. Noctua have once again put in a lot of effort and the standard kit of Noctua NH-L12 is once again quite rich, like with the bigger models of the brand.
  4. Last but not least, the appearance of the cooler I personally think is quite nice, though I’m not the biggest fan of the Noctua colour pattern.


I think Noctua NH-L12 deserves the following reward:

I thank Noctua for the sample.

Dobrin Krastev is the owner, reviewer and newsman of with more than 15 years' experience in personal computers, server and storage systems, UPS, peripheral devices and software. Passionate about testing and reviewing, AMD overclocking using AM3 990FXA and AMD FM2 A85X test systems and building modding projects.
  1. Reply milce 24.03.2013 at 12:19

    great cooler,great performances !

  2. Reply rumbeza 20.03.2012 at 11:19

    Много добри резултати. Ноктуа се представиха отново на много високо ниво.

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