Test Configuration

The test setup was exactly the same as used in the recent Thermalright Ultra-120 and Ultra-120 eXtreme preview. 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
Cooler Master Gemini II
Noctua NF-U12F
ASUS Silent Square Pro
Scythe Ninja Plus Rev. B
OCZ Vindicator
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 Windows XP Professional SP2
BIOS Award P24 (1/12/2007)

All cooling tests were 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 Northbridge fan attached to the 680i for overclocking.

We tested with the same Scythe S-FLEX fan used in the Thermalright Ultra-120 review and the original Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme preview. This excellent fan moves a lot of air, but still keeps noise low with the Sony developed Fluid Dynamic Bearing on the fan motor. All testing was with a single fan, as in the earlier Thermalright reviews.

Scaling of Cooling Performance

Across stock speed and all overclocks the retail Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme produced temperatures either identical to the prototype review or within 1C of the previous test results. These are considered equivalent results and they verify that performance of the retail Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme is the same as we measured earlier.

Click to enlarge

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.

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 recently top CPU coolers it is clear that the extra heatpipes in the Ultra-120 eXtreme are very effective in extending cooling performance.

Click to enlarge

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 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 cooler as the Ultra-120 with just two additional heatpipes, bests both previous leaders by 6C with a 3.90GHz temperature of 45C.


The highest stable overclock we could achieve with the retail eXtreme was 3.93 GHz compared to the 3.94GHz achieved in the original review. Both results are higher than any achieved with any other cooler tested so far. We suspect this tiny difference is the result of either normal variation in test results, or even more likely the 2C higher ambient temperature in our test room compared to the room temperature in the initial review.

Ultra-120 eXtreme Production Kit Our Take


View All Comments

  • TA152H - Sunday, May 6, 2007 - link

    OK, first of all, I apologize for being so rude, but ...

    I think you should stop making excuses about how your test bed is set up, and set it up properly so you can test it. Not to be rude (again), but this is what you do, review items, and you should take a more serious approach to it. Read some old Byte magazines and use them as a baseline as to what technical journalism and reviews should be like. There is no reason you can't be as good, I just think you are setting the bar a little too low rather than any inherent inability. Hiding behind "we're a kiddie site and we don't review that type of stuff or that stuff in that way" doesn't sound very credible either, although it's used a lot.

    Also, never assume people have read previous articles and remember everything in them, that's just basic journalism. Minimally, provide a link to that page, but expecting people to remember this was tested in a previous review when you didn't in this review is a little bit of a stretch.

  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, May 8, 2007 - link

    It is beyond rude to apologize while you are taking off the gloves so you can use bare knuckels. I will not apologize for not providing fanless results that are not likely valid just becuase you want them. Our current test setup was not conceived for fanless testing, and we make every effort not to make changes in test beds.

    We do try to listen to readers, but review comparisons are only valid if the test bed is the same, and a change of setups requires retesting of all the components tested to that point. For that reason, we normally make test bed changes only after completing a roundup summary, since we can retest just the top performers for future comparison with tested components on the new test setup.

    This is very different approach from web sites that test whatever they want without valid comparisons to other results. Reviews without comparisons are ads in our opinion.

    Byte is a great name from the past, but Computer Magazines appear to be fading in the marketplace since print info ages quickly in a fast moving market like computers. What works for Byte magazine is not necessarily what works for web readers. Before you pull out the "kiddie site" criticism you might consider that AnandTech is the largest and most respected of the computer review sites, as measures by real data, not speculation.
  • Bull Dog - Friday, May 4, 2007 - link

    Thermalright ROCKS. I personally hope they never change the packaging of their coolers either. Plain brown box. No need for flash colors and marketing hype, because what's inside is so good, it doesn't need it. Reply
  • etech - Sunday, May 13, 2007 - link

    Good review but I would like to see the Enzotech Ultra-X and possibly the 3RSystem Iceage 120 added to the line up.

    The Enzotech because it seems to be the closest competitor to the Ultra and is a few dollars cheaper. I also like the cooling of the board that you have with the Ultra-X style coolers. Perhaps some chipset temps could be included.

    The Iceage 120 just because I think it could be interesting with the heatpipes directly on the IHS.


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