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Eight Low-Profile CPU Coolers For Your Compact PC, Reviewed

Noctua NH-L12

Designed for semi-slim cases, Noctua’s NH-L12 could become a truly slim cooler by removing its 120 mm top fan. A second option for reduced profile would be to replace its 92 mm bottom fan with the top fan, though doing so would significantly diminish motherboard component and DRAM clearance. Noctua only recommends the first two options (both fans or one 92 mm fan).

In addition to mounting hardware, the NH-L12 includes a fan splitter and two speed-reducing resistor wires. While we prefer to let our motherboards manage fan speed, we’ll entertain ourselves with both high-speed and low-speed mode tests.

Noctua machines its copper base plate to an ultra-fine surface before plating the entire NH-L12 in corrosion-resistant nickel. Spring-loaded cap nuts with Phillips-head tops are also factory installed.

Some processor interfaces have built-in support plates; others don’t. Noctua still supports LGA 775-based motherboards by extending foam support material across most of its cross bracket, and it supports newer Intel platforms by making that center section removable. AMD and LGA 2011 owners have the benefit of direct-mounting Noctua’s brackets to the motherboard's original support mechanisms.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.