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

  • Ender17 - Wednesday, March 7, 2007 - link

    I'm basing my statements off of SPCR's results.
    You can read their testing methodology here:">
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, March 7, 2007 - link

    While we respect the quest for a silent PC, testing fans in a foam block isolated from power sources is not real world. It does allow isolation of the lowest possible noise that can be emitted by a component. However, in a system power supplies do generate noise, cases do vibrate with mounted fans, and the video card does have a fan.

    You can minimize all these variables in a specialized PC that is not overclocked,but many users want a system that is very competent, reasonably quiet, but still uses a power supply with a fan. That makes the PS the noise floor. The configuration (open/closed cases), measurement distance, and measurement method determines the dbA level. Our noise measuremtns aim at measuring a real world computer enviromment and they do not isolate the PS in another room for noise measurement. They should also be considered worst case noise in the cooler being tested.

    Our test room has all other equipment turned off and only incandescent lights.
  • PCTechNow - Wednesday, March 7, 2007 - link

    If you do not isolate the components for testing then why measure it all? There are so many variables within the case and your room that any measurements provided are worthless.It would be nice to see how these air coolers compare to water systems. Why is there not a review or at least a comparison in your results? Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, March 7, 2007 - link

    We measure and report total system noise with each cooler using a standardized test system that is typical of an enthusiast system. We have not evaluated individual fans. Reply
  • PCTechNow - Wednesday, March 7, 2007 - link

    Is the noise level in your room and case always the same between test measurements? If you do not isolate the test parts and ensure the room noise level is equal then how are your results valid? I am not a gamer so I expect to have a quiet system. I do not think you are providing numbers that cater to the majority of people who use computers. It is hard to tell from any of your results if a unit is really quiet or not. The power supply is already at 38db so any cooler that is quieter than this will not be reported. Is there anyway to tell us if a cooler is quieter than 38db? Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, March 7, 2007 - link

    The noise level in my test room is always below the noise floor of the single standardized test system with the case side open. I measure the room noise each time before I begin system/cooler noise measurements.

    There is already a web site for users who are obsessed with system noise, and we are not a substitute. We are trying to address users who care about system noise and want to build a quiet PC on a relative basis - not those who make noise their only concern in choosing computer components.

    Manufacturers are definitely doing a better job of addressing noise these days - mainly because users like our reders complain about high noise components and stop buying them. There are not many 62db fans around like the screamers that used to be common on Socket A builds.

    I wish the northbrdge coolers were quieter - that is where the highest noise is these days. The Northbridge fan on the test EVGA 680i is the noisiest component in our system. It is so gbad we have to disconnect it before making any noise measurements on coolers.
  • PCTechNow - Wednesday, March 7, 2007 - link

    What is your problem with not using quieter components in the test PC or even changing rooms? Fine with not catering to quiet pc users but at least get your noise floor down to something reasonable like 30db. I am sure I am not in the minority here but most of the boards used now are passively cooled so the two main noise issues in a pc are the cooler and power supply. I am not after total silence but having something that is not louder than the ambient noise in the room is important. Reply
  • gramboh - Thursday, March 8, 2007 - link

    The review is fine for users like me, those that are going to build a PC, want it to be REASONABLY quiet, but also overclock and have a high end video card for gaming. If you browse the AT forums, a lot of the users fall into this bucket. Yes there are also silence enthusaists, HTPC etc. If I were building one of those systems I would be reading up on SPCR.

    The review is gauging an overall end user experience.
  • kmmatney - Wednesday, March 7, 2007 - link

    "I am not after total silence but having something that is not louder than the ambient noise in the room is important."

    That doesn't really make sense - anything lower than the ambient noise will be pretty much silent. If you want a silent cpu, then go fanless. Most people have a power supply that makes noise, as well as video cards that make noise, and these reviews make sense.
  • bigpow - Wednesday, March 7, 2007 - link

    I was absent for a one year and now I never see it being compared anymore..
    How is it compared to today's top coolers?
    Is Scythe Infinity the new Ninja/p?

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