Thermalright SI-128: Evolution of a Past Master

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February 1, 2007 by Devon Cooke

Thermalright SI-128
Socket 775 / K8 CPU Heatsink
Market Price

Thermalright is a name that consistently appears on best heatsink lists all over the web. They're not cheap, and they make some of the best heatsinks around — including several that have spent time on SPCR's recommended list. In fact, the Thermalright Ultra-120 is currently one of the top-performing heatsinks we know of. It's so good that we have to wonder: Why bother selling any other models? The answer is every product has a finite life cycle, and new products are needed for every company to maintain or grow sales.

Most current Core 2 Duo chips run cool enough that just about any heatsink will do. That's great for users; less heat means less noise and smaller, less expensive heatsinks. It's not so good for manufacturers like Thermalright though. Why buy a US$50 heatsink when the stock heatsink will do the job just as effectively — and just as quietly — without shelling out any extra cash?

In these market conditions, it's not so easy to figure out where the market for the SI-128 lies. The SI-128 costs US$50 — without a fan — but it's smaller than the Ultra-120 and is unlikely to match it in performance. Fortunately for Thermalright, there's one market sector that has a use for small heatsinks: The home theater market. Chances, it will be here that the SI-128 has the best chance of success.

The usual plain cardboard box.

Thermalright likes to do things a bit differently from other companies, and this is apparent even in the way it packages its products. Like all Thermalright products, the SI-128 came embedded in a nest of custom-cut foam inside a sturdy brown cardboard box. It is well insulated against bumps and shocks.

Another Thermalright quirk is the stock fan — or lack thereof. Thermalright is the only company we know of that sells heatsinks alone without cooling fans, even though they are not designed for fanless cooling (the fanless HR-01 is an exception). Presumably, Thermalright products are so exclusive that their customers like to choose their own fans.

Look, ma, no screws! (two fan clips are missing from the photo).

Thermalright SI-128: Feature Highlights (from the product web page)
Feature & Brief Our Comment
120mm fan recommended for maximum cooling capability.
Fan not included.
Huge 8mm multiple heatpipes for even more efficient heat transfer to the aluminum fins.
Are bigger heatpipes better? Thermalright seems to think so.
Multiple tightly gapped fins for more surface area with longer and wider wingspan than SI-120.
More surface area is indeed good for heat dissipation... but high density requires higher airflow (read: noisy) to force air between them. The best heatsinks feature a good balance between the number of fins and the space between them.
Vast compatibility across multiple platforms for newest AMD and Intel CPUs.
Support for older sockets, such as Socket 478 and Socket A has been dropped.
Enormous wingspan gives extra cooling to MOSFET or NB chipset. This is especially important for passively cooled high end motherboards that often rely on system airflow for cooling.
Includes adapters for LGA775, K8, and AM2 platforms
Here's where they say exactly what "vast compatibility" means.

Thermalright: Specifications (from the product web page)
Heatsink Dimensions
L125 x W145 x H91.5 mm (heatsink only)
510g (heatsink only)
Recommended Fan
All 120mm Fans
INTEL: All Intel P4 LGA775 processors
AMD: Athlon 64 / FX / X2 / Opteron all models

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