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Noctua NH-D12L Review

Noctua stays as one of the top manufacturers of PC cooling products. So today, we will discuss one of its CPU coolers in this Noctua NH-D12L Review. 

We got the chance to try out this dual tower 120mm CPU cooler and see how it performs. It went through some tests when we used it for over a week. So our Noctua NH-D12L Review will discuss our hands-on experience with the PC cooler, its features, design, functions, specifications, etc.

But before we look deeper into the product, we will discuss its packaging and contents. 

Noctua NH-D12L Packaging

The first part of our Noctua NH-D12L Review will focus on its packaging and contents. 

Our CPU cooler arrived in a standard-looking Noctua box similar to its other products. The front of the package details the product specifications: its heat pipe design, warranty, max height, and more. The left side of the box displays its features with some details for reference. 

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Looking at its rear, you will find a rundown of why the company went for a dual-tower and low-height design. Generally, Noctua chose this design to offer a more efficient cooler with optimised case compatibility. On the right side of the package, you will find more detailed specifications of the NH-D12L.

Inside, you will find an accessory box and another container that carries the cooler. 

The items inside the box include one NF-A12x25r PWM premium fan and an NA-RC14 LNA. There is also an NT-H1 high-grade thermal compound, fan clips for another NF-A12x25r, and a SecuFirm2 mounting kit. Lastly, you will also see a Noctua metal case badge inside the package. 

Noctua NH-D12L Review – Design and Functionality

To continue our Noctua NH-D12L Review, we will look into its design and functions. And like always, the style of Noctua products leaves users loving or hating them. 

The NH-D12L has a nickel-plated aluminium heatsink and an NF-A12x25r, which rests between two towers. This product features a practical design yet lacks visual subtleties. It means its heat pipes do not have any coverings or gimmicks. 

At first glance, the lack of a fan covering is quite unusual. However, you can optionally purchase one if that is your preference. 

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There are 39 straight heatsink fins with adequate spacing to better release hot air. And it is also with the help of the pressure-optimised fans on the product.  

Noctua integrated five 6mm nickel-plated copper heat pipes, which is usual for its products. For better heat dissipation, the heat pipes get soldered to the base of this cooler. 

It also has a detachable mounting plate fixed with a central screw. Additionally, two spring-loaded screws are on either end to secure the NH-D12L to its mounting kit. Lastly, the product base is nickel-plated copper with some hints of a mirror finish. 

Key Features of the Noctua NH-D12L 

What makes this product excellent for compact builds? We will discuss its unique features in our Noctua NH-D12L Review to learn more. Knowing these elements is vital before purchasing a product since it will help determine if it meets your needs.

145mm Height for Case Compatibility

The regular CPU coolers from Noctua stand 158cm tall, but the NH-D12L is only 145mm. You can install it in various 4U rackmount server cases and tower-style chassis that are not wide for 158mm coolers. It is also suitable for SFF (small form factor) and mini-ITX cases.

Noctua NH-D12L – Lower Height, Higher Performance

Although smaller, the NH-D12L outperforms 92mm coolers and can exceed the performance of 120mm units. It delivers cooling close to the NHU12A, the flagship model of Noctua.

Round-frame NF-A12x25r PWM Fan

Noctua introduced the NF-A12x2 fan introduced in 2018. Enthusiasts consider it the best 120mm fan on the market.

The company used a round-frame variant of the fan for the NH-D12L. Having a round frame reduces the overall cooler height to prevent compatibility issues. Although it has a different shape, it delivers the same cooling performance as the original model.

100% RAM Compatibility on Intel and AMD Motherboards

The asymmetric design of the NH-D12L does not overhang the RAM slots. It is perfectly compatible with Intel LGA17xx/1200/115x and AMD AM4/AM5-based motherboards. Also, the design of this cooler ensures 100% compatibility with DIMMs with tall heat spreaders and easily accessible modules.

PWM Support and Low-noise Adaptors

The NF-A12x25r fan that Noctua supplied with the NH-D12L supports PWM, offering convenient and automatic speed control via the motherboard. Plus, you can reduce the maximum fan speed from 2000 to 1700 RPM using the supplied low-noise adaptor.

