Thermalright True Spirit 120 Direct in the test

Thermalright added another model to its True Spirit range last year. The True Spirit 120 Direct looks quite compact and is aimed at areas where good cooling performance but less space is required. In addition, one tries to be attractive with the price of less than 40 euros. Our test shows the strengths and weaknesses of the Thermalright cooler.

Intro

Thermal Right's True Spirit 120 Direct appears relatively inconspicuous and hardly stands out from the mass of tower coolers on the market. This applies to its four 6 mm heat pipes as well as to the materials used - copper and aluminum represent the typical basic structure.

However, with its low weight of 460 grams and dimensions of 120 x 77 x 141 mm (L x W x H) including fan, the True Spirit wants to shine with its relatively small space requirements and cool processors with a power loss of up to 160 watts. The maximum volume should be around 25 dB (A), which is a reasonable value.

Added to this is the fact that the former high-end cooler manufacturer Thermalright is now trying to score points with the price. The True Spirit 120 Direct is available for around 35 euros.

So let's take a closer look at strengths and weaknesses.

Bookmark (CPU) cooler: Know-how:

Reference cooler being tested

Hardware components:

We left the fan control curve of the MSI mainboard - preset in the BIOS - in the delivery state. This applies to the speed behavior and the volume shown later.

We overclock the Haswell processor used by a maximum at the turbo clock and increase the multiplier there. So that sufficient temperature development is guaranteed and the clock rates are kept stable, we increase the pure core voltage to 1,3 volts and at the same time set the power limits (long duration and slow duration) to 155 and 165 watts. In this way, we ensure that the turbo cycle does not drop when there is sufficient cooling, and at the same time that it is reduced when the cooler is no longer powerful enough. Rather, with this approach, we guarantee that we produce a power consumption of more than 125 watts and thus of course reach corresponding temperature regions in which the test coolers can prove themselves.

Other hardware:

  • Power adapter: be quiet! Straight power 680 watts
  • Hard disk: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 SATA 500 GB
  • Drive: Samsung USB DVD Burner Model SE-S084
  • Housing: Cooler Master LAB (Benchtable)

One last word applies to our open test stand. Since there is practically no PC case that could be representative of the home user in any way, we rely on an open test stand. Depending on the housing used at home, this can be an advantage or a disadvantage. With well thought-out case ventilation, some coolers should show themselves better in terms of noise behavior, in average concepts probably on the level of the open test stand and in poorly ventilated cases with clear disadvantages. But that, in turn, is all dependent on many factors, and since this is so, we see a reasonable and reproducible way of doing these tests with our test stand.

However, we can currently attest that with the hardware used, the temperatures are usually driven into those areas where the fans have to reach their limits. Only carefully ventilated cases could optimize the cooling behavior here.

Software and test procedures

    • Windows 7 32-Bit - SP1 including all updates up to February 2014
    • NVIDIA GeForce / ION driver version 314.07 WHQL
    • DirectX as of June 2010

 

Tools

  • AIDA Extreme
  • Core2MaxPerf
  • CoreTemp
  • LinX
  • TES V: Skyrim

 

In addition to major changes in the hardware, we have also made fundamental adjustments to the software and the determination of the CPU core temperatures.

Load conditions:

We have now decided to work with a total of four instead of three scenarios, which - apart from load-free operation - each represent worst-case scenarios for the CPU.

The applied load times are 15 minutes in idle and in LinX, and the last 60 seconds are averaged over all values. The load absorption with Skyrim and Core2MaxPerf is held for 30 minutes and the last five minutes are averaged. To do this, we log the temperatures completely over the running time via AIDA Extreme and at the end only give a temperature of the four processor cores. Under Idle, C2MP and Skyrim we give the averaged value of the recorded average temperatures, under LinX the average value of the maximum temperature values.

Why four scenarios?

The Idle value is obvious. If the PC has nothing to do or if it is only lightly loaded with office applications or surfing, it is less important to know how warm the processor is, but rather how loud the cooler's fan is. We cover this area with this recording, which is taken 15 minutes after the system start.

This represents another category of daily PC use 3D games A large part of the younger generation likes to use the PC as a basis for gaming, as it can potentially offer better picture quality compared to consoles. But at this point you have to differentiate between the applications. There are games that are very graphics card-heavy and not very demanding on the processor. However, there are also games that paint the opposite picture, and those that require both components in the course of the gameplay. To this end, we have once again tried to get hold of a suitable worst-case scenario. By this one should understand that this is only the worst case of the cases, which is permanently not to be found in the game. For this we have chosen a position in Skyrim where we can generate a lot of load on all four CPU cores and which runs over a period of 30 minutes.

