After reviewing the Noctua NH-D15S chromax.black, we’re back with another review, this time of the Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black. The Noctua NH-U12A has been a strong competitor for Noctua, and with such a high profile, Noctua was compelled to release the cooler in the chromax.black series. With an MSRP of $120, the cooler is, of course, more costly than the Noctua NH-D15 cooler.
In the chromax.black series, the Noctua NH-U12A is completely black from head to toe, and owing to a revised back-plate, it provides a wide variety of socket compatibility for both Intel and AMD. In comparison to the Noctua NH-U12S, the NH-U12A chromax.black has a 37% larger surface area, 2x NF-A12x25 PWM fans, and seven copper heat pipes for optimal performance.
Related Cooler Reviews: Noctua NH-L9i Review
Just like other reviews, we’ll be unboxing, installing, and testing the Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black at all phases to determine whether it’s truly worth the hype. So, without further ado, let’s dive right into it!
Noctua NH U12A Specifications
Here is a video showing our unboxing and full review of Noctua NH-U12A.
Looking at the packaging, it appears to be identical to any other Noctua cooler housed in a large cubic box. The box has a shiny chromax look to it.
The Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black logo appears on the front of the box with the cooler’s picture.
The award-winning Noctua NH-U12A cooler is described on the packaging’s side, together with the Dual NF-A12 120mm Fans. A picture of the cooler is also included.
The cooler and fan specifications are printed on the back side of the package. The fans provide an airflow of 102.1 m3/h and are rated at 2000 RPM ± 10%. We also learn that the cooler weighs 1220g, which is quite a bit.
The cooler’s opposite side features some chromax.black branding, as well as the cooler’s measurements. With both fans mounted, the cooler has a height of 158mm and a depth of 112mm, with a width of 125mm. From the cooler’s base to the heatsink, there is a 39mm clearance.
Apart from the Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black logo and the award-winning badge, the box doesn’t include anything much on top.
When you lift the lid, you’ll notice an accessory box with the accessories printed on it.
Taking the accessory box aside, we discover a cardboard box containing the primary cooler.
When we look at the accessory box, it looks just like every other accessory box seen in Noctua coolers.
We can see a number of brackets, screws, and the installation documentation if we lift the top. The cooler comes with all of the essential equipment for installation, including:
- 2x NM-AMB11 Mounting Bars
- 4x NM-APS4 Plastic Spacer for AM4
- 4x NM-APS5 Plastic Spacer for AMD
- 4x NM-ALS1 Screws
- 4x Plastic Spacers NM-IPS1 [Black color for Intel LGA 1500/1200 sockets]
- 4x Plastic Spacers NM-IPS3 [Blue color for Intel LGA 1700 socket]
- 4x NM-IBT5 Bolts [LGA 15xx/1200/1700]
- 4x NM-IBT2 Bolts [LGA 20xx]
- 4x NM-ITS1 Thumbscrews
- 4x Long Screws
- 6x NM-ICS1 clip-on Spacers
- 1x NT-H1 Thermal paste
- 1x Screw Driver
- 2x NA-RC14 LN Adapter
- 1x NA-YC1 Y Cable
- 1x Metal Noctua Case Badge
A Closer Look At The Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black
With all of the extras out of the way, it’s time to focus on the Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black. The NH-U12A chromax.black, like every other Noctua cooler, is an award winner in its own right. It is designed to provide additional RAM and PCIe clearance while also being convenient for those who have smaller PC cases.
The Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black, like the Noctua NH-D15S, features an asymmetrical design that allows for better user compatibility. One of the best things about this cooler is its dual NF-A12 PWM fans, which have made it a true award winner. That’s because, the NF-A12 Fans are a work of art with their incredibly quiet and optimum airflow.
Noctua has also ensured that quality is maintained by introducing the newest SecuFirm multi-socket mounting technology, which is not only sturdy but also compatible with a broad range of Intel and AMD sockets.
The Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black cooler has the same dimensions as the previous NH-U12A, measuring 158x125x112mm. The cooler has seven copper heat pipes and high-density aluminum fins to provide the finest thermal performance.
One thing I noted while reviewing the Noctua NH U12A is that the company logo is in the center of the single-tower cooler, with the seven copper pipes poking out. At the center of the tower, there is a circle-shaped cutout that provides access to the mounting screw using the screwdriver provided for easy installation. The heat pipe tips at the top measure roughly 6mm apiece and are quite elegant.
