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  • Rick1 - Sunday, August 26, 2007 - link

    In a couple of post above the questions are asked Why run one of these coolers

    My answer is simple
    Quiet and cool running system

    The only fan I hear is the One installed in the hard drive compartment of this P182B case
    ( cooling 4 drives. 2x raptors and 2x Barracuda 7200.10 SATA 3.0Gb/s 500-GB )

    With 2 fans S-Flex blowing in and the stock two exhaust fans
    This Q6600 runs at 32Cto35C and has never gone over 48C under a full load

    I was never able to get the stock H/S below 50C on warm days
  • jnk - Thursday, October 18, 2007 - link

    question for the reviewer:

    when you reviewed the ultima-90, when mounted were you able to twist it? I recently bought one and i can twist it even while its locked and the screws are tight. I emailed thermalright about it and they that its normal.
  • Patvs - Saturday, August 25, 2007 - link

    This is the best CPU cooler review on the net! I have one question though.
    In the Noise Level test, some coolers are tested with low and high RPM settings.
    For example the Tuniq Tower 120 @1000 RPM and @2100 RPM. However the Thermaltake Big Typhoon VX is only tested @2000 RPM.

    Is the HIGH RPM setting always used for the Temperature Tests (IDLE and LOAD)?? Or do you use the LOW RPM setting as default for the temperature tests? *confused* If HIGH: it shows the Tuniq is really quiet at LOW RPM, but you show its cooler potential in temperature in HIGH RPM? How does it cool at LOW RPM? (or if LOW: how much does the temperature decrease if the cooler is at HIGH RPM) Also I would love to see a test with TWO fans hooked up to some of these coolers in the future.
  • Patvs - Saturday, August 25, 2007 - link

    Edit: You state you use stock speed RPM settings for the temperature tests.
    So why use 2000 RPM for the Big Typhoon VX? Isn't its stock speed 1300 RPM. (it is for the Big Typhoon non-VX version without the fan controller)
  • muddocktor - Wednesday, August 22, 2007 - link

    As always, a good heatsink review by you, Wesley. But I have a question about the Thermalright samples that you all get for review. Do you receive these directly from Thermalright or are they procured from an authorized reseller such as Sidewinder Computers or Newegg from actual shipping production? The reason I ask is that while I find the engineering and design of Thermalright's heatsinks to be top-notch, I have personally found that their base finish to be spotty. I own or have owned 2 XP90's, an XP90-C, SI 120, Ultra 120, and an Ultra 120 eXtreme (all bought at retail except the SI 120, which was bought used) and of those the only ones that had a half decent base finish that was usable as-is were the XP90-C and SI 120. The others either had a fairly poor base finish with visible machining marks left in them and in the case of the U-120, an absolutely horrible base finish with a ridge left on one side of the base. The XP-90's also had very concave bases too. All saw improved to much improved performance after giving the base a lap job. If you are getting your review samples directly from Thermalright instead of from a vendor that handles their heatsinks, I am sure that the samples you receive are thoroughly checked for finish before sending them out to you and aren't truly representative of what is actually going out for sale through normal channels. It would be interesting to see if you could get some samples from someone online that didn't know they were going to Anandtech (to minimize the chance of cherry picking the heatsinks) and do a consistency review showing differences (or lack of) in performance of production line Thermalright heatsinks.

    Also, I have heard the thing Thermalright has put out about the concaveness of their bases being engineered into their design and don't buy that a bit. I think that is just something the salesmen have thought up to cover inconsistencies in the base finish from their manufacturer and my experience (so far) has proved out for me at least that a lapped, flat base works better on both LGA775 and socket 939 systems. Other than the base finish though, I find that Thermalright makes the best overall line of premium aircooling equipment on the market.
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, August 22, 2007 - link

    We first tested the Ultima-90 with a pre-production cooler. Results were then verified with a Retail cooler from a stocking retailer. Where there have been questions about items being "hand-picked" we often verify results with a retail sample.

    In the case of the Ultima-90 the performance of the Thermalright-supplied Ultima-90 and the one off the Retail shelf were exactly the same.
  • muddocktor - Sunday, September 02, 2007 - link

    Thank you for the answer answer on your samples you test, Wesley. I guess I just have bad luck in the base finishes I get on the Thermalright heatsinks I buy then. But since I know how to lap the base anyways it's no big problem for me. Thermalright does make some truly excellent products for cooling highly overclocked cpus. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, September 03, 2007 - link

    Thermalright is not alone in advocating convex bases. Swiftech has moved from promoting flat, mirror-finish bases to convex bases with a finish not as good. They call them their bow base and claim 2 to 4C better performance with the "bow".

