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The NH-L12 is a low-profile quiet cooler designed for use in small form factor cases and HTPC environments. With its flexible NF-F12 (120mm) / NF-B9 (92mm) dual PWM fan setup, the NH-L12 can be configured either for full performance in dual fan mode or extra-low profile (66mm) with the top fan removed. Bundled with the award-winning NT-H1 thermal compound and Noctua’s SecuFirm2™ multi-socket mounting system, the NH-L12 packs everything a premium quality quiet cooler needs into a highly compact package.

  Caution:  The NH-L12 is a low-profile quiet cooler designed for use in small form factor cases and HTPC environments. While it provides first rate performance in its class, it is not suitable for overclocking and should be used with care on CPUs with more than 95W TDP (Thermal Design Power). Please consult our TDP guidelines to find out whether the NH-L12 is recommended for your CPU.
Details
120/92mm dual fan design

120/92mm dual fan design

Thanks to its exquisite dual fan setup consisting of Noctua's highly optimised NF-F12 (120mm) and NF-B9 (92mm) premium fans, the NH-L12 pushes the bar in terms of low-profile quiet cooling performance.
Extra-low profile in 92mm single-fan mode

Extra-low profile in 92mm single-fan mode

The NH-L12 can be used with the NF-B9 92mm fan only in order to reduce the overall height to 66mm. This way, the cooler is suitable for many typical µATX or Mini-ITX enclosures and ideal for whisper-quiet HTPC systems.
PWM support and Low-Noise Adaptors

PWM support and Low-Noise Adaptors

The NH-L12's NF-F12 and NF-B9 fans support PWM for convenient automatic speed control. In addition, the maximum fan speed can be reduced to 1200/1300rpm using the supplied Low-Noise Adaptors for even quieter operation.
SecuFirm2™ mounting system

SecuFirm2™ mounting system

Noctua's enthusiast grade SecuFirm2™ multi-socket mounting provides broad socket compatibility (LGA 2011, LGA2066, LGA1366, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1150, LGA775, AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+) and meets the highest demands in safety, performance and ease-of-use.
Mini-ITX mounting without backplate

Mini-ITX mounting without backplate

Some Intel based Mini-ITX mainboards don't allow for the installation of backplates. The NH-L12 thus comes with an extra set of Intel mounting bolts which make it possible to install the cooler without using the SecuFirm2™ backplate.
NT-H1 thermal compound

NT-H1 thermal compound

Noctua's much-acclaimed NT-H1 is a pro-grade TIM solution that provides minimum thermal resistance, excellent ease-of-use and outstanding reliability.
NH-L12
Cooler Specification
Intel LGA2066, LGA2011-0 (Square ILM), LGA2011-3 Square ILM with NM-IPS2, LGA1366, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1151, LGA1150, LGA775 & AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+ (backplate required), AM4 with NM-AM4
Height (without fan)
66 mm
Width (without fan)
128 mm
Depth (without fan)
150 mm
Height (with fan)
93 mm
Width (with fan)
128 mm
Depth (with fan)
150 mm
Weight (without fan)
415 g
Weight (with fan/s)
680 g
Material
Copper (base and heat-pipes), aluminium (cooling fins), soldered joints & nickel plating
Max. TDP
see TDP guide
Fan compatibility
120x120x25mm & 92x92x25mm
Scope of Delivery
  • 1x NF-F12 PWM premium fan
  • 1x NF-B9 PWM premium fan
  • 2x Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A.)
  • Y-Split Cable
  • NT-H1 high-grade thermal compound
  • SecuFirm2™ Mounting Kit
  • Mini-ITX Mounting-Kit
  • Noctua Metal Case-Badge
Warranty
6 Years
FAN Specification
Bearing
Max. Rotational Speed (+/- 10%)
1500 / 1600 RPM
Max. Rotational Speed with L.N.A. (+/- 10%)
1200 / 1300 RPM
Min. Rotational Speed (PWM, +/-20%)
300 / 300 RPM
Max. Acoustical Noise
22,4 / 17,6 dB(A)
Max. Acoustical Noise with L.N.A.
18,6 / 13,1 dB(A)
Input Power
0,6 / 0,96 W
Voltage Range
12 V
MTTF
> 150.000 h
NH-L12
NH-L12
Video Reviews
The following video reviews have not been created by Noctua. Responsibility for the information and views expressed in the videos lies entirely with the authors.
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07.05.2012 // LegitReviews.com
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NH-L12 Review

