Overall and Final Verdict

It’s easy to just throw an all-in-one cooler into your build and you are going to see at least moderately good cooling. But with that, you do take on the risks that water cooling has and in my experience, you also have to deal a lot more with the reliability issues that often come with it. Pumps fail, performance drops as the coolant levels get lower, and with your standard AIO kit, you can’t do much about any of that. The same goes with custom cooling as well which is what lead to me looking at air cooling for my wife's latest build. When you need reliability air cooling is still the best option and when it comes to noise Noctua is still at the top of the list for me. What Noctua has done with the NH-U12A is increase the cooling potential of a 120mm cooler to be capable of handling modern CPUs. The 12900K that I tested with is as bad as it gets and the NH-U12A was able to handle it. The cooling performance wasn’t up on the same level as a large all-in-one cooler but the NH-U12A was close enough to keep it from underclocking which is something an older 120mm cooler like the NH-U12S couldn’t do.

That said if you were planning on running a 12900K and pushing it by rendering ALL of the time this isn’t going to be the best option for you. But with gaming, the performance will be solid. Or in my case for my wife’s PC, I’m running a CPU that is a few steps down and I don’t have to worry about it at all. Noise levels are great, especially when it isn’t paired with a monster like the 12900K. But it is in the details that Noctua stands out. Things like with the NH-U12A coming with a full tube of thermal paste, a long screwdriver included, installation being so simple even with the new LGA1700 socket. Then on top of all of that the chromax.black version of the NH-U12A looks great. I love that it is completely blacked out all the way down to the mounting hardware. Noctua does also have the Chromax options with the covers which I also took a look at, but the cooler itself looks great.

Fitment issues shouldn’t be too big of a concern as well. They pack a lot into a small package and Noctua’s claim of getting 140mm cooler performance in a 120mm cooler package is true.  Being a 120mm cooler is important because there are a lot of cases the larger 140mm coolers can’t fit in. I was even able to fit the NH-U12A into the NR200P SFF case.

I think the biggest issue that Noctua has with the NH-U12A chromax.black comes down to its pricing. It has an MSRP of $119 which for an air cooler is a lot of money. You can find at least competent 120mm air coolers in the $40ish range and at that price, you are getting into the pricing of the all-in-one coolers. Noctua coolers have always been more expensive, but this is a new level with the NH-U12A Chromax.black running more than the larger NH-D15. Some of that can be justified by just the two NF-A12x25 chromax.black fans which are $30 each to buy on their own and you also get a full tube of thermal paste. But beyond that, you are paying more because this is compact for its cooling capabilities. If you are in a situation like me where you need a system to be ultra-reliable and quiet this is still the way to go. It won’t be cheap, but you won’t have to worry about it.


Live Pricing: HERE



Author Bio
Author: garfi3ldWebsite: http://lanoc.org
You might call him obsessed or just a hardcore geek. Wes's obsession with gaming hardware and gadgets isn't anything new, he could be found taking things apart even as a child. When not poking around in PC's he can be found playing League of Legends, Awesomenauts, or Civilization 5 or watching a wide variety of TV shows and Movies. A car guy at heart, the same things that draw him into tweaking cars apply when building good looking fast computers. If you are interested in writing for Wes here at LanOC you can reach out to him directly using our contact form.

Log in to comment

We have 1611 guests and one member online