Although it is recommended to be mounted on CPUs with less than 95W TDP, the Noctua NH-L12 is surpassingly efficient and could easily cover the CPU cooling requirements of your HTPC or a mid-range rig. Packed with twin fans, the cooler could be also mounted on more demanding CPUs, as long as you have not overclocked them. Its low height will help it fit inside a small-form-factor chassis or a slim HTPC enclosure, but have in mind that it could also leave a little room for the memory around. It's short but it's also quite wide.
Installation is fast and easy, despite the fact you'll have several pieces to assemble. Don't forget that this cooler supports all currently sold sockets and several from the past.
Silence and performance are what we expect from Noctua. The NH-L12 met our expectations and it was able to offer a more than 20 per cent improvement in performance when compared to a reference Intel heatsink. In addition, it proves that sometimes size does not matter, as its cooling performance matches bigger coolers, while its fans remain quiet.
The $72 price tag seems a hefty amount for a relatively-small cooler that isn't designed for use on overclocked chips. But still, the cooler worth it, considering the performance for the size, how quiet it is, build quality and Noctua's class-leading six-year warranty.
+ Complete retail package
+ Supports all currently available CPUs
+ Includes thermal paste and noise reduction adapters
+ Includes 2 fans (120mm & 92mm)
+ Great external design and aesthetics
+ Very low height with the 92mm fan
+ Easy installation
+ Very good performance even with a single (92mm) fan installed
+ Very low noise levels
- Low profile heatsink could mess up with your memory modules, check compatibility at Noctua's website
- High price despite great bundle
- Form factor limits performance with demanding CPUs