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: 6.25.5400
– 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 main benefit of the single tower design that the NH-U12S uses, is the clearance once installed. While the fan is lower than many RAM modules that use a taller heatsink, the fan itself does not interfere with the RAM slot of the motherboard.
The PCIe expansion slot compatibility is also good, there are approximately 34mm of space between the heatsink and the graphics card. This is important, especially since many modern motherboards have a M.2 socket placed between the CPU socket and the first PCIe slot.
The clearance around the CPU socket is very good, the heatsink does not interfere with any of the motherboard components.
The Noctua NH-U12S is a good CPU cooler that has a good performance to size ratio. The main advantage of this cooler is the clearance for both the RAM and PCIe expansion slots.
The build quality is very good, it is in fact, on the same level as the high-end Noctua NH-D15 CPU Cooler.
The mounting system is also very good, it contains only metallic components, apart from the plastic spacers, and it is solid.
The cooling performance is good for a cooler with these dimensions, and that only uses a single fan. The NH-U12S will handle an Intel i9 9900K CPU overclocked to 5GHz on all cores. The performance can be improved by installing an additional fan at the back of the heatsink. However, that will also increase the overall cost of cooling the CPU.
Thanks to the shape of the heatsink and its size, the NH-U12S offers great compatibility for the RAM slots and for the expansion slots. In addition, at the back, there is plenty of space left for an additional fan, and for the VRM heatsinks of the motherboard.
In conclusion, the Noctua NH-U12S is a good CPU cooler that has a great clearance and a low noise output. The performance is good and the build quality is great. The installation process is easy thanks to the mounting system which has been refined with each model.