The introduction of the latest X58 and i7 platform has meant that a whole new mounting mechanism for the LGA1366 socket has been developed. The influx of coolers is now extremely vast with the predominate theme of the coolers featuring aluminium fin stacks and U-shaped heat pipes. One such design that has had great success is the Noctua NH-U12P; instead of redesigning a whole new cooler for the i7 platform as some companies have chosen to do, Noctua have stuck with the tried and tested NH-U12P creating a special edition with an adjusted accessory bundle specifically for the LGA1366 socket. With high accolades and proven performance, this heatsink and fan combination should be a sure fire hit in cooling the i7 processor.
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-optimised premium components, which serve their purpose in a smart, precise and reliable manner.”
Contents & Packaging
The packaging for the NH-U12P SE1366 is virtually identical to its counterpart for the older sockets. The front entails a small cut out giving a view of the NF-P12 fan and the main features listed on the side. A few bubbles pointing out that this cooler is a special edition for Intel Core i7 are also displayed to make it different from the normal NH-U12P.
One side sees a series of translations along with a huge box at the bottom with countless awards that the NH-U12P heatsink has been awarded.
The reverse sees two different things: a skeleton picture of the mounting bracket, heatsink and motherboard surrounded by multi-lingual labels with the specifications at the bottom; the other displays all the features with explanations and a little bit of the technology used in the NF-P12 fans.
The accessory bundle for the SE1366 edition of this cooler is essentially all that has changed. The number of included accessories is again very large though:
- Noctua NT-H1 thermal paste
- Manual/installation guide
- 2 * LNA (low-noise-adapter)
- 2 * ULNA (ultra-low-noise-adapter)
- Mounting brackets
- 4 * Fan clips
- Noctua badge
Clearly it’s a long list with some of the pieces very unique to Noctua – namely their low noise adapters which are an alternative to a fan controller. Also, two NF-P12 fans are included and so four fan clips are needed although the user can just choose to use one fan of course.
The Product – Noctua NH-U12P SE1366
The size of the cooler is immediately noticeable with the large aluminium fin stack rising up to a height of 158mm – the cooler is a true monster especially when equipped with its dual NF-P12 fans; yes, the adjusted accessory bundle includes two fans so as to offer extra airflow to cool the i7 as it should pump out more heat due to having four hyper-threaded cores.
For the NH-U12P, both the fins and the fin spacing are quite large in order to allow more air to flow between each layer of aluminium. The increased spacing also aids the ability of the fans to push airflow through the heatsink as the wider the spacing, the easier it is for air to be pushed through. For the NF-P12 this isn’t really a problem as it has a high static pressure but if the user wishes to use quieter, less powerful fans then they should still perform well.
The four heatpipes follow the highly popular ‘U’ shaped design bending around at the bottom to form the base. Interestingly, as with all Noctua coolers, they choose not to use the HDT (heat pipe direct touch) technology but instead creating a much flatter, smoother base finish with the pipes just above. This means that the heat is not directly transferred to the pipes but shouldn’t prove a problem as the heat can easily conduct through the metal base.
The advantage of this is that the base is much smoother and so should provide a much better contact with the top of the CPU in order to maximise heat transfer and thus heat dissipation. A good indicator to the quality of a cooler is often the base and in this instance, Noctua have done a damn good job in creating a great finish protected from dust and grubby fingerprints by a plastic cover.
The pipes are in fact copper for maximising heat transfer but they are nickel plated (mainly for aesthetic reasons) to make the whole heatsink completely silver. The ends of the pipes are nicely rounded off as expected to just make the heatsink look a little more professional. A Noctua logo also takes pride of place printed into the top fin.
As I mentioned before the cooler uses dual NF-P12 fans at either end to create a huge combined airflow. Their static pressure makes them ideal for CPU cooling along.
The fans are decorated in Noctua’s favourite peach and brown incorporating a nine-blade design. The blades have little notches at the ends supposedly to alter the frequencies of the noise outputs produced in order to make the more bearable after all two of these fans running at full tilt will surely pump out a fair bit of noise.
If, like me, you are slightly noise conscious, however Noctua’s equivalent to a fan controller are provided; they come in the form of resistance wires which restrict the voltage flow and thus reduce airflow. The ULNA (ultra-low-noise-adapter) makes the greatest difference restricting the RPM down to approximately 900 from 1300.
