Although basic heatsinks have long been a common item for most retail processors, one cannot ignore the fact that many of these heatsinks are just that: basic. These heatsinks are sufficient to operate the CPU at normal frequencies, but a small number of heatsinks are made large enough to surpass the basics and provide impressive thermal and / or acoustic performance. As a result, it is still quite typical for users and enthusiasts to go in search of a more advanced solution – and there is a large market for refrigerators waiting to be found. From compact fans to all-in-one coolers for liquids that can fill the case, there is a cooler for almost all budget needs, configurations and cooling needs.
And if by any chance it doesn’t exist, then it’s only a matter of time before someone builds it. Which is largely the case with the CPU heatsink in today’s review, the Noctuin budget-friendly NH-U12S Redux. Already known for its high-quality, premium refrigeration products, Noctua is working to expand its market by making its products a little more affordable to budget customers, and they do so through products like Redux.
At a high level, the NH-U12S Redux is a cheaper version of the company’s very popular NH-U12S cooler. With fewer heatpipes and a different fan, the NH-U12S Redux intends to reduce the quality and cooling performance of its predecessor to a cheaper price tailored to a $ 50 wallet. Which also means Noctua is more directly confronted with other major refrigerator manufacturers in a highly competitive market segment.
Packaging and package
The first thing we noticed about the NH-U12S Redux is the simple, modern packaging, which is not unlike any of the company’s packaging we’ve seen before. The artwork on the packaging is pretty much gone, only the basic information about the fridge is printed on the side and back of the box.
In addition to the heatsink itself, we found a basic package inside the box that mainly consists of the mounting hardware needed to install the heatsink on the CPU. There is also an illustrated leaflet with installation instructions. The NH-U12S Redux, much like its siblings, cannot be mounted on Ryzen Threadripper processors. We didn’t find a thermal paste syringe in the packaging — Noctua uses pre-applied paste instead — which is one of the changes Noctua made to reduce the retail price of the cooler.
Noctua NH-U12S Redux CPU cooler
The Noctua NH-U12S Redux is very similar to the normal NH-U12S, with the exception of the heat pipe and a different cooling fan. Overall, the NH-U12S Redux has one heat pipe less than the NH-U12S and three heat pipes less than the NH-U12A. But perhaps more importantly, the fins on the Redux are also not welded to the heat pipes. Due to its size and shape, the NH-U12S Redux is compatible with most commercial CPU sockets and will not block the installation of (regular size) RAM modules.
Splitting image: NH-12S Redux vs. NH-12S
When the cooler comes out of the box, the most experienced users will turn their attention to the new fan. And not because of any feature that really stands out, but because this is one of the few occasions where Noctua has discarded his iconic brown / beige theme. In addition, the NH-U12S Redux has a relatively simple design, as the tower is a cooler with a small base and heat pipes that transfer heat energy from the CPU to the fin. While this is the cheapest cooler in the U12 series, the NH-U12S Redux is certainly not a compact cooler; although 160mm high, it should fit into most ATX enclosures without any compatibility issues. The width of the heat sink may limit the installation of RAM modules larger than 42 mm in some of the RAM slots.
The NH-U12S Redux case is beautifully designed and crafted, with perfectly spaced fins and heat pipes creating a work of art. There are four heat pipes that extend on both sides of the field, which are definitely made of copper but are further nickel-plated, to protect them from corrosion and for aesthetic reasons.
The string of fins is not too dense, which allows the NH-U12S Redux to perform well with a single 120 mm cooling fan. However, for those looking for an additional performance boost, the company offers a kit that includes a second 120mm fan. We should also add that these fans are not the same as those used on NH-U12S and NH-U12A. The NF-P12 fans used by the NH-U12S Redux are faster and noisier.
The base of the heatsink that comes in contact with the processor is divided into two parts. The lower half of the base is made of nickel-plated copper, which increases the heat transfer rate from the CPU to the heat pipes. It is extremely well processed, perfectly flat and smooth. The upper half serves only as a mechanical support and is made of aluminum, while the mounting bracket is made of nickel-plated steel. We see that thermal paste is previously applied here, which is a rarity to see on Noctua products.
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