While a stock cooler is supplied with most retail CPUs, enthusiasts often want something better; be it a more powerful cooler, a quieter cooler, a liquid cooler, etc. As a result the market for third-party coolers remains strong, providing variety against the backdrop of more limited stock coolers. And with that, there's no shortage of designs, with coolers for pretty much ever need, want, budget, and size limitation.

In today's review we are taking a look at the NH-U12A, a tower CPU air cooler made by Noctua. Noctua is a company renowned for its advanced products that usually – and deservedly – carry a premium price tag. The NH-U12A is the latest version of their family of 120 mm-based single-tower CPU coolers, which are designed to offer a balance between performance, cost, complexity, and compatibility.

Overall, the NH-U12A is designed to fit top-tier cooling performance into a more compact 120 mm cooler, as opposed to larger and more traditional 140 mm coolers. In this respect, it's especially useful for users building compact and transportable gaming systems.

Diving right in, we received the NH-U12A in an exceptionally sturdy cardboard box. Noctua is using the same simple artwork on the packaging of all their products, focusing on elegance and the provision of information rather than an eye-catching design.


Inside the box, we found the cooler very well protected, placed below layers upon layers of thick cardboard packaging. The supplied mounting hardware and extra items can be found in a smaller, compartmentalized cardboard box.

Aside from the typical mounting hardware necessary to mount the NH-U12A onto a CPU socket, Noctua also supplies a basic screwdriver, a fan power splitter cable, two fan “low noise” adapters that limit the speed of the cooling fans, a tube of NT-H1 thermal grease, and a metallic case badge.

The Noctua NH-U12A CPU Cooler


View All Comments

  • Drkrieger01 - Friday, July 12, 2019 - link

    While the price for the fan is high, so is its performance. The fans used outperform most 140mm fans, and are very quiet. I'd gladly pay the price for the fan considering they have MTBF's far beyond all the fans you see sold to consumers (typical Noctua MTBF on fans are 150k hours, other brands 30-50k). They are best used on radiators for liquid cooling, or dense-fin tower coolers Reply
  • dqniel - Friday, July 12, 2019 - link

    Nidec fans are still the best for pushing air through dense fins. Reply
  • Showtime - Saturday, July 13, 2019 - link

    I have 140mm Phanteks, and I guarantee these 120mm fans don't keep up with them at the similar decibels. They hold their own against my 140mm Noctua's. Those Phanteks cost me between $10, and $15 each so there are plenty of options if you're willing to research.

    Remember kids, it's not night and day. You're paying double for what usually just a few decibels, or degrees from other good coolers/fans.
  • poohbear - Tuesday, July 16, 2019 - link

    Yes but they last longer, and the quality is topnotch. My uncle always used to say: "I'm a poor man, so i only buy expensive things". Mind you, he lived long before brand name clothes were as ridiculous as they are now. You get what u pay for. Reply
  • tigz1218 - Tuesday, July 16, 2019 - link

    Decibels are a funny thing. Did you know that for about every 10db the perception of loudness doubles? Only a few decibels can make a big difference to what you actually hear. Here is a good article:
  • Death666Angel - Friday, August 2, 2019 - link

    Couple of things on that: The A12-25 is their bread and butter fan that can serve pretty much any purpose inside a case (case fan, heatsink fan, radiator fan). Noctua has cheaper alternatives like the S, F and P series, some of which are available in a redux version with no addons. Normal Noctua fans have screws, anti vibration mounts, a splitter cable, an extension cable and a low noise adapter. I bought two redux NF-P12 1700 PWM fans for 28€ (not on sale). The cheapest option like that from Phanteks would be 30€.
    Another thing: Noctua has a 6 year warranty and if the damages to the item are identified as being genuinely covered under warranty (which unless you bath the fan in liquid is almost always the case) then they rebate the shipping costs. Phanteks website claims 5 year warranty for fans and no rebate for shipping costs.
    And lasty: I have yet to see a Noctua fan die on me. I have most other types of fans die due to some sort of hub or gearing issue (graphics cards, case fans, heatsink fans), even brand names like Silverstone, Noiseblocker, Be Quiet, Asus (which was Delta). So in my experience, depending on the product, the small extra cost upfront is made up with by extra performance, longevity and support. They also once sent me a new mounting kit for the NH-C12P. I probably wouldn't buy the 30€ 120mm fan that is used here, but then I also don't need 2000rpm max and Noctua offers cheaper options on their own.
  • Oliseo - Thursday, August 8, 2019 - link

    Imagine, someone has to take a chance on employing you when you finally leave school.
    It's the people who have to work alongside you I feel pity for due to the stupidity of any manager that does.
  • eddieceidde - Saturday, November 7, 2020 - link

    Doubt Reply
  • mariush - Saturday, July 13, 2019 - link

    A RETAIL fan may be $30 but may cost as little as 5-10$ to make. It's mass produced, already have tooling for it, and so on... Reply
  • Foeketijn - Sunday, July 14, 2019 - link

    In most industries, the BOM is about a tenth of the retail price. So probably even less than that 5 dollars. In case of fans, I can imagine the relative BOM even being less.
    A load of R&D goes into the design of the blade. That's it.
    IKEA can sell you a half decent battery powered screwdriver for less.
    The cost of making it, is not really relevant is it?
    Is it worth the money.
    For me a silent computer is very important. So next time I will use a boxed Ryzen.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now