The NH-L12 from Noctua was a little surprise for me. With all the caveats, provisos, a couple of quid pro quo, I felt the little guy wouldn’t hold up to the heat. It did, and for users that have a smaller/narrower case and not interested in the least to overclock then the NH-L12 would be rather perfect. Top it off with Noctua’s 6 year warranty and awesome build quality, the NH-L12 has win all over it. [...] The HTPC and SFF crowd stands to benefit the most from the NH-L12. The overall height is rather low at 3.7 inches with both fans installed. Removing the upper 120mm fan lowers that to 2.5 inches. Couple the small overall size with the quiet operation of the Noctua fans, makes it perfect for HTPCs or Small Form Factor builds where low noise is a goal.
Test verdict: "If you are in the market for a quality quiet low profile CPU cooler, then Noctua has you covered with the NH-L12." (Shane Higgins, LegitReviews.com)
15.05.2013 // ComputerBase.de
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NH-L12 Review

+ Hohe Kühlleistung mit zwei Lüftern
+ Hervorragende Hardwarequalität
+ Leise Serienbelüftung
+ Umfangreiche Ausstattung
+ Moderater Platzbedarf
Test verdict: "Das beste Gesamtpaket aller Testkandidaten wird unserer Ansicht nach durch den Noctua NH-L12 verkörpert. Der erstklassig gefertigte Down-Blower überzeugt durch gute Kühlleistung in Verbindung mit einem bei Bedarf zurückhaltend leisen Betriebsgeräusch und ist dank 120-mm-Konzeption erheblich kompakter als die Kontrahenten von Phanteks oder Alpenföhn. Typische Kritikpunktkategorien wie die mangelnde Qualität der Serienlüfter, Komfortabstriche beim Montagesystem oder potentiell fehlende Ausstattungsmerkmale umschifft Noctua beim NH-L12 zielsicher, sodass wir in der Summe eine klare Kaufempfehlung für den knapp 50 Euro teuren Österreicher aussprechen können." (Martin Eckardt, ComputerBase.de)
19.06.2012 // KitGuru.net
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NH-L12 Review

Noctua have been able to create a steady stream of high grade coolers over the years, and the NH-L12 is no exception to the rule. We managed to maintain a substantial 4.7 GHz overclock via the NH-L12 without experiencing high temperatures that could affect the longevity of the CPU. This is quite remarkable for a compact, low-profile CPU cooler especially as compromises normally have to be made. The impressive thermal performance of the cooler is rivaled by the excellent acoustic performance. Even with the fans running at full speed, the cooler is inaudible when it’s installed in a case. That said, both of the fans are PWM models, so most of the time they will be spinning much slower, emitting low levels of noise. Noctua offer a 6 year warranty as standard which gives us peace of mind that the cooler will last a very long time indeed.
Test verdict: "[I]f you want to build an overclocked HTPC or small form factor PC, you need look no further. KitGuru says: Another excellent product from Noctua!" (Henry Butt, KitGuru.net)
15.05.2012 // ThinkComputers.com
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NH-L12 Review

To my surprise this cooler worked exceptionally well, even at full system load. With the 2 fans on full speed the idle temperature was 31 and the load was 47, which is very impressive for such a small cooler. Even more impressive is when I took the top fan off to run the cooler in “low-profile” mode the temperature only went up 10 degrees (41 idle, 57 load). This cooler is extremely small. You really should not have any issues fitting it inside your case or HTPC system. I installed the cooler on my ASUS P9X79 Pro motherboard without any issues at all. The heatsink is large enough that you can actually fit most memory that has smaller heatspreaders under it. Also if you are having height clearance issues you can take off the top fan for a very low-profile cooler that still provides great cooling.
Test verdict: "Right now the NH-L12 is selling for $71.99 at my favorite online retailer. At this price it is at the higher-end of air coolers, but in the end I do think that it is worth it if you are looking for a superior low profile CPU cooler that is very quiet in operation and can be mounted quite a few different ways." (Bob Buskirk, ThinkComputers.com)
04.05.2012 // TweakTown.com
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NH-L12 Review