The borders are also a little overhanging, which is to provide support for the fan brackets.
The nickel-coated cooper-cold plate with a glossy mirror finish can be seen on the bottom. It is approximately 43.5×43.5mm in size. The copper cold plate is in indirect contact with the heat pipes; we also do not get any pre-applied thermal paste.
Looking at the heat pipes attentively, the Noctua NH-U12A has seven 6mm nickel-plated black color-coated heat pipes.
The heatsink contains 50 nickel-plated aluminum fins that are finished in a black color coating. Due to the 58mm depth of the NH-U12A compared to the 45mm depth of the NH-U12S, the newer Noctua NH-U12A boasts a 37 percent increase in surface area for greater heat dissipation than the Noctua NH-U12S.
On the tower, the left and right sides are identical; we can notice a slight bend in the fins owing to the fan brackets, but otherwise, the fins are nicely polished.
For optimal performance, the cooler’s fins and heat pipes are entirely soldered.
The spring-loaded screws are joined to the Noctua mounting bar with a single screw, which can be accessed through the screwdriver hole in the center of the tower.
If we were to review the Noctua NH U12A without paying attention to the fans, it would be a shame. Luckily, the Dual Noctua industrial grade 120mm NF-A12 fans are included with the Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black. The pull-push fan arrangement comes pre-attached to the tower.
Due to the increased diameter of the center, the fans may appear larger than other 120mm fans. The 9x blades of the Noctua NF-A12 fan have a greyish-textured surface, which Noctua refers to as Flow Acceleration Channels. Additionally, anti-vibration cushions are also installed on all eight corners.
The motor is fully composed of steel, with an extra brass framework to strengthen the axle mount; the quality is unquestionable.
NF-A12 Fan Specifications
- Dimensions: 120x120x25 mm
- Bearing type: SSO2
- Max. Rotational Speed (+/- 10%): 2000 RPM
- Max. rotational speed with L.N.A. (+/- 10%): 1700 RPM
- Min. Rotational Speed (PWM, +/-20%): 450 RPM
- Max. airflow: 102,1 m³/h
- Max. airflow with L.N.A.: 84,5 m³/h
- Max. acoustical noise: 22,6 dB(A)
- Max. acoustical noise with L.N.A.: 18,8 dB(A)
- Connector: 4-Pin PWM
- Input Power: 1,56 W
- Voltage Range: 12 V
Noctua NH U12A Installation
The Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black is easy to install. Before installing your CPU, make sure it is free of any previous paste residue. You may do this by swiping some rubbing alcohol over it.
Check that you’re using the right screws and brackets for your socket before you begin. After that, use the NM-ICS1 clip-on spacers to secure the bolts on the backplate, then firmly attach the backplate to your Motherboard in the right spot.
Use the blue or black spacers to keep the rear plate in place before inserting the mounting bar. Make sure you use the right hole position for your CPU socket when installing the mounting bars. The mounting bar may be installed either horizontally or vertically, with the curbed sides pointing outwards.
Attach the mounting bars and tighten them with the four NM-ITS1 thumbscrews, ensuring a tight and robust connection (not too strong).
Apply enough thermal paste to the cooler and place it on the mounting brackets without the fan. Next, secure the spring-loaded screws and tighten them with the included screwdriver for easy access. Remember that the screws must not be overtightened.
Attach the fan to the cooler and make sure that it is facing the desired direction (airflow arrows can be seen on the side of the fan). Connect the fans to the 4-pin PWM connector once it’s been installed. You can make use of the Y-splitter provided.
Clearance is usually an issue with air coolers, but the Noctua NH-U12A is an exception, even with both fans mounted. Thanks to its asymmetrical design, RAM clearance was not an issue, and we were able to utilize all DIMM slots on our motherboard.
Even though we used a big card, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Ti, PCIe clearance was not an issue, and we were able to plug everything together fairly easily.
The cooler stands around 158mm tall. So, keep in mind that height can be an issue when trying to make room for DIMM slots or the motherboard IO shroud. However, the Thermaltake View 71t didn’t have a problem with height in our tests, but users with smaller cases might want to think about it.
Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black Temperature Benchmarks
We had to put the Noctua NH-U12A through a series of tests to discover whether it was indeed an award-winning cooler. The tests were carried out within the Thermaltake View 71t, which has three intake fans on the front. We also put an exhaust fan at the back.