    Engineers have found that the convex base (fat center) mates tighter in the area of the CPU under the cap. Also Intel manufactures caps that are not flat by design - conncave, convex, and wave designs are all used in certain processors. Research shows the convex cooler base mates best with any of these 3 Intel cap types.

    The point is this is not a marketing story, as you will see as we go into water-cooling in more detail. Lapping a convex base Thermalright can DROP performance by 2 to 4C.
  • customcoms - Friday, August 24, 2007 - link

    Any chance you guys will be reviewing an Ultra-90? The reason I ask is because silicon valley computers often has these heatsinks in stock and on sale for $15...that seems like a great bargain to me especially when the bigger brothers, the Ultra-120 and 120 eXtreme, retail for upwards of $50. I would really like to know if spending the extra money for an Ultima-90 or Ultra-120 is even worth the performance increase... Reply
  • dm0r - Tuesday, August 21, 2007 - link

    Great review Wesley, as aways. Reply
  • andereandre - Tuesday, August 21, 2007 - link

    In these articles the Intel HSF is always classified as having the same noise level as the best coolers (and system-ps & no fans).
    I have a X2 4600 however, and I hear the AM2 stock cooler at idle.
    Does this mean that de Intel stock cooler is that much better than the AMD one, or is it just the measurement?
    That is of real interest to me as I am looking to replace my cooler to make my pc more silent, not to oc it.
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, August 21, 2007 - link

    Early Intel 775 stock coolers were very noisy, but for the last year or so the Intel stock cooler is very quiet. That is further enhanced by the 4-pin fan connection that varies fan speed based on CPU temp and BIOS settings. Intel also uses a fan that is a standard 25mm thick.

    While I don't have measurements for you, the AMD fan is noisier to my ears. AMD does use heatpipes, but they also use a very thin fan that has to run higher rpm to move enough air for cooling.
  • Beenthere - Monday, August 20, 2007 - link

    For years Thermalright has delivered best in class performance with all of the products. No reason to expect any difference with the Small Wonder. Thermalright does good engineering and proves out their product instead of rushing some POS out the door as the trick-of-the week product. And with Thermalright you don't get some stupid shitze whisles and bells to sucker the clueless sheep into buying their products. Reply
  • Axbattler - Monday, August 20, 2007 - link

    @ Wesley Fink: Can you please confirm that the height of the cooler with a 120mm fan attached is indeed shorter than the Ninja with a 120mm fan attached? I know that the Ninja is 150mm high, whereas the Ultima is 139mm, so I would expect, all things being equal that the Ultima requires less space than the Ninja. But a confirmation would be helpful as I've been looking for a cooler with comparable performance with the Ninja but a few (5-10mm) shorter. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, August 20, 2007 - link

    1600 RPM is correct, and the chart is corrected.

    As for the Scythe Infinity, we can only report what we find, and others report what they find. You might compare test beds and methods for an explanation. The Infinity is deservedly loved by those whose primary goal is silence. That means the fan is relatively low output compared to coolers designed for overclocking as the primary goal.

    We did find the Infinity reached 3.90 GHz at the top tier of our performance results when two fans were used in a push-pull arrangement. That is also included in our Scaling charts. As reported in our Infinity review the cooler can mount up to four fans.
  • jackylman - Monday, August 20, 2007 - link

    In the first sentence of the last paragraph on the last page.

    "We asked in the beginning of this review if the smaller and lighter Thermalright Ultima-120 might be too compromised...
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, August 20, 2007 - link

    We saved the most obvious for last :) Now corrected. Reply
  • xxxCHAOSxxx - Monday, August 20, 2007 - link


    I have been looking at the cooler market for about 2 or 3 months.. I was torn between the Tuniq 120, thermalright Ultra 120 and the Vigor Monsoon.. however each had a few things that i am a bit leary of. Mainly the weight and size issue. Currently I am running a thermaltake typhoon but am not happy with it. I have to go in every so often and adjust the screws holding it down as they appear to lossen over a short period of time. Based on your review of the thermals, i have just ordered the Ultima 90 and will drop you a line based on my results.


