Noctua NH-U12DX i4 + NF-F12
Written by Michael Larabel in Peripherals on 24 May 2015. Page 1 of 1. 15 Comments

With the basement conversion into a big Linux server room where there's 50~60 systems running daily at full load while running our many open-source benchmarks, cooling has been a challenge with now experiencing summer temperatures. I've already resorted to retro-fitting in extra powered ventilation ducts to keep pushing fresh air into the server room. That did some help, but also of aid is upgrading the cooling systems on some of the more powerful systems rather than using the stock heatsinks and fans. For helping out the cooling situation, Noctua sent out a while ago the NH-U12DX i4 and NF-F12.

The NH-U12DX i4 is a large heatsink fan for LGA-2011, LGA-1356, and LGA-1366 CPU sockets. This heatsink ships with a NF-F12 120mm fan while Noctua had also sent out an extra one for use as a case fan or mounting as a secondary fan on this 158mm tall heatsink. The U12DX i4 has a copper base and heatpipes while the fins are aluminum. We generally don't review many cooling products these days on Phoronix, but the NH-U12DX i4 was an interesting candidate for better cooling one of the Intel Xeon systems in the server room. Installing this heatsink was similar to the Noctua NH-U9DX i4 heatsink I had written about last year that I bought for another high-end system. I've been using Noctua cooling products going back many years to great success.

The NH-U12DX i4 is a bit large for many server cases, but for use with the Xeon E5-2687W v3 CPU that system was in a desktop case and it's been working out great. Installing this heatsink onto the ASRock X99 Extreme3 motherboard was easy and didn't interfere with the DDR4 memory slots. Since installing this beefier heatsink onto the Intel Haswell Xeon E5 v3 processor, I haven't encountered any thermal-related issues with that system.

Though I don't have any scientific results to share for this article given that this system has been running in the server room where there's constantly different tests being run in a fully-autonomous mode via the Phoronix Test Suite / Phoromatic and many other variables at play that would make doing a very accurate heatsink thermal comparison different. Just know that the U12DX i4 has been running on this Xeon system daily for about a few months now and no problems have been encountered. About the only downside of the U12DX i4 is the price, which is for about $70 USD.

With regard to the NF-F12, it's a 120mm PWM fan featuring SSO bearings and has modular cabling, integrated anti-vibration pads, and a Heptaperf impeller. The fan is quiet, albeit in the context of the server room with 50+ systems running, just changing out one fan doesn't mean a whole lot. However, of importance on that front is this Noctua case fan is backed by a six year warranty and a MTBF rating of more than 150,000 hours. For the higher-end systems, I have more trust in the reliability and performance of a fan like the NF-F12 than I do the stock case fans that come with a $50 4U server chassis. The NF-F12 is a great after-market fan, albeit like the heatsink is on the higher-end with a price of about $20 USD for the 120mm fan.

The NF-F12 and NH-U12DX along with other Noctua products can be found in the United States at

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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 or contacted via

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