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Noctua NH-C12P CPU Cooler Print E-mail
Written by Vikram Chand   
Thursday, 31 March 2011
Rated 5 out of 5 Stars 5 out of 5 Stars

Noctua NH-C12P CPU Cooler

Compact Design with Excellent Cooling Performance!

If you are building your computer or even just upgrading your CPU, it's very important to pick the right CPU cooler that will not only keep your CPU cool but also keep the noise level to a minimum. Because who needs extra noise from their computer's if you don't have to have it? Not me!

That's where Noctua cooling fans come into play. They not only perform great but also keep the noise level down. So it's just a no brainer to use Noctua fans to cool your CPU. Better yet, use a Noctua CPU cooler with a Noctua cooling fan and you have an excellent combination there. I have tested many Noctua products and they are always high quality. Noctua always focuses on less noise and better performance and it shows. Today we are taking a look at the Noctua NH-C12P CPU Cooler which is the younger sibling of the Noctua NH-U12P. Want to see how it performs? Well, read on and find out.



Unlike other CPU coolers I have test from Noctua and other manufacturers; this one is much more compact so it will fit in almost all cases. The base and heat-pipes on the NH-C12P are made of copper, the cooling fins are aluminum and has soldered joints and nickel plating. The six heat-pipes run through the aluminum fins from one side to the other and goes all the way down to the base of the cooler that comes in contact with the CPU to cool it. Noctua included a NH-P12 (120mm) cooling fan along with this CPU cooler. This fan is designed to provide excellent cooling at low to ultra-low speeds (RPM). The fan has the standard 3-pin motherboard power connector. Noctua also includes Low-Noise and Ultra-Low-Noise adapters to run the fan at lower speeds and reducing the noise even more. So you have noise issues, I would suggest trying the L.N.A first and the U.L.N.A adapter if needed to reduce case noise. I don't use the adapters because the noise does not bother me at all. The NT-H1 thermal paste is also included in the package but is not pre-applied on the heatsink, but that's no biggy.

Noctua NH-C12P CPU Cooler Noctua NH-C12P CPU Cooler
Noctua NH-C12P CPU Cooler Noctua NH-C12P CPU Cooler
Noctua NH-C12P CPU Cooler Noctua NH-C12P CPU Cooler
(click image to enlarge)


As always with any/most Noctua CPU cooler, you need to change the back plate on the motherboard to use their CPU coolers, so the installation is not as easy as you would like it to be. I installed this on my Gigabyte GA-870A-UD3 AM3 motherboard which has an AMD Phenom II X4 965 processor installed on it.

First, you need to remove the retention module by unscrewing it from the top but making sure that you don't lose the back-plate. Then you will need to attach the curved mounting bars (with the plastic spacers) supplied by Noctua for AMD boards. Just make sure that the curved sides of the mounting bars are pointing inwards (towards the CPU).

Now, just apply the NT-H1 or any other thermal compound of your choice on the CPU and place the cooler on it with the center fan removed (oh, make sure the plastic cover is removed from the base of the heatsink). Now, comes the tricky part of screwing the heatsink to the mounting bars. You have to secure the two screws to the screw threads of the mounting bars (tightly, but not too tight). Once the heatsink is secure, you can attach the center fan back on (just clip it back on exactly as you removed it). Connect the power connectors to the fan power connectors on your motherboard or you can use the Y split cable to connect both fans to one CPU fan power connector on your motherboard. That's all, you are done.

Noctua NH-C12P CPU Cooler Noctua NH-C12P CPU Cooler
Noctua NH-C12P CPU Cooler Noctua NH-C12P CPU Cooler
(click image to enlarge)



CPU : AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition 3.4GHz (4 cores)
Motherboard : Gigabyte GA-870A-UD3 AM3 (USB 3.0)
RAM : G.Skill Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-pin DDR3 PC3 12800
Graphics Card : PNY GeForce Verto GTS 250 1GB
Hard Drive : Seagate Baracuda 320GB SATA (3.0 Gb/s)
Power Supply : Thermaltake Thoughpower XT 775W
Optical Drive : Sony CD/DVD RW
Case : Thermaltake Element G
Case Cooling : Various Intake and Exhaust Cooling Fans
Operating System : Microsoft Windows 7 Enterprise 64-Bit



First, I will test the system at idle by leaving it sitting for 1 hour. Then I will perform a load test using CPU Burn-in v1.01 for 1 hour also. I will use Gigabyte's EasyTune 6 (ET6) utility to monitor the temperatures. I will then install the Noctua NH-C12P CPU cooler and perform the above tests again. Then we will compare the Stock heatsink and NH-C12P test results along with some other CPU coolers to see how much improvement we actually get. I will not be able to compare with any other CPU cooler because this is a totally different test system.


