The Noctua NH-U12P SE2

Noctua NH-U12P SE2

Back in February of 2008 we had our first encounter with Noctua and their (at that time) flagship cooler, the NH-U12P. This cooler was initially release with LGA775 and AM2 platforms in mind. Since its release there have been new sockets come to market. When Intel released the LGA1366 socket, Noctua released a new version of their SecuFirm mounting system and a dual fan version of the NH-U12P, the NH-U12P SE. Now with the release of the LGA1156 socket Noctua has again updated their cooler mounting system to accommodate the new socket and released a new version of the NH-U12P, the NH-U12P SE2.

The NH-U12P SE2 is the same cooler that was released back in 2008; it just has the updated mounting system and a couple of extra accessories that the first release didn’t have. More on those in a minute, but first let’s take a look at the specifications before we get too far.



Fan specifications:



Noctua NH-U12P SE2 box

The NH-U12P come extremely well packaged, even if it doesn’t look like it from the outside. The artwork of the box has the specs and features listed, and with a window up front you get a glimpse of the fan.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2 packing

When you open the box the parts are separated into two compartments -- a small box with the mounting accessories and a larger box with the cooler and the fan.

unpacking Noctua NH-U12P SE2

In the bigger of the two boxes is the cooler and one of the NF-12P 120mm fans. The base is protected by a plastic cover.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2 accessories

In the smaller box are the rest of the accessories. They are nicely separated, so figuring out what parts you need to use is almost a no brainier. Noctua also thoughtfully includes a long Phillips head screw driver to aid you in the install if you don’t have one.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2 common parts bag

In the common parts bag are silicone strips for between the fan and the cooler, inline resistors for the Low Noise features, a tube of Noctua’s NT-H1 thermal paste, as well as spring clips for the mounting of up to two fans. New to the NH-U12P SE2 is a Y cable for powering the fans from a single 3 pin source.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2 badge

A slight change from the past Noctua kits I have seen; the badge is not a sticker this time around, but a nice metal badge.

External Impressions

Noctua NH-U12P SE2 cooler

With the NH-U12P out of the box we can get a good look at it. At first glance I thought to myself, "yup, it's another tower cooler." Then I started looking closer.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2 top

Looking from the top we can see the Noctua owl logo stamped into the cooling fins and the tops of the heat pipes sticking out. Now you most likely noticed there are a few extra holes in the cooling fins. The main ones of interest are the large holes to the outside of the heat pipes. This will allow you to access the tensioning screws that end up under the cooling fins due to the AMD socket orientation.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2 fins

Looking at the bottom we can see how the cooling fins are soldered to the heat pipes.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2 base

Now surprisingly the cooler had no protective film on the base. Although the base was flat the finish was not all too great, but as we have seen in the past this cooler performs very well.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2 fan color

Now for the fan, the first thing you notice is the flesh tone plastic housing with brown fins. I know, not the most appealing colors in the world. The fan better perform exceptionally well for me to put up with these colors. The power cable is extremely long, ~12 inches. I think that it could have been good 6 inches shorter.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2 fan blade

Looking a little closer to the fan blades we can see one of the things that gives the fan its amazing low 19.8 dBA rating: the Vortex Control Notches (you can read more about the design HERE on Noctua’s site). The other noise reducing feature is the self-stabilizing oil-pressure bearing (SSO bearing) of the Noctua NF-S12 and NF-R8 series surpasses current types of ball, sleeve or liquid bearings in terms of long-term stability and quietness. You can read more on the design HERE.


Noctua NH-U12P SE2 SecuFirm2

Here we have the biggest change, the new NM-I3 SecuFirm2 mounting system. This will allow you to mount the NH-U12P to any Intel socket. If you currently own a NH-U12P you can get the new mounting system free from Noctua by going to their site (HERE) and filling out a form and providing proof of purchase. Let’s take a little closer look at the new mount.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2 SecuFirm2 backing plate

Let’s start with the backing plate. It is made of steel with a layer of plastic and foam. The center of the foam can be removed to clear the socket backing plate of the LGA1156 and 1366 sockets.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2 i5 notches

Noctua also has made notches in the backing plate to clear the mounting screws for the LGA1156 socket backing plate.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2 multi socket mount

To allow the mounting system to work with the 3 Intel sockets that are all different sizes Noctua made the backing plate with 3 positions needed to fit each socket.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2 SecuFirm2 socket key

To take some guess work out of what hole is for which socket Noctua labeled them and placed a Key on the backing plate itself so you can’t lose it.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2

Installing the SecuFrim2 system is easy and very straight forward. Here I have it installed on our Intel DX58SO motherboard. It easily clears the components around the socket.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2 is big

This cooler is by no means small. At a whopping 158mm (6.2 inches) tall it would be in your best interest to measure your case to see if you will have enough room for this cooler.

The Legit Reviews Core i7 Test System

Legit Reviews Core i7 Test System

Here are the parts that make up the Legit Reviews Core i7 test system:

Intel Test Platform
Component Brand/Model Pricing
Processor Intel Core i7 920 Click Here
Motherboard Intel DX58SO Click Here
Memory Kingston DDR3 3GB 1333MHz ValueRAM Click Here
Video Card ATI X1950 XTX Click Here
Hard Drive Western Digital 250gb SATA Click Here
Power Supply PC&C Silencer 750 Quad Click Here
Chassis Ultra M998 Click Here
Operating System Windows Vista Ultimate (64bit) Click Here

To test the coolers I ran them on our Intel Core i7 test platform, which was then set to run at both default and overclocked settings. As a baseline all coolers will be compared to the retail boxed Intel cooler.

All of the temperatures were obtained by using Core Temp v0.99.3 after the system sat at idle for 30 minutes and then again under 100% load while running Prime95 (64bit) v25.8 for 30 minutes using the blended test. The room temperature was kept a constant 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22c) for all benchmarking. All of the coolers were tested with Arctic Silver Lumiere as the thermal interface material.

Results and Final Thoughts

Noctua NH-U12P SE2

With the system running at the stock speed the NH-U12P SE2 is in second overall to the Titan Fenrir. Running at 56.25*C the NH-U12P was 13.25 degrees cooler then the stock Intel heat sink.

Noctua NH-U12P SE2

With the system overclocked to 3.5GHz the NH-U12P SE2 is third overall behind the monster Cooler Master V10 and the Titan Fenrir. Running at 67.5*C the NH-U12P SE2 is still within a degree of the Titan Fenrir and 10.25 degrees ahead of the stock Intel heat sink.


Noctua NH-U12P SE2

We first tested the NH-U12P on the E6300 CPU almost 2 years ago, then again later on the Q6600, then with the release of the Core i7-920. Each time it was at the top of our charts. If you bought one in 2008 it could have served you across 3 different systems and performed very well on each. To me that is a good investment, and makes paying the $74.99 plus shipping price tag a little easier to swallow.

You will notice that I did not test the cooler with the low noise adapters. I don’t see the point. The fans run at 19dBA; that is quieter than a whisper. The other case fans (if they are not Noctua as well), along with the video card, will be more of a concern for noise than making the cooler quieter.

The new configuration of the NH-U12P SE2 can be found online for $70 to $75 plus shipping. This may seem steep for an air cooler, but for that you get the NH-U12P and two NF-12P fans. The fans themselves, if bought separately, are $20 plus shipping each.

Legit Bottom Line: Noctua NH-U12P, 2 years of great performance and great service and counting.