Wait, what? No beige fans, but as usual some of the best CPU cooling on the market? This can only mean one thing, chromax.black! Noctua brings today’s offering with the NH-U12A chromax.black CPU cooler. We’ve seen the U12A on the channel before, but we’ve updated our test bench, so let’s take a closer look at it and get it tested!
Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black: Specifications
|Intel LGA1700, LGA1200, LGA1150, LGA1151, LGA1155, LGA1156, LGA2011, LGA2066 and AMD AM4, AM5
|Height (without fan)
|Width (without fan)
|Depth (without fan)
|Weight (without fan)
|Height (with fan)
|Width (with fan)
|Depth (with fan)
|Weight (with fan)
|Copper (base and heat-pipes), aluminium (cooling fins), soldered joints & nickel plating
|Noctua NH-U12A heatsink
2x NF-A12x25 PWM chromax.black premium fan
2x NA-RC14 Low-Noise Adaptor (L.N.A)
NA-YC1 4-pin PWM y-cable
NT-H1 high-grade thermal compound
Black SecuFirm2™ mounting kit
Noctua Metal Case-Badge
|Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM chromax.black
|Max. rotational speed (+/- 10%)
|Max. rotational speed with L.N.A. (+/- 10%)
|Min. rotational speed (PWM, +/-20%)
|Max. airflow with L.N.A.
|Max. acoustical noise
|Max. acoustical noise with L.N.A.
|> 150.000 h
Product page: Click here
Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black: Unboxing and Closer Look
- 2x NM-AMB11 Mounting Bars
- 4x NM-APS4 Plastic Spacer for AM4
- 4x NM-APS5 Plastic Spacer for AMD
- 4x NM-ALS1 Screws
- 4x Plastic Spacers NM-IPS1 [Black colour for Intel LGA 115X/1200 sockets]
- 4x Plastic Spacers NM-IPS3 [Blue colour for Intel LGA 1700 socket]
- 4x NM-IBT5 Bolts [LGA 15xx/1200/1700]
- 4x NM-IBT2 Bolts [LGA 20xx]
- 4x NM-ITS1 Thumbscrews
- 4x Long Screws
- 6x NM-ICS1 clip-on Spacers
- 1x NT-H1 Thermal paste
- 1x Screw Driver
- 2x NA-RC14 LN Adapter
- 1x NA-YC1 Y Cable
- 1x Metal Noctua Case Badge
Under the accessory box, we can see the cooler itself. The cooler comes with the two included NF-A12x25 chromax.black fans pre-mounted. Though these will need to be taken off for installation. The heatsink has aluminium fins which are nickel-plated and finished in a black colour finish. The top plate has the Noctua branding in the middle, above that is a cut-out. This cut-out forms a channel to give access to the screw which is securing the cross-bar to the base of the cooler. We can also see the heatpipes protruding and terminating through the top of the fin.
The heatsink itself is based on the U12S copying the use of 50 aluminium fins, but the U12A is deeper at 58 mm compared to the 45mm of the U12S. Indicating Noctua’s choice to add a second NH-A12x25 fan.
The left and right sides are mirrored, though we can see the heat pipe on the right-hand side is angled away from the rest highlighting the extra length over the U12S cooler. This also indicates how to mount the cooler, with the left-hand side towards the front when mounted vertically or towards the bottom when mounted horizontally.
There are 7 heatpipes on the U12A cooler each with a thickness of 6mm.
The cooler has a copper base which is nickel coated in mirror finish. The heat pipes are making indirect contact with the copper base from inside the base plate. The base area measures (approx) 43 x 43 mm and the edges are rounded off. This area covers all but the largest CPU’s on the market today.
The NH-U12A chromax.black comes with two NF-A12x25 PWM in black. Each corner has a black anti-vibration pad on both sides. The A12s have 9x blades with a textured surface. These form air channels on the blades which Noctua calls Flow Acceleration Channels.
Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black: Installation
In a few minutes, the backplate was installed and the bars were added and screwed into place.
The heatsink easily attaches to the Secufirm 2 mounting kit using the 2 spring-loaded screws attached to the base of the cooler. In typical Noctua fashion, it takes no time at all from start to finish.
Finally, adding the fans is easy using the provided clips.
The NH-U12A chromax.black in all its glory. Note the logo’s on the fans and heatsink in matching orientation. It’s finishing details like these that add to the overall package.
Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black: Thermal Performance
We have decided to update the testing method accordingly for better and more consistent results. It isn’t ideal running Prime95 for a prolonged period of time and if you get called away to do something, it could be left running for much longer than needed. Our new methodology involves running a multi-threaded performance benchmark called Cinebench R23.
It should also be noted that the reason we omit acoustic/noise testing is due to an inaccuracy within the readings and method. To provide truly accurate readings, you need a lab setting with the same ambient noise on an hour-by-hour, day-by-day and week-by-week basis. As ambient noise can increase at different times of the day, we believe that it’s pointless providing noise testing if we can’t measure consistent and accurate data due to our office being a busy setting.
- CPU – Intel Core i7-10700k– 3.8GHz (1.1v) & 5GHz (1.3v)
- Motherboard – Aorus Z590 Ultra
- GPU – Sapphire RADEON RX570 NITRO+ 8GB
- RAM – Klevv Bolt X 16GB 3200MHz
- PSU – Thermaltake Toughpower GF1 850w
- Case – Thermaltake Divider 300 TG Air Snow Mid-Tower
- OS – Windows 11 Pro 64-bit
Thanks to Thermaltake for providing the GF1 PSU and Divider 300 TG Snow case for our new thermal test bench kit!
In addition to keeping our test setup consistent for all CPU cooling tests, we also always use the same thermal paste rather than any that comes supplied or pre-applied. Our thermal paste of choice is NT-H2 from Noctua. Thanks to Noctua for the hookup!
Idle Testing Methodology
To test each cooler at idle, the minimum temperature is taken after leaving the PC with only start-up programs being allowed to run for 5 minutes. The mean of three tests is recorded. This temperature is deducted from the current room temperature and our final delta temperature is provided.
Load Testing Methodology
To test each cooler under load, we run Cinebench R23 for 60 minutes using the multicore CPU test. The mean of three tests is recorded. This temperature is deducted from the current room temperature and our final delta temperature is provided.
Noctua NH-U12A chromax.black: The Verdict
Anyone who has ever heard of Noctua will expect the NH-U12A chromax.black to perform well and it did! It offers some of the best cooling potential on the market today, and easily trades blows with similarly priced top-tier AIOs.
As mentioned before, the presentation of the product itself is premium, and that quality is evident throughout. From the outer packaging to the unit itself, every single inch of the NH-U12A is exquisite and constructed to the highest of standards. Even the Secufirm 2 mounting kit is one of the most popular in the industry.
One area where I think people will be pleased is the colour of the U12A chromax.black.
It’s, well, black and we know by now that Noctua is synonymous with the, for lack of a better word, “traditional” beige/brown colour scheme, and its popularity, or lack thereof.
There’s no denying that when Noctua released the grey-coloured redux line people welcomed them with open arms. Releasing a chromax.black lineup of products was really a logical step for Noctua and they’ve nailed it. The NH-U12A chromax.black looks fantastic and is sure to end up in my personal rig in the not-to-distant future.
- Thermal performance is the best we’ve ever seen.
- Build quality & finish are unrivalled.
- Whilst the price isn’t cheap, given the awesome performance, the actual value for money is really good.
- Whilst being good value for money, £105-125 is still a lot of money.
The latest iteration of the NH-U12A in its chromax.black form is regarded as the best CPU air cooler to date. Retailing at between £110-125 in the UK it’s not cheap, but it’s a premium product, and therefore carries a premium price tag, and as such deserves a premium award… Platinum!