In the test 15 years ago: Thermalright bit its teeth at 120 mm on Scythe

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In the test 15 years ago: Thermalright bit its teeth at 120 mm on Scythe

After Thermalright entered the tower cooler segment with the Ultra-90, a new flagship with space for a 120 mm fan followed a little later with the Ultra-120 (test). The test showed that Thermalright, despite the high price, continued to grapple with the cheaper competition from Scythe.

Meager scope of delivery and high price

The Ultra-120 was a sweeping cooler with dimensions of 63.5 × 132 × 160.5 mm and a weight of 745 g. The Ultra-120 was almost two millimeters higher than the Scythe Infinity, which had a negative effect on the case compatibility. Typical for Thermalright was the sparse scope of delivery, which apart from the actual cooler with the mounting material for AMD and Intel, the thermal paste and four wire brackets was limited to the essentials. If you wanted to use the Ultra-120 on Socket AM2, you had to purchase an additional mounting kit from Thermalright. With a price of around 44 euros plus the fan, the Ultra-120 was significantly more expensive than a Scythe Infinity, which was available including a fan for less than 40 euros.

  • Thermalright Ultra-120 scope of delivery

    Thermalright Ultra-120 scope of delivery

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    In terms of the cooler design, Thermalright relied on a cooling tower with 52 aluminum fins, which were connected to the copper block, which dissipated the waste heat from the CPU, via four 6 mm heat pipes. Thanks to its full nickel plating, the Ultra-120 was able to score with a chic look. The assembly of the cooler turned out to be largely unproblematic. The fact that the orientation of the cooler could not be freely selected on AMD systems was a minor drawback. Attaching the 4-point bracket to Intel boards could cause minor difficulties.

    Achievement behind Zalman and Scythe

    In the test on an Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800, the Thermalright Ultra-120 with a 120 mm fan from Papst ranks behind the competition from Zalman and Scythe. At a speed of 1,187 rpm, the Ultra-120 reached the same CPU temperature as the Zalman CNPS 9700 LED at 1,264 rpm, but the volume was slightly higher at 36.8 to 34.6 dB (A). The Scythe Infinity was able to achieve a cooling performance of 1 Kelvin better at just 564 rpm, with a comparable volume and 1,121 rpm it was 4 Kelvin.

    It looked similar in semi-passive mode with a single case fan. Here the Thermalright cooler had to set back by 11 Kelvin compared to the Scythe Infinity and 15 Kelvin compared to the Scythe Ninja. This disqualified the Ultra-120 for users who were toying with semi-passive systems.


    At the end of the test, the Ultra-120 could not convince against the strong competition from Scythe and Zalman. The price was too high, the scope of delivery too tight and the cooling performance in active and semi-passive operation too low. In addition, there was the height of the Ultra-120, which disqualified it for use in many cases. For this multitude of reasons, the cooler was not recommended in October 2006.

    In the “Tested 15 years ago” category, the editorial team has been looking into the test archive every Saturday since July 2017. The last 20 articles that appeared in this series are listed below:

    Even more content of this kind and many more reports and anecdotes can be found in the retro corner of the ComputerBase forum.

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