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Thread: Noctua NH-U12S chromax.black

  1. #1
    Xtreme Reviewer
    Join Date
    Apr 2011

    Noctua NH-U12S chromax.black


    Since we already presented two out of three new, Noctua chromax.black CPU coolers, then it's time on the NH-U12S chromax.black, which is a refreshed version of the already well-known cooler. The peculiar thing about this cooler is that everything from mounting hardware to fan clips to heatsink to fan are black. The new NH-U12S chromax.black is identical to the regular model except for the color.

    For in-depth technical information on any of the product, please visit the Noctua product page for more information.

    Packaging & Contents

    Noctua has changed the color scheme and design of their all-black coolers. This is as expected since they have been using a different color scheme for their chromax series of the products and accessories. The main packing box is made of a cardboard box and it is in black color background. The box itself shows the product name, a close-up of the Noctua logo, and some heatpipes. All the relevant information such as the brand (Noctua of course) and the model number (NH-U12S chromax.black) are clearly visible. The back of the box lists features such as the heatpipes, widened fin stack, SecuFirm 2 mounting system, and high RAM compatibility, to list a few. On the left side, we have a more detailed list of the specifications which allows consumers in a retail environment to see exactly what they are getting etc. A short paragraph on the right side details the cooler and some features.

    Upon opening the box, I am once again greeted by Noctua's exceptional packaging. Accessories and mounting hardware are placed on top, in marked boxes of their own.

    In the box you will find a sticker with Noctua logo, thermal paste, low-noise adaptor, mounting kits for all popular desktop platforms, and a screwdriver. All accessories are completely black.

    A Closer Look

    we come to the star of our show, the NH-U12S chromax.black. It measures 158x125x71mm with a single NF-F12 fan attached. Adding a second fan brings the depth to 96mm. Naked, the NH-U12S chromax.black weighs in at 580g, while it jumps to 755g when equipped with a single fan.

    Just like we saw on the D15 model, you get a completely blacked out fan design, black cables, black mounting clips and black anti-vibration pads on all four corners and both sides of the fan. One remark I must make is that powder coated products are very sensitive, it damages quite easy and thus scratches and what not are visible fast. Even clipping on the metal fan retention clips, resulted in a tiny bit of damage, making that metal underneath is visible. The sides of the aluminum fins are folded flat to create better channels for airflow across the entire fin achieve better cooling performance and a more even airflow. Slimming down the fin array accomplishes the ultimate goal of this cooler: providing 100% memory compatibility by allowing space for memory modules that use taller heat sinks on the DIMMs.

    The top view of the tower shows the termination points for the five nickel-plated copper heat pipes. Noctua's logo and name are embossed in each of the fins and adds a nice touch if you have a case window. When you look at the shape of the fins in the array. they are slightly tapered inwards toward the center with several notches that add surface area for added cooling performance. The hole in the top is used to access the retaining screw for the SecuFirm2 bracket on the heat sink base.

    The NH-U12S chromax.black is a 5 heatpipe design with the entirety of the heatpipes running directly through the aluminum-plated copper block. The whole tower is held in place by a pair of high quality spring screws to keep constant tension on the cooler and the processor.

    The block, itself, is not mirror finished this time around but instead etched with time grooves increasing the surface area the block has in contact with thermal paste and the processor.

    Noctua's NF-F12 PWM chromax.black Focused Flow fan is included with the NH-U12S chromax.black.

    Measuring 120x120x25mm, the NF-F12 PWM chromax.black uses a stepped inlet on the fan body to promote turbulent airflow into the fan, which improves compression of the air stream and reduce the noise signature. Small inner microstructures also help to improve airflow and static pressure efficiency on the suction side of the Heptaperf fan and reduce the fan noise.

