ReviewsCoolersNoctua NH-U12A chromax.black Review

Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black Review

I've conducted a thorough analysis on the Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black's award-winning cooling performance complete with benches and other insights.

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Premium Cooling!

Review Summary

the Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black stands out as a top-tier air cooler offering impressive cooling efficiency, an elegant all-black design, and compatibility with larger components, making it an excellent choice for users who prioritize performance and aesthetics.

Hours Tested: 5
Tech4Gamers Recommended Award

Overall
8.5/10
8.5/10
  • Performance - 9/10
    9/10
  • Design - 9/10
    9/10
  • Features - 8/10
    8/10
  • Value - 8/10
    8/10

Pros

  • All Black Aesthetic
  • Asymmetrical design for more clearance
  • Performance equal to any 240mm AIO
  • Better PCIe compatibility
  • Dual NF-A12 PWM Fans
  • Excellent Performance
  • Dual NF-A12 120mm Fans
  • SecuFirm2 multi-socket Mounting System
  • Wide Range Socket Compatibility
  • 6-Year Manufacturer Compatibility
  • Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black Unboxing

Cons

  • The design may not be for everyone
  • RGB Lovers would pass on this

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.

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!


Key Takeaways

  • Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black is a high-performance CPU cooler featuring an asymmetrical design, dual NF-A12 PWM fans, and exceptional cooling capabilities.
  • The NH-U12A chromax.black delivers top-tier performance comparable to 240mm AIOs, ensuring efficient heat dissipation and quiet operation.
  • The NH-U12A chromax.black is not suitable for users prioritizing RGB aesthetics over performance, or those with space constraints in smaller PC cases.

Here’s what the specifications look like:
Model Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM chromax.black
Bearing SSO2
Max. Rotational Speed (+/- 10%) 2000 RPM
Max. Rotational Speed with L.N.Α. (+/- 10%) 1700 RPM
Min. Rotational Speed @ 20% PWM (+/-20%) 450 RPM
Max. Airflow 102.1 m³/h
Max. Airflow with L.N.Α. 84.5 m³/h
Max. Acoustical Noise 22.6 dB(A)
Max. Acoustical Noise with L.N.Α. 18.8 dB(A)
Voltage Range 12 V
MTTF > 150,000 hours

Unboxing

Here is a video showing our unboxing and full review of Noctua NH-U12A.

YouTube video

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.

Contents

When we look at the accessory box, it looks just like every other accessory box seen in Noctua coolers.

PRO TIP: As the cooler doesn’t come with any pre-applied thermal paste, take care in applying it thoroughly before installation.

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

Closer Look

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. 

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.

Design

Before I begin, here are some visuals that showcase the design of a test build:

Cooler

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.

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.

Fans

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.

PRO TIP: You can find the direction the air flows by checking on the markings at the sides of the fan.

The motor is fully composed of steel, with an extra brass framework to strengthen the axle mount; the quality is unquestionable.

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.

WARNING: Overtightening the screws during installation can lead to dangers.

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.

Clearance

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.

Noctua NH U12A Review Pictures
NOCTUA NH-U12A chromax.black Clearance

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.

Testing

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.

Test Setup

The latest Intel Core i9-12900K will be our friend during the testing; the complete specs are as below:

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.

Benchmarks

Noctua NH U12A Benchmarks
Thermal Performance (Image by Tech4Gamers)

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.

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 Buy It?

Before you invest in a cooler as expensive as this, it’s always good to consider whether the premium features provided will be of any aid.

Buy It If:

You’re seeking top-tier performance: Users who prioritize exceptional cooling performance and are willing to invest in a high-end air cooler for their gaming or content creation rigs would want to get this cooler.

You want a future-proof cooler: Those looking for a cooling solution that serves them well over multiple system upgrades, offering compatibility with various Intel and AMD sockets would love the Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black.

Don’t Buy It If:

❌ You’re a casual gamer on a budgetWhile the premium cooling might be eye-catching to any and all gamers wanting to take their gaming experience to the next level, it’s important to consider whether you personally need such a cooler for your own experiences.

Conclusion

Noctua introduces the NH-U12A chromax.black, a cooler renowned for its exceptional cooling performance and sleek all-black design. The asymmetrical layout enhances clearance, accommodating large components like the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Ti without PCIe or RAM interference. Soldered heat pipes contribute to outstanding cooling, and the nickel-plated finish adds durability.

Equipped with two NF-A12 PWM fans, the cooler ensures silent operation with a maximum speed of 2000 RPM and a minimum of 450 RPM. The SecuFirm2 mounting hardware supports various Intel and AMD sockets. Priced at $120 for the cooler and two fans, or $33 per fan separately, it offers a premium solution with performance comparable to 240mm AIOs, impressive noise levels, and a stylish stealthy appearance.

Awards Received By Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black

Here are the Tech4Gamers awards received by Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black after thorough testing.

Recent Updates


January 23, 2024: Few text changes to improve readability.


 
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