The 120mm fan is pre-mounted and is not interchangeable with other 120mm fans. That makes specifications and performance of the Nirvana fan particularly important. The NV120 can be mounted on either AMD 754/939/940/AM2 or Intel Socket 775.

ZEROtherm Nirvana NV120
Dimensions 128(W) x 95(D) x 150mm(H)
Weight 628g (18.7 ounces)
Matepial Nickel-plated copper heatpipes and base, aluminum cooling fins
Heat Dissipation Area 6728 cm^2 (1046 in^2)
Cooling Capacity >150W
Configuration Four nickel-plated copper heatpipes in U loops

Nirvana 120mm Integrated Fan
Fan Size 120mm x 120mm x 25mm
Fan Speed 700-2600 rpm (+/- 10%)
Connector 3-pin
Operating Voltage 5.0 - 13,8V DC
Noise Level Under 39 dB(A)
Maximum Airflow 84.7 CFM
Operating Power Max 5.0W

The included 120mm fan is rated at a high 84.7 CFM output at 39 dB(A) noise level. These specifications appear in line with the output specifications. The clear fan is backlit by two blue LEDs, which may matter to you if you display the guts of your computer in a side window case.


The Nirvana comes fully assembled, including the fan. You just need to install the mounting plate for either Intel or AMD before attaching the cooler to your motherboard. That involves just four small screws to install either the Intel or AMD adapter to the base plate.

For Intel you must remove the motherboard to attach the cooler. On Intel 775 the spring-loaded mount screws pass through the four motherboard holes and they are secured to the motherboard with a back plate with threaded holes to receive the mount plate screws. The NV120 is a heavy cooler and the secure mounting system is definitely appreciated. However, for an Intel CPU there is no option but to remove the motherboard before installation. This will be trivial to some, and a big deal to others.

Overall, the cooler installation is pretty easy - much easier than many competing products that also provide the security of a bolt-through installation. It is obvious the engineers at ZEROtherm actually examined and used the cooler mount system. This is particularly noticeable when you see the spacing of the fan in relation to the cooler body; it allows a screwdriver to fit right through to the spring-loaded screws to mount the cooler. It is in thoughtful little touches like this that the Nirvana stands out from most of the cooler crowd. Those worried about a heavy heatsink popping out of holes with the Intel push clips will be much happier with this installation method.

Nirvana attaches to AMD with a clip that snaps onto the lugs of the existing CPU cage. The motherboard does not need to be removed from an AMD system to install this cooler, but the entire weight is basically resting on two plastic lugs. This should not really present a problem, but it is not a mount solution that can take a lot of moving. If your LAN party system is AMD-based, you will want to look elsewhere for a cooler that can handle the demands of being carried from one LAN party to the next.

Index CPU Cooling Test Configuration


View All Comments

  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, January 17, 2008 - link

    It looks like we are going to have to do an article to educate readers on dBa sound levels. Noise does matter, but some of the fanatic quiet sites have completely distorted the meaning of noise levels so people no longer understand what they mean. 35 dBa is the noise level of a quiet suburban bedroom, away from traffic, at night. 45 dBa is considered a Quiet Room. Our sound floor in the new test environment is around this level. Our super quiet variable-fan-speed power supply is around this level at idle, but not while doing useful work. Unless you are running a fanless power supply measurements below this threshold are meaningless.
    Below is a chart from an acoustic engineering company. It is to help put in perspective what dBa sound levels actually mean.

