In for a much needed or rather, overdue review is the Noctua NH-U12A This cooler retails for about $119.25 USD at Amazon.

The variant of the NH-U12A is not much different compared to the standard version – except for the obvious. That said, it still pulls out the same numbers across the specifications sheet.

Disclosure: Noctua sent the NH-U12A for the purpose of this review. The company did not ask me to say anything particular about it.

Technical Specifications

Socket Intel LGA1700, LGA1200, LGA1150, LGA1151, LGA1155, LGA1156, LGA2011, LGA2066; AMD AM4, AM5
Type Air Cooler
Material Cooper (plate), aluminum (cooling fins)
Speed 450-2000 RPM
Noise 18.8-22.6 dB(A)
Airflow 102.1 m³/h
Length 125 mm
Width 58 mm
Height 158 mm
Weight 760 g

Packaging and Accessories

Noctua had the NH-U12A packed inside an environment friendly packaging.

Noctua NH U12A chromax black CPU Cooler 8

Scope of delivery are as follows:

  • Black NH-U12A heatsink
  • 2x NF-A12x25 PWM premium fan
  • 2x NA-RC14 Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A)
  • NA-YC1 4-pin PWM y-cable
  • NT-H1 high-grade thermal compound
  • Black SecuFirm2™ mounting kit
  • Noctua Metal Case-Badge

Pretty good bundle of parts and accessories we got here which is the norm at Noctua.

Design, Layout and Build Quality:

The NH-U12A is not that much different compared to the standard NH-U12A aside from its distinct all black coating. Basically, the chromax line has everything the standard line-up has but focused on aesthetics.

Noctua NH U12A chromax black CPU Cooler 3

Like the NH-U12A before it, the is a tower cooler that you could use with at least one fan. It could actually be used without one if you have a 35W CPU based on my testing. Now what I like about Noctua is the sheer lack of sharp edges to watch out for. The Dark Rock 4 for example is notorious in this regard.

Noctua NH U12A chromax black CPU Cooler 1

Noctua had the configured with two fans, directing blowing and exhausting air from the stack of heatsinks and its seven U-shaped heat-pipes; all dissipating heat from the nickel-plated copper baseplate.

Noctua NH U12A chromax black CPU Cooler 2

Spinners in question are a pair of NF-A12x25 fans. They also matched the cooler’s aesthetics but if I remember correctly, Noctua did a considerable amount of R&D with the pigments used for these fans to maintain their performance.

Noctua NH U12A chromax black CPU Cooler 4

Over all build quality is excellent – as usual from the Austrian brand.

Installation and Clearance

Installing the Noctua NH-U12A is easy enough and it is even easier with the AMD kit with less to work with. You just have to make sure that you’ve got the necessary spacers, screws and mounting brackets for the cooler.

Noctua NH U12A chromax black CPU Cooler 5

In a few minutes, the NH-U12A is ready to fire up – figuratively speaking.

Noctua NH U12A chromax black CPU Cooler 6

Compatibility with memory kits is excellent since it is a rather slender tower cooler to begin with. If you happen to own a motherboard with memory slots designed as close as possible to the socket (usually SFF models), then you may adjust the height of the fan via the brackets. Other that that, make sure your case has enough space for the cooler.

Test Setup and Methodology

Our test setup relies on the measurements taken from AIDA64 Extreme. It is important to note that we are testing the review sample after burn-in, with at least 24-hours of uptime. This is done so to negate the FOTB (fresh out the box) state of the DUT (device under test), yielding better benchmarking consistency.

Test System Specifications
CPU AMD Ryzen 5 3600
Motherboard BIOSTAR B550M-Silver
Cooler Noctua NH-U12A
Memory ADATA Premier 2666MHz 16GB
Storage Kingston FURY Renegade 2TB PCIe 4.0
Case Mechanical Library JXK-K3
PSU Thermaltake Toughpower GF1 850W
Display LG UF680T
OS Microsoft Windows 11 Pro 64-bit

The DUT is tested with the following configuration from our test system:

  • UEFI configuration: Default
  • Windows Power Plan: Balanced

Note: This is the first cooler or rather review sample I’ve tested with Windows 11. That said, I have tried sampling other coolers with the latest OS as well but I did not find any significant differences in cooling performance between the two operating systems. Thus, I have included my previous benchmarks here for your perusal.


Temperature is measured in degree Celcius (ºC) at system idle and load. This is done via AIDA64 Extreme and its built-in System Stability Test. Readings are taken directly from the CPU Tdie sensor via HWiNFO.

Noctua NH U12A chromax black CPU Cooler Benchmark 5

At 25% PWM duty cycle, the NH-U12A performed really well. At 615 RPM, it doesn’t go as low as the Be Quiet! Dark Rock 4 so there’s that as a reason.

Noctua NH U12A chromax black CPU Cooler Benchmark 3

The same thing could be said at 50% PWM duty cycle. This is actually performing better compared to the recent 240 mm cooler tested.

Noctua NH U12A chromax black CPU Cooler Benchmark 4

The same trend could be seen at 75% RPM. The dual Noctua NF-A12x25 fans are just too good at their respective jobs – pushing and pulling air to and from the cooler.

Noctua NH U12A chromax black CPU Cooler Benchmark 2

Performance at 100% PWM duty cycle is of course no slouch either. It is the second best cooler tested with this metric in mind – just next to the 360 mm ASUS ROG cooler.


Sound Pressure Level is measured in Decibels (dBA) at various fan duty cycles. This is done via AIDA64 Extreme and its built-in System Stability Test. Readings are taken directly from a sound level meter.

Noctua NH U12A chromax black CPU Cooler Benchmark 1

Noise is spot on excellent. The dual Noctua NF-A12x25 just exceeded my expectations here, featuring class leading performance across the RPM range. This actually prompted me to retest other coolers with Windows 11.


The chromax line has been built from the ground up with performance and aesthetics in mind. Black does not equate that it is always the best choice so Noctua decided to add cooler shrouds to maximize the new line-up’s potential.

Noctua NH U12A chromax black CPU Cooler 9

These are easy to install shrouds and comes in many colors (Black, White and Black Swap). You have to buy them separately though.

Final Thoughts

The NH-U12A is already an award winning air cooler from Noctua but the took it to the extreme with an additional fan and a more eye friendly aesthetics – I don’t mind the old colorway I swear.

As for specifics, what the brought to the table is a combination of excellent thermals and noise levels. While I don’t mind it running at 100% fan speed when the CPU calls for it, the NF-A12x25 fans are efficient enough to run at their 75% most of the time. For your reference, the NH-U12A running at 75% RPM and the Dark Rock 4 at 100% RPM has similar noise levels but the former still pulls ahead with better thermals.

In closing, Noctua spared no change into creating a medium sized dual fan tower cooler. It is quite expensive for its category but it is money well spent I must say.

TechPorn Awards 2018 (6)

Noctua NH-U12A


With the NH-U12A, Noctua continues the company tradition of releasing coolers with a good blend of thermal and sonic performance. Prepare to shell out at least $120 USD though and an extra $20 USD for the decorative plate.

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