Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 and NH-L12S are ready for little boxes

The stock heatsinks that AMD includes with most of its Ryzen processors are quite capable but also relatively tall. The fastest Ryzens don't even include coolers. If you're building a Ryzen ITX machine and can't decide what to slap on your socket to keep things chilled, Noctua can hook you up. The company just announced the NH-L12S and NH-L9a-AM4, both updated versions of existing designs.

First, let's look at the NH-L12S. The previous NH-L12 came with two fans and had a slightly different shape. That cooler was versatile, but its installation could be complex. The new NH-L12S comes with a single slim-line 120-mm fan that makes it shorter than the previous model, even with the fan installed on top. Putting the fan there gives you extra room for tall memory modules, but if you're really strapped for space, you can install the fan underneath for a total height of just 2¾ inches (70 mm).

Like most of Noctua's current heatsinks, the NH-L12S comes with the company's new SecuFirm2 socket mounting system. That means it's compatible with pretty much every socket under the sun, including Intel's latest LGA 2066 and of course, AMD's Socket AM4. Given that the slim 15-mm NF-A12x15 fan is also Noctua-made, we don't imagine it will make a lot of noise, but the company includes a low-noise adapter in the box anyway.

Meanwhile, the NH-L9a-AM4 doesn't use the SecuFirm2 mounting system. This heatsink is designed specifically for the AM4 socket and is based on the original NH-L9a. This ultra-low-profile heatsink is just a hair under 1½ inches (37 mm) tall, including the fan. Even though this mini-cooler is ridiculously tiny, Noctua says it should be able to handle the heat output of the top-end 95W Ryzen CPUs, as long as they aren't overclocked.

Noctua's "no-overclocking" caveat extends to both of these coolers, although we suspect the NH-L12S could dissipate quite a bit of heat with a beefier fan on it. The company says both of these coolers are already shipping, and that it expects the NH-L12S to go for $50, while the NH-L9a-AM4 should be $40.

Comments closed
    • Amien
    • 2 years ago

    I was so impressed with their fans that the colour grew on me and I learned to love it, eventually painting my house in the same colour scheme.

    • Chrispy_
    • 2 years ago

    As much as I love Noctua’s design and mounting bracket support (and I use them in almost every non-windowed, quiet build), their colour scheme of beige and “distressed poo” doesn’t do them any favours. I use Cryorig if there’s a window in the build, most times.

    • crystall
    • 2 years ago

    [quote<]The fastest Ryzens don't even include coolers.[/quote<] Because they don't need no stinkin' coolers!

    • derFunkenstein
    • 2 years ago

    How the crap do you mount these? There must be gaps in the heatsink fins or something.

      • Redocbew
      • 2 years ago

      I’m guessing the smaller of the two must be attached from the back of the motherboard.
      The other one definitely looks awkward. If the fan is mounted on the bottom, then I don’t see a way but to mount the heatsink first and then clip the fan on afterwards.

      • Chrispy_
      • 2 years ago

      The NH-L9i I use is actually pretty simple – the mounting screws are on the backplate, makes so much more sense than the usual backplate mounting HSFs where you have to juggle holding the backplate, the heatsink, and a screwdriver all at the same time.

      You just mount the cooler and let the paste temporarily glue it to the board, flip the whole thing upside down (invariably a dinky mITX board) and screw the backplate straight in. No need to even detach and reattach the fans 🙂

      For the NH-L12S, there are indeed gaps in the heatsink for you to reach the screws, and you can fit the screwdriver between the blades of the fan. I know, because I installed one on Friday 😉

        • derFunkenstein
        • 2 years ago

        Excellent, thanks!

    • DPete27
    • 2 years ago

    I actually like how Enermax has built-in RPM limiter switches on some of their fans now, even though one could argue that it defeats the purpose of PWM/variable speed fans in the first place. My Ivy Bridge mobo has somewhat limited fan controls and for long summer gaming sessions or folding/mining my CPU sometimes exceeds the target temp I set in BIOS, but there is a point at which more RPMs doesn’t improve temps. Instead of listening to my CPU fan whine away at 100%, I can limit the max RPM down to that break point so my temps are the same as before but less noisy.

      • morphine
      • 2 years ago

      A [i<]limiter[/i<] doesn't defeat the purpose of PWM methinks, as long as it works in conjunction with it. That's one of the best features of the Scythe cooler I used in my previous build. It had an actual dial and you could just twiddle the maximum fan speed. Happy days.

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