Noctua NH-U12P SE2 CPU Cooler

Jan 23rd, 2010 | By Nivedh

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Noctua NH-U12P SE2 CPU Cooler

: 01/23/10 – 04:01:28 AM


: Cooling

Page 1 : Index


Noctua is no newcomer at Overclockers Online. We have tested several of their ‘sound-optimized premium components’ in the past, including their CPU coolers and fans.


It has been a while since I reviewed the Noctua NH-U12P, a heatpipe-equipped CPU cooler that performed very well. For your reading pleasure, we will be reviewing the successor to the NH-U12P… please welcome the
. What's different about the SE2? It is compatible with the newest sockets and includes not one, but two, NF-P12 fans.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2

Page 2 : Package

Just like the NH-U12P, the NH-U12P SE2 is packaged in a cube-like box that has Noctua's characteristic brown and blue color scheme. There is a small window that allows us a peek at one of the two NF-P12 fans that are included. You can even see some of the heatsink's fins if you look closely. The SE2 special edition is Core i5 and Core i7 ready.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2

On the top, we have a large list of specifications for both the heatsink and the fan. We'll take a closer look at these on the next page.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2

On one side of the package, there are some excerpts from reviews of the cooler and a list of contents, among other things.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2

Several features of the heatsink and fan are highlighted on the back.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2

Another side shows off the numerous awards the Noctua NH-U12P has received as well as a multilingual product description.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2

Before opening up the package, let us take a look at the features and specifications.

Page 3 : Features & Specifications

Noctua's webpage for the NH-U12P SE2 is very detailed and includes all the information you would want to find.

Here is their description:
Recommended by more than 150 leading international websites and magazines, Noctuas NH-U12P series has become a benchmark in premium quality quiet cooling. The new NH-U12P SE2 now comes with two NF-P12 fans for further improved performance and adds support for LGA1156 as well as LGA1366 via the latest SecuFirm2 multi-socket mounting system. Topped off with Noctuas award-winning NT-H1 thermal compound, the NH-U12P SE2 forms a complete quality package that continues the NH-U12P series legacy of superb quiet cooling performance.

The list of features we found on the package is also here:

Noctua NH-U12P SE2

Two NF-P12 fans are included, as well as the NT-H1 thermal compound. The NH-U12P SE2 is compatible with a plethora of sockets.

Moving on to the specifications:

Noctua NH-U12P SE2

The package includes the ultra-low-noise adaptor and low-noise adaptor to be used with the fans to reduce fan speed and noise.

Everything looks good on paper and you will notice that the features and specifications are very similar to the NH-U12P.

Page 4 : Package Contents

Opening the box up reveals two smaller boxes inside, one of them has two indentations to allow you to lift it out with your fingers, which is very convenient.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2 Noctua NH-U12P SE2

One of the boxes houses the heatsink and one fan. The smaller one has the installation equipment and such. The second fan is also inside this box, along with installation manuals for both AMD and Intel sockets. Even a screwdriver is included to aid installation.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2 Noctua NH-U12P SE2

Two NF-P12 fans are included with the heatsink.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2

Turning our attention the heatsink itself, we can see the linear arrangement of the 36 aluminum fins. Four dual heatpipes emanating from the nickel-plated copper base intersect these fins.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2

Being a tower-shaped cooler, you may have trouble with clearance in small cases.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2 Noctua NH-U12P SE2

The Noctua logo is stamped on each fin and there are four more holes in each fin, perhaps foreshadowing a version of the cooler with more heatpipes.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2

Looking at the base of the cooler, we notice that the nickel-plated copper base does not have a mirror finish. According to Noctua, the ‘micro-grooves’ actually help high-viscosity thermal compounds to be spread more easily than if a mirror finish were used, which results in improved performance.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2 Noctua NH-U12P SE2

Overall, the NH-U12P SE2's design is the same as the NH-U12P and it shares the same good quality throughout.

