Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme CPU Cooler

overviewSo what does it take to beat the Thermalright Ultra-120 when it comes to all out performance? Well an improved Ultra-120 in this case it is called the Ultra-120 Extreme. So in order to beat the best you have to make it better. Now I think this is Thermalright thinking and we are here today to see if this is true. Will the two extra heatpipes that were added to the original make enough of a difference to dethrone the king? We will take time to put the new cooler through some tests and see what happens.

 

Introduction

For the longest time the Thermalright Ultra-120 has been the reigning king here at ProClockers. Every cooler that we have put up against it came up just a tad short either at idle or load temps. The one time that it did get beat it took an outstanding cooler with two fans to do it. Today I think we have met the cooler that will bring the Ultra-120 to its knees.

So what does it take to beat the Thermalright Ultra-120 when it comes to all out performance? Well an improved Ultra-120 in this case it is called the Ultra-120 Extreme. So in order to beat the best you have to make it better. Now I think this is Thermalright thinking and we are here today to see if this is true. Will the two extra heatpipes that were added to the original make enough of a difference to dethrone the king? We will take time to put the new cooler through some tests and see what happens.

 

Specifications

  • Dimension : L63.44 x W132 x H160.5 mm (heatsink only)

  • Weight :790g (Heatsink Only)

  • Recommended Fan :All 120mm Fan

Features

  Quiet and powerful cooling due to multiple heat pipes and large aluminum fin area

  Proprietary bent winglet design to minimize airflow resistance

  Heat pipes soldered to base (nickel plated) and fins for optimum heat transfer

  Include both bolt-thru-board retention brackets for Intel and AMD

 

Closer look

When you take a look at the Thermalright the first thing that will come to mind is that it looks a lot like most coolers on the market today. You are right a lot of companies have tried to dupe the styling that Thermalright was one of the first to make famous. Every cooler that we have put up against the original Ultra that came close to its performance numbers have all shared the tower design.

The Ultra-120 extreme (T.R.U.E. for short and the term we will use in this review from now on) is 90% Original Ultra-120 plus two addition heat pipes. The pipes are copper underneath nickel plating. The idea of the nickel plating is the keep the color contrast of the cooler constant. The pipes are the skeleton that holds the 52 aluminum fins together. The fins are tightly stacked to increase the overall surface area of the cooler. The fins are in pretty close range of each other making it a little difficult for the air from the fan to blow across it. Early thinking would reveal that a higher CFM fan would be ideal. The fins are concaved in the center which is to eliminate the air gap that is developed by the hub of the fan being used.

 

Each end of the pipes start at the top of the cooler and also end there. The midpoint of the heat pipes is where they meet the base of the cooler. The pipes do not make contact with the CPU like we have seen in OCZ Vendetta and the Sunbeamtech Core Contact. The base is also nickel pated but made of copper underneath. There are some machine lines in the surface of the base but we have come to the conclusion that a super shiny base means top performance.

 

Installation

There is no difference between the mounting methods of the original cooler and this one. Except for the fact that the T.R.U.E. comes with all the accessories to fit it to sockets AM2, AM2+ and 775. Well almost. For anyone using an AM2 socket that doesn’t come with a metal back plate you will have to order one from Thermalright or find some other way of jerry rigging it to mount to the motherboard. In our case we will be using an Intel socket motherboard so we don’t have to worry about back plates or spending extra money.

The first thing we decided to do in order to get procedure running was to place the Intel cross member on the cooler. This was a little tricky and a real pain. The cross member is stiff and you practically have to force the bracket between the heat pipes to make it sit at the focal point on the base. Once this is done the rest of the task is simple and effortless.

Next we line up the four holes on the motherboard with the ones located on the back plate. The back plate is attached to the motherboard from the bottom with four large chrome screws with springs. The springs are used to eliminate the over tightening of the screws.

Next it is time to mount your pick of fans to the cooler. The T.R.U.E. doesn’t come with a fan at all. Thermalright leaves it up to the end user to decide. As some customers would want a slower speed fan for less noise and a small compromise in the area of cooling performance. And then there are individuals that want all out performance meaning a faster speed and a lot of times louder fans are needed. The fan is attached to the cooler using two wire clips, these clips make the removal of the cooler as well as the fan much easier.

After this job is complete.

 

Testing

Now we could not test the T.R.U.E with putting it against the old brother the original Ultra-120 nor some of the top coolers of today like the Sunbeamtech Core Contact and OCZ Vendetta 2. We used the ASUS Probe to measuring temps during idle and load.

Testing Experiment

ASUS P5E3

Intel Core2Duo E8400

OCZ DDR3 Platinum PC1800

Microsoft Windows XP Pro

Sapphire Ultimate 3870

Maxtor Diamond 10 100GB

HP DVD740 drive

Ultra ProX 800 power supply

Noctua cooling fan

 

Results

Honestly, we were not the bit surprised when we gathered all the results from the Ultra-120 Extreme. It shredded one degree off the cooling performance of the original 120. And outperformed the other coolers in our test by a slightly larger margin.

 

Conclusion

We have a new king of the hill at Pro-Clockers. Its name is the Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme. The numbers don’t lie; the T.R.U.E. is definitely a great cooler. We have long lived with the original Ultra-120 and its awesome cooling ability but in the case of this new cooler and its additionel two heat pipes made a real difference.

The mounting of the cooler is pretty simple but a little time consuming compared to Intel’s push pin technique. With weight of this cooler we don’t think anyone will mind the extra minutes it will take to remove the motherboard to install it. Also because of the weight the use of the metal back plate is worth it as well as no real stress is put on the motherboard like it would be with the push pin method.

If one was to complain about noise from the Extreme they could only blame themselves as this cooler doesn’t come with its own fan. So it is up to the end user to decide what fan they are going to use. Now this does add to the final cost of the cooler. Most retailers sell the Extreme for about $60-$65 and with the addition of a fan if one needs to be purchased is another $10-$15 on top. This will add up to one expensive air cooling solution. The end price is strictly up to the user so say if it is worth it.

The T.R.U.E. deserves the Editor’s Choice award for sure.



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