Noctua NH-D12L Review
Noctua's new NH-D12L promises the best of both worlds. Not only is it supposed to compete with industry-established models such as the NH-D15 or NH-U12S, but at the same time, it comes with an astounding 145mm height. Let's see if the extremely compatible high-performance cooler is really as high-performance as Noctua claims.
- Very good Performance
- Very good Noise-to-Performance
- Build Quality
- Exceptional compatibility
What's in the Box?
Although the cooler was released in 2022, the box is still the same old Noctua-style as we all grew to love. Inside the brownish-colored box containing a couple of images and a spec sheet hides the new and supposedly notoriously compatible Noctua NH-D12L. Apart from the cooler itself and the fan, we will also get a box containing the usual Noctua compatibility kits for both platforms.
Once everything is unboxed, we will have the following items:
- Noctua NH-D12L
- Noctua NF-A12x25r
- Mounting Kit Intel
- Mounting Kit AMD
- Thermal Paste
- Second pair of fan clips
- Low-Noise Adapter
Down below you will also find a full compatibility list:
|Fan Air Pressure
As usual with Noctua coolers, and especially due to this one's quite recent release, the NH-D12L is compatible with a lot of CPU sockets ranging from older to the very newest. Down below you will find the full list.
The heart of the new NH-D12L must be its heatsink. Similarly to the NH-D15, the "D" stands for Dual-Tower heatsink. Naturally, the D12L also comes with a dual-tower heat, but unlike the D15, the D12L favors height and therefore compatibility with the D15's raw approach of being as big as possible for the most amount of cooling.
On the D12L, the heatsink measures only 145mm in height. This height does not fluctuate depending on the fan installation, as long as only the out-of-the-box fan is being used.
From the Nickel-plated base, a total of 6 copper are spread across both towers.
Although the D12L's heatsink might look like the D15's little brother, it still counts as an impressive piece of cooling equipment. In both quality and compactness, it can score many points.
The Fan used on the D12L is one of Noctua's most notorious fans, the NF-A12x25. However, due to the square frame design creating clearance issues on the occasions, Noctua decided to release a special sub-version with rounded corners. This rounded design may not be beneficial to the Fans height, however, due to the screw position at the base, this new form factor allowed the fan to be lowered down a bit further, allowing the heatsink to keep its 145mm height.
That being said, other than the rounded corners, the NF-A12x25r is an exact copy of the original A12x25. While spinning at 2000RPM at 60CFM and 2.34mm/H2O, this fan seems to be the perfect option for this cooler.
In contrast to many other dual-tower coolers, the D12L comes with only a single fan.
This decision is due to the cooler's high compatibility nature. In order to keep the cooler 100% compatible with every imaginable Ram and VRM heatsink, Noctua decided to install the fan in between both heatsinks. This positioning ended up creating a cooler which is only 113mm thick, thus never protruding above anything at all.
The D12L's dual-tower heatsink design paired with the extreme compactness created an impressive-looking cooler.
While both the quality and processing are where we expected them to be for a Noctua cooler, it's the compactness that surprised us the most.
Standing upright or build into a case, the D12L definitely looks like it is able to get the job done without appearing too bulky. Especially compared to an NH-D15, the D12L seems to be more on the conservative side while still providing us with the satifying feeling of power.
Due to the fan being installed in between both heatsinks, there is very little to be seen other than just raw silver-colored heatsinks. Although we are definitely fans of this design approach, this has to be taken into consideration if you do not like any silver color sticking out.
As we are supposed to, we did our job and benchmarked the new D12L on our usual test bench.
Whilst cooling down a 3900x, the D12L managed to keep the CPU at 52°C above ambient. This positions it at 3°C behind the NH-U12A and 4°C behind the bigger NH-D15 counterpart.
On the Noise-to-Performance graph, the NH-D12L managed to keep up the same ratio. While D15 and U12A managed to be at the very front, the D12L is just close behind, completely outperforming Noctua's other high-compatibility cooler, the C14S.
If you're looking for a highly compatible cooler that does not have any lack in raw cooling performance or quality, the D12L is a perfect candidate.
Exactly as Noctua described it, the D12L fits perfectly into their High-Performance cooler Lineup. With the D15 and U12A having the lead, the D12L adds a bit of actual compatibility for the smaller cases out there while not losing too much on the performance end.
However, due to the secondary fan clips, a user is perfectly capable of adding another NF-A12x25r to the mix and update his D12L to be closer to the much bigger D15 while still being significantly smaller in size.
Although the D12L will never reach the D15's potential cooling power, it is good that Noctua managed to deliver a >150mm cooler with such a tremendous cooling potential. A height restriction that often appears among the smaller mATX cases.
Due to the NH-D12L's very good performance considering its size, we can absolutely recommend it for any use case
involving a 12700k, 5900x or below.
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