Noctua NH-D12L review

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The new Noctua NH-D12L comes with an unconventional and more compact heatsink model, with a height of just 145mm. It has two slatted block-type towers, each with 5 heat pipes for better CPU cooling performance. Additionally, it includes a high-performance PWM fan to provide the component with adequate ventilation. Ready to be installed on Intel systems with LGA 1700 socket and in the same way AMD with the new AM5 socket. Its size not only makes it more compatible with various case configurations, but it also has a greater capacity to dissipate heat and is super quiet. Let’s take a closer look at the Noctua NH-D12L.

Conformation and design

One of the Noctua D15’s biggest problems was its size. The design of the Noctua NH-D12L makes it a potential candidate for virtually any case setup model, since as we mentioned before, it is much more compact. The measurements of this new Noctua model are 125 mm wide, 145 mm height and 113 mm deep. Visually it is a bit difficult to identify particular characteristics, since it looks like previous versions, with its respective chromed fins, good construction and its distinctive brown and white fan. It is paradoxical that a smaller active cooling device has similar and sometimes higher performance than other modern models, but it is a reality.

In general terms, the Noctua NH-D12L is made up of two towers with grooved surfaces, one thick with 51 mm in the back and another with almost double the thickness, 33 mm in the front. The two towers are made from layers of chromed aluminum stacked one on top of the other through the use of spacers, just like a venetian blind. The purpose of having one tower thicker than another is to ensure compatibility with 4-drive memory configurations.

The Noctua NH-D12L with excellent construction and rigid body.

Now we are going to focus our attention on the serrated detail on the edge of the plates at the rear block. The angles here are so sharp that they could pierce our skin if we don’t handle it carefully. On its edges we see rounded angles to make the passage of air through the heatsink more efficient, and latches that hold the fan are used as fasteners, with the possibility of orienting the block according to our convenience.

The Noctua NH-D12L uses 10 chrome-plated copper tubes that not only dissipate heat, but also transport it away from the heat source. These heat pipes go from the surface of the processor and are divided into 2 columns of 5 tubes each for better heat distribution. Depending on the configuration of our motherboard, the form factor of the Noctua NH-D12L with its fan could block the access to RAM memory DIMM numbers 3 and 4. Element to consider before investing in this product to ensure its compatibility.

This heatsink uses the SecuFirm 2 fastening system, using screws to hold the unit in place. The heat pipes do double duty, as a holding element for the heat dissipating plates that form the entire body of the Noctua NH-D12L and transporting heat away from the cold plate.

Fans in the Noctua NH-D12L

The set only includes one fan (Noctua NF-A12x25r), but we have the option to add another A12 fan to the setup. It must be considered that this block is smaller than conventional Noctua fans, so it is necessary to modify the supports for a better fastening. Needless to say, square fans don’t work with this heatsink.

Square fans won't fit the Noctua NH-D12L.

As usual for Noctua products, the typical configuration of the rubber vibration absorbers on both sides of the corners is maintained. This system is the flagship mechanism of the brand to eliminate vibrations and minimize noise. The fan blades and the cover are made of an ultra resistant material called Sterrox. That is why the color does not respond to a premeditated decision. Many Noctua users complain that the colors don’t harmonize with their builds, but obviously, here they favor functionality over appearance.

The fan has 9 blades, with a design with irregular surfaces to maintain air flow, thus guaranteeing performance between 450 and 2000 RPM, moving an air flow rate of 102.1 cubic meters per hour. Likewise, it is super quiet, producing only 22.6 dBA. The fan is able to reach such speeds thanks to the use of bearings with oil under pressure, also known as SSO2. Likewise, it has a life expectancy of 150,000 hours of use.

Installation and support

The Noctua NH-D12L is compatible with the following CPU sockets:


  • LGA1150
  • LGA 1151
  • LGA1155
  • LGA1200
  • LGA1700
  • LGA2011-V3
  • LGA2066


  • AM4
  • AM5

The Noctua NH-D12L is not compatible with old FM sockets from AMD. To start, although a bit new, it does bring compatibility with AM5. In this case, as in the AM4 socket alike, we will use the SecuFirm 2 screw installation.

If you want to use AMD AM4 sockets, we must remove the “quick connect” that it comes with, and place spacers on it to enlarge the distance a little. Then, we hold the two arms with the screws. To ensure that the tightening pressure of the screws is correct, the product comes with springs to control the clamping.

This little trick of using the spacers gives us the advantage of positioning the heatsink with 2 fans and having the necessary distance to have access to all the RAM modules. This is not mandatory, but it would be a shame to have the possibility to upgrade our system and not be able to take full advantage of it.

Conclusion about the Noctua NH-D12L

The Noctua NH-D12L is an excellent heatsink that guarantees us the performance that the brand endorses for being one of the best and most notorious in the computer cooling market. Compared to the NH-U9S, it has 55 more NSPR, with the same performance under stress processing conditions, and greatly improved peak cooling values.

It has a fairly rigid construction and looks for the best possible compatibility in both Intel and AMD systems, given the size of the unit. Added to this is its cooling power and the silence of its fans.

Noctua NH-D12L review

The Noctua NH-D12L is priced at $120 USD. In terms of power, a higher price than models that achieve the same features, such as the Noctua NH-L12S, is not justified. Still, if you choose Noctua for cooling your computer rig, you’re headed in the right direction, whatever the model.

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