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Noctua NH-L12 CPU Cooler Review

The installation of the NH-L12 is fairly easy, although it requires care and a significant amount of time. The socket AM3 installation is demonstrated in this review. In order for the NH-L12 to be installed onto an AMD socket, the top part of the stock retention bracket needs to be removed but not the stock backplate. After the plastic retention bracket is removed, the user needs to install the metallic retention braces supplied with the NH-L12.

Before proceeding with the installation, both cooling fans need to be removed from the cooler. Then, after a thin layer of thermal grease is applied on the CPU, the user only needs to place the cooler onto the CPU and firmly secure it in place by using the supplied screwdriver.

Although the NH-L12 is certainly short, the wide dimensions of the fins create the illusion of a monster cooler and rightfully so, since the NH-L12 is wide enough to cover almost half an ATX motherboard. This could be a problem inside very confined spaces where the NH-L12 may fit with regards to height but still be obstructed by parts of the chassis.

Being a very wide but low profile cooler, the NH-L12’s design is not without problems. As seen from the picture above, not only the installation of tall RAM modules is out of the question but the 92mm entirely blocks the two first RAM slots of our motherboard, completely negating their use. If the motherboard does not adhere to AMD's design guide precisely, RAM modules or heatsinks could block the installation of this cooler. Intel based motherboards offer greater clearance between the CPU and the RAM modules, so RAM-related problems should be minimal. Either way, we strongly recommend that the end user should check this cooler's compatibility guide prior to a purchase.

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