PC systems with a small footprint are currently absolutely in vogue. Especially kick starter projects in the area of small form factor housings have been very common recently. One of these kickstarter cases is the Ghost S1 MKII from the Swedish manufacturer LOUQE. However, a challenge in such SFF cases is always the cooling of the components. The selection of the individual components must therefore be well thought out before building the system due to the small housing widths. Together with LOUQE, world-renowned CPU cooler manufacturer Noctua has now launched a heatsink that fits perfectly into the Ghost S1 MKII.
The Noctua NH-L12 Ghost S1 Edition isn’t a completely new development, though. Basically, it’s a Noctua NH-L12, in which only the 120mm fan has been left out. Noctua’s RRP for the NH-L12 Ghost S1 Edition is 55 euros (current: € 74.90 *). Whether the Noctua NH-L12 Ghost S1 Edition can be recommended or not, you’ll find out in this review.
|Dimensions (with fan)
|150 x 66 x 128 mm (W x H x D)
|Weight (with fan)
|copper (base plate, heat pipes, nickel-plated), aluminium (cooling fins)
|4x Ø 6 mm
|AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, AM4, FM1, FM2, FM2+ (backplate required)
|LGA2066, LGA2011-0 & LGA2011-3 (Square ILM), LGA1200, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1151, LGA1150
|€ 74.90 *
|Noctua NF-B9 PWM
|92 x 92 x 25 mm
|300 – 1,600 rpm
|max. 17.6 dB(A)
|max. 64.3 m³/h
Packing & scope of delivery
The Noctua NH-L12 Ghost S1 Edition comes in a comparatively large box that’s designed in the typical Noctua style. The cardboard box is printed in colour and shows all technical information and pictures of the cooler or fan. All information is written in English.
If you open the lid, the first thing you will find is a large accessory box with lots of contents. The accessories include numerous mounting elements for various Intel and AMD sockets, thermal paste, three manuals, a screwdriver and a low-noise adapter.
Below the accessory box, well protected by cardboard, is the heat sink including the fan. As we’re used to from Noctua, the packaging is well thought-out and the accessories are very extensive. Even though this cooler is specifically designed for the LOUQE S1 Ghost, the addition of brackets for mounting an additional 120mm fan would still have been nice.
Design & workmanship
Although the Noctua NH-L12 Ghost S1 Edition is a cooler especially designed for ITX systems, it looks quite massive at first glance. The cooler’s body is based on four 6mm heatpipes, 60 aluminium fins as well as a smooth copper base plate. To create a uniform appearance, all heatpipes and the base plate are nickel-plated and the manufacturer’s logo is stamped into the outermost fin.
The pre-installed fan is designated Noctua NF-B9 PWM and is factory oriented so that the air is sucked through the blades and transported towards the base. It has a frame width of 92 millimetres, is 25 millimetres deep and rotates at a maximum of 2600 rpm. It is connected via a black sleeved cable with a 4-pin PWM connector.
The Noctua NH-L12 Ghost S1’s visual appearance and workmanship are on a very high level. There are no manufacturing flaws, bent fins or missing accessories. The overall package is rounded out by a 6-year manufacturer’s warranty on heatsinks, fans and accessories.
A test system on a benchtable is used for the review. This enables us to exclude factors such as heat accumulation in the housing. The test system consists of the following components.
- AMD Ryzen 5 1400 @ 3.8 GHz at 1.25V
- Gigabyte B450 I Aorus Pro WIFI
- Crucial Ballistix Sport LT grey 32 GB DDR4-3000
- Corsair Force Series MP510 960GB Nvme
- Gigabyte AORUS GTX 1060 6G
- LC-Power LC550 V2.31 Platinum Series 550W*
- Cooler Master Tech Bench V2.0
As with all of Noctua’s current coolers, the Noctua NH-L12 Ghost S1 Edition is also based on the multi-platform mounting system “SecuFirm2”. This system is based on mounting with a backplate and mounting brackets on the front. For Intel systems, a backplate is included, for AMD systems the backplate of the AMD retention module is used. Independent of the socket, the cooler can be mounted in any orientation. In the following we show roughly the mounting on the AM4 socket.
