There's a good chance last month's CPU cooler group test featured something that caught your eye, but then again, perhaps not. It's been brought to our attention that many of the tested coolers were big and bulky, and inapplicable to users with compact HTPC-like enclosures.
A valid argument, so we're rectifying that omission by throwing Noctua's NH-L12 into the mix. Currently available at around £47 and marketed as a "low-profile quiet cooler," Noctua's solution looks a strong bet for anyone with a small-form-factor chassis.
In our experience, Noctua is one of the most prudent CPU cooler manufacturers around; its solutions are rarely overdone and, generally speaking, you buy Noctua because you know you're going to get a cooler that's well made, well presented and able to perform at a good level.
Continuing in that vein, the NH-L12 arrives in a trademark Noctua box that's covered in detail. Every specification is clearly visible - including fan ratings and heatsink dimensions - and Noctua is clear in indicating what's included in the box and the length of the company's standard warranty (six years).
Open it up and you find one box containing all of the cooler's associated gubbins, and another that securely holds the cooler during transport. Noctua's bundle is first-rate, with Intel and AMD mounting kits provided in individual bags, dedicated instruction manuals, a bundled screwdriver, a good-sized tube of the company's highly-rated NT-H1 thermal paste, and a pair of voltage regulators for controlling fan speed and noise.
The NH-L12 continues to utilise Noctua's easy-to-use SecuFirm2 mounting system, but the bundle also includes an extra set of mounting bolts that enable the cooler to be installed on certain Intel mini-ITX boards that don't provision for a backplate.
|Noctua NH-L12 specification|
|Socket compatibility||Intel LGA2011 (Square ILM), LGA1366, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA775
AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1 (backplate required)
|Height (without fan)||66 mm|
|Width (without fan)||128 mm|
|Depth (without fan)||150 mm|
|Height (with fan)||93 mm|
|Width (with fan)||128 mm|
|Depth (with fan)||150 mm|
|Weight (without fan)||415 g|
|Weight (with fan)||680 g|
|Material||Copper (base and heat-pipes), aluminium (cooling fins), soldered joints & nickel plating|
|Fan compatibility||120x120x25mm & 92x92x25mm|
|Scope of Delivery|
The overall package is comprehensive, but £47 is a lot to ask for a low-profile cooler that Noctua states is "not suitable for overclocking and should be used with care on CPUs with more than 95W TDP."
Noctua's still promising "first-rate performance in its class," but the NH-L12 obviously won't go toe-to-toe with some of the meatier tower alternatives. But if space is at a premium in your chassis, this is a cooler that warrants a closer look.