    The improved airflow stream is pushed through the 'Focused Flow' frame, where it is straightened, channeled, and 'Focused' by the 11 stator vanes. These vanes are equipped with Vortex control notches and are placed at variable intervals that range from 31 to 37 degrees apart, all in the name of improved flow and reduced noise. The second generation SSO2 full metal bearing is machined from solid brass for a longer lifespan and improved fan blade stabilization. The motor magnet is placed closer to the axis of the fan blade shaft; again, for improved stabilization in combination with the new metal shell. The NF-F12 PWM chromax.black has removable rubber vibration dampers to keep vibrations quiet. The back side of the motor houses the new NE-FD1 PWM IC, which incorporates SCD technology to reduce noise at very low fan speeds, as the NF-F12 PWM can run as low as 300 RPM.

    The fan cable is split into a shorter cable connected to the fan motor and a longer extension cable. This allows end users to use custom cables to account for cable lengths on radiators, for example, or even connect multiple fans to a close-by PWM fan splitter. You could even use the extension cable for when you want more reach.

    Installation Process

    Installation of the Noctua NH-U12S chromax.black was as easy and straightforward as could be expected. To start with put the actual mounting plate through the relevant holes on the rear of the motherboard so the screws/thread was through on the other side.

    After that, included was 4 x black spacers which added a level of support between the motherboard itself and the 2 x steel mounting plates which need to be installed like so make sure you work out which way they go using the cooler as you might end up with it pointing north to south instead of east to west. Once everything is in place, it’s time to screw in the 4 x Philips headed bolts to ensure the mounting plates are kept in place. It is recommended to use the included screw driver to tighten them but never over tighten as you can damage the thread.

    Next it’s time to apply thermal paste and line up the tower without the fan installed onto the 2 screw threads which are stuck onto the mounting plates. This is the most fiddly bit of the installation and you can use pressure + your hands/screw driver to screw them in.

    Memory clearance is exceptional. Noctua claimed 100% RAM compatibility and I have to agree. The NH-U12S chromax.black easily delivers such clearance. With two fans, clearance still allowed the use of memory with tall heatsinks. This is certainly nice to see. Adding the second fan also gives the NH-U12S chromax.black a more balanced appearance, which helps with cooling performance and aesthetics.

    Test System & Methology

    Test System:

    Processor: Intel Core i7 4770k @ 3.7 GHz & 4.3 GHz OC
    Motherboard:MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming
    Memory: 16GB Mushkin
    Graphics Card: Sapphire HD 6970
    Power Supply: Antec HCG 750W
    Chassis: DimasTech Bench/Test Table EasyXL
    Boot Drive: Ocz Vector
    Storage Drive: 3TB Seagate Barracuda


    CPUID HW Monitor 1.23
    CPUID CPU-Z 1.65
    Prime95 v27.1

    I am testing the performance as follows:

    Ambient temperatures are kept at 23C throughout my tests.
    The CPU Fan is set to 100% to eliminate inconsistencies as a result of PWM control.
    Idle temperatures are obtained after booting the PC and idling on the desktop for 30 minutes.
    Load temperatures are obtained after running Prime95′s Small FTTs test for 15 minutes.
    To measure noise levels i disable the two front in-take fans, rear exhaust and GPU fan.
    On the following pages you'll have the opportunity to read what Noctua NH-U12S chromax.black is capable of.

    Packaging & Contents

    During the Stock tests, the Noctua NH-U12S chromax.black proved to be very efficient.

    While things do get a little warmer when overclocked the Noctua NH-U12S chromax.black again performs excellently well. It does admittedly struggle a little more than it does when under a standard processor setting, but even so, this cooler proves itself more than competant at overclocking and even capable of competing with much more expensive cooler options. Once the cooler was placed under typical loads, the NH-U12S chromax.black began to show its Noctua heritage.

    Packaging & Contents

    The Noctua NH-U12S chromax.black simply blows me away when it comes to noise levels. At lower fan speeds, this cooler will be impossible to hear over other parts in the average user's case. This cooler is insanely quiet in its default single-fan setup. The fan design clearly has paid big dividents in terms of performance in this area. When overclocked, the Noctua NH-U12S chromax.black barely performs any louder.

