Recently Noctua released a high-quality but more budget-friendly version of the NH-U12S cooler from the redux series. Since the NH-U12S and NH-U12S chromax.black were great coolers, we are curious to see what the redux version can do.
The NH-U12S redux will be tested with the Ryzen 9 5900X, so one of the more demanding processors on the market. We will cover the standard single fan and also dual fan configurations.
Let’s begin with the specifications and features of the new Noctua cooler.
True to the spirit of Noctua’s redux line, the NH-U12S redux is a streamlined, accessibly priced version of the iconic NH-U12S that has established itself as a benchmark for slim, highly compatible 120mm CPU coolers. The redux version uses the same proven heatsink layout that guarantees 100% compatibility with tall RAM modules as well as excellent case and PCIe compatibility. Thanks to the popular NF-P12 redux-1700 PWM fan with automatic speed control, it provides high performance under load and runs whisper-quiet at idle. At the same time, Noctua’s renowned, professional SecuFirm2™ mounting system and the pre-applied NT-H1 thermal compound make installation child’s play. Backed up with Noctua’s trusted 6-year manufacturer’s warranty, the NH-U12S redux is a smart, affordable choice for a quiet, high-quality 120mm cooler.
Based on the award-winning NH-U12S
The NH-U12S redux is based on Noctua’s proven, premium-grade NH-U12S, which is widely recognised as one of the best slim 120mm single-tower coolers on the market. Having received more than 200 awards and recommendations from international hardware websites and magazines, the NH-U12S has convinced tens of thousands of customers around the globe.
Streamlined redux edition
Following the idea of Noctua’s redux line, the NH-U12S redux takes the proven concept of the original NH-U12S and reduces it to its essential core: a quiet, quality-made 120mm cooler with streamlined accessories that is highly compatible and easy to install.
Classic 120mm tower size for excellent case and PCIe compatibility
Standing 158mm tall, the NH-U12S redux is short enough to fit most modern mid- or high-end tower cases. Measuring 125mm wide (including fan and fan clips), the cooler stays clear of the top PCIe slot on most standard ATX or Micro-ATX motherboards, ensuring optimum compatibility with multi-GPU setups.
100% RAM compatibility
Thanks to its slim design with only 45mm fin depth, the NH-U12S redux will not overhang the RAM slots on any current platform. This gives the user full access to the memory modules and guarantees 100% compatibility with modules that feature tall heat-spreaders or RGB lighting.
Proven NF-P12 fan with PWM
Specifically designed for pressure-demanding applications such as on heatsinks, the classic NF-P12 is a long-standing favourite among quiet cooling enthusiasts. The higher-speed 1700rpm redux line version supports PWM for automatic speed control, which allows it to run near silent most of the time and provide massive performance when necessary.
Optional dual-fan kit
The optional NA-FK1 fan kit makes it possible to upgrade the NH-U12S redux with a second fan in order to achieve even better performance. Containing a second NF-P12 redux-1700 PWM fan, fan clips, anti-vibration pads, a y-cable and Low-Noise Adaptors gives plenty of options to fine-tune the cooler for further improved efficiency or quietness of operation.
Precision-machined copper base for optimal contact and heat distribution
A minimally convex copper base is essential in order to guarantee optimal contact quality on today’s CPUs as well as even heat distribution across all heatpipes. While many coolers omit this key part in order to cut costs, the NH-U12S redux uses the same type of copper base as the original NH-U12S, precision-machined for ideal contact quality.
SecuFirm2™ multi-socket mounting system
Noctua’s SecuFirm2™ mounting systems have become synonymous with quality, safety and easy installation. Supporting Intel LGA115x (LGA1150, LGA1151, LGA1155, LGA1156), LGA1200 and LGA20xx (LGA2066, LGA2011-0, LGA2011-3), as well as AMD AM4, the SecuFirm2™ mounting included with the NH-U12S redux is straightforward to install, provides perfect contact pressure and will stand the test of time even under heavy use.
Free mounting upgrade policy
Just like with Noctua’s more expensive coolers, mounting upgrade kits for the NH-U12S redux will be provided free of charge if technically possible, making it a safe long-term investment. Customers can also order kits for older sockets, such as LGA775 or LGA1366, free of charge on Noctua’s website.
Pre-applied NT-H1 thermal compound
Chosen again and again by overclockers and enthusiast users worldwide, Noctua’s NT-H1 has established itself as a benchmark for premium-quality thermal compounds. The NH-U12S redux comes with a thin layer of NT-H1 pre-applied to the heatsink base, which makes it even easier to install and eliminates any guesswork as to how much paste should be used.
6-year manufacturer’s warranty
Noctua products are renowned for their impeccable quality and outstanding longevity. True to this legacy, the NH-U12S redux cuts no corners and, like all Noctua fans, the supplied NF-P12 redux features an MTTF rating of more than 150,000 hours. The entire package comes with a full 6-year manufacturer’s warranty.
|Socket compatibility||Intel LGA2066, LGA2011-0 & LGA2011-3 (Square ILM), LGA1200, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1151, LGA1150 & AMD AM4|
|Height (without fan)||158 mm|
|Width (without fan)||125 mm|
|Depth (without fan)||45 mm|
|Height (with fan)||158 mm|
|Width (with fan)||125 mm|
|Depth (with fan)||71 mm|
|Weight (with fan)||755 g|
|Material||Nickel plated Copper (base and heat-pipes), aluminium (cooling fins)|
|Max. TDP||see NSPR|
|Scope of delivery||NH-U12S redux heatsink|
|NF-P12 redux-1700 PWM fan|
|4x NA-AVP1 chromax.grey anti-vibration pads|
|Fan mounting clips (one pair)|
|NT-H1 high-grade thermal compound (pre-applied)|
|SecuFirm2™ mounting kit|
|Model||NF-P12 redux-1700 PWM|
|Max. rotational speed (+/- 10%)||1700 RPM|
|Min. rotational speed (PWM, +/-20%)||450 RPM|
|Max. airflow||120,2 m³/h|
|Max. acoustical noise||25,1 dB(A)|
|Voltage range||12 V|
|MTTF||> 150.000 h|
As usual, Noctua offers additional accessories for their cooler. In this case, we have an additional fan that hides under the NA-FK1 name. The fan is about the same as the one included with the cooler, and its specifications are above. We are also receiving a kit to install the second fan and anti-vibration pads and cables, including a low-noise adaptor.
