The tower format cooler with multi-heatpipes and large fin stacks has been a triumph for thermal solution companies alike far replacing the more traditional top-down cooler. One such company which still believes in the performance of this style of cooler and for its greater compatibility in smaller cases is Noctua NH-C12P . Their cooling solutions have earned them a highly regarded name and one such product that has contributed to this is their NH-C12P CPU cooler featuring a whopping 6 heatpipes and fins emanating directly from the base. Let’s see if the performance can keep up with the newer tower coolers which now dominate the market.
Company Information – Noctua
“Noctua aims at establishing a new level of quality and performance “Designed in Austria” through paying attention to the users’ needs in a market burdened with all kinds of frills and furbelows and providing sound-optimized premium components, which serve their purpose in a smart, precise and reliable manner.”
Noctua NH-C12P Specifications
Contents & Packaging
The Noctua NH-C12P packaging, as with all Noctua coolers, is very clean cut and stylish with their symbolism blue, brown and red colour scheme setting them apart from the competition. The front has a small window giving a glimpse of the NF-P12 fan inside.
The features are bullet pointed at the top and the side has a few diagrams on how to install the cooler.
The back has each of the six features in much more detail accompanied by small images and some information on the vortex cut notches of the NF-P12 below. The final side of the packaging is left for multi-lingual purposes with lots of translations and Noctua couldn’t help but put a big box at the bottom showing off all the awards the cooler has achieved!
The accessories come bundled into three different see through plastic sleeves: one for Intel CPU installation, one for AMD CPU installation and one for common parts such as the heat paste. Of course there is also a fold out step-by-step guide for installing the NH-C12P.
In the common parts back are the following bits and pieces:
- Noctua NT-H1 thermal paste
- Fan clips
- Rubber strips (for the fan installation)
- LNA and ULNA adapters
The LNA (low-noise-adapter) and ULNA (ultra-low-noise-adapter) are Noctua’s alternative to a fan controller. Despite not having the versatility of a fan controller they are much simpler to use as they are simply resistance wires that restrict the voltage flow and thus reduce fan speeds. Also they do not need to be mounted in the case, like a fan controller does.
The Product – Noctua NH-C12P
Upon first inspection, the Noctua NH-C12P is a pretty awesome sight with its shiny silver heatpipes which curve and flow through the design. The large array of aluminium fins emanate directly from the base and just get bigger and more numerous as you go up the cooler – it’s huge!
From the side the Noctua NH-C12P cooler looks a little strange and far different from the regimented tower format coolers.
Let’s start with the heatpipes; the NH-C12P utilises a whopping total of six of them in its design. They curve upwards and outwards from the back of the base and then back through the main heatsink so as to evenly distribute the heat to all parts of the fin stack in order for maximum heat dissipation.
The pipes are actually copper like most coolers, due to the metals great ability for heat conduction, but are covered by a silver finish concealing the natural orange colour.
The aesthetics of the design are really top notch and every effort has been made in order to achieve a fully rounded and professional cooler which will look the part in any enthusiast’s rig.
The first evidence for this is the rounded the ends of the heatpipes which is not only done on the end find but also on the ends of the pipes in the base. The front fin also has an imprinted Noctua logo for a little extra style.
The fins themselves are quite widely spaced and this is done for a reason: to make is easier for the fan to push air through the fins so as to give lower temperature readings. The NF-P12 fan included in the box actually has a very high static pressure and so this is not vital but it’s a good idea nonetheless.
Noctua did not implement the HDT technology, which in my book has still yet be to proven as a better performer, instead they use a machined finish which is incredibly smooth and will certainly provide a great contact with the top of the CPU with the aid of the high quality NT-H1.
On either side of the base are a couple of screw holes for installing the mounting brackets.
The base is pretty reflective and a reasonable reflection of the coin is visible below.
Right that’s the heatsink covered; now an integral part of any heatsink and fan combination is the fan. A good fan can make all the difference to the performance of the heatsink and Noctua have the best – the NF-P12.
A quick run through the features and specifications of the Noctua NH-C12P immediately let you know that Noctua know their stuff and have come up with a great product. Innovations such as the vortex cut notches and optimised blades allow for low noise outputs whilst still retaining high airflow levels.
For a full look into the NF-P12, check out the review here.
The Test Setup:
|Processor||Intel C2Q Q9450 Quad Core @ 2.66GHz|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte S-Series GA-73PVM-S2H|
|Graphics Card||XFX 8600GT|
|Memory||Corsair XMS2 PC6400 (2x 1GB)|
|Hard Drive||Hitachi HDT7250 (250GB)|
|Power Supply||NOX Apex 700W|
|OS||Windows XP Pro 32bit|
The first part of the installation sequence is screwing the two brackets onto either side of the base.
Also, two more brackets need to be screwed through the motherboard and into the backplate behind for the cooler to sit on. The brackets are slightly raised so that any capacitors around the CPU socket don’t get in the way.
Next up you need to apply some thermal paste – this might seem like a very minor part of the installation but it’s actually very important. Noctua’s approach is to place a small blob of the paste on the CPU, then place the cooler atop and spin it a little to spread the paste out.
This is a good method but is not always able to be done with other coolers and so to keep things fair, we spread the paste by stretching a small piece of polythene bag over our finger and the spreading the paste manually – this might seem like a strange method but it’s very effective and much easier than messing around with a spreader.
To secure the heatsink simply screw down the spring-loaded screws until they stop.
Last but not least is the fan installation. First stick the rubber mounting strips onto the top of the heatsink – this is a good added extra from Noctua that prevents any vibrations produced by the fan’s motor from being transferred to the fins.
Then place the fan atop and secure it with the fan clips.
At Verdis Reviews, we test socket LGA 775 CPU coolers by booting the PC up into Windows XP and then taking temperatures in both idle and load states.
The temperatures are taking using Core Temp and averaging the four core temperatures. For idle testing, we simply leave the PC for 30 minutes and then come back and take the temperature readings. For load, we run prime95 for 20 minutes before taking temperature readings once more.
Finally, noise is that final factor that is tested; however, at Verdis Reviews, we are not yet at the stage where we can use high tech sound equipment and therefore, noise testing is left to the human ear – not the most scientific but it gives a good impression of how noisy the cooler is.
Ambient temperature was 18 degrees and a number of coolers will be used for comparison purposes; Noctua NT-H1 was used as the TIM for all coolers.
Evidently, the NH-C12P is right up there in terms of performance and it only marginally behind the NH-U12P which is a very widely regarded cooler for its performance. This is certainly impressive and shows that top-down coolers can still compete.
Noise levels are exactly the same as the NH-U12P as they both have a single NF-P12; the noise levels aren’t bad and the vortex cut notches certainly help but it’s not the quietest I’ve ever reviewed. However, if you wish to drop the noise levels down they you can use the noise adapters.
Noctua = premium prices. There is no way around this but one thing I do know is that Noctua will not let you down, the performance of their coolers is truly first rate. The NH-C12P will set you back around £50.
I have yet to review a poor or badly made Noctua product and the trend continues here. There are really not any faults. Yes, it’s very expensive and pretty big so might not fit too well in smaller chassis, but when you look at the overall performance, build quality and design of the NH-C12P you really can’t complain about these things.
A very impressive cooler once again, not quite as good as the NH-U12P but the lower profile design does allow for great compatibility – great job Noctua!
- Good performance
- Great build quality
- Reasonable quiet
- Attention to Detail
- Includes NF-P12 and NT-H1
Thanks go to Noctua for providing the CPU cooler for review.