Noctua NH-U12S, Mid Range Masterpiece

So, after looking at one of Noctua’s largest coolers, it was time to look at something (slightly) smaller from their product range..

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The Noctua NH-U12S

Dimension (with fan) L45 mm x W125 mm x H158 mm
Weight (with fan) 755 g
Weight (without fan) 580 g
Heat pipes Copper heat pipe (x5)
Fin Material Aluminium x 50 fins
Mounting plate Copper nickel plated
RAM Height Limit 65mm
TDP 100-140W AMD, varies with Intel. More information here.
 Replaceable Fan Yes
Dimension L120 mm x W120 mm x H25 mm
Connector 4 Pin PWM
Rated Speed 300 ~1500 RPM
Noise Level 18.6 ~ 22.4 dBA
Max Air Flow 55 CFM
Voltage 12V
Power Consumption 0.6W

This product supports Intel LGA2011-0 & LGA2011-3 (Square ILM), LGA1150, LGA1151, LGA1155, LGA1156, and AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+ (backplate required).

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The usual Noctua packaging style is evident here, it’s something we’ve commented on a few times before, and it bodes well for a quality product.


Included is a full complement of SecuFirm2 mounting hardware as well as an extra pair of fan mounting clips. We’ll see more about how these come into play below.

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The NH-U12S

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Significantly smaller than the NH-D15S, this cooler is much more our style! The NH-U12S has solid construction and flawless nickel plating.

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Bundled in the accessories kit is some extra thick vibration dampening pads for adding a second NF-F12 PWM fan to the NH-U12S. This is a thoughtful addition, meaning that you won’t have to go buy a random accessory pack to add a second fan to this cooler to increase performance.




The AMD mounting kit for the NH-U12S (and the NH-U14S) looks a little different. Does this mean we can use the U12S’s mounting system to mount a different Noctua product in a 90 degree rotation, or the other variant of the SecuFirm2 system to mount this cooler, rotated?

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Sorry, not happening. The distance between the screws is different to the other version of SecuFirm2. This is a shame, and something I wish Noctua wouldn’t have done. While we’ve always had the fixed rotation on the AMD socket with Noctua products, it would be a great upgrade to be able to rotate a cooler 90 degrees on the platform, much like you can do with an Intel system thanks to the square mounting hole design. Noctua – a 90 degree mounting upgrade pack for AMD platforms.. please?! This modification of the design also means having to remove your old SecuFirm2 brackets if upgrading from another Noctua cooler to the NH-U12S or U14S.


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With the correct mounting brackets for this cooler installed, you can see that the different design does still work. However, this cooler, like so many of the larger coolers on the market, does conflict with the expansion slot on some M-ITX boards, and the topmost slot on some M-ATX boards. Your results may vary depending on your board’s layout though.

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To test this cooler, we used the thermal test bench and methodology, as detailed here.

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CPU Delta T, Celcius

The cooler performs better than its contemporaries. Out of the coolers tested on the small SFFn test bench, it performs in the between the middle and the top of the pack, which is to be expected, considering the size of the cooler. In the noise world, the cooler was exceptionally quiet withno noticeable ticks, clicks, chaffing or other nasty noises. In the dual fan configuration,  it performs closer to the top of the pack compared to the other coolers, and making for a 2-4 c at load improvement, for very little change in noise characteristics.

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The review of this cooler has left a slightly bitter taste in my mouth. While the cooler did offer fantastic build quality and great performance, the modified SecuFirm2 mounting system has shown me, in a fleeting glimpse, the forced limitations on the AMD sockets forced upon them by cooler manufacturers. On the Intel sockets, the mounting holes are laid out in a square, enabling 4 different mounting rotations for coolers, (obviously depending on component conflicts). While AMD has a rectangular mounting hole design, they’ve been using this layout for 10 years. It’s not like there are any unknowns here. Sockets AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, and FM2+ all use this design. Modifying SecuFirm2 (or providing an accessory pack) to enable full rotation of any of Noctua’s compatible coolers would enable many more AMD users to use their coolers in situations where otherwise, component conflicts would prevent their use. This would be especially helpful with their downdraft coolers, which are much more suited to the smaller systems where AMD’s FM2(+) APU systems shine especially brightly.


  • Great performance
  • Upgrade-ability


  • Size
  • Compatibility on our test system

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This cooler is currently available for around US$62 on

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Thoughts? Discuss them in the forum.

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Review sample provided by Noctua.

Here at we give manufacturers the ability to be part of the community. We offer a right to reply to hardware reviews. If a manufacturer responds, their comments will be posted here.

From Noctua:

Hi John,

Thank you very much for your test of the NH-U12S. Unfortunately, things are not as simple with the AMD mounting as you seem to think… The reason why we had to go from our standard 83mm hole spacing to 78mm hole spacing for the U14S, U12S and U9S is that in standard orientation (parallel to the RAM slots), only the 78mm allows the brackets to clear the RAM slots. As your own photo nicely shows, a bar with wider hole spacing would block the RAM:

This is also why we can not offer 90° brackets for all the coolers using the normal 83mm brackets. So in short, using the same brackets for all coolers isn’t possible and offering the option to turn the coolers by 90° would only be technically possible for the U14S/U12S/U9S. Now the problem is that only a small portion of our customers use AMD and out of these, around 95% use the cooler in standard orientation (parallel to the RAM in the case of tower coolers). So it wouldn’t really make sense to increase the price of the coolers in order to include a second set of AMD brackets. With that being said, things look a bit different on the upcoming AM4 platform, so we aim to offer the option to install all coolers in both orientations on this platform.

Best Regards,