Our Take

In revisiting the Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme we had the opportunity to compare performance results from a retail eXtreme to those we found in our initial review of the Ultra-120 eXtreme. We are very pleased to report that the retail Ultra-120 eXtreme performed in every way just like the prototype we tested.

The Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme is the best cooler tested so far at AnandTech. Our complaints with the prototype about the poor socket 775 adapter have also been addressed in the production cooler. The revised adapter makes mounting an eXtreme on a Core 2 Duo an easy task now.

However, we do wish Thermalright could make the socket 775 adapter just as rigid and secure as the current AM2 adapter for the eXtreme. Performance certainly didn't suffer with the new bracket, but it is always an uneasy feeling when you find you can still turn a mounted cooler, as you can with the eXtreme with the new bracket. A little more metal on the folding cross bars could make the 775 install just as secure as the AM2. Another alternative might be slightly repositioning the bends on the adapter for secure nesting with the cooler CPU base plate.

That is a small thing when you consider the larger picture, which is a cooler that performs better than any of the 21 heatpipe towers recently tested at AnandTech. The eXtreme cools better than anything else we have tested. It was also nice to be reminded in this test of how small the Ultra-120 eXtreme really is compared to most other tower coolers. It is just as wide, but the eXtreme is compact in thickness, and you can actually mount the cooler on a socket 775 from above, without having to perform contortions better suited to a gymnast just to mount the cooler.

The Thermalright mounts easily without the fan, and if you use a prop like a foam block on the bottom to hold the plate while screwing in the spring-loaded screws, you can mount the cooler by just unscrewing the board in your case, and leaving all the peripherals attached. The back plate has screw posts that extend through the motherboard and the thinner depth means you can actually reach the spring mounting screws with the cooler installed. We also found it easiest to install the fan wires before screwing the cooler down, so you're ready to pop in the fan as the final step.

We have quite a collection of 120mm fans at AnandTech these days, but we tested with the same Scythe S-FLEX fan used in the original tests. The SFF21F is still a nice balance of airflow and noise and it matches the Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme very well. We will test other fans with this cooler in our fan roundup, but until we have other hard evidence there are better fan solutions out there you certainly won't be disappointed with a Scythe S-FLEX on the eXtreme.

It is always a pleasure when reviewing a product turns into collaboration. The reviewers at AnandTech are first and foremost computer enthusiasts just like you are. We normally try to point out grave errors to manufacturers, and we try to mention smaller things that might be improved in our reviews of their products. When a manufacturer pays attention and makes corrections to a product it is clearly evidence they care about the users of their products. Thermalright corrected a problem socket 775 adapter before production, and contacted us with a final retail sample. That is one example of the attention to detail that is in the best interest of buyers.

Online prices of the Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme look to start at around $55 plus shipping, which is about $10 more than the standard Thermalright Ultra-120. Add to that the cost of a reasonable fan (unless you're going for silence and want to run fanless) and the total price with shipping is likely to be $70-$75. In contrast, the Tuniq Tower 120 will cost around $55 with the included fan, plus shipping. While spending 20% more relative to the Tuniq Tower might not seem like the best return on investment, for those looking to maximize system performance and reduce temperatures we feel the extra $10 is money well spent. Besides, when viewed as part of a typical enthusiast system, that $10 is probably less than a 1% increase in cost for a drop in CPU temperatures of up to 6C.

Test Configuration and Performance Scaling


View All Comments

  • Lance10 - Thursday, December 18, 2008 - link

    While not being tactful, I have to agree with TA152H's comments. Not providing enough factual details and ensuring all measures are taken to accurately review a product leave doubt in the reader.

    I have spent quite a bit of time across 10 websites for reviews of computer parts over several years and the reviewers that take all accounts and variances and explain those in every review are the ones I tend to believe are accurate.

    Please take comments directed at your review seriously and try to find the meaning behind the sometimes harsh words and it will help you become a more respected reviewer.

    Kudos on the writing, I detect style and skill but the ambiguous message is not something the audience likes to see. "Consider the audience".

    I'm willing to bet, if someone is actually researching a fan for their computer, their probably VERY detail-oriented as the majority of the public would only research heavily marketed motherboards or the latest Intel processor.

    Feel free to email me or comment back when you plan on aggressively reviewing this product.
  • charredwater - Monday, July 23, 2007 - link

    I bought an Ultra-120 Extreme and a Nexus case fan to cool it.

    I have an Asus P5B-E motherboard which has one 4-pin cpu fan connector
    plus two 3-pin case fan connectors.

    The Nexus has a 3-pin fan connector and a 4-pin accessory-type power connector.

