Getting a powerful CPU cooler nowadays requires a lot of researh as there are literally hundreds of models out in the market. Noctua has recently released their newest high-end CPU coolers, the Noctua NH-U12S and NH-U14S.
Noctua was founded in 2005 and their headquarters are located in Austria. They specialize in silent PC cooling products and until now they have successfully combined great performance with reduced noise levels.
In a nutshell, the NH-U12S is a high performance cooler that offers 100% RAM compatibility with all sockets while the NH-U14S is a pure performance high-end CPU cooler with a large socket compatibility list.
Let’s take a look at the Noctua NH-U12S and NH-U14S specs:
Package and Accessories
Both coolers arrived in two quite large cardboxes in the classic Noctua design and colouring. At the top cover we can find a brief description of the coolers while looking around the boxes we can find features and specifications.
Upon opening the boxes we can see that Noctua has done a fantastic job organising the bundle’s contents, categorizing each kind into its own box.
In the Accessories box we can find we can even find a screwdriver (!) and one piece of Noctua’s high quality thermal paste, the NT-H1. A kit for a second fan installation is professionally included for a push-pull fan configuration. Of course, there are mounting kits for Intel and AMD platforms boxed individually using the SecuFirm 2 mounting system. Finally, in each box there are detailed manuals.
A Closer Look
Overall, the NH-
The NH-U14S is a massive tower CPU cooler with its main characteristic being the enormous NF-A15 PWM fan, a fan that we had previously reviewed before. Its dimensions can almost ensure that you will not encounter any RAM compatibility problems, especially when using an ATX motherboard.
The NH-U14S follows almost the same design pattern as the NH-U12S, with the main difference being the size.
An additional fan can also be mounted, for even more performance. As in the NH-U12S, the nickel heatpipes end in a flawlessly manufactured flat base. Once again, the crafting standards are set to very high levels.
Test Setup and Procedures
Fitting both the coolers inside our system was painless. As you can see from the pictures, the NH-U12S is a compact cooler designed to offer maximum RAM compatibility, while the NH-U14S is surely a beast CPU cooler, without limiting the motherboard’s dimm slots.
The test system on which we performed the test was:
Processor: Intel Core i5 2500K – Stock and @ 4.4GHz
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-P75-D3
Memory: Mushkin Blackline PC3 16000 9-9-9-24 1600MHz
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD7950 2GB GDDR5
Power Supply: Corsair TX750M
Hard Drive: 1 x Seagate 1TB SATA
Optical Drive: Lite-On DVD-RW
OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
Case: AeroCool Aero Engine II
The tests we ran included:
-Temperature test at idle and load system states
-Noise levels at maximum RPM
Both coolers were mounted with dual fans, in push pull configuration.
Test Results and Verdict
From the tests that we performed, it clearly came to our mind why Noctua is definitely one of the best CPU cooler manufacturer out in the market. Both the Noctua NH-U12S and NH-U14S managed to keep our overclocked i5 2500K temperature down to very low levels, while remaining silent. Over the older Noctua products that still delivered great performance, both the NH-U series coolers are a ultimate improvement.
It is logical that the NH-U14S managed better results due to its massive 140mm fans, while the NH-U12S delivered exceptional performance despite using 120mm fans, there was very little difference between the two. We really see no reason to purchase a low-end water-cooling solution as it will probably perform worse that Noctua’s offerings.
The MSRP prices (with single fan included) are the following:
– Noctua NH-U12S: 59.90€
– Noctua NH-U14S: 69.90€
As you can understand, they target enthusiast users who aim for maximum performance and are willing to spend a considerable amount of money for a CPU cooler. It is guaranteed that in terms of performance and build quality you surely get what you get for with the Noctua NH-U12S and NH-U14S, as you get a CPU cooler bundle that can put water-cooling solutions to shame!
(+) Fantastic performance
(+) Solid build quality
(+) Maximum compatibility
(-) Price, but you surely get what you pay for
Thus, we would like to give both the Noctua NH-U12S and NH-U14S our Editor’s Choice Award.