Noctua releases the NH-L12 low-profile cooler

Have a smaller case or HTPC system that needs some improved cooling? Noctua has a new solution to get it done with their latest unit. The NH-L12 runs dual fans for extreme cooling, the NF-F12 and NF-B9 PWM fans run in dual configuration for maximum airflow or in single fan mode to save space at 66mm of total height on the cooler.

Platforms:

  • Intel LGA2011, LGA1366, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA775
  • AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1

   

It’s not surprising to see this move, many are moving to HTPC units or small factor enclosures to maximize their home entertainment theater experience. With the rise of fusion chips from AMD and the Sandy Bridge series it means high performance doesn’t a dedicated GPU for rendering and other expansion cards. Noctua CEO summarizes this situation well when talking about the cooler.

“The industry trend towards Small Form Factor and Home Theatre PCs is well-established, but there’s still a lack of suitable high-quality quiet CPU coolers”, explains Mag. Roland Mossig, Noctua CEO. “Building a powerful PC always requires a capable CPU, which in return demands a competent cooling solution. But who wants his HTPC to sound like a jet engine? This is precisely where the NH-L12 steps in.”

The PWM support in the NF-F12 and NF-B9 keep the noise under control but also come with low-noise adapters to bring it down to 1200/1300rpm to force it to the bottom end of the spectrum. The system also comes with NT-H1 compound and SecuFirm mounting clips to hold it tight. Coming in at $59.90 it’s a solid deal coming from the company that makes the infamous NH-D14 cooler.

Link: Noctua

Review: Cooler Master Hyper 612 PWM CPU Cooler

Cooler Master has been in the game for ages, my first cooler for my AMD XP 1800+ was by CM, a 60mm fan spinning at an RPM so high it was crazy. They’ve come a long way though, today we have a 120mm powered Hyper 612 PWM by the company, packing low-speed fan power with efficient blade design to hurl large volumes of air across the 6 copper heat-pipe design. We’re pitting this against OEM solutions for those of you coming off Black Edition chips or even standard CPU’s, hopefully it gives you guys a taste of what there is out in the world of performance components.

Test system:

  • AMD Phenom 9750 B3
  • Jetway 790GX HA08 ComboL
  • Sapphire HD 4850 512
  • Crucial DDR2 800 (5-5-5-12)
  • Hitachi 1TB 7200RPM
  • Seagate 300GB 7200RPM
  • Cooler Master Real Power Pro 650W
  • NZXT Phantom Case (extra 200mm on top)

Coolers:

  • AMD OEM Cooler – Standard Phenom
  • AMD Black Edition Cooler (2 Heat-pipe design)
  • Cooler Master Hyper 612 PWM

Thermal Paste:

  • Cooler Master bundled paste

Software is another area that would be nice obviously, I used these for the benchmark though and for overclocking.

  • Core Temp 1.0
  • AMD OverDrive 3.1.0
  • HyperPI 0.99b (12M calculation for stress testing)

With all the details out-of-the-way let’s get rolling!

Bundle

The Hyper 612 PWM is massive, you get the box and realize its not your average cooler and it might take a bit of work to get started on installing it. Packaged are fasteners for AMD platforms and all the Intel platforms minus the newly released 2011 socket although there’s no doubt there will be a refresh for it soon. Click below to get the full spec sheet on the size and details, if you’d rather skip then let us move on.

Show Specs »

CPU Socket Intel Socket:
LGA 1366 / 1156 / 1155 / 775 *AMD Socket:
FM1 / AM3+ / AM3 / AM2+ / AM2
CPU Support Intel:
Core™ i7 Extreme / Core™ i7 / Core™ i5 / Core™ i3 / Core™2 Extreme / Core™2 Quad / Core™2 Duo / Pentium / CeleronAMD:
FX-Series / A-Series / Phenom™ II X4 / Phenom™ II X3 / Phenom™ II X2 / Phenom™ X4 / Phenom™ X3 / Athlon™ II X4 / Athlon™ II X3 / Athlon™ II X2 / Athlon™ X2 / Athlon™ / Sempron™
Dimension 140 x 128 x 163 mm (5.5 x 5.5 x 6.4 inch)
Heat Sink Material Copper Base / 6 Heat Pipes / Aluminum Fins
Heat Sink Weight 806g (1.78 lb)
Fan Dimension 120 x 120 x 25 mm (4.7 x 4.7 x 1 inch)
Fan Speed 600 – 2000 RPM (PWM) ± 10%
Fan Airflow 24.9 – 82.9 CFM ± 10%
Fan Air Pressure 0.3 – 2.7 mmH2O ± 10%
Bearing Type Long Life Sleeve Bearing
Fan Life Expectancy 40,000 hours
Fan Noise Level (dB-A) 9 – 36 dBA
Connector 4-Pin
Fan Weight 104g (0.23 lb)
Note * Supplied accessories may differ by country or area. Please check with your local distributor for further details.

Going past that and opening the box we get a massive cooler, the 612 PWM dwarfs the Phenom Black Edition cooler in every way, it’s wider, it’s taller, the fan is gigantic and it has triple the pipes of the Black Edition. It’s also surprisingly light minus the base which keeps concern about it ripping the board apart to a minimum thanks to a low center of gravity just over the chip and the anchors connect directly off that base. Many new builders fear that something this big will just rip the socket off the board, thanks to the aluminum fins this becomes a non-issue.

