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  • Noctua NH-L12 Low Profile Heatsink Review
  • Noctua NH-L12 Low Profile Heatsink Review



    With the advent ultra small Mini ITX motherboards now supporting Sandy Bridge processors the quest to find a compact aftermarket cooling solution can be quite a challenge.  In fact, this is such a challenge that many users opt to use the OEM cooler only to deal with excessive heat and noise depending on their case design.

    In this review we will be looking at a new heatsink from Noctua that addresses the issues of low profile cooling where space savings and noise control are a premium.  We first saw this cooler at Computex 2011 while touring their booth and were very interested in the dual fan design since it is a radical change from what other companies had been doing.
    The first thing you may notice with the NH-L12 is the topmost 120mm fan.  This is the Noctua NF-F12 Focused Flow Fan that is designed to not only be extremely efficient but also silent due in part to the PWM design and other supporting features.  The fan sits atop of an extremely thin heatpipe radiator positioned 90 degrees from vertical and is is how the cooler can keep within the 66mm height limit.

    Two fans come with the NH-L12, the 120mm acts as the primary cooler while the 92mm NF-89 located at the bottom pulls air thru the radiator to help with overall airflow.  This will be the only fan running if you configure the NH-L12 in single fan mode or you can replace it with the upper 120mm fan provided you have the proper clearances.

    The radiator does feature the typical edge textures common to Noctua heatsinks, these not only look cool but add more surface area to increase cooling.
    NH-L12 is a four heatpipe cooler with equal pipe spacing at the base of the cooler and a nice even spread across the radiator.  You can also see from this angle the relief cut into the lower part of the cooler for the 92mm fan.  This serves to lift the fan up slightly but also allows Noctua to add noise isolation strips to reduce vibration noise.

    A feature we really like is the micro texture that has been machined into the base of the heatsink.  We have found this does extremely well at removing excess air from the thermal paste and promotes good adhesion to the heatspreader.  If your heatsinks don't require a little force to remove then you didn't make good contact.