Three Thermalright True Spirit Heat Sinks, Reviewed

Thermalright sent over all three models in its True Spirit heat sink family, complete with 92, 120, and 140 mm fans. We dropped each one onto an FX-8350 processor to gauge its cooling performance and acoustic output. Which one takes the value win?

Meet Thermalright’s True Spirit Heat Sink Family

Thermalright’s coolers have a well-deserved reputation for excellent build quality, thermal performance, and quiet fans that come bundled with the company's heat sinks. Over time, we've seen Thermalright expanded its portfolio of enthusiast-oriented products to include entry-level and mid-range offerings as well. Its HR-02 Macho is regularly recommended on our forums.

Recently, the company sent over three of its slim tower-style CPU coolers in different sizes, accompanied by 92, 120, and 140 mm fans, to put through their paces in our lab. Why might you be interested in a cooler like this? The form factor facilitates good compatibility by not blocking memory slots, they're some of the best-performing heat sinks, and they can be made to operate quietly.

Really, this is the first time we've rounded up heat sinks from one vendor, comparing different sizes from the same line, rather than narrowing down one configuration from as many companies as possible. Thomas is going to continue with that more traditional approach for us, but the Tom's Hardware Germany team plans to fill out our CPU Cooling Charts with these vertical comparisons, too. For this first exploration, we're looking at Thermalright's True Spirit 140(BW), 120M(BW) and 90M.

Packaging and In The Box

The True Spirit 140(BW) comes in a blue-and-black package, while the 120M(BW) and 90M ship in yellow-and-black packaging. The heat sinks are protected by sponge foam, and the accessories are in their own small cardboard box next to the coolers.

The bundles for all three coolers are almost completely identical. There’s a universal back plate accommodating current AMD and Intel processor interfaces, a universal retention frame for the sink, and the hardware you need to secure the plate, frame, and cooler. If you've ever used Thermalright's Macho solutions, you'll already be familiar with the configuration process. Each cooler also includes a well-illustrated installation manual. What's more, Thermalright includes a small 2 g bag of its own “Chill Factor” thermal paste.

The only differences you'll notice between the coolers' accessories are related to fan mounting. Not only do the bundled fans sport dissimilar diameters (140, 120, and 92 mm), but the larger coolers include retention clips for two 140 or two 120 mm fans, whereas the smaller 90M only comes with clips for the included 92 mm fan.

Vibration isolation is a bit different too. Thermalright's 140(BW) employs two large rubber pads that are glued to the cooler itself, whereas the 120M(BW) and the 90M only get two thin rubber strips.

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  • expl0itfinder
    I would love to see this compared against a wider selection of air coolers. For instance, the Cooler Master Hyper 212, or other fan favorites. Comparing it to 1 or 2 other brands does not give us a lot to look at.
  • Novuake
    A single other well known cooler for reference would have been great for easy context.
    Not all sites and reviews used Delta temps.
    Nice review but kind of renders it moot for comparison out of the Silverstone and THermalright Scope.
  • Someone Somewhere
    I think you got a bit lost on your graphs. At a guess, you meant to have one as distance from ambient, and one as absolute, or possibly there's idle readings.

    Also, please stick to the same units.

    More comparisons would have been nice.
  • SpadeM
    There are a few issues /omissions in the article, first being that the motherboard cap is only used on 939 sockets (i did an install for 970A-D3 AM3+ and it didn't require it) also the anchoring plate is flawed in my opinion because the screw holes that hold it in place aren't actually holes, but more live grooves on the outside of the plate and so the screws actually hold the plate in place with only half of their screw cap. And finally, for users that aren't experienced with multiple cpu heatsinks, tightening the final plate that locks the cooler in place ca very well damage your processor since there's no limiter in place.

    Other then that, those are some fantastic coolers, even though the thermal probe on FX-8350 under windows gives me flawed measurements in idle, under load it's quite good.
  • iam2thecrowe
    2000 rpm is noisy? i used to have a 6000rpm fan on my old athlon xp....... I think people these days are too picky about noise.
  • Someone Somewhere
    388413 said:
    2000 rpm is noisy? i used to have a 6000rpm fan on my old athlon xp....... I think people these days are too picky about noise.

    Diameter has a lot to do with it - it's more to do with tip velocity than actual RPM. Your fan was likely about 40-50mm.

    I've got 40mm fans that are near silent at 3K RPM. You can get 40mm fans that do 13K.
  • ubercake
    Whether it's the motherboard or the heat sink manufacturers... We're still seeing 3rd-party CPU heat sinks and their fans blocking RAM slots for a decade. There's not much innovation going on here. I would tend to think the heat sink manufacturers need to accommodate the current motherboard designs. If they could solve that part of it in a full-size effective heat sink solution, innovation will have taken place. Until that time we'll keep seeing copper this; nickel-plated that; aluminum fins here; heat pipes there; one fan on this one; two fans on that.

