System TestingThe Thermalright True Black 120 heatsink was tested on a red-hot Pentium 4 EE based test rig consisting of the components listed below. The ambient room air temperature was maintained at 23ºC +/-0.5ºC. Four instances of CPUBurn were executed at the same time (two to load both physical cores, and two to load the two virtual HyperThreading cores), which resulted in 100% CPU usage. Tests were conducted with three different 120mm fans at various speeds to see how the cooler performed with varying degrees of airflow. A small bench power supply was used to control the speed of the Panaflo L1A fan: 12V hi speed, 9V medium speed, and 5V low speed). And to see how much difference using two fans in a push-pull configuration made, the cooler was tested with one and then two low-speed 120mm Nexus fans.
• 120mm Delta SHE (3700 rpm, 152 CFM, 53 dBA)
• 120mm Panaflo FBA12GL1A (1700 rpm, 68.9 CFM, 30.0 dBA)
• 120mm Nexus (1000 rpm, 36.9 CFM, 22.8 dBA)
Test Rig Configuration
• Asus P5N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard
• Pentium 4 Extreme Edition dual core 955 @ 3.46 GHz
• (2) Corsair CM2X512-8000UL DDR2
• NVIDIA 8800 GTX 768 MB video card
• Western Digital WD1200JD S-ATA HDD
• SilverStone Olympia 750W PSU
• Windows XP Pro with SP2
A small Omega thermocouple is attached to the side of the 955 IHS with Arctic Alumina thermal epoxy to provide accurate CPU temperatures. 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 407738 digital sound level meter (accuracy +/- 1.5 dB)
• Lavalys Everest Ultimate Edition 2006 (hardware monitoring)
• CPUBurn (load the CPU)
For comparison, I’m including the results from several other popular HSFs we recently tested on the LGA775 platform. All HSFs were tested on the same EE 955 CPU under the same conditions.
• Thermalright IFX-14 with Panaflo L1A and Delta SHE
• Thermalright SI-128 SE with various fans
• Scythe Andy Samurai Master with bundled Scythe 120mm fan
• Enzotech Ultra-X with bundled Delta 120mm fan
• Thermaltake Big Typhoon VX with bundled fan
• Thermalright Ultra-120 with Antec TriCool 3-speed fan
• Thermalright XP-120 with Antec TriCool 3-speed fan
• Stock Intel HSF
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).
CPU – Temperature reported by Everest utility (internal diode)
Tc – Temperature obtained with calibrated thermocouple attached to 955 IHS
Delta T – Fully loaded Tc temperature rise above ambient temperature
dBA – Sound pressure level recorded 3’ away (background ~29 dBA)
Note: My original P5N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard died awhile back and the CPU temperature reported by the replacement board is so far off (~20°C) its not worth mentioning – the thermocouple attached to the 955 IHS is much more reliable.
As expected, the Thermalright True Black 120 CPU cooler did an outstanding job of keeping the fully loaded CPU cool. It turned in the best numbers of any air cooler we have tested to date. When used with the Nexus fans or a single 120mm Panaflo L1A fan running at reduced voltage, the True Black 120 is virtually silent, but the cooling performance is still excellent. The large surface area provided by the tightly spaced heatsink fins allows this cooler to perform extremely well with reduced airflow.
When fitted with the big high-speed Delta air turbine, the True Black performed only slightly better than the IFX-14 and SI-128 SE coolers. Actually this isn’t too surprising as the base of all three coolers are essentially the same but the True Black has six heat pipes versus four. With the big Delta fan pumping out over 100 CFM of air, the overall heat transport mechanism appears to be maxed out with a full load CPU temperature of approximately 9°C over ambient.
Its also worth noting that the overall performance (cooling to noise ratio) of the True Black 120 is as good or better than all but the best water-cooling systems. The True Black 120 (and Ultra 120 eXtreme) represents the best air-cooled CPU cooler on the market today.