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Noctua NH-L12 CPU Cooler Review

The NH-L12 truly is a rather short but very wide CPU cooler which will most likely cover most of the motherboard’s surface if installed on an ITX system. The cooler can be as short as 66mm, allowing it to fit inside some of the slimmest cases currently available; however, the catch is that the main 120mm fan has to be removed to reach such a low height. Noctua supplies the NH-L12 assembled, although removing the fans will be necessary for the cooler’s installation.

NF-F12, the top side 120mm fan is a medium speed fan, running at 1500RPM under normal conditions and at 1200RPM if the low noise adaptor is used. It is a very high quality fan, utilizing a novel self-stabilizing oil bearing and has rubber anti-vibration coverings on all edges. NF-B9, the bottom 92mm fan, similarly is a medium speed fan running at 1600RPM or at 1300RPM if paired with the low noise adaptor. The NF-B9 shares the same high quality bearing as the NF-F12 but not the anti-vibration coverings, leading Noctua into installing rubber silicon anti-vibration strips on the body of the cooler.

In order to keep the cooler’s height down to a bare minimum, the fins of the NH-L12 are not very tall, although they are significantly wide. The four nickel plated thick heatpipes run through the aluminum fins, transferring the heat acquired from the thin base.

In order to minimize air pressure noise, Noctua partly serrated the aluminum fins, allowing for turbulent flow with lower noise.

Due to the cooler’s design, there is no extra mechanical support between the base of the cooler and the dissipation area. Copper is a relatively soft metal and the heatpipes are in no way capable of withstanding even limited mechanical stress, therefore care needs to be taken while handling this cooler because even the slightest force can easily bend the heatpipes and physically damage the cooler.

The lower part of the cooler’s base is made out of nickel plated copper and is perfectly smooth, although not machined down to a mirror finish, while the rest of the base is made out of solid aluminum. The four heatpipes run through the tiny copper base, transferring the heat to the aluminum fins.

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