While a stock cooler is supplied with most retail CPUs, enthusiasts often want something better; be it a more powerful cooler, a quieter cooler, a liquid cooler, etc. As a result the market for third-party coolers remains strong, providing variety against the backdrop of more limited stock coolers. And with that, there's no shortage of designs, with coolers for pretty much ever need, want, budget, and size limitation.

In today's review we are taking a look at the NH-U12A, a tower CPU air cooler made by Noctua. Noctua is a company renowned for its advanced products that usually – and deservedly – carry a premium price tag. The NH-U12A is the latest version of their family of 120 mm-based single-tower CPU coolers, which are designed to offer a balance between performance, cost, complexity, and compatibility.

Overall, the NH-U12A is designed to fit top-tier cooling performance into a more compact 120 mm cooler, as opposed to larger and more traditional 140 mm coolers. In this respect, it's especially useful for users building compact and transportable gaming systems.

Diving right in, we received the NH-U12A in an exceptionally sturdy cardboard box. Noctua is using the same simple artwork on the packaging of all their products, focusing on elegance and the provision of information rather than an eye-catching design.


Inside the box, we found the cooler very well protected, placed below layers upon layers of thick cardboard packaging. The supplied mounting hardware and extra items can be found in a smaller, compartmentalized cardboard box.

Aside from the typical mounting hardware necessary to mount the NH-U12A onto a CPU socket, Noctua also supplies a basic screwdriver, a fan power splitter cable, two fan “low noise” adapters that limit the speed of the cooling fans, a tube of NT-H1 thermal grease, and a metallic case badge.

The Noctua NH-U12A CPU Cooler
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  • Soulkeeper - Friday, July 12, 2019 - link

    What was the RPM on the fans ?
    Did they manage to spin at their rated 2000rpm during the testing ?
  • Ryan Smith - Friday, July 12, 2019 - link


    We reached 1920 RPM, which is well within the manufacturer's margin of error for the fans.
  • sonny73n - Friday, July 12, 2019 - link

    This stupid cooler is way overpriced and outdated. Nickel does not transfer heat better than copper. Why 2 fans? They’re only mere 2 inches apart, why not slap another 2 fans on it? Why Noctua always like to make heavy and big coolers? I’ll never support self-proclaimed “engineers” who has no clues about how to make better products.
  • Korguz - Friday, July 12, 2019 - link

    ok sonny73n if you think you can design something better for less.. then go do it...
  • D@ Br@b($)! - Saturday, July 13, 2019 - link

    He doesn't have to. There are already coolers with similar performance for less money.
  • keyserr - Friday, July 12, 2019 - link

    I would like a section for performance @ normalised sound, maybe at 32db, 33db, 34db etc because 7volts gives different rpms and noise.
  • Arbie - Friday, July 12, 2019 - link

    Scythe Mugen 5 for me too. When I last found comparisons of this against eg Noctua it offered equivalent results for much less money, and has been working great for me.

    But I'll probably just go with the Wraith cooler that will come with a top Ryzen 3000 chip. That does depend on 3950X tests when they surface, but current indications are that better cooling won't increase clocks.

    This new AMD lineup will go a long way towards making high-end air - and of course any water loops - unnecessary. Those vendors must be getting nervous.
  • Qasar - Saturday, July 13, 2019 - link

    " This new AMD lineup will go a long way towards making high-end air - and of course any water loops - unnecessary. Those vendors must be getting nervous. " how so ??
  • Arbie - Thursday, July 18, 2019 - link

    Because, as I indicated, increasing the cooling on Ryzen 3000 CPUs does not appear to increase their boost clocks. I had certainly hoped otherwise. Beyond that, very few people will manually overclock Ryzen 3000 because that achieves nothing over PBO, except to waste power all the time.

    So why go to premium air? And why even consider water? Except on Intel, but any vendor dependent on sales of those chips ought to be very nervous - as I said. The niche markets involved are getting smaller (for air) and much smaller (for water).
  • D@ Br@b($)! - Saturday, July 13, 2019 - link


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