Page 5 : Installation

I'll be installing the Noctua NH-U12P SE2 on my Asus M3A78 Pro motherboard, which has an AMD AM2+ socket. The first step is to remove your old heatsink and retention module. The NH-U12P SE2 utilizes AMD's stock backplate.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2

Using the equipment from the ‘common parts’ and ‘AMD set’ bags, we can proceed with installation. Place each of the four plastic spacers over the protruding nuts of the stock backplate.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2

Then secure the curved metal brackets to the plastic spacers using the provided long screws.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2

Secure the two metal fastening brackets to the heatsink base with the small screws that are provided.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2 Noctua NH-U12P SE2

At this point, apply a small amount of the included NT-H1 thermal compound to the top of your CPU. You may spread it out yourself or rely on the pressure of the heatsink's base to spread it.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2

Place the heatsink on the CPU and line up the spring-loaded bolts with the holes in the mounting brackets.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2

Use the long screwdriver to secure the heatsink to the mounting brackets. There are no clearance issues with installation but it is somewhat close to the RAM on this board.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2 Noctua NH-U12P SE2

The next step is to install the fans. First I stuck the vibration-reducing strips along the edges of the heatsink. Then use the fan clips to secure the fans to the heatsink, taking note of the airflow direction. You want one fan to push air into the heatsink and another one to pull it out. You can use any 120mm fan you'd like but I opted to use the two included Noctua NF-P12 fans.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2 Noctua NH-U12P SE2

With the fans installed, the cooler towers over the motherboard.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2 Noctua NH-U12P SE2

That covers installation. Don't forget to plug the fan connectors in. You can use the included low-noise or ultra-low-noise adaptors in-line if you want to run the fans at lower speeds and lower noise levels.

Page 6 : Testing & Performance

CPU: AMD Phenom 9950 X4 Black Edition 2.6 GHz, 1.3V (OC'd: 3.0 GHz, 1.4V)
Thermal Compound: Noctua NT-H1
Motherboard: Asus M3A78 Pro
PSU: FSP Power Mod 700W
Memory: OCZ Vista Upgrade Edition DDR2-800 (PC2-6400) 4GB (2x2GB)
Video Card: HIS ATI Radeon HD 3650 IceQ3 512MB
Hard Drive: Hitachi Deskstar T7K250 160GB SATA II 8MB cache
Optical: Samsung DVD±RW
Case: Antec P182
Control Fans: 2x Antec TriCool (1 inlet, 1 exhaust) set to medium

CPU Coolers:
Noctua NH-U12P SE2
, Zalman CNPS10X Flex, AMD Stock HSF
CPU Cooler Fans used with NH-U12P SE2 and CNPS10X Flex: Two NF-P12 fans @ 1100 RPM (low-noise adaptors used) in push-pull configuration

I will be measuring the CPU temperature at both stock and overclocked speeds. Temperature measurements were taken using Lavalys Everest Home Edition. The average temperature of the four cores was taken as the average CPU temperature. Idle measurements were taken with the computer idling at the desktop for 2 hours and no CPU or hard drive intensive programs, such as antivirus software, running. Load temperatures for the CPU were taken while running SP2004 Orthos for 2 hours three times and taking the average.

I went with the NF-P12 fans at medium speed using the low-noise adaptors because based on my findings, 1100 RPM represents a good performance vs. noise ratio. At that speed, each fan has an airflow of about 46 CFM and a noise level of 16.9 dBA.

The ambient temperature was approximately 20ºC throughout all the tests.

First up we have the CPU temperatures at 2.6 GHz.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2

Both the NH-U12P SE2 and Zalman CNPS10X Flex outperform the AMD stock HSF. Although the temperatures are close, the Noctua manages to edge out the Zalman but only by a very small margin.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2

At 3.0 GHz, the increased speed and VCore bring increased temperatures. There isn't much difference between the idle temperatures at 2.6 and 3.0 GHz, but the differences become apparent in the load temperature measurements. The Noctua and Zalman coolers seem to be evenly matched, and once again outperform the AMD cooler.

In terms of noise, the NF-P12 fans running at the medium setting were not very intrusive. In fact, you can barely hear them over the case fans.

Page 7 : Conclusion

The Noctua NH-U12P SE2 is a great cooler. I was already impressed by its predecessor, the NH-U12P and Noctua has managed to improve on it with the inclusion of an extra NF-P12 fan. The build quality and design are excellent and compatibility is a non-issue. Installation was also extremely simple – the clearly illustrated manual was a big help.

In terms of performance, I have no complaints. This is a cooler that performs very well. It even kept my overlocked quad-core Phenom 9950 processor cool while the NF-P12 fans were relatively quiet using the low-noise adaptors.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2

All things considered, the Noctua NH-U12P SE2 is a perfect cooler in my book. Although it is somewhat expensive, you do get what you pay for.

editors choice


  • Top notch performance

  • Universal compatibility and easy installation
  • Two NF-P12 fans included
  • Bundle includes noise-reduction adaptors for the fans


  • Somewhat expensive

I'd like to thank Noctua for making this review possible

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