    190 dBA Heavy weapons, 10 m behind the weapon (maximum level)
    180 dBA Toy pistol fired close to ear (maximum level)
    170 dBA Slap on the ear, fire cracker explodes on shoulder, small arms
    at a distance of 50 cm (maximum level)
    160 dBA Hammer stroke on brass tubing or steel plate at 1 m distance,
    airbag deployment very close at a distance of 30 cm (maximum level)
    150 dBA Hammer stroke in a smithy at 5 m distance (maximum level)
    130 dBA Loud hand clapping at 1 m distance (maximum level)
    120 dBA Whistle at 1 m distance, test run of a jet at 15 m distance
    Threshold of pain, above this fast-acting hearing damage in short action is possible
    115 dBA Take-off sound of planes at 10 m distance
    110 dBA Siren at 10 m distance, frequent sound level in discotheques and close
    to loudspeakers at rock concerts, violin close to the ear of an orchestra
    musicians (maximum level)
    105 dBA Chain saw at 1 m distance, banging car door at 1 m distance (maximum level),
    racing car at 40 m distance, possible level with music head phones
    100 dBA Frequent level with music via head phones, jack hammer at 10 m distance
    95 dBA Loud crying, hand circular saw at 1 m distance
    90 dBA Angle grinder outside at 1 m distance
    Over a duration of 40 hours a week hearing damage is possible
    85 dBA 2-stroke chain-saw at 10 m distance, loud WC flush at 1 m distance
    80 dBA Very loud traffic noise of passing lorries at 7.5 m distance,
    high traffic on an expressway at 25 m distance
    75 dBA Passing car at 7.5 m distance, un-silenced wood shredder at 10 m distance
    70 dBA Level close to a main road by day, quiet hair dryer at 1 m distance to ear
    65 dBA Bad risk of heart circulation disease at constant impact
    60 dBA Noisy lawn mower at 10 m distance
    55 dBA Low volume of radio or TV at 1 m distance, noisy vacuum cleaner at
    10 m distance
    50 dBA Refrigerator at 1 m distance, bird twitter outside at 15 m distance
    45 dBA Noise of normal living; talking, or radio in the background
    40 dBA Distraction when learning or concentration possible
    35 dBA Very quiet room fan at low speed at 1 m distance
    25 dBA Sound of breathing at 1 m distance
    0 dBA Auditory threshold

  • mustardman - Tuesday, January 22, 2008 - link

    Doesn't the chart list 35dBa as a "Very quiet room fan at 1m"? That's quite different than a quiet suburban bedroom. Everyone's threshold of annoying noise is different. I know I can not sleep with a fan, even low speed, in my room. So, a computer louder than that is unacceptable. Same reason I had to unplug my TiVo before sleeping. I eventually moved it out of the room.

    I'll check the other sites in addition to Anand, which I've been an avid reader for 8+ years.
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, January 17, 2008 - link

    I'd guess checking over at Silent PC Review would be more useful for you then, that is the type of testing they do. Anandtech has typically tried to show how it will impact a more typical system, which has fans.

    The room noise level for the tests was listed as 35dB, so a 25dB system would be probably be considered silent.
  • mustardman - Tuesday, January 22, 2008 - link

    Good point. I didn't see the room noise level. I guess they would be unable to test lower in that case. Reply
  • Cardio - Thursday, January 17, 2008 - link

    Have this cooler and improved its performance by 1-3c with a little work. Bottom of heatsink is chrome plated like the rest of the cooler. Chrome is a poor heat transfer material. I removed the chrome by sanding with 200 grit wet/dry @ 100RPM on a varible speed rotating bench sander. Finishing with jewelers rouge on a sheeps wool buffer. Bottom plate is also much smoother as it was quite shiny before but showed some machine marks. Very pleased with cooler as it now achieves great results at even lower fan speed. Reply
  • can - Monday, January 21, 2008 - link

    It's nickel, not chrome. Reply
  • DukeN - Thursday, January 17, 2008 - link

    Why not included in any comparisons guys - this one is incredibly popular (and seems like a great bargain at ~ $25 or less)?

  • aussiestilgar - Thursday, January 17, 2008 - link

    I've been waiting for AnandTech to review this cooler. I like that the test setup is very consistent which makes it easy to compare different coolers. I own this cooler and I must say its fantastic. It cools like the best of them and is extremely good value! Reply
  • sotx - Thursday, January 17, 2008 - link

    um... just wondering here...

    the result for the ultra extreme 120 are obtained with or without the fan(s)?
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, January 17, 2008 - link

    The Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme was tested with the Scythe SFlex SFF21F 120mm fan. You can refer to the full review for test results by clicking on the cooling tab at the top of this page and searching for the 120 eXtreme review.

    Those results were run with our earlier test bed and the nVidia utility and they are not directly comparable to current test results. As we said in the review we retested the top coolers on our new test bed with CoreTemp and those are the reported results in this review.

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