Thermalright Gets Back on Top with the Ultra-120

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August 6, 2006 by Devon Cooke

Thermalright Ultra-120
Socket 775 / 754 / 939 / 940 CPU Heatsink
Market Price

Thermalright is no stranger to the high end heatsink market. Their designs have performed near the top of the pack for years, and the Ultra-120 promises to be no exception. It's not Thermalright's first tower heatsink, but it is the biggest. As a general rule, bigger is better when it comes to heatsinks, so we expect great things from it. Nevertheless, it seems a little odd that Thermalright felt the need to develop the Ultra-120. After all, they already has an excellent tower cooler in the HR-01, why develop another one?

The answer is probably that the HR-01 is designed for fanless operation; it lacks fan mounts and is intended for low-airflow performance. With proper system and airflow design, the HR-01 is capable of cooling nearly any processor on the market, but the absence of a fan mounting system does not give it much headroom. More to the point, these characteristics mean the overclocking community is unlikely to perceive the HR-01 as a good fit for its needs.

Hence, the Ultra-120, a massive tower heatsink designed for the speed-at-any-cost enthusiast. It stands to the HR-01 as the Scythe Shogun stands to the Ninja: The Ninja is the clear victor at low fan speeds, but their roles are reversed when the fan is cranked up.

Every Thermalright product we've seen comes in a similar heavy cardboard box...

...packed as safely as we've ever seen.

Mounting hardware for LGA775 and K8 sockets, thermal interface material, fan clips and fan pads.

Thermalright Ultra-120: Feature Highlights (from the product web page)
Feature & Brief Our Comment
Quiet and powerful cooling due to multiple heat pipes and large aluminum fin area
Good fundamentals.
Proprietary bent winglet design to minimize airflow resistance
We'll take their word for it, but surely unbent fins are less restrictive...
Heat pipes soldered to base (nickel plated) and fins for optimum heat transfer
Improved heat transfer over press-fitted fins.
Include both bolt-thru-board retention brackets for Intel and AMD
Unfortunately, this excludes AM2 systems, at least for now.

Thermalright Ultra-120 Specifications (from the product web page)
Heatsink Dimensions (L × W × H)
63.5 × 132 × 160.5 mm
745 g
Recommended Fan
All 120mm Fans
INTEL: All Intel P4 LGA775 processors
AMD: Athlon64 / FX / X2 / Opteron all models
A customized retention bracket for Ultra-120 AM2 will be out in July, 2006 or sooner.

The Ultra-120 is larger than the HR-01 in every dimension — by as much as two centimeters for width. It is also much heavier, weighing in at almost three quarters of a kilogram. Combined with a height that is likely to cause compatibility issues in narrow cases, the weight will place high cantilever force on the motherboard. Perhaps this is why Thermalright has opted to provide a "bolt-through-board" mounting system rather than the clips that they included with the HR-01.

Our early sample came with a fittings for the 2-bolt system of earlier AMD K8 boards, but not the 4-bolt setup of AMD's AM2 socket. Thermalright apparently ships the latest Ultra-120s with an adapter for AM2, but it's not clear exactly which one, as there are several listed at the bottom of Thermalright's accessories page. It should also be possible to mount the Ultra-120 on a Socket 478 system by using the P4-478 Heatsink Retention Kit — also designed for the HR-01.

Despite its size, motherboard compatibility should be fairly good, as the fins are high enough above the base to avoid most of the components on the motherboard. Besides, the modern sockets that the Ultra-120 is compatible with allow for plenty of room around the CPU. Compatibility issues are more likely to arise with motherboard / case combinations where the heatsink hangs over one edge of the motherboard. At the time of writing, Thermalright did not list any incompatible motherboards on their web site.

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