    EVGA 680i
    2Gig Memory
    EVGA 8800GTX KO w/ ACS3
    Thermaltake Armor
    Thermaltake Toughpower 800
  • yacoub - Monday, August 20, 2007 - link

    Been looking forward to an Anandtech review of this cooler for about three months now (since the first sneak peak review was seen on another forum). Glad to see this is indeed a pretty badass cooler! =) Reply
  • MercenaryForHire - Monday, August 20, 2007 - link


    Model Panaflo H1A 92mm (BX) with RPM Sensor
    Fan Size 120mm x 120mm x 25mm

    Something's not quite adding up there ...
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, August 20, 2007 - link

    Corrected. Reply
  • CZroe - Monday, August 20, 2007 - link

    "The Ultima-90 is also the first Thermalright we have tested with four sets of fan wire mounting holes. This means with the right fan wires you can mount two fans in a push pull configuration."
    So why not test it in this configuration? You had both fans, and one of your statements even seems to say this when taken out of context:
    "our test configuration needs to look at the Ultima-92 with both a 120mm fan and a 92mm fan."

    INDEED! The Ultra-120 Extreme could mount two fans with a second set of clips and rubber, so I always thought that it was a shame that they weren't included. Sure the clips were designed to use the same holes (they didn't have to be), but one could easily be forced into the second set of holes from the top and the other could be forced into the second set of holes from the bottom.

    Anyway, I noticed that there were no views of the underside or mention of the finish. I assume that it's identical to the Ultra-120 Extreme (which I am regretting buying after reading this ;)).

    Also, the comparison showing both 120 and 92mm fans mounted shows the rubber strips mounted incorrectly for the 92mm fan. Does the final retail version include two more of these for a push-pull config?

    Also, your cooler comparisons had me strongly considering a Cooler Master Hyper 6+, but it is 100% unavailable. I tried my darndest to buy one. Cooler Master does not offer it, so it only makes sense to remove it from the comparison. I know that it fills a unique position, but in light of availability, it really needs to go (especially seeing how crowded the chart is getting).
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, August 20, 2007 - link

    The Ultima-90 includes one set of rubber strips, one set of 120mm fan clips, and one set of 92mm fan clips. Since the height is different than the Ultra-120 series those fan clips will not work and extras for the Ultima-90.

    Therefore, we did not have the clips for testing push-pull with matched fans. We will try to test this when we do a retest of some of the top units.

    The finish is about the same as the Ultra-120 eXtreme, and Thermalright has written many buyers who questioned the curvature that the " . . . the convex surface is made that way to work well with the bolt down retention mechanism."
  • CZroe - Wednesday, August 22, 2007 - link

    I know that the clips on the Ultra-120 Extreme are different, so I wasn't suggesting/considering using clips from one on another (what a waste of an Ultra-120 Extreme ;)). Just testing the included clips with the two fans you've been using simultaneously would be enough.

    I certainly wasn't suggesting matched fans. I've been told that push/pull configurations only help with a lower CFM fan pushing and a higher CFM fan pulling or else you get no increased CFM or decreased noise. This was the consensus when I had to quiet down my Shuttle SN45G XPC (SFF) a few years ago with a fan duct and some case modding.

    Thanks for the info about the finish. Considering the top-end performance of the Ultra-120 Extreme, I don't think anyone will question their decision to do that (it certainly didn't impact performance!).
  • Egglick - Monday, August 20, 2007 - link

    This is an excellent article, along with what sounds to be an excellent heatsink. However, I must echo some of the same feelings that other posters have been expressing:

    Fix the test system's setup.

    If we want to get a legitimate idea of how loud a cooler is, you're going to have to do better than 38db @ 24in for a noise floor. Swap out the videocard for a fanless model, and if necessary switch to a quieter PSU. Hell, go with an 8500GT if you need to. We're not testing the framerate of the videocard, we're testing the noise/performance of CPU coolers.

    Let readers judge the heat/noise of videocards on their own merit.
  • yacoub - Monday, August 20, 2007 - link

    Totally agree!! Reply
  • Tiamat - Monday, August 20, 2007 - link

    I know its tough to show all the data, but I was wondering if you could include insets that show just the heatsinks in the neighborhood of the performance of the reviewed specimen. When displaying all of the data at the same time with much of the graphs overlapping, its very difficult to find the appropriate plot. In fact, I gave up trying after 3 seconds (standard attention span when looking at graphs) -- this kind of renders the plots useless! Usually the take home message should be as quick in the plots as it is in the text, if not quicker!

