Scaling of Cooling Performance

The Thermalright Ultra 120 was our top performer so far in CPU cooling at stock speeds. The Ultra 120 Extreme, which is the same heatsink with 2 added heatpipes, does even better. As overclocks were raised, the Ultra 120 Extreme with the Scythe S-Flex fan extended its cooling advantage over other tested coolers. The Ultra 120 Extreme outperforms the excellent Tuniq Tower 120 in cooling across the overclocking spectrum. The Ultra 120 Extreme also set a new top air-cooled overclocking record at 3.94GHz with our test X6800 processor.


The Ultra 120 and Tuniq Tower 120 set some very high performance standards for effective cooling in overclocking. By 3.73GHz, the highest stable overclock with the Intel Retail HSF, the temperature at Idle was 56C. This compared to 36C with both the Ultra 120 and the Tuniq Tower 120. The extra heatpipes of the Ultra 120 Extreme lower this to an even better 33C. By 3.90 GHz, the previous best overclock, the Idle for the Tuniq is 40C and the Ultra 120 is 37C. The Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme drops the idle 2C lower to 35C, and is still at 36C at the highest stable overclock of 3.94GHz. This is very close to the performance level of the Monsoon II which uses active TEC cooling and not air alone.

At overclocked speeds the temperature delta increased as the processor speed was raised, so let's see what happens under stress conditions. While looping the Far Cry River demo for 30 minutes the CPU temperature is captured at 4 second intervals with the NVIDIA monitor "logging" option. The highest temperature during the stress test is then reported.


Cooling efficiency of the Ultra 120 Extreme under load conditions was the best tested so far by a wide margin. Compared to the Ultra 120, Tuniq Tower 120 and other top CPU coolers we recently tested it is clear that the extra heatpipes in the Ultra 120 Extreme are very effective in extending cooling performance.

As you can see in the chart above the cooling efficiency of the Ultra 120 Extreme under load is striking. Where the Tuniq Tower 120 and Ultra 120 mirror each other from 2.93GHz to 3.90GHz, the Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme creates a new performance curve at a lower cooling temperature. The Tuniq and Ultra 120 are at 47/48 at 3.73GHz compared to the Intel Retail at 71C. The Ultra 120 Extreme shatters those cooling results by maintaining 43C.

The advantage increases even more as the overclock is raised. By 3.90 GHz, which is the highest overclock the Tuniq and Thermalright Ultra 120 could reach with stability, the Tuniq and Ultra 120 are both at 51C, which was the best performance among coolers tested so far. The Ultra 120 Extreme, which is the same exact cooler as the Ultra 120 with just two additional heatpipes, bests both previous leaders by 6C, with a 3.90GHz temperature of 45C. The Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme is still able to push the processor higher, topping out at a stable 3.94GHz. At that speed, processor temperatures under stress remained a very low 47C.

As stated many times, the overclocking abilities of the CPU will vary at the top, depending on the CPU. This particular CPU does higher FSB speeds than any X6800 we have tested, but the 3.9GHz top speed with the Tuniq and Thermalright Ultra 120 is pretty average among the X6800 processors we have tested with Tuniq cooling. Other processors tested with the best air coolers ca sometimes reach just over 4 GHz, with a range of top X6800 speeds from 3.8 to 4.0GHz. Stock cooling generally tops out 200 to 400 MHz lower, depending on the CPU, on the processors tested in our lab with the Intel Retail heatsink.

Cooling at Stock Speed Overclocking
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  • Clem - Thursday, March 15, 2007 - link

    Is the 'Intel Stock HSF for X6800' connected to a:
    1. Molex 12v outlet (3 pins utilized) fan running at full speed and would you know approximated what that speed that is ?
    2. 3 pin Motherboard header - fan running at full speed (approximately what RPM) ?
    3. 4 pin Motherboard header - fan running at various speeds ?

    I think the 'Intel Stock HSF for X6800' fan can run from 800 RPM to 2600 RPM but somethimes a motherboard will only let it run at 1600 RPM on the 4 pin header.
    Reply
  • hox - Thursday, March 08, 2007 - link

    Here are my thoughts of the Anadntech Heatsink reviews, while helpful, there is a growing body of end user discrepancies in temperatures realized. This post is to stimulate discussion to determine why end users are not acheiving the same results (degrees C at idle and load) as reported in so many heat sink reviews.

