Thermalright is the powerhouse of the performance air cooling market, consistently sitting in the top three for best performing air coolers. With a product line that reaches all corners of the air cooling segment, you can always find a Thermalright product that will take care of your heat issues when stock is just not cutting it. Not only is top-tier performance the mission, but Thermalright maintains a very high level of quality and the products are also pleasing to the eye. Getting ready for the review, I had to do some background research and to my surprise, Thermalright was founded back in 2002, which I had in my mind they had been around since the late 90’s. Before I start sounding like an infomercial, we should get to the review at hand and let the product be the judging factor.
From the Thermalright line-up, we have the long-standing pinnacle of air coolers the Ultra Extreme 120 or TRUE. Now, this is not the original as the design has been revised a few times along the way, and we have the Rev. C on the bench today thanks to Frozen CPU. I don’t want to bore you too much, time to cover the features and specs…
Upon opening the box, you finally get to see the Ultra Extreme in all its glory. If you are moving from a lower performing cooler, the first thing you will notice is all the heat pipes snaking in and out of the nickel-plated copper base. The TRUE has six 6mm copper heat pipes all decked out in the nickel finish, those heat pipes run from the fin tower to the cooper base and continuing to the other side of the fin tower, a big ‘U’ which is a standard for most heat pipe and fin tower coolers. As you proceed with the unboxing, you get to the accessories including mount system components, wire fan clips, fan vibration pads, TIM and the ever-popular Thermalright sticker. Retail package for the TRUE Rev.C includes mounting for Intel LGA775, LGA1366 and the trio of AMD sockets AM2, AM2+ and AM3. To note, Intel LGA1156 support requires and additional purchase. The retail package we have does not include a fan, so be sure to verify before purchasing if you are expecting the stock Thermalright fan.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, we need to cover the physical attributes of the Ultra Extreme-120. Starting with the base, the base thickness is 15mm with a width (heat pipes enter and exit) of 40mm and length of 50mm. Moving up the heat pipes to the fin tower, Thermalright squeezes forty-seven 0.5mm thick aluminum fins with 1.85mm spacing between the fins. All total, the fin tower is 110mm in height (measured at the center), 132mm wide and 64mm thick or deep at the edges. Including the base, the total height for the TRUE is 153mm. I may have lost some of you with the my description of the dimensions, to be clear the TRUE measures in at 153x132x64mm bare without a fan mounted up and the depth increases to 88mm with a 25mm fan mounted (the recess accounts for the extra millimeter). But let’s step back and talk a little more about the fin tower before moving on… I was a bit surprised with the fin spacing of the TRUE, as I expected to see fin spacing of 1.5mm or less. However, I think once we get to the thermal testing we will understand more as to why Thermalright went with 1.85mm spacing versus going tighter.
Time to talk about one of the most important pieces of any cooling product, installation and mounting. Starting out, remove the backing from the anti-vibration strips and put them in place on the side of the fin tower which you will be mounting the fan obviously. I also recommend getting the wire fan clips in place now, fumbling with fan clips inside your case is less than a desirable experience. The TRUE fan clips hook into the little holes on the sides of the fin tower and you will have to push a little in order to get them set and secure, Thermalright chose a different approach to securing the clips and I am still undecided on whether I like the decision more or less than other methods. Prepped with the fan clips and vibration strips on the cooler, take the backplate and position it under the board like normal. With the backplate in place, take the two mount brackets and position them perpendicular to the socket arm, secure the brackets using the M3 screws. Now that mounting is set around the socket, prep the CPU with TIM (Thermalright included Chill Factor, but we used MX-3) with a 2 grains of rice blob in the center of the IHS. Set the cooler onto the IHS and slide the mount plate through the center of the heat pipes with the depression of the mount plate resting in the center of the TRUE’s base. Before you go any further, I always give a twist back and forth to help the TIM spread, your choice. After setting the cooler on the CPU and the mount plate in place, take two of the spring loaded screws and start tightening… I alternate sides after a few turns until both have reached the stop. Now that both screws are fully tightened, mount the fan on the cooler using the wire fan clips you put in place and you’re ready to rock, but don’t forget to plug the fan into a header or fan controller. The TRUE has a very simple and straightforward mounting system, and we will see if simple means effective later.
With a simple mount system that has inspired many companies to tweak their own, not to mention the subtle overall appearance that does not jump out and scream performance or make unnecessary noise (figuratively speaking). The specs of the fin tower lead me to believe the TRUE will perform well at medium to high fan speeds, but will hold its own at low speed as well. Lets hold those thoughts until we get to the performance test though. Before we move on to the test methodology, we have a few photos of the Thermalright Ultra Extreme 120 Rev.C for your viewing pleasure.