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Noctua NH-U12S Redux Review: Stellar Performance For An Affordable Price

Author: HP   Date:


Noctua NH-U12S redux cpu cooler

Noctua recently released the NH-U12S Redux which is a streamlined and affordable version of the popular NH-U12S. People often complain about the price of Noctua's products but the NH-U12S Redux retails for $50 which makes it much more affordable than the regular NH-U12S that sells for $70. In order for Noctua to hit the $50 price-point, they had to make a few compromises in the design of the cooler and also omit some of the extra accessories that normally come in the box when you buy a Noctua product.

First, the NH-U12S Redux comes with four heatpipes versus the five in the NH-U12S and the heatpipes in the Redux are not soldered to the fins. Having the heatpipes soldered to the fins allows the cooler to quickly transfer the heat away. Unlike the regular NH-U12S which ships with an NT-H1 thermal compound, the NH-U12S Redux does not come with an NT-H1 thermal compound but Noctua has pre-applied the thermal paste for a one time use. Another difference between the two coolers is that the NH-U12S Redux lacks any accessories such as an extra low-noise-adaptor and fan clips for a second fan installation.

It's quite obvious that Noctua released the NH-U12S Redux to compete directly with the popular Cooler Master 212 EVO. From a price-point perspective, the NH-U12S Redux costs $10 more but you get 6 years of warranty versus 2 years with the CM 212 EVO. If in the future you need a new mounting kit, Noctua will send you one for free whereas with Cooler Master you will need to buy the kit yourself. The fan in the NH-U12S Redux has a life expectancy of 150,000 hours while the fan of the CM 212 EVO has a life expectancy of 40,000 hours which is abysmal. Not only that but the fan in the CM 212 EVO is also significantly louder at 36 dBA versus 25 dBA with the NH-U12S Redux.

CPU Cooler Comparison
CoolerNH-U12SNH-U12S ReduxCM 212 EVO
Number of heatpipes544
Heatpipe size6 mm6 mm6 mm
Soldered heatpipes / finsYesNoNo
Dimensions (mm) (HxWxD)158 x 125 x 71158 x 125 x 71159 x 120 x 80
Fan(s)1x NF-F12 PWM1x NF-P12 redux PWM1x 120mm wide-range PWM
Min/Max Fan Speed300 / 1500450 / 1700600 / 2000
Noise Rating22,4 dB(A)25,1 dB(A)36 dB(A)
Fan Life Expectancy (Hours)150.000150.00040.000
Low-Noise AdaptorYesNo (optional with NA-FK1 second fan kit)No
Fan clips for second fanYesNo (optional with NA-FK1 second fan kit)Yes
Thermal Compound TubeYesNo (pre-applied for one time use)Yes
Mounting ecosystemSecuFirm2SecuFirm2All-In-One Solution
Free mounting upgradesYesYesNo
Warranty6 years6 years2 years

Users who want to further improve the cooling performance of their NH-U12S Redux cooler can purchase an optional NA-FK1 fan kit that retails for $17. The optional fan kit includes an NF-P12 redux-1700 PWM fan, 4x NA-AVP2 grey anti-vibration pads, fan mounting clips (one pair), NA-YC1 4-pin PWM y-cable and 2x NA-RC14 Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A).

Noctua's NH-U12S Redux retains the same heatsink layout as the regular NH-U12S so that means you get 100% compatibility with tall RAM modules as well as great case and PCIe compatibility. When it comes to the installation, Noctua ships the NH-U12S Redux with SecuFirm 2 mounting kit that makes the installation process a breeze. Noctua offers a six year warranty on their products and has an excellent customer service and they also promise a free mounting upgrade kits for all future sockets which is amazing.

Noctua NH-U12S redux cpu cooler front

The NH-U12S Redux comes with one NF-P12 redux-1700 PWM fan but Noctua has sent us the optional NA-FK1 fan kit which we will use to test the performance of the cooler in both one and two fan configuration. From a design perspective, the base of the NH-U12S Redux is constructed with a nickel plated copper and measures 40 x 38 mm in size and is 4.5mm thick.

The NH-U12S Redux has 50 aluminum fins and each fin measures 0.42 mm thick and are approximately spaced 1.7 mm from the next. The dimensions come in at 158 mm x 125 mm x 71 mm (H x W x D) and weighs 755 g with one fan installed. Fin count has remained the same between the redux and the regular model which is nice to see.