    I would like to know what you have enabled or disabled in the bios that controls CPU automatic throttling. Typically that would include Enhanced C1 control (C1E), SpeedStep, and for my Asus MB, something called CPU internal thermal control.

    These settings affect how the cpu "handles" load and will affect the temps reported to the Ntune program. Programs like CpuZ and Coretemp and Ntune do not detect some of these rapid throttling instances, but the temps of the processor are reduced because of this throttling. The Righmtark CPU temp utility is one of the few programs I know that allows you to visualize this throttling even when you have several of the throttling paramters disabled.

    This issue is important because the temps you are seeing, even at idle, are very different for several of your reviewed heatsinks then what end users will experience when they have altered these parameters in the bios.

    I believe this will be helpful for end users to feel like the products your reviews are deeming as superior are performing in their hands in a manner similar to your review. Please provide the bios settings to help the end users decide if the equipment they have purchased is functioning properly.

    I suspect by doing this, many RMAs and emails to the manufacturer would be reduced.

    There is a clear 10C difference between the reported CPU temps at both idle and full load for my QX6700 cpu caused by changing these three settings. Enabling these parameters in the bios I routinely see temps of 33 to 35 C for the cores of my QX6700 at stock speeds, MB temp is 35C. Disabling these parameters, temps on all 4 cores rise to 44C. Thus discrepancy in temps could lead someone to think that the Monsoon II lite cooler I am using is malfunctioning, when in reality it is working properly.

    Also it would be helpful if you also tested these devices with the quad core processors which have a higher heat output. By testing the quad core cpus the high end capacity of these heat sinks to move heat would be tested. Providing the thermal resistance Degrees C/Watt would also be a helpful guideling for these devices.

    It would also be helpful to comment whether the side door will fit with the thermalright heat sinks. As far as I know this heat sink is taller than the Tuniq which caused end users to move side panel fans and vents.

    Thank you
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Sunday, March 11, 2007 - link

    All BIOS settings that affect automatic throttling are turned OFF in our reviews. Reply
  • classy - Thursday, March 08, 2007 - link

    But unless you test all of the top solutions with the same fan, there really is no way to determine if one is truly better than the other. While I understand the logic for testing them as is, to not explore apples to apples is clearly short sighted. Now we know that the Extreme 120 is better than the Ultra because they were both tested with same fan. Great job though none the less. Very good quality on these heatsink reviews. Reply
  • chyew - Wednesday, March 07, 2007 - link

    I'm quite surprised that the Scythe Ninja is omitted. Wesley, can you be kind enough to add in Scythe Ninja? Thanks!!!! Reply
  • Gary Key - Thursday, March 08, 2007 - link

    Wes will have the Ninja B review up after he returns from vacation. It appears in early testing to be a very good solution also. Reply
  • quanta - Wednesday, March 07, 2007 - link

    That's just great, the a.s.S-Flex sounds like another potential source where rookit will strike... :) Reply
  • lopri - Wednesday, March 07, 2007 - link

    I might have missed this information so if that's the case please someone enlighten me how heavy this HSF is? Considering the heatpipes are made of copper outfit and whatever liquid-ish stuff Thermalright chose to use, the added weight from 2 extra heatpipes wouldn't be trivial, is my guess. The Ultra 120 is already quite heavy and I'd like to know this Extreme version is safe enough for average ATX motherboards.

    Thanks for this excellent review. My next HSF looks to be definitely this Ultra 120 Extreme.
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Wednesday, March 07, 2007 - link

    Thermalright has contacted us and the name of the cooler will now be the Thermalright Ultra Extreme. We will update the article shortly. Still no word on a ship date but it should be shortly. Reply
  • PICBoy - Thursday, March 08, 2007 - link

    Hi Gary.

    Just wanted to let you know there are still some traces of the name "PLUS" on the article. I hope this helps:

    * Page 1, last paragraph: "To isolate just the impact of the ***Plus*** modification we tested with the same Scythe S-Flex fan used in the Thermalright Ultra 120 review."

    * Page 2, Cooling Performance Test Configuration table: "Thermalright Ultra 120 ***Plus***"

    * Page 2, last paragraph: "Results with the Ultra 120 Extreme should be even better with the extra cooling provided by the additional heatpipes in the ***PLUS*** design."

    * Page 6, fourth paragraph: "We don't know the final selling price for the Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme, but unless it is a lot more than the Ultra 120 you should definitely opt for the ***Plus*** model."


    By the way, can we expect a cooling review for next week also? That's all. Keep up the good work!
    Reply

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