Noctua NH-U12S Heatsink Review

Great cooling performance and low noise. An excellent heatsink for the AMD Ryzen 3000 Series.

After over six years of use, it was time to put my faithful desktop gaming system out to pasture and to build a new one. Like many others building systems recently, I decided to step back over to the red team and put together a Ryzen 3000/X570 system this time around.

All the rave reviews of AMD’s new Zen 2 architecture were not exaggerated in my opinion – The new system is very responsive and feels much faster than the second generation Intel i7 processor it replaced.


My initial impressions of AMD’s new heatsinks were positive as they are quite impressive looking – much taller and heftier than Intel’s boxed heatsinks. Even their screw and spring based mounting system is far superior to stock heatsinks of the past. This heatsink seemed so promising that this was one of the first builds I have ever done where I had no plans to replace the stock cooler.

When I powered on the system for the first time, I was appalled by the terrible acoustic profile of the wraith spire fan. At its full 3000 RPM it’s unbearably loud and to make matters worse, Gigabyte’s default PWM fan profile had the fan constantly spinning up and down in response to temperature changes. I was so annoyed by the fan cycling that I just gave up and created a custom profile forcing the fan to about 50% until the CPU reaches a very high temperature. I actually preferred the constant annoyance of 50% to the horrible spinning up and down that would happen all the time. The cooling performance wasn’t horrible, but I just couldn’t handle the fan. I think I used the system for about an hour before I was determined that I needed an aftermarket cooler.

Noctua was kind enough to provide me with a review sample of their NH-U12S edition heatsink to try out today.


noctua_200x200pxNoctua is an Austrian company well known for their low noise fans and high-end heatsinks. I’ve been using Noctua heatsinks for ages. In fact, I reviewed some of their original heatsinks and fans many years ago when I used to write hardware reviews. This included their original NH-U12P, the NH-C12P and the smaller NH-U9B. Back then, I praised them for their high-quality construction, near silent operation, excellent mounting hardware and most importantly – excellent cooling performance. That was over ten years ago, and it seems that Noctua is still very well respected for all the same reasons today.

Their gear has always been pricey compared to the competition, but when it comes to Noctua, you get what you pay for.

Noctua NH-U12S

Noctua’s NH-U12S has been out for some time now, and it seemed to tick all of the right boxes for me. It is what Noctua calls a “classic sized” 120mm tower heatsink, designed to be somewhat slim and and sized to ensure compatibility with a variety of systems and motherboard layouts.

For this new Ryzen system, I wanted to try Noctua’s new edition of the NH-U12S. Although I don’t mind Noctua’s signature beige/brown fans, I was excited to see their new all-black chromax version. Given the tempered glass window on my Fractal Design C case, I thought the all-black heatsink and fan would look pretty slick and match the look of the system beautifully.

With a matte black coating on the entire heatsink as well as a black NF-F12 fan, the NH-U12S heatsink would look at home in any modern system.

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