Cooling at Stock Speed

Some users will never overclock their CPU, but they still want to run the coolest CPU temperatures possible to enhance stability and extend CPU life. The Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme, as in the recent Ultra 120 review, was tested using a 120mm Scythe S-Flex SFF21F fan.

X6800 Stock (2933MHz) IDLE Temperature

The Thermalright Ultra 120 was outstanding in our stock cooling tests; the Ultra 120 Extreme is even better. Where the very good Intel stock cooler keeps the X6800 at 41C at idle, the Ultra 120 manages 27C, which matched the Tuniq Tower 120 as best we have ever measured in testing at stock speeds. The Ultra 120 Extreme sets a new record at 26C, which is the best performance we have ever measured at stock idle.

The stress test simulates running a demanding contemporary game. The Far Cry River demo is looped for 30 minutes and the CPU temperature is captured at 4 second intervals with the NVIDIA monitor "logging" option. The highest temperature during the load test is then reported. Momentary spikes are ignored, as we report a sustained high-level temp that you would expect to find in this recording configuration. Cooling efficiency of the Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme was compared under load conditions at stock speed to the Ultra 120, the Intel retail HSF and other recently tested CPU coolers.

X6800 Stock (2933MHz) LOAD Temperature

The Ultra 120 Extreme under load at stock speeds reached a maximum temperature of 32C. This breaks the old performance record just set by the Ultra 120 at 33C. This compares to the Tuniq 34C and the Cooler Master Hyper 6+ and Zalman 9700 at 36C, and is the best stock load performance we have measured at AnandTech with an air cooler.

At stock speed the Ultra 120 Extreme upgrade shows it is effective at lowering processor temperatures. The Ultra 120 Extreme was 1C cooler at idle than the Ultra 120 and Tuniq - our previous best performers. Under stress that improvement grows to 2C relative to the Tuniq while remaining at 1C compared to the current Ultra 120. With the Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme providing the best in air cooling, we took a closer look at cooling along with overclocking.

CPU Cooling Test Configuration Scaling of Cooling Performance


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.">Link
  • 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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