The stock run delivered a terrific result for a cooler of this size and design. 57 degrees might be a bit higher than normal, but look at how little of a cooler is doing this job. As for the overclocked run, I think the NH-L12 did a really admirable job handling over 125 watts of power being delivered to this 95 watt cooler. Yes, 80 degrees is warm, but considering the abuse level, I am pleased with these results. [...] Silence and performance are what we expect from anything Noctua and they prove that you don't need a humongous cooler in the build to get either of them. With a trend from most manufacturers showing that bigger is usually more quiet and usually performs better, the NH-L12 outdid the Enermax solution and the Enermax solution is a much larger cooler and isn't as easy to install as this is. [...] I can take this cooler off the test bench and slam it into some of the tiniest HTPC solutions, it doesn't interfere with the memory and even when abused well beyond its specified limits, it takes it well. Even if you don't need a cooler that can get under a 66mm height clearance issue, the NH-L12 has its place in almost any build, so it is well worth considering this for its silence and its ability to handle almost any CPU cooling situation.
Test verdict: "It has two silent fans. It is convertible. It fits in almost any situation. There is very little reason not to buy the underrated NH-L12 from Noctua, it's just too handy of a cooler not to have on hand." (Chad Sebring, TweakTown.com)
28.03.2012 // PC-Max.de
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NH-L12 Review

Mit dem NH-L12 kann Noctua ein weiteres Mal einen hervorragenden Prozessor-Kühler präsentieren. Wer durch geringe Platzverhältnisse im PC-Gehäuse eingeschränkt ist, kann die Höhe des ohnehin schon sehr flachen Kühlers mittels der Demontage des oberen Lüfters nochmals um rund 25 Millimeter reduzieren. Vor allem für HTPCs dürfte dies interessant sein, da hier nicht das letzte Quäntchen Kühlleistung ausschlaggebend ist, sondern eher ein platzsparender und leiser Kühler.
Test verdict: "Wer einen Low-Profile-Kühler sucht und auf ein nahezu perfektes Gesamtpaket Wert legt, der wird kaum ein besseres Produkt am Markt finden." (Niklas Dietzek, PC-Max.de)
14.03.2012 // HardwareHeaven.com
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NH-L12 Review

We have seen a number of Noctua products in the past and on each occasion have been impressed by the build quality and design with more recent models excelling on both fronts. With the NH-L12 Noctua continue to impress and the cooler looks and feels high quality. Each of the components is soldered together well, the finish is exceptional and the fans fit perfectly to the heatsink. We also love the colour scheme that Noctua use, it looks great. In terms of installation the product is essentially flawless. We can install the cooler in less than ten minutes from start to finish and at each step Noctua make the process easy, whether that is down to the clear instructions, perfectly fitting components or thoughtful design such as the holes in our heatsink fins to pass the screwdriver through. We also appreciate the extra thought taken to supply screws for mini-ITX boards and socket 2011, ensuring every consumer is catered for... something which is further enhanced by the low profile option. For performance Noctua again excel, giving us low noise on the standard wires and adapters to lower it further if we wish. PWM compatibility is also present and the temperatures recorded on this heatsink are class leading. That brings us to value where the great bundle of extras means we have everything needed, regardless of the system, and a 6-year warranty tops it off.
Test verdict: "Another great cooler from Noctua which offers high performance and low noise for those with a compact chassis." (Stuard Davidson, HardwareHeaven.com)
12.03.2012 // HiTechLegion.com
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NH-L12 Review