Design

The 612 packs a unique setup, 6 heat-pipes run down the fins to the base, instead of just having a copper base that connects to the pipes, the base is essentially the pipes as they maintain a tight field together to pick up heat. Using copper in this zone allows for superb conduction while making sure not to go overboard, the aluminum fins (all 42 of them) pick up the heat from the pipes and help pull it away, the 120mm fan finishes the job by pushing it out so the cycle continues. It’s a solid design that has proven itself, the U design of the pipes allows for extra distribution through the fins as opposed to a single J style that pulls heat from the base and runs a single row through an upper row of fins. The Black Edition AMD heatsink relies on direct fins across the base of the heatsink with two pipes running overtime to push the heat out of the system, the stock cooler offers nothing of the sort with a machined aluminum body and a fan plopped on top. If we’re going in order of technical efficiency the 612 leaves both of them for dead.

Installation
If you don’t have a newer enthusiast level case you might be positioned to remove the motherboard for installation, even the NZXT Phantom doesn’t have as big of an opening as you would need to install this in the case. With that said, I’ll walk through how I installed the Hyper 612 PWM into the case.

Removing the expansion cards (video, sound, network) and essential  cables I took the HA08 out of the case, I used a standard philips head screwdriver to remove the 4 screws holding the plastic tension frame to the board and back plate. After this I cleaned the top of the CPU surface using rubbing alcohol to strip off the old paste, after that I let it evaporate and applied the new coating. Installing the Hyper 612 PWM requires filling those holes with the 4 rubber spacers included, allowing for just enough cushion for the 4 posts to pass through. With the spacer set, I lowered the motherboard down on the cooler, doing this allowed me to better manage the 4 nuts that needed tightening with equal force across the chip and keep control of the new back plate. The screwdriver adapter made tightening nuts down easy and allowed me to avoid damaging the board with a regular socket. Users installing something like this for the first time might want to use an X pattern to tighten each side down a little at a time, I went diagonal to tweak them all down with equal pressure on the chip.

  

As you can see in the picture, there’s an issue here for my board at least, the fins of the Hyper 612 PWM actually float over the RAM which makes installation or removal a task in itself. While this might not apply to all boards, it does mean a full removal and installation job again for any upgrades. It’s a small sacrifice for something this large and powerful, let’s look over at the performance charts to see how well it held up, also note that if you have a side fan on your panel hovering over the CPU, that will need to go or be externally mounted. The cooler actually comes to the end of the case in the Phantom making it impossible to  internally mount a large fan and the 612, I had a 250mm fan from a Skeleton mounted inside the case originally which was removed for testing.

Performance

Benchmarking ran with a specific set of rules, HyperPI to 12M to measure load peak under the stress of the program. Fan control managed with the AMD internal controller at 26% to 100% forced fan load for each unit and in overclocking. Idle temps were taken after letting the system sit for 90 minutes between tests to let the CPU cool between uses and reach a temp that did not fluctuate.

bamfas.com

What you can see in the charts is a pretty nice leap, there’s a sharp decline from the OEM to the Black Edition at low performance use  but the gap widens as load hits. For those gaming it’s a bigger jump as the Stock Cooler jumped all the way to 59c at low-speed and struggled at 55c at high-speed, the Black Edition brings the temps lower but we’re measuring with a room controlled at about 19c, in the summer or well insulated rooms it could jump even higher. We see the Hyper 612 PWM step in against the stock chip with hard cooling even with the VCore up .150 and a 400MHz increase during overclocking. Granted the 9750 isn’t the best chip to compare with, it was difficult getting the core stable for benchmarking so I we would see better results on a newer Deneb, Thuban or Zambezi chip. The point though is taking it to extremes on that chip still couldn’t break 55c in a cold room.

I will note the chart doesn’t include the OC results for the stock cooler and Black Edition as the heat output was too high to test with for stability. With the stock cooler clearing 60c under load it was unsafe to proceed.

Noise

The 612 rarely gets above the mid-30’s while in regular use, as a result the noise factor isn’t really a factor at all. When cranking the Phantom fan controllers to low, the system comes to a hum with the GPU actually making the most noise in the case. At idle, the 612 sits at 1300 RPM according to the readings and when pushed at max speed I peaked at 1880 RPM and even then it was just a deep hum in the case. Because the fan is so thirsty, it does demand that some cooling is present in the case, I do advise at least having 1 fan push in air for the case to keep the pressure coming in, depending on the choice, it may raise case noise slightly depending on your situation.

  

Conclusion

For new consumers wanting something more out of their system or the ability to shut up those loud 60mm/70mm/80mm fans whizzing about in the computer case, the Hyper 612 PWM is a solution that gets the job done. The 612 also allows for overclocking without costing an arm and a leg, you can find it online now for about $49.99 before tax and shipping which competes with a range of known and unknown brands but bests them with quiet performance and future support. The copper and aluminum design keeps weight down and placement of weight focused close to the motherboard which lessens the worry on the users, the fins off of the heatpipes at the base offer little additional weight but do allow for venting. The 6 pipe design allows for older users to appreciate it but also have future use for it with larger silicon upgrades, for those with newer chips it’s possible to make 100% use of the cooler right out of the gate. It’s a design tailored for the generation arriving right now instead of exclusively to the generations past. Those with APU chips and planning on Sandy Bridge setups should find this design a great pairing for the hardware.

For those who want to gain an extra 3-4 degrees off of the cooler, adding another fan to pull the heat out faster would work wonders but it does require an extra investment. For those who don’t want the quiet factor of the 612, there’s the option to upgrade it to a high flow push-pull configuration to probably knock even more than that off. For modders though, the 612 can’t be done justice in these photos, it ‘s a raw beast you’ll want to showcase. Instead of having covers surrounding it you just have bare metal and a huge fan. Strap on a few LED fans for extra light and you’ll really have a showcase going with this setup, the stock fan is great but there’s always room to improve.

Performance:★★★★★★★★★☆ 
Design:★★★★★★★★★☆ 
Weight:★★★★★★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★★★★★★★☆