The Thermalright Ultra-120 heatsink was tested on an open frame Athlon64 K8 test rig consisting of the components listed below.  The ambient room air temperature was maintained at 24°C ±0.5°C.  The CPU was loaded by running Folding@Home 24/7.  Tests were conducted with three different fans — operating on 12 VDC or 7 VDC.


Thermalright Ultra-120 CPU Heatsink Review - Cases and Cooling 16

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·          Asus K8N-E Deluxe nForce3-250 motherboard

·          AMD Athlon64 3200+ (0.13 mm Newcastle core)

·          Seasonic SuperTornado 400 watt ATX power supply

·          (2) Corsair CMX512-3200C2  DDR RAM

·          ATI Radeon 9800 Pro

·          WD800JB IDE HDD

·          Sony 16X DVD, FDD

·          Windows XP Pro with SP1


To facilitate taking more accurate CPU temperature measurements I attached a very small Omega thermocouple to the side of the Athlon 64 IHS with Arctic Alumina thermal epoxy.  The measurement equipment used during testing included:


·          CPU/IHS — Barnant Model 115 digital thermometer (accuracy +/- 0.4º C)

·          Ambient air — Barnant Model 115 digital thermometer (accuracy +/- 0.4º C)

·          Extech Model 407736 digital sound level meter (accuracy +/- 1.5 dB)


For comparison, I included the results from several other popular HSFs for the K8 platform and the stock OEM aluminum cooler that comes bundled with the Athlon 64 3200+.  All HSFs were tested on the same CPU under the same conditions.


·          Thermalright Ultra-90 with 92mm SilenX, Panaflo M1A, Panaflo H1BX, and Sunon SHO

·          Thermalright XP-120 with 120mm Panaflo L1A and 120mm Delta SHE

·          Thermalright XP-90c with 80mm Panaflo L1A, 92mm SilenX, 92mm Panaflo M1A, and 92mm Vantec Tornado (Sunon SHO)

·          Arctic Cooling Freezer 64 Pro (stock fan at 12V and 7V)

·          Cooler Master Hyper 6 with 80mm CM variable speed fan and 80mm Vantec Tornado

·          Zalman CNSP7000A-CU with integrated Zalman variable speed fan

·          Athlon 64 3200+ OEM aluminum heatsink with 70mm fan


The following data is presented for comparative purposes only.  Your actual results may be different depending on the variables unique to your system (CPU, overclock, ambient temperature, case air flow, temperature monitoring, etc). 


Thermalright Ultra-120 CPU Heatsink Review - Cases and Cooling 17


CPU — Temperature reported by Asus PC Probe utility (internal diode)

Tc — Temperature obtained with calibrated thermocouple attached to IHS

Delta T — Fully loaded Tc temperature rise above ambient

dBA — Sound pressure level recorded 3′ away (background ~30 dBA)



Wow — just when you think air-cooling can’t get any better it does!  The Thermalright Ultra-120 heatsink did an outstanding job of keeping the Athlon 64 3200+ CPU cool.  As expected, performance increased with higher airflow but at the expense of more noise.  Even with a virtually silent, low flow, under-volted fan, the Ultra-120 still performed very well. 


Thermalright Ultra-120 CPU Heatsink Review - Cases and Cooling 18

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With the big 120mm Delta Super High-Output air turbine mounted on the Ultra-120, full load CPU temperatures dropped to only 4.5°C above ambient (almost 2°C better than the Ultra-90).  This is also better than the temperatures obtained with several other high-performance heat pipe coolers when used with a high-flow fan and in my opinion represents about as good as can be done with current air-cooling technology.


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