First off, you need to understand what the Noctua NH-L12 is….and isn’t. The NH-L12 is a low profile, dual fan cooler made specifically for small case applications, most notably HTPC. It has the ability to run in a single fan mode that drops the height of the installed NH-L12 to a miniscule 66mm. It is not a behemoth made for overclocking. It is specifically meant to sit on lower wattage CPU/APUs in tight spaces and cool them effectively and efficiently in near silence, and do so in even the smallest and tightest of HTPC cases with a simple installation. This is what the NH-L12 was made to do, and it does it to perfection with room to spare. Looking at the cooling characteristics, they are absolutely outstanding. In dual fan mode the NH-L12 actually manages easily outperform its much larger sibling the NH-C12P and is in a whole different (and much better) cooling class than the other low profile coolers we have tested. At stock CPU speeds the NH-L12 cooling results look like they came from a similarly priced full sized tower, and a good one at that. Taking off the top fan and running the NH-L12 at 66mm in height, the cooling naturally took a hit, but remained impressive. Even under full load for extended periods, the CPU remained 14 degrees from its thermal danger zone at a cool 41 degrees.
Test verdict: "Put it all together, and we have what I feel is the finest low profile cooler to hit the market to date in the Noctua NH-L12. It is a stellar performer, beautifully built and engineered and simple to install. The NH-L12 stays dead quiet at all fan speeds, and even offers an LNA for those situations where even the minutest noise would be too much. Plus, it fits everywhere. In the world of HTPC/Low Profile cooling, the Noctua NH-L12 is king, and in my mind, it’s not even close." (George Cella, HiTechLegion.com)
21.11.2012 // eTeknix.com
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NH-L12 Review

This is my first encounter with a Noctua CPU cooler here at eTeknix and I can honestly say I am thoroughly impressed with the Noctua NH-L12. As always I’ll start off by revealing to you the price, if you don’t already know. The Noctua NH-L12 costs £43 from Scan, and between £40-50 more broadly from other retailers. Thus you can safely say this Noctua CPU cooler occupies a high end part segment of the market, priced similarly to other high performance CPU coolers. Being a Noctua product, it is widely available across Europe and North America as Noctua are a big brand in the world of computer cooling. At that price you are getting a unique , yet cost effective proposition. On the one hand you have a CPU cooler that is compact enough to fit into the smallest of systems of mini-ITX, micro-ATX and ATX form factors, and on the other you have a CPU cooler that is capable of running Ivy Bridge at 4.5GHz without breaking into a sweat. We agree if you consider other cooling solutions for the same price, the performance is below-par however this is a foolish way of looking at it since this cooler is specifically designed for small form factor systems where the height of your CPU cooler is an important consideration. You wouldn’t spend £6000 on an Nvidia Quadro GPU and complain it sucks at running games, so why make a similar mistake here?
Test verdict: "Acoustic performance was excellent, and we really can’t rave about how good it was. The Noctua NH-L12 was probably the quietest CPU cooler we have ever tested. Add to that the fact it looks the business, is extremely high quality, offers highly competitive performance for its unique form factor and is well priced. Awarding the Noctua NH-L12 is a tough one. It could have our innovation award for being such a unique product in the HTPC/SFF market. It could snatch the Bang For Buck award for being one of the best performing and best value HTPC cooling solutions on the market we have ever seen. Yet the Noctua NH-L12 ticks so many boxes that we feel it is more than deserving of our highest award, the Editor’s Choice award." (Ryan Martin, eTeknix.com)
12.04.2012 // Tech-Review.de
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NH-L12 Review

Trotz der sehr kompakten Abmaße besitzt der Winzling von Noctua mit zwei Lüftern bestückt ausreichende Leistung, die selbst moderates OC von Prozessoren mit 130 Watt TDP ermöglicht. Nur extreme Settings erlaubt der Kühler nicht, was wenig verwundert. [...] Die Lautstärke gefällt ebenfalls. Beide Lüfter laufen angenehm und fallen dank der guten Lager sowie der Entkopplung akustisch nicht auf. Selbst die Maximaldrehzahl ist lediglich hörbar, aber keinesfalls störend laut. Das Zubehör fällt wie die Verarbeitung gewohnt edel aus. Selbst an Entkoppler, um einen der Lüfter im Gehäuse zu montieren, wurde gedacht. Die bewährte, zweistufige SecuFirm-Halterung lässt ebenso wenig zu wünschen übrig und gewährleistet zusammen mit den verbesserten Lüfterklammern einen hohen Benutzerkomfort. [...] Der NH-12 ist deshalb für Besitzer kleiner oder sehr kleiner Gehäuse eine gute Wahl.
Test verdict: "Wenn hohe Leistung bei geringem Platzbedarf gesucht wird, führt wohl kaum ein Weg an diesem Kraftzwerg vorbei." (Max Doll, Tech-Review.de)

Installation Manual (PDF)

Information Sheet (PDF)

In which orientation should top-flow coolers (NH-C series, NH-L12) be installed?