    My suggestion would be to show only 5 trends in the graph (including the intel retail for reference, two above, two below) while keeping all of the data in the table for those who need the ancillary information.

    Thanks and I hope this helps!

    Keep up the good work!
  • Final Hamlet - Monday, August 20, 2007 - link

    I don't get the attraction of max overclocks... are they any good, except ego-pushing?
    What I would be really interested in is how these coolers do in a stock PC without any fans. That would be _really_ interesting... otherwise I don't see any point in buying these things or overclocking 10MHz higher (oh, great, you did it...).
  • coolerman - Monday, August 20, 2007 - link

    Most of the good air coolers seem pretty comparable. The 30-90 MHz overclocking differences are laughable, and while the temperature varies a bit most coolers fall into one of two categories: top out at ~3.9GHz and 37-45C, or top out at ~3.8GHz with slightly higher temperatures at the lower clock. The Ultima-90 is nice in that it weighs less, but the Tuniq 120 does manage to best it in several tests - i.e. with 92mm at top OCs - and technically costs less once you add in shipping and fans. Speaking of which, am I the only one that finds the $20 fan with a $50 HSF to be humorous? Fan makers must make a decent profit, compared to the poor heatsink blokes!

    Also, do you think you could possibly cram any more entries into the scaling charts? Perhaps sort them by some reasonable criteria while you're at it - say, temperature for instance? The upper portion is useless, as it's just a cluster of illegible lines, and the lower table is almost sorted alphabetically, which means if I'm looking for similar coolers I have to stare for a long time. And those lovely colours… the large images help some, but fundamentally there's just too much data there now I think.

    Anyway, seems like even though Thermalright got a glowing review, the iCEAGE, Hyper 6+, Vindicator (with SilenX), Ninja (with SilenX), and Tuniq 120 are all in the same ballpark. Of course, some of those are tough to find (iCEAGE anyone, or Tuniq across the pond?), but for the price the Ultima-90 really doesn't look that special. Fan + shipping means you'll pay probably $65-$70, which while better than the $85 you'd pay for Ultra-120 eXtreme is still not exactly a steal. Ninja is $45 shipped, Tuniq is about $55 shipped. $55-$60 shipped, plus a fan? You'll have to do better than that! As it is, I'll buy whatever is cheapest within reason - which is often Scythe, for the money. (Let's not even talk UK/European prices on most of this stuff, as I'm sure the majority of you don't care.... I'll just avert my lustful eyes from, Xoxide, etc.)

    Now, my real question is how a true water cooling setup compares to all of these coolers. Fundamentally, air and water cooling are still limited to room temperature. Water simply cycles all the liquid around to a potentially larger radiator (and reservoir). I'm sceptical that most water cooling solutions will really do much better than something like the Ultra-120 eXtreme, but I'd like to see some results using your own testbed. If you ever do water, though, please run it at full load for 8 hours or so. Some water setups depend on the water starting at a low temperature, and as it heats up they can't maintain cooling efficiency. I had one that would crash after about two hours of intense gaming every time unless I turned the overclocks down.

    Last but certainly not least, the "we're thinking about a new cooling test system so that our noise testing might actually have merit" talk is getting a wee bit old. It's about time to actually move on I'd say. I'd like a more moderate (fanless!) GPU in there in terms of noise, if only to allow us to see how quiet (or not) the coolers really are. Your PSU testing seems to have a bit better equipment for noise analysis, so maybe you can get some help with that area. I don't think X38 is necessary, just like 680i isn't necessary for the most part, but I suppose getting more or less useful temperature readings might be needed. Just toss everything that doesn't make the top 5 and move to the new testbed! (Easy for me to say, since I'm not doing all the work!)

  • Wesley Fink - Monday, August 20, 2007 - link

    While the frequency difference may appear minor at the top, the wattage dissipation is not. For the last two reviews I have also been quoting wattage in the review commentary for comparison.

    A stock X6800 represents 75 watts, while that CPU at 3.83Ghz is at 150W - or double the heat to dissipate. At 3.90Ghz at the voltages required the requirement is 160 to 161W, while at the Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme maximum stable speed of 3.94 GHz the wattage is around 166W.