Looking at the results, we can clearly see that while the NH-C12P is way better than any stock cooler and also better than the Evercool Transformer 4, it cannot beat the higher-end Noctua NH-D1 or the Spire TherMax II in performance. This is expected because this is a smaller cooler with only one fan while most high-end CPU coolers have two for greater airflow and thus resulting in better overall cooling performance. Just like the NH-D1 the NH-C12P is much quieter than other CPU coolers in the market because of the higher quality fans they use.

Noctua NH-C12P CPU Cooler
(click image to enlarge)

At idle, the stock AMD CPU cooler ran the CPU at 51oC, Spire TherMax II at 28oC, NH-D1 at 27oC, Transformer 4 at 42oC and the NH-C12P at 30oC on average after one hour. At full load, the stock AMD CPU cooler ran the CPU at a boiling 86oC, Spire TherMax II at 37oC, NH-D1 at 35oC, Transformer 4 at 70oC and the NH-C12P at 45oC on average after one solid hour. While the NH-C12P is not the greatest at cooling, it will however, keep your computer cool for average everyday use. For overclockers, I would always recommend getting high-end air coolers or water coolers.



The Noctua NH-C12P CPU cooler is an excellent choice for any average computer setup. Performance is excellent and the fan is ultra-quiet. The overall installation was fairly easy but not as easy as I would have expected (not tool-free installation). The fan provide awesome cooling even but I wouldn't recommend this for overclocking. The cooler performed very well in all our tests and it beat the AMD stock and Evercool Transformer 4 coolers without any issues. Overall, the Noctua NH-C12P is a smaller cooler which is also ultra-quiet and provides very good cooling. I would highly recommend this CPU cooler for anyone looking to replace their stock heatsink with something that can handle a lot more. This cooler can also beat some of its competition out of the water. The lowest price I found online for this was around $50 USD which might be a fit the budget of the everyday user. I am giving this CPU cooler 5 out of 5 because of the performance and no noise and I would also like to present it with our Highly Recommended award.

Highly Recommended Award

Very silent performance, easy installation, six heat-pipe design and comes with L.N.A and U.L.N.A adapters.
None that we found.
Bottom Line
Very good cooling, ultra quiet with 6 heat pipes and a 6 year warranty like al



Manufacturer :   Noctua
Website :
Model # :   Noctua NH-C12P
Compatible Socket Types :   Intel LGA1366, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA775 & AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3 (backplate required)
Bearing :   SSO-Bearing
Speed Rating :  
Regular : 1200 RPM
L.N.A. : 900 RPM
U.L.N.A. : 750 RPM
Power Rating :  
Input : 1.2 Watts
Voltage : 12 Volts
Noise Level :  
Regular : 19.6 dBA
L.N.A. : 13.2 dBA
U.L.N.A. : 10.1 dBA
Airflow :  
Regular : 110.3 m3/h
L.N.A. : 83.7 m3/h
U.L.N.A. : 71.2 m3/h
Life Hours (MTBF) :   150,000 hours
Package :   1 x NF-P12 premium fan
1 x Low-Noise Adapter (L.N.A.)
1 x Ultra-Low-Noise Adapter (U.L.N.A.)
1 x NT-H1 high-grade thermal compound
1 x SecuFirm2 Mounting Kits
1 x Noctua Metal Case-Badge
Thermal Paste Type :   NT-H1 thermal paste
Material :   Copper (base and heat-pipes), aluminium (cooling fins), soldered joints & nickel plating.
Compatible Fan Sizes :   140 x 140 x 25mm and/or 120 x 120 x 25mm
Dimensions :  
With Fan : 114 (H) x 140 (W) x 152 (D) mm
Without Fan : 90 (H) x 126 (W) x 152 (D) mm
Weight :  
With Fan : 730 grams
Without Fan : 550 grams
Warranty :   6 years
Description :  
Building on the proven basis of the successful NH-C12P, which has received more than 100 awards and recommendations from the international press, the NH-C12P now comes with Noctua's new NF-P14 140mm fan for further improved quiet cooling performance as well as the new SecuFirm2 multi-socket mounting system. Topped off with Noctua's pro-grade NT-H1 thermal compound and adding support for both LGA1366 and LGA1156, the NH-C12P is a premium quality quiet cooler that provides lots of airflow for near-socket mainboard components and excellent case compatibility at a height of only 114mm.

Last Updated on Thursday, 31 March 2011