Technical Specifications

Heatsink Specifications
ModelNH-U12S Redux
Socket SupportIntel LGA2066, LGA2011-0 & LGA2011-3
LGA1200, LGA1156, LGA1155
LGA1151, LGA1150 & AMD AM4
MaterialNickel plated Copper (base and heat-pipes)
aluminium (cooling fins)
Fan Compatibility120x120x25
HeatsinkHxWxD: 158 mm x 125 mm x 45 mm (w/o Fan)
HxWxD: 158 mm x 125 mm x 71 mm (w/ Fan)
Heatpipes: 4
Heatpipe size: 6 mm
Weight: 755 g (w/ Fan)
Scope of DeliveryNF-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
Warranty6 Years

Fan Specifications
ModelNF-P12 redux-1700 PWM
Max. Rotational Speed (+/- 10%)1700 RPM
Min. rotational speed (PWM, +/-20%)450 RPM
Max. Airflow120,2 m³/h
Max. Acoustical Noise25,1 dB(A)
Voltage Range12 V
MTBF> 150.000 h

NA-FK1 Second Fan Kit (Optional)
Connector & pin-configuration4-pin PWM
Scope of deliveryNF-P12 redux-1700 PWM fan
4x NA-AVP2 grey anti-vibration pads
Fan mounting clips (one pair)
NA-YC1 4-pin PWM y-cable
2x NA-RC14 Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A)
Warranty6 years

Packaging & Accessories

Noctua NH-U12S redux accessories and packaging

The NH-U12S Redux is packaged very well and Noctua's packaging has always been top-notch and this time it's no exception. The box lists all of the information you need to know about the cooler such as the cooler specifications, socket compatibility, fan specifications, etc. Noctua utilizes the redux color scheme on their packaging which looks really good.

Noctua NH-U12S redux fans

In the box you will find the cooler itself with a NF-P12 redux-1700 PWM fan pre-attached, four NA-AVP1 chromax.grey anti-vibration pads, fan mounting clips (one pair) and Noctua's SecuFirm2 mounting kit. Noctua puts the accessories and mounting hardware in a separate box from the cooler which makes it easy to find things.

Noctua NH-U12S redux Thermal paste

Here we can see the NT-H1 thermal paste which has been pre-applied for a one time use. I recommend buying Noctua's NT-H1 3.5g thermal paste which costs $8 because you don't want to be without a thermal paste if you decide to upgrade your CPU or maybe re-paste the CPU to improve the temperature. I normally re-paste my CPU after a year of usage and I always notice improvements in temperature.

Noctua NH-U12S redux fin stack design

Like I mentioned before, the NH-U12S Redux has 50 aluminium fins with each one being 0.42mm thick.

Noctua NA-FK1 fan kit

The packaging of the optional NA-FK1 fan kit is also really good. Inside you will find the NF-P12 redux-1700 PWM fan, 4x NA-AVP2 grey anti-vibration pads, fan mounting clips (one pair), NA-YC1 4-pin PWM y-cable and 2x NA-RC14 Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A). I would have preferred if Noctua had also included their NT-H1 thermal tube to make the NA-FK1 a perfect product all-around.

Test Methodology

Test Setup
ProcessorAMD Ryzen 7 5800X all-core oc'd 4.8Ghz (1.35v)
MotherboardASUS ROG STRIX X570-F
RAMBallistix Elite 16GB (2x8GB) DDR4 3800 MHz
Graphics CardNvidia GeForce RTX 3070 FE
StorageSamsung 970 Evo Plus 1TB
Power SupplySeasonic Focus Plus 750W Gold
HeatsinkNoctua NH-U12S Redux
Noctua NH-U12S
Noctua NH-U14S
Noctua NH-D15
Noctua NH-D15S
Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO
Corsair H100i Pro
Thermalright True Spirit 140
NZXT Kraken X62
OSWindows 10 Pro 64-Bit (20H2)
Thermal CompoundNoctua NT-H1
CaseOpen bench
Ambient Temp20°C / 68°F
SoftwareCPU-Z, HWiNFO64, Blender

AMD Ryzen 5800X 4.8Ghz all core overclock

The coolers listed above were tested with our regular system setup and that is with the Ryzen 5800X all-core overclocked to 4.8Ghz at 1.35 volts. The testing is done with an ambient temperature of ~20°C / 68°F and the coolers are run with their fan speeds at default. HWiNFO64 will be used to monitor the temperature of the CPU and Blender will be used to benchmark the CPU. Keep in mind that there's always a 1-2°C margin of error when measuring the temperature.

Noise Levels In dBA
Lawn Mower90 dBA
Vacuum Cleaner80 dBA
City Traffic75 dBA
Conversation65 dBA
Air Conditioning60 dBA
Floor Fan50 dBA
Electric Hum45 dBA
Refrigerator Hum40 dBA
Rustling Leaves30 dBA
Pin Falling15 dBA

Idle temperatures will be measured after leaving the computer idle for 10 minutes and CPU-Z will be used to verify the CPU speed and the voltage being used in Windows 10. Also, the coolers are tested with the default settings enabled in the BIOS (Global C-States, Cool'n'Quiet, etc). We will measure the noise levels in idle and load by using a dBA meter which we will point at the computer at a distance of ~50 cm / 20 inch.

