The following system was used to test the cooler:
– Processor: Intel i9 9900K @ 5GHz
– Motherboard: ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming X
– RAM: Ballistix Tactical Tracer 16GB DDR4 @ 2666MHz
– GPU: MSI GeForce RTX 2070 Super Gaming X Trio
– SSD: Crucial MX500
– HDD: WD 1 TB Blue
– PSU: Seasonic Snow Silent 750W Platinum
– Case: Phanteks Enthoo Luxe White
– Thermal compound: Noctua NT-H2
Software used for testing the cooler:
– AIDA64 Extreme Version: 6.20.5300
– Intel Burn Test v2.54
– Prime95 29.1
The cooler was tested with the CPU at the default turbo frequency of 4.9 GHz and overclocked to 5 GHz with a core voltage of 1.261 V.
Also, the included fans have been used at their maximum speed.
The room temperature was approximately 26°C (78°F), with 2°C margin of error.
The idle test consists of the CPU sitting idle at the desktop for 30 minutes, the temperature was measured at the end of the test.
The settings of the software used are the following:
Intel Burn Test v2.54 – Stress level: Maximum
Prime95 29.1- small FFT
AIDA64 Extreme Version – FPU Benchmark & Temperature monitoring.
Each test was conducted for 40 minutes.
Full Load – IntelBurnTestV2
Full Load – AIDA64 CPU, FPU & Cache
The noise level was measured at three different distances from the fans (10cm, 20cm, 30cm.) the noise was measured with a margin of error of ± 2 db.
The Noctua NH-L12S has a good clearance for the RAM slots of the motherboard, this is not only due to the small size of the heatsink, but the height of the cooler and the position of the fan. In the case of this review, the fan barely touches the first RAM module. This can be addressed by installing the fan above the heatsink, however all CPU coolers are tested in their factory configuration.
The PCIe clearance is good, thanks to the reduced size of the NH-L12S, the cooler remains close to the CPU socket area, without any interference to the PCIe slots or the top M.2 socket.
The Noctua NH-L12S is a CPU cooler that is designed for small form factor systems. The performance is good, when considering the size of the heatsink and the number of heatpipes.
The cooler while it will handle an i9 9900K CPU running at the factory frequency, overclocking should not be attempted, as there is not enough cooling surface for such a high TDP.
The build quality is very good, the aluminum fins are evenly finished on the edges and the soldering between the heatpipes and the baseplate is done very well.
In terms of sound, the included Noctua NF-A12x15 PWM reached a maximum sound level of 39 decibels, measured at a distance of 10 cm away from the cooler.
The installation process is simple not only because the SecuFirm2™ mounting system has been refined among the years, but because there is easy access to the screws, due to the shape of the cooler.
In conclusion, the NH-L12S is designed to fit in most small form factor systems, while also, offering a good cooling and a low noise output. The performance is good, especially when we look at the overall dimension of the heatsink and the number of heatpipes. The mounting system is sturdy and easy to install, thanks to the space available at the bottom of the cooler.