Noctua NH-C12P and Noctua NH-C12P SE14 CPU Cooler Review

Cooling/CPU Cooling by jmke @ 2011-02-09

Noctua has a go at top down CPU cooler, the NH-C12P comes with a 120mm fan while the SE14 adds a massive 140mm fan to this unit. Does it stand a chance against popular tower coolers for sale today? Let's find out.

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Noctua NH-C12P and Noctua NH-C12P SE14

The Noctua NH-12P maximizes all the area around the CPU socket, so the design is really a block with some clearance under the aluminum cooling fins, which expels heat transferred from the copper base through 6 heatpipes. The total surface area is well used, if you have a case with limited amount of space, this heatsink could offer you a nice third party cooling solution, so it seems.


The base is nickel plated and well finished


As mentioned before, the NH-C12P was first available with a 120mm fan, later on this was replaced by a larger 140mm custom designed unit

The blade design on the Noctua fan is supposed to improve airflow with the added notches as you can see above.

The 140mm has the same mounting holes as the 120mm fan, but as you can see the frame had to be made custom to pull this of. The mounting clips are pre-assembled on the 140mm unit with noise reducing rubbers.


Installation will require motherboard removal and a bit of patience, the cooler can be rotated 90° so you shouldn't have any issues fitting this unit inside a mid-range case, inside a HTPC things might be more challenging. Inside the package you'll find clearly marked plastic bags which contain the platform specific mounting bits and bytes.

From left to right in the photos above:

- Thermal paste, common mounting gear, fan mounting clips, anti vibration strips and two different 3-pin fan adapters which have a resistor build-in to reduce voltage to the fan. When tested with the Noctua 120mm fan the results were obvious. @12v it did 1385rpm, with the Black cable: 1111rpm with the Blue cable: 1000rpm. It's a no-frills approach into reducing the fan rotation speed without resorting to a dedicated fan controller or software solution.

- Intel S775 mounting gear (other Intel stock mounting gear included in the new boxes looks very similar)

- AMD AM2/3 mounting gear


Installing the bracket was easy thanks to the cut-out at the back of the CM HAF922, so far so good. Getting the heatsink screwed down however was more challenging as the top-down design blocks easy access. With fine pliers and magnetic screwdriver the heatsink was finally installed, the rubber strips pasted in the correct area and the 120mm fan in place:


Swapping fans was quite easy, the clips provide a solid installation for any fan that has open-flanged holes as the one pictured above. The Noctua 140mm fan comes with its own mounting clips and installed it looks like this:


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