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Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme and Ultima-90 Coolers

Two interesting products from the maker of advanced cooling solutions.

June 11, 2008



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Ultima-90

Ultima-90 is designed for a smaller fan (92x92 mm). But it follows the technical image of Ultra-120 eXtreme in many respects - the serious combination of a copper base (39x42x5 mm), six copper heat pipes (6 mm in diameter), and a narrowed aluminum fin-stack (115x55x90 mm).



Its fins also feature concave edges, which help form a refined air flow from the on-board fan. However, this feature is decorative rather than practical in Ultima-90. Fin-stack characteristics start to play a much more important role here. In this case we have a fin-stack of 48 plates (0.2 mm thick, at 2 mm steps) with the total heat exchange surface area of about 5000 cm2. Not bad at all for a compact heat sink.



A separate mention should be made of traditionally good thermal contacts between the base, heat pipes, and fins - it's typical of Thermalright products. Considering small dimensions of Ultima-90, "base-pipes" and especially "pipes-fins" joints become really important - heat release elements are not as long here as in Ultra-120 eXtreme, so the quality of thermal contact may play the most important role in minimizing full thermal resistance of the heat sink. Ultima-90 hasn't failed us here - it offers neat soldering and thus provides intensive heat exchange between the main sections (base, pipes, fins) and improved thermal characteristics.



However, this cooler inherited some features from Ultra-120 eXtreme, both in technical and usability terms. So, we've got the same problems in Ultima-90 - no bundled fan, mediocre thermal compound. Besides, the multiplatform retention module is modified. As it's designed to be mounted in a socket with two screws, it requires to install special brackets on a motherboard. So it's more difficult to install than Ultra-120 eXtreme.



As a result, the technical image of Ultima-90 is stained again: on one hand, we've got a well thought-out thermal design; but on the other hand, the bundle is still scarce, and the retention module is more difficult to install. It seems that Thermalright engineers should work on usability of their products.



Well, we've covered peculiarities of Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme and Ultima-90 coolers. Let's proceed to the most important part of today's article - performance results of our contenders.


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