Noctua NH-U12S and NH-U14S CPU Cooler Review

Cooling/CPU Cooling by leeghoofd @ 2013-08-06

Austrian Cooler giant Noctua released a while back two new additions to their popular CPU cooling line-up. Two single slim design tower coolers in two different versions: the NH-U12S utilizing a 120mm fan and it's bigger brother the NH-U14S, sporting a bigger 140mm fan. Both coolers are designed for uncompromising performance, however not at the cost of mainboard and RAM compatibility. Unlike other cooler manufacturers Noctua isn't updating it's product range on the fly, a clear sign that the design and technology behind their products is reflected in great lasting performance and reliability. The latter statement is backed up by a 6 year warranty on the cooler and included Fan.

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Installation and Test Methodology

Both cooler shate the same Secufirm2 mounting mechanism. The installation is pretty straightforward. For LGA1150, 1155 and 1156 you must use the included backplate. LGA2011 installations do not need any backplate as the standoffs are screwed straight into the socket holes. The AMD users have to retain the original mainboard backplate to install the Noctua coolers. Older Intel sockets can get a free of charge compatible mounting mechanism.

Below a typical installation on LGA1150, this time on the great Gigabyte Z87X-OC motherboard:





The LGA2011 installation is also pure childsplay. Just screw in the standoffs, secure the top plates and then finally screw down the cooler.




When installing a 2nd Fan, one must use thicker anti vibration pads to again enhance the airflow.



Even though Noctua warrants full LGA2011 compatibility with the NH-U14S in push and pull configuration. We ran into a clearance issue when we filled up all dimm slots with the CORSAIR Dominator Platinum series. If we deviated from the Noctua instructions and opted to use the thinner aka standard vibration pad everything was okay.



The Madshrimps testbed comprises of the following parts:

  • ASUS Sabretooth X79 motherboard
  • Intel i7-3960X stock and OC'ed at 4500MHz 1.35Vcore
  • G.Skill 16GB 2133MHz C9 rams
  • Western Digital 1TB Green Caviar HDD
  • ASUS Geforce GTX480 video card
  • Corsair HX1000W Power supply
  • Corsair C70 Vengeance case with Air Series Fans installed.
  • Ambient air temperature is 20°C



Prime95 is our CPU torture test. By selecting the Custom test and setting 12-12K, we force the CPU to go straight flat out. After 60 minutes we verify in RealTemp the maximum load temperature results across the 6 cores. For the idle temperatures we just allow the system to warm up during a period of 15 minutes. Just basic idling at either stock for the air cooled setups and/or 4500MHz when we include the different AIO units, doing nothing more then just monitoring the temperatures.

The monitoring software we use is RealTemp version 3. And the output results are the average out of three runs.

We compare the Noctua duo versus some other air coolers: the single fan Alpenföhn Matterhorn Pure, Thermalright True Spirit 120M, Scythe Ashura and the Zalman XPS14. This chart is only with the I7-3960X at stock clocks (3900MHz due to the ASUS Turbo implementation). Once we add the different All In One Cooling liquid solutions in the mix,  the CPU speed gets cranked up to 4500MHz. For both CPU speeds we test the Noctuas and Scythe Ashura once with a single fan and a second time in a push and pull configuration.




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