Thermalright XP-90 CPU Heatsink

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October 24, 2004 by Mike Chin with Ralf Hutter and Edward Ng

Thermalright XP-90 Heat sink

Thermalright's XP-120 recently hit the market with the sort of splash you'd hope to never see at an Olympic diving competition. Large yet light, with five integrated heatpipes and designed for use with a 120mm fan, the XP-120 broke all previous CPU cooling records in our recent review. The smaller XP-90 was released at the same time with less fanfare, and the new XP models have been dubbed Light 'n' Easy, an obvious reference to the low weight and ease of cooling offered. New HS developments are almost always tied to increases in CPU thermal output. The stimulus here was obviously the Intel Prescott core P4s, many of which far exceed 100W heat dissipation.

Thermalright broke with their own tradition with the XP series in using aluminum fins bonded to a nickel-plated copper base. The last time they used this combination successfully was nearly three years ago with the AX478. (The more recent ALX800 was not so successful and did not use nickel plating on the base.) Heatpipes did not figure in that model, however. The last of their top models (SP94, SP97) featured all-copper construction, thin fins and heatpipes. They've been heavy, reaching ~600g without a fan. In contrast, the XP-90 rings in at a mere 360 grams, yet, remarkably, this is only 10 grams shy of the XP-120's weight!

The change in design strategy is clear:

  • Increased cooling surface area with low airflow resistance
  • More efficient distribution of heat using multiple heatpipes
  • Copper in the base where it counts
  • Large diameter fans to allow high CFM without high RPM

These changes have the effect of increasing cooling efficiency to deal with those burning hot Prescotts without stressing the motherboard with high mass or increased fan noise. It's a pretty smart approach.

Thermalright's XP-90 is big but considerably smaller than...

...their XP-120.

As the photos above show, instead of the XP-120's five heatpipes, there are four heatpipes in the XP-90. The bottom portion of the XP-90 is very similar to the XP-120 and fits tidily into the socket 478 heatsink retention frame. The main difference is the top half of the fins: It is big enough on the XP-90 to fit a 92mm fan; the XP-120 takes a 120mm fan. Length and width are 116 x 96 mm for the XP-90 compared to 110 x 125 mm for the XP-120.

The XP-90 comes in Thermaright's usual sturdy brown carton, whose contents includes a replacement retention frame for K8 boards that allows the standard P4 clips on the HS to be used, just as in the XP-120.

The kit includes the following:

1) La piece de resistance
2) K8 mounting bracket; for P4, uses stock bracket
3) Clips for mounting 92mm fans
4) Clips for mounting 80mm fans
5) Screws for installing K8 mounting bracket
6) Vibration dampening strips
7) Syringe of thermal interface material
8) Handy-dandy installation guide

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