Noise Testing, Fitment, and Installation

So normally because I am testing on our test bench, most of my fitment discussion is talking about motherboard clearance and having room for your memory. But this time around I did test on our bench but was also using the NH-U12A in my wife's new PC as well. So I was able to get a few pictures of the installation in the Cooler Master NR200P, an SFF build which shouldn’t be able to fit the U12A but does if you do one big thing. You basically can only run this cooler in the NR200P if you are planning on using the vented steel side panel. The thickness of the glass window side panel was enough to cause things to not fit. Sadly the fit was so tight that even though the covers only add a few mm to the height it was too much in the Cooler Master NR200P.

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The size of the U12A gets interesting to check out when we compare it with the older NH-U12S which has been the classic 120mm Noctua cooler for years now. The NH-U12S is a single fan design that can support two fans if you add one whereas the NH-U12A is always a dual-fan design. They have the same height and width with both coming in at 158mm tall and 125mm wide. But the depth or thickness of the cooler is different. The U12S is 71mm and the U1A2A is 112mm. Some of that is the 25mm from the second fan. But there is also another 16mm on the heatsink thickness as well. You would think this would cause memory fitment issues, but Noctua has offset the heatsink to the side to allow for full height memory so you don’t have to worry about that.





Fits Tall Memory

Noctua NH-U12A

158 mm

125 mm

112 mm


Noctua NH-U12S

158 mm

125 mm

71 mm



Noctua coolers were always my go-to for our test benches and while the noise and cooling helped, it was their mounting designs that kept me using them. Noctua somehow always manages to make the installation easier than anyone else. Especially when you have to run a backplate. The NH-12A isn’t any different. Well, it is a little different, this is my first chance at checking out their new LGA1700 bracket design. Previously, because Intel has had the same mounting hole spacing for so long the Noctua backplate came with the studs attached to the backplate. Which made getting it lined up for the holes easier and quicker. Now we do have to juggle two different socket sizes for a while. So Noctua’s new design doesn’t preinstall the studs, you now get plastic c-clips and the studs have a triangle shape on the end that will fit LGA1700 if installed one direction and everything else the other way. You also get special new blue plastic standoffs to get the thickness right as well. Once you have the studs installed, installation is just like in the past. You push the backplate through the holes. Then put the plastic spacers on the studs. Then you put the two brackets and use the four thumb nuts on top to hold it all together. Then the heatsink itself goes down after you put the thermal paste and use the included long screwdriver to tighten the preinstalled nuts which have springs built in to make sure you don’t overtighten things. For the cooler this also means all-black hardware to match.

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As for the noise testing. I have the NH-U12A included with all of the all-in-one coolers that I have recently tested and I also tested the older NH-U12S as well for at least one heatsink comparison. I tested at 50% fan speed and 100% fan speeds using both A and C weighting. Then I tested under load which is done while running AIDA64’s Stress Test with the “CPU” workload for a half hour to wait for the temperature to level off. Both Noctua coolers did well with the 50% fan speed test with the NH-U12A coming in a half of a decibel higher than the NH-U12S which isn’t bad with twice the fans. This was well under all of the AIO coolers in both A and C weights. The 100% fan speed test was also quiet but the NH-U12S was much quieter here with having just one fan, plus its NF-F12 PWM fan runs at 1500 RPM where the two NF-A12x25 PWM fans on the NH-U12A run at 2000 RPM each. This put the NH-U12A up closer to the all-in-one coolers but still nearly 2 decibels in the closest comparison at A weight. With C-weighting the NH-U12A was a little below the NH-U12S and I suspect that extra low-end noise might be from our older well used NH-U12S’s fan. Then under load things evened out a little more with one all-in-one cooler coming in quieter than the NH-U12A. I will talk more about it in the cooling performance section, but you can see that the PL240 Flux was quieter under load than with the fans set at 50% meaning it was running at a much lower speed where the NH-U12A had to run at a much higher fan speed and was louder than its 50% speed result.

Noise Testing

50% Fan Speed A-Weighted

50% Fan Speed C Weighted

100% Fan Speed A-Weighted

100% Fan Speed C Weighted

Under Load A-Weighted

Under Load C Weighted

Corsair iCUE H100i ELITE LCD Liquid CPU Cooler







MSI MAG CoreLiquid C280







Sapphire Nitro+ S240-A







Cooler Master MasterLiquid PL240 Flux







Noctua NH-U12A







Noctua NH-U12S








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