Noctua NH-D12L Dual Tower CPU Cooler - 120mm-Class Cooling For 4U Server Cases

Written by Michael Larabel in Peripherals on 13 April 2022. Page 3 of 3. 18 Comments
Intel Core i9 12900K   Noctua NH-D12L

While testing the heatsink/fan combinations a number of benchmarks were carried out while monitoring the CPU core temperature under Linux. GravityMark, Unvanquished, Unigine Superposition, timed Linux kernel compilation, timed GCC compilation, timed LLVM compilation, timed Godot engine compilation, Blender CPU-based rendering, OSPRay Studio rendering, Microsoft ONNX Runtime, Intel SVT-AV1 video encoding, AOM-AV1 video encoding, and Intel SVT-HEVC / SVT-VP9 video encoders were the workloads run for stressing the system under a variety of real-world tasks.

Running this set of benchmarks took just over four hours each time for each of the tested heatsink/fan combinations on the Intel Core i9 12900K.

Intel Core i9 12900K   Noctua NH-D12L

Here is a look at the CPU core temperature under each of the heatsink/fan combinations during this four hour long benchmarking session for each cooling configuration. Even in the single fan configuration the Noctua NH-D12L did lead to a lower CPU core temperature on average than the Noctua NH-U9S 2-fan setup, my prior go-to configuration for 4U heatsinks in higher-end desktop class hardware. So overall good performance and rare feat for having a 120mm CPU heatsink fan in a tower orientation that is necessary for 4U/rackmount server chassis designs. Those wishing to see all the per-test metrics from this testing can find them via this result page.

The Noctua NH-D12L pricing is at ~$89 USD while an additional NF-A12x25r PWM fan is ~$30 USD. This is rather pricey with the NH-U9S currently being ~$69 (or as little as $54 when I last bought one at the end of 2021 and commonly below $60 aside from the pricing pressure recently) but certainly is a unique cooler if wanting to maximize your CPU cooling potential within a 4U server case. Thanks to Noctua for providing the NH-D12L review sample for testing.

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Michael Larabel

Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via