The Test Setup:
|Processor||Intel Core i7 920 @ 2.67GHz, 3.6GHz|
|Motherboard||Asus P6T SE|
|Graphics Card||XFX 1GB Radeon 4870|
|Memory||OCZ Gold Triple Channel Platinum-10666 6GB (3 x 2GB)|
|Hard Drive||Seagate Barracuda 3.0GB/s 7200.10 500GB|
|Power Supply||NOX Apex 700W|
|OS||Windows Vista 64-bit|
The first part of the installation is to attach the mounting brackets to the motherboard; this is very simple as they simply screws into the top of the backplate.
Two brackets are screwed to the NH-U12P heatsink which allow it to sit on top of the brackets on the motherboard (make sure you apply some NT-H1 first to the CPU) and is then secured using the spring screws. It’s easiest if you screw each side a little bit then a little bit more in turn than doing one side completely then the other.
Then all that remains is to attach both the NF-P12 fans on either side of the heatsink using the metal wire clips – this can be a little fiddly but the fans are very secure once they are on. Make sure to put the fan nearest the exhaust fan in your case on backwards though or else it will blow air back into the heatsink!
At Verdis Reviews, we test CPU coolers by booting the PC up into Windows Vista 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.
Thermal results will be recorded with the i7 920 CPU @ 2.67GHz (stock) and overclocked to 3.6GHz.
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 the Stock Cooler was used for comparison purposes (we do not yet have any other i7 coolers to compare the NH-U12P SE1366 against).
First up at stock speeds, we can see that the Noctua cooler performs very well beating the stock Intel cooler by over 10 degrees in both states. Despite, the opposition cooler not being up to much the distances at which the NH-U12P SE1366 between itself and the Stock Intel cooler are really very impressive although unfortunately we do not have any really contenders to test it against yet.
In order to overclock the CPU to 3.6GHz, the base clock was changed to 180 using Vcore and QPI voltages of 1.35V and for the IOH voltage 1.24.
Again as expected, the Noctua cooler demolishes the Stock cooler which gets very hot indeed once under load from Prime95. The Noctua too gets to about 75 degrees but this is expected as the i7 920 will pump out a fair bit of heat especially when overclocked by 35% to 3.6GHz. Overall, the cooling makes for very impressive statistics.
The NF-P12 fans are known to be great performers whilst emitting only low noise outputs – this is the case once more although with two of the fans in tandem, the noise is definitely a little higher than normal. To be honest, the fan on my GPU was louder anyway so it didn’t make much difference to me but for those who are more noise conscious the resistance wires (LNA and ULNA) are really a great option as they don’t make too much of a dent in the performance.
We have come to expect high prices for the best products so don’t be too surprised to hear the high £60 price tag. At first this seems a lot but when you break it down it’s really not too bad as it’s only about £10 more than the NH-U12P standard bundle. The SE1366 version comes with 2 x NF-P12 fans which usually retail at £15 or so and of course you get that great cooling performance. I’m not denying it’s a lot of money but the gains are there to be seen.
I have yet to test a Noctua product that is even slightly below par or poorly made and this is no exception. The heatsink which we’ve seen before is top class and two fans on either side; it makes for a formidable CPU cooler.
The temperature readings are very good and although a high quality comparison cooler could not be used, the NH-U12P SE1366 is able to beat the stock cooler by a large margin in all tests – it even allowed me to achieve a VERY stable overclock of 3.8GHz tested for several hours using the Prime95 stress test. Noise can get a little high with two fans but using the ULNA or even the LAN adapter really drops it down whilst still maintaining reasonable performance.
The only downside I can really think of is the size which does make it a little harder to plug in the CPU power cable and of course it’s not ideal for smaller cases but overall it’s a great product.
Of course £60 is a lot of money, but it’s extremely well spent if you ask me in keeping the i7 920 super cooler and this product easily deserves its Editor’s Choice stamp!
- Great cooling
- Allows for high, stable overclocking
- Noise levels can be adjusted to suit the user
- Secure installation
- Very high quality construction
- Slightly on the pricey side
- Very large
Thanks go to Noctua for providing the CPU Cooler for review.