Thermalright True Spirit 140 Direct Slim-Tower CPU Cooler Review

Thermalright’s lower-priced True Spirit 140 Direct is big, slim, and fairly cheap. How does it perform?


A premiere European manufacturer of air-based CPU coolers, Thermalright initially launched its value-based solutions under the Cogage brand. The True Spirit model line is what remains of those early attempts to crack the mainstream market, as Thermalright eventually put its own name on the original Cogage model. Years of price-conscious performance optimizations have led to it its latest iteration, the True Spirit Direct 140.

The package includes a heat sink solution with 1.5”-thick (38mm), 140mm radiator, an oversized 152x140mm fan that’s 27mm thick, two sets of wire clips that enable installation of a second 140mm (or 152x140mm) fan, and an installation kit that goes from current CPUs all the way back to AMD socket AM2 and Intel LGA-775.

Compared to early models, the half-based True Spirit 140 Direct uses direct contact, rather than encapsulated heat pipes. While some of Thermalright’s competitors have claimed performance superiority of this design for many years, our comparisons of similar coolers have proven those claims baseless. I’ve postulated that direct-contact pipes were a way to cut manufacturing cost without hurting performance, and Thermalright is pushing the second half of that hypothesis by not even flattening the pipes enough to fill most of the void between them.

Rather than attempt to make its True Spirit 140 Direct base completely flat, Thermalright uses extreme contact pressure to get maximum thermal transfer from a reduced surface area. The installation kit therefore includes a heavy duty back brace designed to push against both the holes and the socket plate of LGA 115x/1366, a center plug to make it work on boards that have no support plate such as LGA-775 and AMD (using the four holes of the original clip bracket), and a separate set of standoffs for LGA-2011x (aka, v1 and v3). The small plastic washers provide additional clearance for components on the back of a motherboard, which is a fairly common concern on mini-ITX motherboards, and a separate (larger) set of plastic washers are used on AMD motherboards.

Thermalright addresses the “extreme contact pressure” concern of Kaby Lake CPU owners with a shim that allows the CPU clip to press against the entire land grid, preventing it from bending back away from contacts. The large volume of damaged processors we’ve seen could make this shim a viable standalone product! And if the rumors of “resurrected” processors prove true, a shim like this could be used to reinforce the weakened LGA package.

Special standoffs screw directly onto the integrated support bracket of our LGA 2011-v3 motherboard. Users of other sockets will find a different set of standoffs, with plastic insulating washers stuck on one side, to secure the support plate shown two images above. The standoffs are topped with the chrome ring-shaped bracket, which is secured to the top of the standoffs with another four screws. After applying thermal paste to the point that it fills the gaps between heat pipes, the CPU cooler’s integrated bracket screws to the ring-shaped bracket, as shown.

Small grooves in the heat sink’s fins are designed to hold included rubber tubes, which reduces the transmission of fan vibration.

Clipping the fan to the heat sink and plugging it into the board finalizes the True Spirit 140 installation. It’s important to note that the clip wires should be inserted prior to heat sink installation, as outlined in the manual, to assure motherboard component clearance.

MORE: Best CPU Cooling

MORE: How To Choose A CPU Cooler

MORE: All Cooling Content