    How do I attach my Nexus to the 4-pin motherboard cpu fan connector
    so the sw can control the Nexus fan speed?

    I guess I could connect the Nexus to the motherboard's 3-pin fan connectors.

    But I assume the 4-pin cpu fan connector is optimized to cool the cpu.

    Can someone tell me what the 4th pin in the cpu fan connector is used for?

    And how to connect the Nexus 3-pin fan connector to the motherboard 4-pin cpu fan connector?

  • jagdpanther - Sunday, June 24, 2007 - link

    The author used the same motherboard that I am planning to use, EVGA 680i (122-CK-NF68-A1) and as one one of the pictures in the review shows the Ultra-120 Extreme extends beyond the edge of the EVGA 680i. How far does it extend? I want to place mine in an Antec P182. (If it extends too far, I could remove the top case fan and place the fan outside the case, but that would not be aesthetically pleasing.)

  • toliman - Monday, June 18, 2007 - link

    i have trouble looking at this article as if it were objective. i can't say exactly why, it just seems like the numbers were altered to suit some conclusion. it might just be accurate and me being a fool, highly likely... but still, there's missing info that i can't say has me convinced.

    it's not like i was looking an an old THG article for real bias, but there's a lack of info as to why the TR-u120ex does so incredibly well in the anand review, when other sites don't see the dramatic 6'c differences with the same range of high-end heatpipe HSF's like the zalman/thermaltake/scythe/tuniq/arctic cooling/noctua high-ends, silent, popular models, etc.
  • Doctahg - Friday, May 11, 2007 - link

    I just installed mine on an Evga 680i Nf-68. Very tight North and South. The wire clips are kind of flimsy as they all are I guess. having trouble keeping them on. They push on the mobo chipset fan and the support bracket aboce the mobo. Thermaltake Armor case. Had to remove the memory to even get close to the screws! The unit does turn alot when seated and screwed in. Don't really like that. I'm running at 37C right now no OC with a 6600 duo. I had to RMA a QX6700 so I plopped this in. I may have too much Arctic silver on it, but I'll be swapping it out in a week again. I have no confidence on the fan mounting clasps....temps up to 41 as I speak, but I am using Nvmonitor so who knows. Bios is sim ilar in temp though. Since the QX6700 runs hotter than this I am not too happy BUT with a bit less comound it may cool a bit more...plus it needs a few days. I have a fan on my Dominator ram, and that may be resticting some airflow through the cooling fan. I am going to remove that tomorrow and see what happens to the temps. Reply
  • mperantie - Tuesday, May 8, 2007 - link

    Nice article. Did I miss the explanation of which thermal compound was used? Thanks. Reply
  • cornfedone - Sunday, May 6, 2007 - link

    Thermalright is one of the very few companies that has delivered quality products and customer support for years. They are the gold standard of the PC industry IMO. Every other company - especially the Asian mobo companies could learn a lot about product design, engineering, quality control and customer service from Thermalright.

    The fraudulent advertising by most mobo makers, the hand picked review mobos with special BIOS, the totally unacceptable product quality, the complete lack of customer support and the malfunction of many mobos is part of the reason the PC industry is in a downward spiral. People are not going to continue to buy defective mobos or operating systems or software forever. Sooner or later the unscrupulous companies in the PC industry will get sued for billions or go tits up. Either way it will be a win for consumers who have exploited for years by unsavory, mismanaged PC companies.
  • Spoelie - Saturday, May 5, 2007 - link

    I just *have* to mention this for potential buyers.. I bought the non-extreme version a week or 2 back coz I was tired of waiting for the updated version. Well, the s939 adapter is completely faulty and cannot be used in its original state. I lost a few hours trying to make it work, tried different backplates etc. In the end, I was able to install it using a piece of paper (!) and Zalman's (!!) system that I had left after removing my previous the cooler, the CNPS-7700Cu.

    If you do not have decent DIY skills to come up with alternative ways to install it, I suggest you look elsewhere.

    I could take pictures if there is a genuine interest.
  • trudodyr - Sunday, May 6, 2007 - link

    well, thermalright doesn't even include a s939-adapter with the 'extreme' version of the u120. i would really like to buy this heatsink, but can't be arsed into ordering a separate mounting bracket for such a premium product. Reply
  • erikejw - Saturday, May 5, 2007 - link

    I wonder if you could use this cooler as a passive cooler with a "normal" processor like the Athlon x2 4800+ or a similar watted Intel.

    That would be huge for those who want a completely silent system(like me).
    Perfect for HTPCs etc.

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