Overall Score 4.3  

Test Setup

We tested the Noctua NH-L12S using our new standard i7 LGA1511 setup. We test two configurations, stock at 3.7Ghz/4.7Ghz with Turbo and overclocked at 4.8Ghz. We keep the CPU Turbo setting enabled for both stock and overclocked configurations, however, this would only be in effect with the stock test due to the way we overclocked the CPU using the multiplier.

The Intel i7-8700K is a little more unusual than older CPUs with a specific per core Turbo clock or rating. It’s not new by any means, but it’s a very precise way to manage the Core Frequency, though, for us, it’s a way around the Silicon Lottery and helps sell more chips.

Tin foil hat aside, that means that we have a large window of stock performance, so we pushed our overclock test just outside of the max Turbo frequency, or our overclocking benchmarks would crush some of the smaller coolers we may be testing in the future.

Still, 4.8Ghz is a healthy overclock, albeit a little shy of the plus 5Ghz overclocks we have seen around the net for the 8700K. We also switch off the multi-core enhancement and keep the fan settings to standard.

Test PlatformIntel Z370
ProcessorIntel i7-8700K
Operating SystemWindows 10 Pro 64-bit
MotherboardGigabyte Z370 AORUS Ultra Gaming (rev. 1.0)
GraphicsMSI GTX 970 GAMING Twin Frozr V
StorageCrucial MX200 500Gb SSD
MemoryBallistix Sport LT 16GB Red DDR4 2666Mhz Memory Kit
PSUCorsair HX1000i
ChassisMicroCool Banchetto 101

We use a standardized set of software for both load test and temperature capture;

We ran the AIDA64 Engineer stability test in 30 minute batches and recorded the results. We used the Core Max result as there is typically a variance across the cores of a couple of degrees. We only select the cache, FPU and CPU tests, so no other component would generate impacting heat during the tests. We always “run in” our CPU cooler installations, essential to maximizing the performance of the cooler before testing begins.

Sound Level Testing

We used a standard generic digital sound level meter at 15 inches. It is important to note we use the MicroCool Banchetto 101 Chassis for testing which is an open chassis. This means you are hearing the CPU cooler’s fan unobstructed. If you place any fan or cooler in an enclosed chassis, the sound results should be quieter in most situations.

Thermal Paste

We use Arctic MX-2 for all heatsink cooler tests and in fact, we use it for all builds, test or otherwise. We run the AIDA64 Engineer stability test as our burn-in programme for thermal paste, which allows the paste to spread out and share the love across the mating surfaces. It is worth doing, we always notice a drop in temperatures even after only 30 minutes of burn-in.

Consumer Experience