Almost two months ago the prototype for what became known as the Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme showed up on our doorstep. The review of the excellent Ultra-120 was just finished and that cooler moved to the top of our performance charts along with the Tuniq Tower 120 and some specialized configurations of a few other coolers.


The eXtreme added two more heatpipes, for a total of six, but it was otherwise just like the Ultra-120 as far as we could tell. We didn't expect that much improvement over the already excellent Ultra-120, but many of you will recall that the prototype tested in the Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme preview set new records in air cooling. This was clearly the best air cooler ever tested in the AnandTech labs. The cooler prototype was not perfect, however. There was what we considered a major issue with the socket 775 mount, which needed to be bent to fit between the heatpipes and then straightened again. We suggested this needed to be fixed by Thermalright for the production version of the eXtreme.

It has been almost two months since our first look at the Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme, and the cooler is now in full production at Thermalright. You should start to see units for sale in the next few days. Thermalright advised us that they have fixed the issue with the socket 775 adapter. We were also advised that several minor refinements were made in the design of the eXtreme. Normally the availability of the production part would merely be a comment to another article or something for AnandTech Forum discussions. However, this cooler has generated a huge amount of interest simply because it performed better than any we have tested. For that reason, we felt we should take another look at the production unit, to make certain the mounting was corrected and to confirm the outstanding performance we first saw in the prototype.

Thermalright offered to ship us a retail production unit, so this is an update based on the production Ultra-120 eXtreme. We also retested the production unit to see if a second Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme - this one a retail unit - would perform just as well as the eXtreme prototype. We even tested with the same Scythe S-FLEX fan used in our first tests.

Coolers are less subject to production changes that degrade performance than motherboards are; we have at times found great prototype motherboards that proved less than stellar when finally in full production. For our readers, we felt a second test would confirm that the Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme you buy will deliver the same chart-topping performance than we found in testing at AnandTech, so today we are testing the retail production sample.

Ultra-120 eXtreme Production Kit
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  • FXi - Friday, May 04, 2007 - link

    Congrats for taking the time to go back and test a retail version. That's a feather in your cap for sure.

    We of course want to see this compared to the IFX cooler, with and without the back cooling device.

    Way to go :)

    Questions: was the cooler mounted horizontally with the fan facing up? Were you using push or pull on the fan?

    Again our thanks!
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, May 04, 2007 - link

    We assumed readers would understand the setup was the same as the Ultra 120 and Ultra 120 Extreme tests, but we added the statements on how we test and that we tested with a SINGLE fan only to the Test Configuration page. We hope this makes test conditions a little clearer. Reply
  • Syran - Friday, May 04, 2007 - link

    Was this done with 2 fans in a push/pull method, or 1 single fan? Reply
  • puffpio - Friday, May 04, 2007 - link

    single fan Reply
  • Spacecomber - Friday, May 04, 2007 - link

    I understand the economy and potential convenience of getting the all the data, for all the heatsinks, and all the CPU speed points into one graph, but maybe we're close to (or have already reached) the point of these graphs being too busy to be helpful.

    Maybe breaking the data into a bar graph for each CPU speed point (that would be five graphs at this point) would make it easier to see what is going on.

    Besides, more graphs means more pages, which equals more advertising space. ;-)
    Reply
  • crimson117 - Friday, May 04, 2007 - link

    It helps to click the graph for the larger version.

    And the graph is crowded because the results are similar - so to tell you the truth, when the difference is only one or two degrees, you're better off making your decision on ease of installation, weight, cost.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, May 04, 2007 - link

    The test environment is included in every full review, but since this was an UPDATE we tried to keep the data compact. From a recent cooler review:

    "All cooling tests are run with the components mounted in a standard mid-tower case. The idle and stress temperature tests are run with the case closed and standing as it would in most home setups. We do not use auxiliary fans in the test cooling case, except for the Northbridge fan attached to the 680i for overclocking."

    For these tests the Ambient room temp was measured as 22C, past tests have been 20C. This is mentioned in the review.
    Reply
  • Axbattler - Friday, May 04, 2007 - link

    "(unless you're going for silence and want to run fanless)"

    I understand that AT's primary objective is not silencing PCs. But with that comment, I wonder how well the eXtreme perform fanless compared to the Scythe Ninja - one of the favorite at SPCR.

    The Ninja is no longer the best when with all fans, but it tends to scale gracefully as slower fans are used, or no fan at all (due to wider spacing).
    Reply
  • TA152H - Sunday, May 06, 2007 - link

    I agree, they seem to have some weird fetish about saying things without wanting to substantiate them. I mean, why put out that remark if you're not going to elaborate on it with some information?

    It's kind of like the Bearlake remarks earlier, about how they are surprising. I think it's a childish need to act like they know something you want to. Or stupidity. Either way, they are inappropriate and irritating.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Sunday, May 06, 2007 - link

    There's no private info about fanless operation. I didn't supply data on fanless operation because our current test bed is not well set up for fanlees, and therefore I didn't want to mislead readers with fanless performance data that is likley much poorer than you can actually achieve with the Ultra-120 eXtreme. We have explained this in every review recently of a cooler that could be used fanless.

    We did test fanless operation in our review of the base Ultra-120. You can look back at those results and expect performance at least that good and probably better.
    Reply

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