    Many tests only consider air cooling results to 150W, but most readers buy secondary cooling to extend their overclock. Since the C2D overclock extremely well the wattages at some of the very high overclocks are very demanding.

    We have a water-cooling review in process for comparison with these results. Once that is done we will choose a few top performers for retest and start testing with the new cooling test bed. The new test bed will require retesting of all coolers included so that is why the shift when a section like top air-coolers is completed.

    Thr 92mm fan costs just over $6, while the 120 was $20. We used the Scythe S-Flex again because that was the fan used in testing the Thermalright Ultra-120 and the Ultra-120 eXtreme. We wanted to keep as many variables the same as possible.

    Looking at output and noise you should be able to select a value 120mm fan below $10 that meets your specs. The Yate Loon medium output fan, for example, is very popular as a value case fan. The Yate Loon D12SM-12 cost $6.99 retail and has specified output of 70.5cfm at 33db at 1650rpm.
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, August 20, 2007 - link

    The performance of the stock Intel Retail cooler also needs to be put in perspective. In our testing the Intel Retail HSF is stable to 3.73GHz at 1.50V. That translates into about 137W with an X6800 CPU.

    While early Intel Retail 775 coolers were very noisy, stock coolers since late Presller and through Core2 have been very quiet, as you can see in our noise measurements in reviews.

    With a stock cooler performing this well, we think a cooler HAS to provide performance better than Intel Stock to persuade you to buy it. We could argue using your logic that the difference between the Intel stock of 3.73GHz and the top 3.94GHz is only 200 megahertz and so it is minor. The wattage difference, however, is between 137W and 166W, which is a significant difference in the ability of coolers to dssipate heat.
  • ssiu - Monday, August 20, 2007 - link

    I have a serious question regarding this. 3.73Ghz is perfectly fine with me and I don't care for another 200Mhz. The louder noise of stock cooler is also okay with me. So that leaves the temperature difference of 71C for stock cooler versus (43C for Ultra-120 eXtreme, 47C for Ultima-90, 59C for NinjaB, 62C for Infinity, etc.) Does the stock cooler's higher temperature make the CPU die prematurely? Or is it a case of "the CPU is designed to withstand 71C; at 3.73Ghz, 71C may make it last 5 years instead of 10 years at 43C, but even at 71C it will become obsolete (too slow) before it will die"?
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, August 20, 2007 - link

    Intel shows a maximum recommended temp of 60.4C at 75W (stock) for the X6800 in their thermal design document at"> However, 3.83 Ghz is about 137W and we really don't know the recommendations at these higher frequencies since they represent overclocks.

    It would seem reasonable to aim for lower than the max recommended temperature at stock speed if you are aiming for longevity of the CPU. That cahart can be found on p.85 of the Intel PDF linked above.
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, August 20, 2007 - link

    Correction - 3.73GHz at 1.5V is about 135W - which is the max stable speed with the Intel stock HSF. Sorry for the typo. Reply
  • Jedi2155 - Monday, August 20, 2007 - link

    To Coolerman:

    I had the Tuniq 120 for about 6 months on my E6600 setup, and although it was a great cooler and signifcantly cheaper than the Ultra 120 Extreme, it just isn't as good when all things are considered (size, noise levels, fan options) and the Ultra 120 extreme is worth the price difference IMO. The size made installation ever so much easier than the Tuniq and improvement in cooling (even with a cheap $7 thermaltake fan) was significant (went from 80 C Intel TAT to around 70 C).

    I definitely think that you should recategorize the coolers, but instead of temperature, how about price range or probably best category SIZE.

    I've had a number of issues during builds for friends, where the a certain cooler wouldn't fit (like a Tuniq 120 or the Ultra 120 Extreme) fit inside a case without significant modification (with a pair of pliers and remove a good section of the case).

    That should help us decide better than just pure temperatures and overclock speed.
  • CZroe - Monday, August 20, 2007 - link

    I think that sorting by value/prices is a bad idea. Have you looked for the actual prices? Anandtech's reported suggested prices and "actual" market prices have been FAR lower than I've been able to find in each cooler that interested me. I eventually just settled on the Ultra-120 Extreme and the same fan from Newegg and paid FAR too much.

    Perhaps the observed difference is because they keep getting price results for similar models (which complicated my own searching) or the only places that still carry some of these still have them because they always overcharged.

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