In terms of paste, the original Noctua thermal paste that came with the NH-U12A chromax.black was utilized.
The latest Intel Core i9-12900K will be our friend during the testing; the complete specs are as below:
- MSI MEG Z690 Unify Motherboard
- Intel Core i9-12900K processor
- G.Skill Trident Z5 RGB Memory @ 5600MHz
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti Graphics card
- Windows 11 Pro
- Thermaltake View 71T
- We set the i9-12900k voltage to 1.15V, P-Cores to 4.9 GHz, and E-Cores to 3.9 GHz in BIOS. This way, we allowed the comparison with simple heatsinks by forcing consumption of around 140W.
- We carried out the test in Aida64 with the processor and memory boxes activated for 5 minutes.
- For the ranking, delta temperatures are used between the ambient temperature and the corresponding test.
For the thermal testing, the Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black was pitted against some major names. As seen in the graphs above, the NH-U12A chromax.black was far from remarkable, coming dangerously close to edging out the 240mm AIO coolers. The cooling performance of the Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black was demonstrated in two phases: Max and PWM.
In the Max phase, we obtained roughly 44.1° degrees on a complete CPU stress test, demonstrating the excellent cooling ability of the Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black.
Also Read: Noctua NH U12S Review
Comparison With Other Premium Coolers
The Noctua NH-U12A, like the Noctua NH-D15/S, competes with other AIO coolers on the market. In our review, we compared the Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black to some of the most well-known 240mm AIO coolers on the market, and we came to the conclusion that it is a worthy rival.
We compared the Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black against 240mm AIOs such as the Thermaltake Toughliquid 240 ARGB and the ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 240 A-RGB, and the results showed that the Noctua NH-U12A is rather amazing. The Noctua air cooler was almost as good as the high-end 240mm AIOs.
With the results in hand, customers must pick whether they want to go the way of an all-black air cooler with remarkable cooling capabilities or any 240mm RGB AIO cooler. We merely provide information, as we have always stated, and it is entirely up to the user.
Should You Get The Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black?
Noctua has launched its fan-favorite cooler once more, but this time in their all-new chromax.black series. Noctua’s chromax.black series delivers their greatest coolers in an all-black aesthetic for consumers that prefer stealthy aesthetics over RGB. The Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black differs from the Noctua NH-U12A. In addition to the all-black color, it now has an asymmetrical design for greater and better clearance. With both fans mounted, the cooler weighs around 1220g and dimensions about 158x125x112mm. We also get two quality Noctua NF-A12 PWM fans.
Because Noctua is now soldering its heat pipes to the fins, the cooler offers outstanding cooling capabilities. The cooler is nickel-plated throughout, with a black finish on the outside. Additionally, the heatsink features around 50 fins and seven 6mm heat pipes that are cooled by two 120mm NF-A12 PWM fans.
Even with a big card like the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Ti, PCIe clearance was not an issue for us. Similarly, the asymmetrical design made sure that the cooler remained free from any RAM clearance issue. In fact, we utilized all DIMM slots on our motherboard without any hiccups.
In terms of fans, the NH-U12A chromax.black comes with two NF-A12 PWM fans from Noctua. The all-black fans have a maximum rotating speed of 2000 RPM and a minimum rotational speed of 450 RPM. The fans are nearly silent owing to Noctua’s SSO2 bearing, which allows the blades to glide smoothly with the support of Flow Channels.
The SecuFirm2 mounting hardware has been installed on the Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black. As a result, we may use the NH-U12A chromax.black with a variety of Intel and AMD sockets. The copper cold plate is nickel-plated and has a mirror finish on the top. If you carefully follow the installation instructions, you should have no trouble installing the cooler. The cooler does not arrive with pre-applied thermal paste, but we are given a tube of Noctua thermal paste.
The Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black is no doubt expensive; you can grab one right now for a price tag of 120$ for the cooler and two fans. However, if you want to buy the fans alone, they would cost you 33$ each.
The cooler is clearly expensive, but we think that it is worth it. That’s because it offers impressive cooling capabilities, which are clearly comparable to the abilities of any 240mm AIO on the market. Not only that, but the noise levels are impressive, and the looks are also stealthy.
Other Noctua Cooler Reviews
Thank you to Noctua for giving out their chromax.black NH-D15S. Here are some additional pictures for our readers showcasing the build.
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