CPU Cooling Test Configuration

The test setup was exactly the same as used in the recent Thermalright Ultra 120 review. All the components of the test bench remained the same.

Cooling Performance Test Configuration
Processor Intel Core 2 Duo X6800
(x2, 2.93GHz, 4MB Unified Cache)
RAM 2x1GB Corsair Dominator PC2-8888 (DDR2-1111)
Hard Drive(s) Hitachi 250GB SATA2 enabled (16MB Buffer)
Video Card: 1 x EVGA 7900GTX - All Standard Tests
Platform Drivers: NVIDIA 9.53
NVIDIA nTune: (1/16/2007)
Video Drivers: NVIDIA 93.71
CPU Cooling: Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme
Thermalright Ultra 120
Scythe Infinity
Zalman CNS9700
Zalman CNS9500
CoolerMaster Hyper 6+
Vigor Monsoon II Lite
Thermalright MST-9775
Scythe Katana
Tuniq Tower 120
Intel Stock HSF for X6800
Power Supply: OCZ PowerStream 520W
Motherboards: EVGA nForce 680i SLI (NVIDIA 680i)
Operating System(s): Windows XP Professional SP2
BIOS Award P24 (1/12/2007)

Since Thermalright provided a syringe of their own thermal compound, the Thermalright compound was used in mounting the Ultra 120 Extreme, just as it was used in the Ultra 120 review. For more details on the specifications, weights, and installation please refer to the Thermalright Ultra 120 review. As already stated, the Ultra 120 Extreme is the same exact cooler with two extra heatpipes.

As you can clearly see from the installed photos, the Ultra 120 Extreme is the same dimensions as the Ultra 120. Nothing is really any different with 120 Extreme install except for the issues with fitting a Socket 775 adapter through the pipes with extra heatpipes in the way. Hopefully Thermalright will have solved this issue by the time you can find retail Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme heatsinks for purchase.

To be blunt, not too much was expected with the Ultra 120 Extreme. Six heatpipes instead of four is nice, but how much could two added pipes really do for a cooler that was at the top of our performance charts? As you will see in our performance results, assumptions should always be tested. There was certainly a surprise for us in the Ultra 120 Extreme cooling and overclocking performance.

Fanless Cooling and Noise Levels

Since all testing used the same S-Flex SFF21F 120mm fan used in the Ultra 120 review, we did not retest noise levels. Noise levels will be exactly the same as the excellent results posted in the Thermalright Ultra 120 review. Please refer to that review for information on the Ultra 120 Extreme noise levels.

The Ultra 120 also was useful as a fanless cooler, as demonstrated in that review. However, our current cooler setup is not ideally suited for testing fanless CPU coolers, since we do not have a downward facing fan or additional rear exhaust fans to assist the fanless cooler. Refer to performance charts for fanless cooling in the Ultra 120 review. Results with the Ultra 120 Extreme should be even better with the extra cooling provided by the additional heatpipes in the EXTREME design. Improvements in fanless cooling should be similar to the cooling improvements seen in this comparison of Ultra 120 and Ultra 120 Extreme cooling with the same S-Flex fan.

Index Cooling at Stock Speed


View All Comments

  • Visual - Wednesday, March 7, 2007 - link

    now it's time that someone combines this 6-pipe ultra with a "TEC" or whatever its called in its base
    what could the results be....
  • Lord Evermore - Monday, March 12, 2007 - link

    Probably worse, or at least no better. The contact area of the TEC with the cooler is limited to the size of the cooler base. That's not a heck of a lot larger than the contact area of the CPU itself, and assumes you could actually fit in a TEC to cover the entire heatsink plate. A TEC generates heat, it cools one side, that heat is put out on the other side, plus extra heat from the energy used by the TEC. So you'd have more heat (and of course, the more energy used, the better the cooling, and the more excess heat generated) being transferred to the same or slightly more surface area of the heatsink. With equal contact areas, there's just no way for a TEC to actually provide better cooling. It might cool really well for a very short period, but then it would burn out if that heatsink contact wasn't able to carry away the heat well enough. If the heatsink can't cool the CPU down to ambient, it won't be able to cool a TEC any lower with the same contact.

    The old days of using TECs are pretty much gone, because of the issues involved. But when they are used, they're used in conjunction with a larger heatsink, both in contact area and radiating fin area. Or with liquid cooling.
  • Reynod - Wednesday, March 7, 2007 - link

    Nice review Wes ... liked it.

    Well done Thermalright ... good response to customer needs.

    Thermaltake should take a page out of this book and produce some decent stuff that works ... the emphasis on bling might be fine with noobs ... but they are off my shopping list as an overclocker
  • sephiros64 - Wednesday, March 7, 2007 - link

    is it confirmed that the new model will be the 120 ultra plus ? I'm sure a lot of consumers looking for this product will want this newer, better version and are concerned of the model number when ordering. Reply
  • ceefka - Wednesday, March 7, 2007 - link

    I am still hoping for a review of this model. I want to cool my CPU fanless. The airflow is already taken care of with two Nexus 92mm intake fans @5v and 120mm Antec Tricool (low rpm) exhaust fan.

    Is that S-Flex fan also suitable to operate as case exhaust fan?
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, March 7, 2007 - link

    If your case can mount 120mm fans the Scythe S-Flex will operate fine as a case exhaust fan. Reply
  • Philxxx - Wednesday, March 7, 2007 - link

    im fairly new to custom building computers and i wonder if there is a performance change when the heatpipes are placed vertically vs. horizontaly like your picture indicates.
    From what i understand so far a heatpipe evaporates a fluid inside the pipe and uses the vapor to transport the heat away from the CPU. Would the heatpipes and the evaporation/condensation proccess behave different when the cooler is mouted vertically like in a tower? Any chance to test this senario?

  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, March 7, 2007 - link

    From the Test Configuration (p. 3)of the Thermalright Ultra 120 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 north bridge fan attached to the 680i for overclocking."
  • yyrkoon - Wednesday, March 7, 2007 - link

    I can not help but wonder how much better all the coolers in your roundup would do with a 'better' fan. There are fans out there, with two ball bearings that will push 220CFM. Granted, if memory serves, these fans also exhibit 65+ dba noise levels, but it would be interesting to see the results.

    Barring a 220CFM fan pushing too much air ( dislodging a cooler in the process, heh ), I would at least expect minimal improvements.

  • Ender17 - Wednesday, March 7, 2007 - link

    Any idea when this will be available?
    Or any word of an improved mounting mechanism for 775?

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