The Bottom Line
- Excellent Cooling Performance
- Very Low Noise Operation
- Superb Installation Instructions
- Large Size May Not Fit All Motherboard/Case Combinations
- Relatively High Price Tag
- Extreme Overclocking Requires Higher Speed Fan
- Alumninum C-Type Design With Six Heatpipes
- Nickel Plated Copper Base
- Noctua NF-P14 140mm 1300rpm Low Noise Fan
- Universal Socket Design Supporting Intel LGA 775/1155/1156/1336 and AMD AM2/AM2+/AM3
- Voltage Adapters For Low Noise (900rpm) And Ultra Low Noise (750rpm) Operation)
- Noctua NT-H1 Thermal Compound Included
- 4.5-inch (114mm) x 5.5-inch (140mm) x 6-inch (152mm) Dimensions
- 25.8 ounce (730g) Weight
Guide Review - Noctua NH-C12P SE14 CPU Cooler
Jun 20 2011 - Tower coolers have become very popular with many looking for silent and high performance air cooling solutions for their desktop computers. One downside of them is the lack of airflow over the motherboard components that are provided by traditional designs. The Noctua NH-C12P uses the traditional downward airflow design but provides a large surface area and fan to help provide high performance cooling. Even though it is quite large, weight is very reasonable thanks to its primarily aluminum design.
The NH-C12P SE14 differs from their standard configuration as it only includes a single 140mm fan compared to the NH-C12P which features two. In many situations, only a single fan can be installed with the motherboard and memory so it reduces the costs a bit. This makes it a bit better suited for those looking at lower noise cooling solutions rather than high performance. For those that need the highest performance, the tower designs of the NH-U12P with multiple fans may be a better choice.
As the Noctua NH-C12P SE14 is a very large heatsink design, it is important to check the compatibility with your motherboard and memory configuration. The orientation of the heatsink means that part of it will likely sit over the top of memory or chipset coolers. With the rise of many high performance memory modules that have cooling fins above the modules, this can be very problematic.
Testing of the Noctua NH-C12P SE14 was done with the ASRock Z68 Pro3 motherboard, Intel Core i5-2500k processor and Antec P182 case. Idle temperatures were taken 15 minutes after booting the PC. Load testing was done by running the AIDA64 System Stability Test running for 30 minutes. All readings were taken with the fans running at full speed. Ambient temperatures were 25 Celsius.
To first get a baseline, the test were run on the stock cooling supplied by Intel at the default clock speeds for the i5-2500k processor. After this was done, the Noctua NH-C12P SE14 was installed and run at the stock speed. Finally, to get an idea about overclocking, a modest overclock from the default 3.3GHz speed to 4.2GHz speeds was conducted with auto voltage settings by the motherboard. Below are the results:
- Stock Cooler: 45C Idle, 70C Load
- Noctua NH-C12P SE14 (3.3GHz Stock): 40C Idle, 60C Load
- Notcua NH-C12P SE14 (4.2GHz OC): 40C Idle, 76C Load
Under the stock speeds, the Noctua NH-C12P SE14 was able to do an impressive job at lowering the temps by 5C at idle and 10C at load all while running nearly completely silent compared to the other components within the case. It would be possible to achieve essentially silent performance by using the supplied low noise adapters to reduce the fans and likely still keep the temps equal to or lower than the stock Intel cooler. Overclocking of the CPU is possible with the NH-C12P SE14 as well as evident by the temps that were only slightly higher than the stock Intel cooler. Of course, those looking for extreme overclocking will want to look at using the standard NH-C12P that use dual 140mm fans for increased cooling performance.
Of course, many people might balk at the roughly $75 price for the NH-C12P. This is a sizable price compared to many processors now. In fact, many high performance single piece water cooling solutions are now available at this price range and can provide even greater cooling performance but they tend to have higher noise levels. There may be lower cost alternatives but you would be hard pressed to fine another product with the same level of quality and finish as Noctua provides.