    Same old stuff; different day.
  • Someone Somewhere
    There's only so many ways you can build a MB, or a cooler...
  • Myrkvidr
    @Someone Somwhere: Sorry, there's a copy&paste issue in the 2nd and 4th chart on page5: It should say "CPU temperature at 20°C ambient" while the 1st and 3rd chart are Delta temps.

    @SpadeM: Seems like I just did not RTFM close enough ;) But the measurement results were not affected by using or not using the plastic cap (I ran two separate measurement series). The anchoring plate is sitting very tight - I installed a lot of Thermalright heatsinks during the past couple of weeks. The contact pressure between the True Spirit heatsinks and the CPU is not excessively high, so it shouldn't cause any damage to the CPU.

    @all: We just startet off with the new system for CPU cooler testing and had to start somewhere - there will be more results and coolers coming soon :)
  • mironso
    I hope they will fix this issue with memory in next gen on 140 series.
  • JPNpower
    How does it compare to a hyper 212 no overclock high load i7?
  • WickedPigeon
    Dear TH - If it is possible, could you make a master chart of coolers?

    Your very informative review in July compared 9 large coolers recommended the Noctua's NH-U14S. And I cannot tell if the "Smart Buy" recommendation here makes the Thermalright a better choice or not. Plus the top picks at Newegg are well known models from Cool Master, Zalmen, Noctua and Rosewell.

    I'm really curious how these top models really stack up. Thanks
  • Myrkvidr
    @WickedPigeon: I'm actually working on an article about the Noctua NH-U12S & NH-U14S for Tom's Hardware Germany, so there might be some results for a direct comparison soon.
  • Calculatron
    A nice, simple, basic article. I am not going to complain about it, especially if they keep the format and test set-up for near-future brand-product reviews.

    The fact that the little guy managed to (barely) handle the overclock was a bit surprising, but really cool to see. Thermalright makes good cooling solutions for its customers.

    The noise levels seemed a bit inflated, but then I noticed that they said "distance: 30cm." Using the lazy-man's method of correcting the noise to a distance of 1m, I think that works out to mean we could shave off about 10db from the obtained results. (It's within the ball-park, at least. Using the numbers from another review, the Silverstone AR01 had a difference of 17db.)
  • Myrkvidr
    1294514 said:
    The noise levels seemed a bit inflated, but then I noticed that they said "distance: 30cm."

    Is seems like the bearing of the TR-TY147 is of a better quality compared to the TR-12025-BW and TR-9225-BW, whose bearings are a little more noisy. Anyway, they're still "okay" and you don't have to push the fans towards max rpm ;)
  • RedJaron
    Sorry, I can't see this being a Smart Buy. It looks like the CM-212 outperforms the 120 ( both are similarly priced. ) The 212 and the 140 are probably pretty close, except the 140 is $15 more and 10mm taller. That extra height makes it a lot harder to fit into modest cases. And if you're getting a larger case, chances are you're getting a more demanding system with a larger budget. At that point the D14 or liquid cooling is an option.
  • lagur
    Interesting product but I'm actually expecting some CM Hyper212 EVO, Noctua DH14, Corsair H80 and even stock HSF to include in the benchmarks. To be honest those graphs to me looks completely useless.
  • Oleg Melnikov
    Those tech are so old age , how about some real cooling solutions that cools without struggle ...
  • Steelwing
    I just bought the True Spirit 140 for my new rig a few days ago. It really is a great cooler! The fan isn't dead silent but is fairly quiet. Temps are excellent on my i5-4670k. (I haven't tried overclocking yet.) I was a little worried that it wouldn't fit in my Fractal Design Define R4, but there's enough clearance. I just can't use a fan on the side. Overall I'm quite pleased by its performance.
  • joezkg
    Maybe this one is better than Hyper Evo 212.
  • joezkg
    yeah! but this one is good i thought,because like hyper 212 has an issue regarding to place the two fan, it looks disgusting when it doesnt fit on your mobo due to lack of space,maybe it depends on the type of your mobo. but i think thermaltake answers this...
  • cmi86
    A good article but in my opinion if you want to test a high end cooler test it on something far less thermally proficient like haswell. FX chips cap at 62c, haswell caps at over 100c.
  • skaz
    Good to see this company still rocking in the heatsink market. My venomous X is holding strong still.
  • ericjohn004
    Steelwing, how can you be please with this coolers performance if you haven't even overclocked with it yet? It seems that the only purpose of getting a cooler like this is for overclocking and you haven't overclocked.... How can you possibly know if the cooler is good or not?