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Noctua NH-L12 - Cooling Performance

Testing and Results

We measure the CPU temperature of our test rigs when the CPU is idle (Windows desktop) and under load (by running the smallfft test in Prime95). We use the freeware application CoreTemp to measure the temperature of the Intel CPUs, which reads the data from the DTS (digital thermal sensor) embedded in the core of every modern CPU. The DTS gives a far more accurate reading than any third-party temperature sensor, because its readings are not affected by sloppy BIOS programming or a poorly calibrated external health monitoring chip on the motherboard.

Because we don't have a temperature control chamber, it's more accurate to measure and quote the delta T (difference) between the ambient and CPU temperature. This means HSFs (heatsinks and fans) that were tested on different days, when the ambient temperature may have varied, can be fairly compared to one another. You'll find the temperature results for the reference HSFs in the graphs. We normally compare the results of each cooler to the reference cooler.

However for the Socket AM3+ and LGA2011 systems, we didn't have the reference coolers for these at time of testing, so the cooling scores are compared against other coolers rather than how much better the cooler was than the reference cooler.

LGA1155 test system:
  • Core i7-2600K overclocked to 4.1GHz using a vcore of 1.325V
Each test rig is built inside a SilverStone PS03 midi-tower case and includes an Nvidia GeForce 9600 GT graphics card. The temperatures shown are the delta T between ambient and CPU temperature.

Intel LGA1155 CPU delta T

Arranged by 100 per cent CPU load delta T value

  • Corsair H100i Maximum Profile
  • Corsair H100i Balanced Profile
  • Corsair H80i Maximum Profile
  • Corsair H100i Quiet Profile
  • Antec Kühler H2O 920 (Extreme Profile)
  • Corsair H100 full speed
  • Thermaltake Water 2.0 Pro
  • Corsair H80i Balanced Profile
  • Corsair H80 full speed
  • Corsair H100 medium speed
  • Thermaltake Water 2.0 Performer
  • Corsair H80 medium speed
  • Arctic Freezer i30
  • Be Quiet! Dark Rock Pro 2
  • Phanteks PH-TC14PE full speed
  • Be Quiet Dark Rock Pro
  • Thermalright Macho Rev.A
  • Corsair H100 low speed
  • Corsair H80i Quiet Profile
  • Zalman CNPS14X
  • Enermax ETS-T40-TA
  • Corsair H80 low speed
  • Phanteks PH-TC14PE low speed
  • Be Quiet! Shadow Rock TopFlow SR1
  • Be Quiet! Dark Rock Advanced
  • Gelid GX-7
  • Gelid Tranquillo Rev2
  • Noctua NH-L12
  • Thermolab Trinity high speed
  • Noctua NH-L12 (Low-Noise Adaptor)
  • Antec Kühler H2O 920 (Silent Profile)
  • Thermolab Trinity low speed
  • Noctua NH-L12 (Single Fan)
  • Noctua NH-L12 (Single Fan; Low Noise Adaptor)
  • Phanteks PH-TC90LS
  • Arctic Freezer 11 LP
  • Intel Reference Cooler
    • 4
    • 31
    • 4
    • 33
    • 4
    • 34
    • 5
    • 34
    • 4
    • 36
    • 4
    • 36
    • 4
    • 36
    • 4
    • 36
    • 4
    • 36
    • 4
    • 37
    • 4
    • 38
    • 5
    • 38
    • 3
    • 39
    • 4
    • 39
    • 5
    • 39
    • 6
    • 40
    • 5
    • 40
    • 5
    • 40
    • 5
    • 40
    • 5
    • 41
    • 5
    • 41
    • 6
    • 41
    • 7
    • 41
    • 5
    • 43
    • 7
    • 43
    • 6
    • 44
    • 6
    • 44
    • 10
    • 45
    • 6
    • 46
    • 10
    • 47
    • 6
    • 48
    • 8
    • 49
    • 11
    • 53
    • 12
    • 54
    • 12
    • 58
    • 6
    • 61
    • 10
    • 73
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
Delta T (°C) (lower is better)
  • idle
  • Load

**Noctua advises that the NH-L12 is not suitable for overclocking, so we have refrained from testing it on our LGA2011 and AMD systems, as the CPUs in these have the maximum TDP supported by the cooler even at stock speeds. However, as the Intel reference cooler and other low-profile coolers can handle our overclocked LGA1155 rig, we've tested it here to see how it compares.**

Head over the page to see the performance analysis and scores