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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  • TA152H - Sunday, May 06, 2007 - link

    OK, first of all, I apologize for being so rude, but ...

    I think you should stop making excuses about how your test bed is set up, and set it up properly so you can test it. Not to be rude (again), but this is what you do, review items, and you should take a more serious approach to it. Read some old Byte magazines and use them as a baseline as to what technical journalism and reviews should be like. There is no reason you can't be as good, I just think you are setting the bar a little too low rather than any inherent inability. Hiding behind "we're a kiddie site and we don't review that type of stuff or that stuff in that way" doesn't sound very credible either, although it's used a lot.

    Also, never assume people have read previous articles and remember everything in them, that's just basic journalism. Minimally, provide a link to that page, but expecting people to remember this was tested in a previous review when you didn't in this review is a little bit of a stretch.

    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, May 08, 2007 - link

    It is beyond rude to apologize while you are taking off the gloves so you can use bare knuckels. I will not apologize for not providing fanless results that are not likely valid just becuase you want them. Our current test setup was not conceived for fanless testing, and we make every effort not to make changes in test beds.

    We do try to listen to readers, but review comparisons are only valid if the test bed is the same, and a change of setups requires retesting of all the components tested to that point. For that reason, we normally make test bed changes only after completing a roundup summary, since we can retest just the top performers for future comparison with tested components on the new test setup.

    This is very different approach from web sites that test whatever they want without valid comparisons to other results. Reviews without comparisons are ads in our opinion.

    Byte is a great name from the past, but Computer Magazines appear to be fading in the marketplace since print info ages quickly in a fast moving market like computers. What works for Byte magazine is not necessarily what works for web readers. Before you pull out the "kiddie site" criticism you might consider that AnandTech is the largest and most respected of the computer review sites, as measures by real data, not speculation.
    Reply
  • Bull Dog - Friday, May 04, 2007 - link

    Thermalright ROCKS. I personally hope they never change the packaging of their coolers either. Plain brown box. No need for flash colors and marketing hype, because what's inside is so good, it doesn't need it. Reply
  • etech - Sunday, May 13, 2007 - link

    Good review but I would like to see the Enzotech Ultra-X and possibly the 3RSystem Iceage 120 added to the line up.

    The Enzotech because it seems to be the closest competitor to the Ultra and is a few dollars cheaper. I also like the cooling of the board that you have with the Ultra-X style coolers. Perhaps some chipset temps could be included.

    The Iceage 120 just because I think it could be interesting with the heatpipes directly on the IHS.

    Thanks.
    Reply

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