When I first received this cooler I was expecting a decent cooler that would perform well on a CPU that would be in an HTPC, but could not compete with larger coolers to and cool my Core i7-3820. I was especially worried as Noctua even puts this warning on their website, “Caution: The NH-L12 is a low-profile quiet cooler designed for use in small form factor cases and HTPC environments. While it provides first rate performance in its class, it is not suitable for overclocking and should be used with care on CPUs with more than 95W TDP (Thermal Design Power). Please consult our TDP guidelines to find out whether the NH-L12 is recommended for your CPU.”
To my surprise this cooler worked exceptionally well, even at full system load. With the 2 fans on full speed the idle temperature was 31 and the load was 47, which is very impressive for such a small cooler. Even more impressive is when I took the top fan off to run the cooler in “low-profile” mode the temperature only went up 10 degrees (41 idle, 57 load).
This cooler is extremely small. You really should not have any issues fitting it inside your case or HTPC system. I installed the cooler on my ASUS P9X79 Pro motherboard without any issues at all. The heatsink is large enough that you can actually fit most memory that has smaller heatspreaders under it. Also if you are having height clearance issues you can take off the top fan for a very low-profile cooler that still provides great cooling. The only real issue I see with installation is that in some cases you may have to take out the motherboard as you have to put the bottom fan back in after you install the heatsink.
Right now the NH-L12 is selling for $71.99 at my favorite online retailer. At this price it is at the higher-end of air coolers, but in the end I do think that it is worth it if you are looking for a superior low profile CPU cooler that is very quiet in operation and can be mounted quite a few different ways. Overall ThinkComputers gives the Noctua NH-L12 Low Profile CPU Cooler a 10 out of 10 score and our Recommended Award!
- Small and compact size
- Good performance
- Quiet operation
- Easy installation
- Low profile mode
- None that I found