When using top-flow coolers in a tower-style case, we strongly recommend installing the cooler with the heatpipes in horizontal position or with the bends of the heatpipes pointing downwards. Please avoid installing the cooler with the bends pointing upwards as this may result in reduced cooling performance. In desktop cases, the cooler can be used in any orientation.

Orientation

How big is the NH-L12 and how much clearance does it provide?

Please refer to the following drawing for the exact measurements and clearance:

P14

Is it possible to install the supplied NF-F12 or other 120mm fans underneath the fin stack?

The NF-B9 92mm fan is used underneath the fin stack because it gives easy access to the mounting screws and sits within the 95x95mm (Intel) and 96x114mm (AMD) keep-out zones, thus providing full compatibility with standard height RAM and chipset/VRM heatsinks. In principle, it is also possible to put the supplied NF-F12 120mm fan underneath the fin stack instead, but in many cases, this setup will cause compatibility issues with RAM and/or chipset/VRM heatsinks. Similar issues are likely to arise with other 120mm fan models and in addition, some fans may be blocked by the mounting screws and/or block access to the screws. As a result, using 120mm fans underneath the fin stack may be possible in some cases, but is not officially supported.

Is the NH-L12 compatible with the LGA2011-3 socket?

The NH-L12 features a special variant of the SecuFirm2™ that needs to be updated with the new NM-IPS2 spacers in order to be compatible with LGA2011-3. NH-L12 owners can now request these spacers free of charge here.

How can I determine if the motherboard’s UEFI BIOS is overclocking my processor by default and deactivate this automatic overclocking?

Most motherboard vendors allow their overclocking-enabled products (e.g. those with Intels X- or Z-series chipsets) to run the processor at increased clock speeds by default, without requiring any user action at all. Since TDP (Thermal Design Power) limits are usually also disabled by default, this leads to the CPU exceeding the rated TDP to a varying degree, depending on the used applications and their workloads. Due to the increased heat output of the CPU, you may see higher CPU temperatures than expected.

In order to find out if your motherboard is overclocking your processor by default, please enter the UEFI BIOS and select the “advanced” or “overclocking” menu. There you should be able to find options such as “MultiCore Enhancement” (options: enabled/disabled), “CPU Ratio Apply Mode” (options: all/per core) or similar. To disable the automatic overclocking, adjust the settings either to “disabled” or “per core” and make sure that the individual multipliers match the original specifications.

In doubt, please contact your motherboard vendor for detailed instructions on how to disable this feature.

My unlocked Intel CPU is running too hot although my heatsink supports the specified TDP, what's the problem?

Intel's unlocked CPUs (K, X and C suffix) can dissipate more heat than indicated by the TDP specification if
  1. the TDP limits are extended or disabled in the motherboards' BIOS.
  2. the motherboard applies automatic overclocking by default, e.g. by raising the supply voltage of the CPU and using higher Turbo-Mode multipliers.
  3. some software creates untypical loads, e.g. Prime95 with AVX2 support and a) and/or b) apply.

This can lead to temperature issues, especially when using smaller coolers or compact cases.

The actual power draw of the processor can be monitored with software provided by the motherboard vendor or with 3rd party tools like HWInfo or HWMonitor.

If you encounter temperature issues (>90°C) and notice a higher than specified power draw, please ensure that no automatic overclocking is applied and limit the TDP to the specified value by choosing appropriate BIOS settings.

For Kaby Lake CPUs, it may also help to lower the CPU clock speed for applications that heavily use the AVX instruction set, which can lead to higher loads and power draw. This option is usually referred to as “AVX offset” and makes it possible to lower the multiplier specifically for AVX based applications without reducing performance when using other instruction sets. Depending on the quality of the CPU and the programs being used, a reduction of 2-3 steps usually gives very good results.

Please contact your motherboard vendor for details if you have trouble finding the appropriate settings in the BIOS.

All our TDP recommendations are based on thorough testing with the default values specified by Intel using popular applications such as Asus Realbench and prime95. Please note, however, that prime95 creates a particularly high load that goes beyond typical application scenarios and this leads to elevated temperatures. We thus recommend using other programs such as Realbench for checking the stability and temperatures of the CPU in realistic scenarios.

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