|Vendetta 2 vs TRUE vs HDT-S1283|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cooling|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Monday, 09 June 2008|
Page 5 of 10
Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme
Thermalright introduced the Ultra-120 eXtreme many months back, but it wasn't until recently that I discovered that some enthusiasts considered it better than the leading HDT solutions. In all honesty, I had never tested this cooler before now because Thermalright would claim that there were enough reviews out on the product already whenever I would request it. But now that I've discovered some overclockers giving it high praise, I had to know how well it compared.
Thermalright is secretly one of my favorite manufacturers from way back in the day. The first heat-pipe cooler I ever used was the Thermalright SI-128, and two years back it was performing so much better than the competition that everyone began using their design. Just like the saying goes: "the more things change the more they stay the same".
One of the things that I remember most about this industry is the few names that forge ahead with producing high-quality products without much marketing hype. Similar to the way Crucial packages it's system memory modules, Thermalright packages their coolers inside a plain brown box. This approach used to make me wonder if they were simply trying to save money or avoid passing on the cost of marketing to the consumer. But since neither of these companies has yet to put out a "bad" product, I think the plain brown packaging is more of a message: we don't need to dress up our products... they perform well without the hype.
Among the short list of other unchanged habits in the Thermalright factory is the absence of a factory-included cooling fan with their products. This allows the consumer to match their CPU cooler to the best fan that fits their needs, and in all actuality is probably the best option for enthusiasts (but may also be confusing for inexperienced consumers).
Of the new product changes, Thermalright has adapted a proprietary bent winglet design to minimize airflow resistance in the Ultra-120 eXtreme. I am a little skeptical of their stated intention, since streamlining will reduce resistance and bends will do exactly the opposite. But aside from the wording, this is similar in concept to OCZ's dimple micro-configuration which adds turbulence and reduces the skin effect of laminar air flow as a result.
Both sides of the Ultra-120 eXtrme are made to accommodate a 120mm cooling fan, and Thermalright has included the necessary wire retaining brackets to enable this configuration. Unlike many other manufacturers that use a "U" design with four heat-pipe rods, Thermalright makes use of six total nickel-plated copper heat-pipe rods amounting to twelve cooling ends in the circuit.
When I stop to think about it, there really aren't very many other coolers that can boast this many heat-pipes in one small unit. Even the overgrown Scythe Mugen SCINF-1000 only offered five heat-pipe rods (with ten cooler ends total), and that cooler is easily three times as large as the Ultra-120 eXtreme.
Exactly opposite of Noctua's mirror finish, the Ultra-120 eXtreme features a very uneven "freshly ground" finish. The image below is a close-up of the eXtreme's CPU mating surface, which is convex by design and meant to compensate for the irregular finish of processor Integrated Heat Spreaders. Nevertheless, the contact surface is full of crevices and not likely to offer exceptional thermal conductivity because of the additional thermal paste which will be necessary. I'm biting my tongue for now and not going into detail, but you'll want to read through the Surface Finish Impact portion in the testing methodology section which follows.
Our test sample of the Ultra-120 eXtreme came with the latest retaining clip system design, and did not require any additional washers to increase compression onto the processor. We understand that older versions were plagued with a weak mounting strength, but I assure you that this version had more than enough tension to make it difficult to completely tighten down.
Although the Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme CPU cooler has been on the market for almost two years, prices for the ULTRA120EXTREME are still hovering around $60. Please keep in mind that the TRUE does not include a fan, and one (or two, if desired) must be purchased separately.