Dual-fan Options with the Noctua NH-D12L

Noctua ships the NH-D12L with a second pair of fan clips for installing another NF-A12x25r PWM fan. You can place this on the front or the rear fin stack. 

However, note that the second fan will sit above the RAM or I/O panel. So, using a dual-fan setup will increase the total height of the cooler.

SecuFirm2 Multi-socket Mounting System

The SecuFirm2 mounting systems from Noctua are known for safety, quality, and easy installation. With support for various Intel and AMD sockets, the mounting system can provide the ideal contact pressure. Plus, they are easy to install and can stand the test of time.

Compatible with Old and Upcoming Sockets

With the SecuFirm ecosystem, Noctua allows using the NH-D12L with older LGA775 and LGA1366 sockets using the NM-I3. This mounting kit is an optional item that the company provides without additional charges. If possible, Noctua will also provide upgrade kits for future sockets to make the NH-D12L an excellent long-term investment.

NT-H1 Thermal Compound

The NT-H1 is a professional-grade TIM solution that offers minimum thermal resistance. It is highly reliable and easy to use, which is why it is the top choice of overclockers and enthusiasts. 

Soldered Interface of the Noctua NH-D12L Heat Pipes and Fins

Most coolers have heat sinks with press-fitted fins to the heat pipes. Since aluminium and copper materials have different thermal expansion coefficients, thermal cycling can loosen the fit over time. If it has a loose fit, it results in reduced performance.

Noctua solves this problem by soldering the heat pipes of the NH-D12L to ensure a long-lasting thermal interface. It will not deteriorate even after years of use.


We gathered the product specifications of this CPU cooler for our Noctua NH-D12L Review. The NH-D12L socket supports both Intel and AMD, which are the following: 

  • Intel: LGA1150, LGA1155, LGA1151, LGA1156, LGA1700, LGA1200, LGA2066, and LGA2011
  • AMD: AM4 and AM5. 

Its heat sinks have aluminium fins and copper heat pipes, which measure 145 x 125 x 113mm. It weighs 890g with its fan.

Noctua used an NF-A12x25r PWM fan measuring 120 x 120 x 25mm. It has 450 to 2000 RPM, 60 CFM airflow, and 22.6dBA fan noise.

Hands-on with the Noctua NH-D12L 

Our Noctua NH-D12L Review will now share our hands-on experience with the product. We used it for over a week to see if it was as good as claimed. 

The SecuFirm 2 mounting hardware is still fantastic and easy to use, but it could include some improvements. 

Cooling-wise, the NH-D12L performs admirably with our Intel 11700k. When the CPU was idle we saw temps of 28 degrees C. Whilst under load we saw temps of 58 degrees C.

The NH-D12L kept everything in check, keeping temps nice and cool.

Acoustic is fantastic as well. Especially at processor default, you will be hard-pressed to hear or notice this unit. Here you can tell it has a bit less cooling capacity, but even then managed to impress us.

Noctua NH-D12L Review Summary

If you have heard of Noctua, you likely expected the NH-D12L to perform well. And after testing the product for our Noctua NH-D12L Review, we can confirm that it did! This cooler delivered excellent performance out of the box, and you can add a fan to increase its cooling capacity.

As expected from Noctua, the presentation of the NH-D12Lis premium and its quality is highly evident. From the outer packaging to the cooler itself, we noticed the high standards of Noctua in creating top-notch coolers. Plus, it uses the SecuFirm 2 mounting kit to ensure longevity and compatibility.

The compact size of the NH-D12L is ideal for small PC cases like ITX and 4U server race space. These chassis require superior cooling performance, which makes the NH-D12L an excellent choice that should instantly be on your shortlist. Although it is not ideal for overclocking, it can provide adequate cooling for fast and powerful processors.m

We highly recommend this product for its premium quality and impressive cooling performance.

To learn more about the NH-D12L, visit the official product page of Noctua for additional details.