iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme and Ultima-90 Coolers

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Test results (single-fan assemblies)

Let's see how Ultra-120 eXtreme performs in the silence mode with Noctua NF-P12 and Minebea 12cm Low fans (conditionally noiseless domain, reference noise - 23 dBA).

Chart 1. Temperature readings (CPU core temperature, conditionally noiseless domain)

Chart 2. Thermal resistance (conditionally noiseless domain)

As we can see, two low-speed modifications of Ultra-120 eXtreme (with Noctua 700 rpm and Minebea 500 rpm fans) demonstrate quite respectable results in deficit ventilation conditions. Nevertheless, they are slightly outscored by the stock configuration of Noctua NH-U12P (700 rpm): to all appearances, Ultra-120 eXtreme heat sink has high hydraulic resistance, which is not easily overcome by a limited air flow. Despite the optimized thermal design, it reduces efficiency of this cooler.

Now let's have a look at the situation in the low-noise domain, where we selected not only High-End products, but also several Mid-End products - Cooler Master Hyper TX2, GlacialTech Igloo 5750 PWM, and Scythe Mine Rev. B.

Chart 3. Temperature readings (CPU core temperature, low-noise domain)

Chart 4. Thermal resistance (low-noise domain)

Ultra-120 eXtreme has righted itself completely, sharing the garland with the stock Noctua NH-U12P assembly (900 rpm) and outperforming Zerotherm Nirvana NV120 and Scythe Mugen. Ultima-90 also performs well here, but a noisy impeller of the reference Scythe Minebea 9cm High fan lets this cooler down (this fan at 800 rpm should have participated in the conditionally noiseless domain instead of the low-noise domain).

Now let's have a look at the results demonstrated in the ergonomic domain (noise reference mark - 31 dBA).

Chart 5. Temperature readings (CPU core temperature, ergonomic domain)

Chart 6. Thermal resistance (ergonomic domain)

Well, Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme naturally gets advantage over Noctua NH-U12P. Optimized thermal configuration takes it toll, and the cooler demonstrates due heat exchange intensification combined with a record-breaking efficiency-noise ratio. Interestingly, the compact Ultima-90 does not miss its chance to distinguish itself - with the help of a fast fan it significantly improves its efficiency catching up with Zerotherm Nirvana NV120 and Scythe Mugen (the same noise level). A remarkable result.

In conclusion of this section we publish comparative diagrams of temperature readings and thermal resistance for nominal/reference configurations of today's contenders (maximum fan speed), a diagram with temperature readings of near-socket inductive elements (low-noise domain), as well as efficiency-noise ratings (low-noise and ergonomic domains).

Chart 7. Temperature readings (CPU core temperature, nominal/reference modes)

Chart 8. Thermal resistance (nominal/reference modes)

Chart 9. Temperature readings (temperature of near-socket components)

Chart 10. Efficiency/noise ratio

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Page 1: Ultra-120 eXtreme

Page 2: Ultra-90

Page 3: Test results (single-fan rigs)

Page 4: Test results (dual-fan rigs)

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