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

  • AstroGuardian - Monday, July 15, 2019 - link

    Don't even think about using a boxed Ryzn cooler. That BS is crap. Reply
  • Qasar - Tuesday, July 16, 2019 - link

    at least a cooler is supplied with a ryzen cpu, and seems its pretty good for a " stock " cooler. intels cpus dont even come with one Reply
  • AshlayW - Tuesday, July 16, 2019 - link

    They are not "crap". The Wraith Prism is a fantastic cooler considering its size, and even has RGB. It has quad cooper heatpipes and can handle the 2700X at 4.1 Ghz all core (let alone the 3700X with its lower power use). It is sufficient for running stock 3900X or a very slight all core OC on the 8 core parts. And as someone else said, it's certainly a lot better than the "competition".... which doesn't even include one.

    The Wraith Spire and Stealth are adequate for their respective CPUs, at stock. You don't have to pay a single penny extra to get your system up and running, with the "K" series from Intel,add $30 onto their asking price just to get a cooler.

    Sorry for the long comment, just wanted to combat the misinformation
  • AshlayW - Tuesday, July 16, 2019 - link

    copper* , sorry fat fingers Reply
  • Dragonstongue - Tuesday, July 16, 2019 - link

    ahem careful there
    "among the best fans" absolutely, best is VERY far stretching IMO
    also, just because they list for $30 per fan ($20 is about highest average usually ~$15 + ship etc)
    that is NOT their cost, take at base price say $15 per =$30 the cooler alone another $30 = $60 they should list at not $100+, why is quite simple actually, when you are producing something that is at best middle ground for 150w coolers it should not be priced above the vast majority of even top end coolers, not when there are so very many options to choose from, even from a "niche"
  • GreenReaper - Thursday, July 11, 2019 - link

    The pound isn't worth what it used to be eight years ago, either:
  • nivedita - Thursday, July 11, 2019 - link

    Noctua isn’t an American company Reply
  • logamaniac - Thursday, July 11, 2019 - link

    nor the pound an American currency Reply
  • Dug - Thursday, July 11, 2019 - link

    Nice to see a new cooler review. Hopefully more can come down the pipeline and get rid of the old coolers on here that you can't even buy. Reply
  • eastcoast_pete - Thursday, July 11, 2019 - link

    Thanks for the review. Two questions/comments:
    1. You mentioned the Evo212 in some paragraphs and a graph. I also believe that this is a good comparison cooler, as it also addresses price/performance. And, while the Noctua is a bit of a niche product, I would have like to see how it did compared to the higher priced "extra quiet" heatsinks shown. If you have the data, could you share them?
    2. I know that many people who are looking for that kind of cooler wouldn't care for whatever setup came with their CPU. However, those have the best price - free (with the CPU). It would be nice to know just how much extra thermal performance one gets by replacing the coolers that come with the CPU. May suggestion is to show the performance of the respective boxed Intel and AMD cooler alongside. With AMD making noise about their Wraith Spire cooler's performance (included with most of their desktop CPUs), I would really like to know just how much better these aftermarket ones are. Thanks!

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