    Final Thoughts

    If you have the original version of this cooler, please keep in mind that it is the same cooler. They look different, but the performance is identical. Aesthetics are on point here, still the same great product, just no more brown. Noctua continues to put together cooling solutions to meet the needs of the enthusiast market by leveraging the engineering behind the company to deliver an excellent product. That design excellence does come at a cost, but that cost is tempered by the long term cooling performance you get in return for your hard-earned Euro! At 69.90€, the NH-U12S chromax.black is in the upper range of what most people will spend on the cooling solution for their computer. The bottom line is that cooling performance comes with a price, always has and always will. Comparing the NH-U12S chromax.black to other top single tower heat sinks and taking the thickness of the fin array into account, shows that it performs above its size in all cases. A truly impressive feat at only 45mm thick. A well designed base and heat pipe system is part of the reason for the great cooling performance, but is only half the solution. You need a fan(s) to transfer the thermal load from the fin array to the surrounding environment. For this purpose, Noctua uses the NF-F12 PWM chromax.black Focused Flow fan. This PWM fan is built using some truly unique features, which include a stepped inlet to the fan body to promote turbulent airflow into the fan, small inner micro-structures that improve airflow and static pressure efficiency on the suction side of the Heptaperf fan to reduce the fan noise, and a "Focused Flow" frame, where the airflow is straightened, channeled, and "Focused" by 11 stator vanes. A second generation SSO2 full metal bearing is machined from solid brass for improved fan life by improving blade stabilization. The NF-F12 PWM chromax.black has removable black rubber vibration dampers, while the motor houses a new NE-FD1 PWM IC to reduce noise at very low fan speeds. It would seem that fan innovation drives performance. One of the main reasons for the slim-down in depth is that many sockets now have compatibility issues with larger performance memory modules. To get around these issues in the past, you either bought low profile DIMMs, did not populate several slots that interfered with the heat sink and fans, or you had to offset the fan and compromise cooling performance. This is something I have had issues with for years now and have at times had to employ each of those solutions in turn. Noctua's S revision to its NH-12 series addresses this concern with space to spare, allowing me to populate all four DIMM slots on the test motherboard with absolutely no interference. Noctua's SecuFirm2 mounting system covers all the latest sockets and is one of the most comprehensive installation kits you will ever receive, with everything you need to install the NH-U12S chromax.black on any modern board. The mounting system is so well thought out that it truly allows for one of, if not the easiest heat sink installations on the market. As a purveyor of low-noise, high-performance cooling solutions, Noctua take noise seriously and does everything it can to keep noise levels low. At maximum RPM, the NF-F12 PWM chromax.black fan is rated at 42 dBA – not loud by any stretch of the imagination and inaudible from three feet away when locked in a chassis. If that is still too loud, Noctua includes an L.N.A., or Low Noise Adapter, that drops the maximum fan speed down with a corresponding reduction in the noise level to 34 dBA. At 34 dBA, the NF-F12 chromax.black fan is dead silent for all intents and purposes.

    When you get to the point of making a choice on your cooling solution, you really cannot go wrong with the NH-U12S chromax.black. It has got enough technology built in to make your head spin, runs dead silent, looks great, fixes one of the greatest cooling challenges, and comes with a six-year warranty to make sure you are happy with your purchase in the long term. The NH-U12S chromax.black does it all and does it well!

    Last edited by testman78; 04-06-2020 at 02:10 AM.

  2. #2
    no sleep, always tired TheGoat Eater's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Iowa, USA
    I like the way Noctua is going, their old colors was one thing that I found annoying. This might just be the next air cooler I get. I like how they did a full black out - from the mounting hw to the fan wires ( which is a great touch)

  3. #3
    Xtreme Recruit kicsipapucs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Fan looks good, but I dislike the short, extendable cable idea. Cooler in full black is sexy!



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