The NH-U12S also comes with a single fan, but there is no problem buying a second fan with the same specification. Additional kit with the fan and a set of anti-vibration pads is called NF-F12 PWM chromax.black.swap, and you can see it on the above pictures.
Closer Look / Product Photos
The redux series products are kept in more greyish colors than brownish for the previous series or black for the chromax.black series. The cooler is also in silver-grey colors, so it fits the product line.
As always, in the case of Noctua coolers, the exterior of the box has a full product specification, so we don’t have to check any details on the manufacturer’s website.
The total height of the NH-U12S redux cooler is the same as the regular NH-U12S or chromax.black versions so 158mm. It’s a perfect size for most ATX PC cases, usually space for up to 160-165mm CPU coolers.
The main redux version looks similar to previous versions, and some things suggest its lower price. The cooler is not painted in any way, and heat pipes are not soldered to the fins as in previous cooler versions. The thermal grease is also pre-applied (what you can see in the photos below). At the same time, Noctua is rating this cooler’s performance as high as that of the regular or chromax.black versions. It suggests that the performance is, in fact, high and good enough for processors up to about 200W.
The NH-U12S comes with mounting kits for all popular AMD and Intel platforms. The list is missing the TR4/TRX40 for which are dedicated coolers with a larger base, and AM3, which is already old, and I don’t think that anyone invests in this platform anymore.
The base of the cooler is made of nickel-plated copper. It’s the best option in the mass market. The base is also well-polished. It causes the contact with the CPU to be nearly perfect and, of course, affects the heat transfer.
Noctua delivers the U12S redux cooler with a single fan, but since we can test it with two fans, we will show you the difference in our tests. Right now, you can compare how it looks in the attached photos.
Tests were performed on the MSI X570 Unify motherboard, which has a lot of space next to the CPU socket. The cooler also fits well on smaller ITX or DTX motherboards like MSI Z590I Unify, Biostar Z590I Valkyrie, or ASUS Crosshair VIII Impact.
The performance of the NH-U12S redux cooler has been tested on the high-end gaming rig. Its most important is the Ryzen 9 5900X processor. It’s very popular in the last few months, and that’s why we decided to use it in our tests.
Our comparison includes three tests. The idle mode is a PC left without any load besides standard Windows services running in the background. The mixed-mode base on a PCMark 10 extended test that uses popular applications and simple games. The max load is a CPU+FPU AIDA64 stability test. Shows about maximum CPU load during the most demanding work on all CPU cores.
Tests also include one and two fan setups of the NH-U12S cooler. A second fan is an option, but I’m sure that readers wish to see if it’s worth spending additional money.
The results of the NH-U12S are great. Actually, they are as great as those of the previous NH-U12S coolers. The above table shows the real performance as it includes results at automatic CPU settings, and the CPU tries to balance between optimal temperature and frequency. As an effect, under full load, Ryzen 9 5900X could run at about 4.2-4.3GHz, so about its typical frequency. On the NH-U9S, you can expect about 100-200MHz lower average frequency and, as you can see in the table, also higher temperature.
The NH-U12S redux performs about as well as AIO coolers with 140/240mm radiators. At the same time, it takes less space and is less problematic during the longer usage. Its price is also lower, so it’s not hard to figure out which option is better for most users.
The second fan is improving the performance by about 2°C under the high CPU load. We can also expect about the same noise, even though two fans are spinning a bit slower than one. During two-fan tests, fans were balancing at about 1000-1400 RPM. A single fan was going up to about 1600RPM during the highest CPU load. Overall results were about 2-3dB above the ambient, so around 35dB during the higher load tests. We had a problem registering additional noise generated by the Noctua cooler during a typical, average load.
Because of the Ryzen 9 5900X behavior, overclocking isn’t possible, and we can only go up with all cores to about 4.4-4.6GHz. During work at automatic settings, the CPU had no problems boosting up to 4.95GHz, slightly above the expected maximum frequency.
Our results are showing the high performance of Noctua NH-U12S redux. I’m sure that all who decide on this cooler will be fully satisfied. It’s a perfect mix of high performance, quite small size and a reasonable price.
Conclusion and Verdict
The NH-U12S redux seems to be a more budget-oriented product, but most users won’t feel the difference when comparing it to a regular or chromax.black version. We are surprised to see that the performance is without significant changes while the cooler is much cheaper and still looks great. Those who dislike the brownish elements on regular Noctua products will probably like the silver-gray finish of the redux series. Those who want everything black have to spend some more money on the chromax.black series, which also looks a bit better. Either way, you can’t go wrong with Noctua coolers.
The Noctua NH-U12S redux cooler costs around $49 in the Amazon store. I find it a great deal, considering how much this cooler has to offer.
- High performance
- High quality
- Available accessories
- Quiet work
- Compatible with tall memory kits
- Nothing worth to mention