Thermal Performance Results

CPU Cooler Idle Temperature
NZXT Kraken X6232°C
Corsair H100i Pro32°C
Noctua NH-D1532°C
Noctua NH-D15S32°C
Noctua NH-U14S32°C
Noctua NH-U12S33°C
Noctua NH-U12S Redux (2 fans)33°C
ThermalRight True Spirit 14033°C
Noctua NH-U12S Redux (1 fan)34°C
CM Hyper 212 EVO34°C

Looking at the table above, we can see that pretty much all the coolers performed roughly the same in idle mode given a 1-2°C margin of a error.

CPU Cooler Load Temperature
NZXT Kraken X6274°C
Corsair H100i Pro76°C
Noctua NH-D1576°C
Noctua NH-D15S77°C
Noctua NH-U14S78°C
Noctua NH-U12S81°C
Noctua NH-U12S Redux (2 fans)81°C
ThermalRight True Spirit 14083°C
Noctua NH-U12S Redux (1 fan)83°C
CM Hyper 212 EVO85°C

With two fans on, the NH-U12S Redux performed the same as the regular NH-U12S which only has one fan so the second fan in the Redux was able to lower the temperature by roughly two Celsius. Even with a single fan on, the NH-U12S Redux still performed better than the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO.

Noise Level Results

CPU Cooler Idle Noise Level
Noctua NH-U12S32 dBA
Noctua NH-D15S32 dBA
Noctua NH-U14S32 dBA
Noctua NH-U12S Redux (1 fan)32 dBA
Noctua NH-D1533 dBA
Noctua NH-U12S Redux (2 fans)33 dBA
ThermalRight True Spirit 14033 dBA
CM Hyper 212 EVO34 dBA
NZXT Kraken X6235 dBA
Corsair H100i Pro36 dBA

In idle mode, the NH-U12S Redux with a single fan is about 2 dBA quieter compared to the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO and with two fans on, it becomes 1 dBA quieter.

CPU Cooler Load Noise Level
Noctua NH-U12S38 dBA
Noctua NH-D15S39 dBA
Noctua NH-U14S39 dBA
Noctua NH-U12S Redux (1 fan)40 dBA
ThermalRight True Spirit 14040 dBA
Noctua NH-D1541 dBA
Noctua NH-U12S Redux (2 fans)41 dBA
CM Hyper 212 EVO43 dBA
NZXT Kraken X6246 dBA
Corsair H100i Pro48 dBA

Under load, the NH-U12S Redux with one fan is about 3 dBA quieter than the CM 212 EVO and with two fans, it is 2 dBA quieter which is impressive.


The Noctua NH-U12S Redux is a great budget cooler that performs better than the completion while being much quieter. In our tests we saw the NH-U12S Redux outperform the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO in both thermal performance and noise levels. Noctua's great customer service and six years warranty on their products makes the NH-U12S Redux worth paying $10 more versus the CM Hyper 212 EVO. With Noctua you are also getting free mounting kits for all future sockets but with Cooler Master you will need to pay $5 for the mounting kit. One good thing about the CM 212 EVO is that it comes with a thermal compound tube which the NH-U12S Redux lacks.

If you decide to buy the optional NA-FK1 second fan kit to further improve the cooling performance, you can expect a two degree Celsius drop in temperature. The NA-FK1 kit retails for $17 which is well worth it if you are looking to squeeze extra performance out of your CPU. Even with one fan the NH-U12S Redux performs great and it is relatively quiet under real-life usage. Since the NH-U12S Redux lacks a thermal compound tube, I really think that Noctua should include their NT-H1 tube in the optional NA-FK1 kit to make the NA-FK1 a much more compelling product.

+ Affordable
+ Build Quality
+ Quiet Fan
+ Easy Installation
+ Great Packaging
+ 6 Year Warranty
+ Extra Fan Kit Is Affordable
+ High RAM Compatibility

- Lacks Thermal Compound Tube

Overall, I think the NH-U12S Redux is a well-priced product and it has no problems at keeping your CPU nice and cool at stock settings. It offers great cooling performance while providing high RAM and video card clearance. The installation process is a walk in the park thanks to Noctua's SecuFirm2 mounting kit. The NH-U12S Redux is another quality product from Noctua that performs just as you would expect. We highly recommend the NH-U12S Redux to anyone who's looking for a budget quality cooler.

With all that being said, we are proud to give the Noctua NH-U12S Redux our Recommended Award.

Final Score    9.6

RelaxedTech Gold