If you use a conventional AM4 mainboard, it must be prepared by removing the plastic brackets on the front side. The backplate remains behind the mainboard. Now you put the four plastic sleeves over the mounting holes of the backplate and then put the included metal brackets on the plastic sleeves. Depending on the desired orientation the short or long brackets have to be selected at this point. Then screw the retaining brackets to the backplate using four long screws.
The last step is to apply the heat conduction paste to the heatspreader of the CPU according to the instructions, place the cooler on the CPU and screw it to the mounting brackets. The pre-assembled fan does not need to be removed before any of the assembly steps and its frame width of 92 millimeters allows the installation of RAM modules up to a height of 48 millimeters.
Noctua’s SecuFirm2 mounting system is one of the best systems on the market. The mounting instructions are clearly formulated and illustrated. The included accessories allow the CPU cooler to be mounted securely in any orientation and the use of spring-loaded screws minimises the risk of excessive contact pressure. If required, an installation kit for Socket 1366 and Socket 775 can also be requested from the manufacturer free of charge.
Due to its design, the Noctua NH-L12 S1 Ghost is compatible with RAM bars up to 48 millimetres high. This means that the popular G.Skill RipJaws as well as the G.Skill Trident Z, for example, fit under this cooler. Depending on the mainboard and the orientation of the heatsink, however, it could happen that the heatpipes protrude over the PCIe slot. Since the socket on our Gigabyte B450 I Aorus Pro WIFI is located quite high on the motherboard, there are no complications with this motherboard. Furthermore, Noctua maintains a compatibility list for each cooler.
Volume and cooling capacity
As already shown in the previous chapter, we use an AM4 system based on the Ryzen 5 1400 and the Gigabyte B450 I Aorus Pro WIFI as test hardware. The Ryzen runs on 3.8 GHz at 1.25V. The fan of the NH-L12 S1 Ghost was built in such a way that it draws the air through the cooler and transports it to the mainboard.
To heat up the processor, the processor was loaded with Prime95 for 15 minutes. The CPU temperature was then read out with the CPUID Hardware Monitor. This test was conducted in two different scenarios and then compared to the AMD Boxed Cooler’s (Wraith Stealth) and Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 values. During the temperature measurements, the room had a temperature of 22° C.
|AMD Wraith Stealth
|102 °C (crash)
|AMD Wraith Stealth
|Noctua NH-L9a-AM4, 1x 92mm
|Noctua NH-L9a-AM4, 1x 92mm
|Noctua NH-L12 Ghost S1 Edition, 1x 92mm
|Noctua NH-L12 Ghost S1 Edition, 1x 92mm
If you look at the Noctua NH-L12 Ghost S1’s maximum temperature values and compare them to those of the other coolers, you can quickly see that this ITX cooler does its job quite well. The Ryzen 5 1400 doesn’t reach critical temperatures even at a lower speed. CPUs with a TDP of 105W or higher will probably not be able to cool the Noctua NH-L12 S1 Ghost well, though. Such hot processors usually don’t find their way into an ITX system anyway.
The Noctua fan operated mostly quietly during the load scenarios. In the low speed range it’s almost not audible at all. At full speed it’s clearly audible, but doesn’t annoy and could easily be drowned out by one or the other graphics card model. You’ll also look in vain for ambient noise in this model.
Conclusion on the Noctua NH-L12 Ghost S1 Edition
Let us now come to the conclusion of this review. On this blog, we’ve already had the odd Noctua cooler or two in the test and can repeat it here: Noctua develops and produces very good CPU coolers. This hasn’t changed with the NH-L12 Ghost S1. Although this ITX cooler hasn’t been developed from scratch, it still has all its good features. The workmanship is on a very high level and the design and layout are well thought-out, allowing for the installation of protruding RAM bars. Also positive are the extensive accessories and the ingenious mounting system. The overall result is rounded off by the 6-year manufacturer’s warranty.
High quality workmanship, a well thought-out mounting system and a long warranty are always reflected in the price. The Noctua NH-L12 S1 Ghost Edition costs 55 euros (currently: € 74.90 *) and is thus almost 10 euros more expensive than its predecessor (Noctua NH-L12). So with this special edition you’re definitely paying an ITX surcharge. However, those who own the LOUQE Ghost S1 or call another ITX case their own that supports a maximum of 66 millimetre high coolers will get a very good CPU cooler with the Noctua NH-L12 S1 Ghost.