Noctua NH-L12 Low-Profile CPU Cooler Review - Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

For an ultra-low profile cooler, the NH-L12 performs admirably.  Noctua's fans continue to push air at an industry-leading level of acoustic performance, and their coolers hold their own as well.  Although it won't push the performance of other high-performance tower coolers, the NH-L12 does quite well, capable of holding our i5-2500K to a respectable 60°C at full load and 3.8GHz, leaving headroom for 4GHz overclocks, pretty good for its stature.  Performance from the push/pull configuration loses its advantage as the heat is dialed up, and for full-load overclocked performance, having a single push fan performed essentially the same as both fans used concurrently, because the heatsinks began to bear most of the thermal load.



In the ultra low-profile configuration with a single fan pulling from the bottom, performance falls back a significant amount, but still holds its own surprisingly well.  Overclocked load temps topped out at 65 degrees Celcius, which is still pretty good, given it only extends 66mm over the top of the processor.  This is a great fit for a high-performance rig in the increasingly-popular Small Form Factor segment, lead by BitFenix's Prodigy chassis.


Noctua cooling products have always carried a bit of a premium which can be justified in a number of ways.  One, their accessories carry significant value, such as numerous fan cables and adapters.  The most valuable accessory is the large tube of NT-H1 thermal paste, which runs anywhere from $10-15 per tube, and performs great.  You also pay for their ultra-quiet fans, which on their own cost $20+, and you're getting two of them, even if one is a 92mm fan.  Their fans also have fantastic lifetimes, so they'll hold up due to their high-quality fluid-dynamic bearings.  With all that said, the $70 price tag still seems relatively spendy for the performance available.  However, with most "niche" products, there's a premium due to lack of overall demand.  Those needing something ultra-low profile are likely willing to spend up for it, and I think that's partly reflected in the $70 price tag. 


However, if you're looking for a cooling solution at a scant 66mm clearance requirement, and would like some decent performance to come from it, the Noctua NH-L12 seems like a great choice. 


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