This is followed by the use of Core2MaxPerf as the next level of difficulty. Our measurements have shown that this synthetic load tool behaves in roughly the same way as when you ask the PC to Videos using handbrake to convert. From our point of view, this represents another common area of ​​everyday PC life and is more or less perfectly emulated by this procedure. There are actually no harder applications in everyday life today.

Core2MaxPerf and Core Temp in use
Finally, there are still special programs from the scientific fieldwhich can use the main processor of a system powerfully and excessively; even higher than the previously mentioned applications. One such case is LinX, which performs such calculations as an example. In our comparison, LinX represents the worst case for a CPU - and actually the best explanation for why you might need a very powerful CPU cooler.

A bit of office processing, surfing the Internet and reading e-mails also fall out of a meaningful consideration, as one moves in these areas practically on load-free operation for processors, which with their sophisticated energy saving measures usually work at the lowest clock frequency .

Benchmark scene Skyrim
However, there is certainly another area of ​​application that many users indulge in every day: Computer Games. In most cases it is precisely this area - the gaming scene - that manufacturers of accessories from the cooler sector want to address in particular. We have therefore also selected a game title for today's test, which is supposed to cover this practical test as an example. We chose a representative through the previous selection who loads the processor sufficiently without being completely CPU-heavy. A large number of the current game titles should not demand the (quad-core) processor as much as we do in our test.

Note: The results of the newly selected test scene in Skyrim are of course not comparable with the results of the earlier tests.

Fan control:

On today's motherboards, all manufacturers offer fan controls for the fan connections. However, these usually have nothing in common, and so the fan control on our MSI mainboard is certainly different from, for example, on ASUS, ASRock or Gigabyte. There are no specifications from the CPU manufacturer, and therefore each manufacturer cooks its own soup.

Modern fans are primarily only equipped with 4-pin PWM fans. In a few cases, however, you come across 3-pin models that do not support pulse width modulation. While earlier motherboards offered the option of being able to regulate 3-pin models, we had to find out with the MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming that apparently only 4-pin fans are regulated here.

The control curve is kept very flat up to 40 ° C and then rises steeply in the range between 40 and 70 ° C. From a CPU temperature of 70 ° C, the control system tries to counteract these temperatures by means of maximum speed. In view of the variety of coolers on the market, we think the settings made make sense. In individual cases manual interventions - adapted to your own case cooling system and the CPU cooler - could have a positive effect on the noise behavior. Of course, our test cannot cover these situations.

temperature fluctuations

Our tests are carried out at a room temperature of 20 to 21 ° C. Of course, there are temperature fluctuations in the immediate area of ​​the test station due to the hardware's own heat generation. Fluctuations in room temperature, even in midsummer, are not to be feared in our measurements because we are working with an air conditioning system.

Hardware: special features

Meters

We like to use high-quality measuring devices in our tests. Volume measuring stations, thermographic cameras, infrared thermometers, clamp ammeters or simply voltage measuring devices (voltmeters) are used.

Depending on the area and purpose, we sometimes rely on well-known manufacturers such as Fluke or Tenma, in other cases also on Conrad's own brand Voltcraft. When it comes to noise emissions, special devices come from ulteeaudiotechnik which enable us to take sone measurements in addition to dB (A) measurements. Further details on the measurement technology we use can be found here..

Recording of the background noise

In addition to the cooling behavior, the background noise from the combination of cooler and fan is an essential criterion for assessing such a product. Regular readers should know that we have specialized in this segment. As a rule, our measurements can hardly be compared with the results of most other publications, because they mostly use inexpensive hand-held measuring devices in the 100 to 200 euro price range, whose microphone noise is already around 30 dB (A) begins. In this respect, it is hardly surprising why quiet values ​​are given as 30 dB (A) in such comparisons, although a standardized 30 dB (A) value is anything but quiet.

In addition, in order to meet or at least approximate the norm, such measurements lack a low-reflection room and all too often information on the distance is missing. A dB (A) value without specifying the distance to the test subject must be understood as a standard value, and this corresponds to a distance of one meter.

Our current device DAASUSB from the house ulteeaudiotechnik is in a much higher price segment and offers us the opportunity to take much more precise measurements.

The calibrated device allows us to take measurements in the dB (A) and sone range, and we give the measurement results, as usual, standardized, which corresponds to a distance of one meter. In addition, the test subjects are measured in a kind of anechoic room.

The spectral analyzes also allow an impression of the spectral distribution of the level of a fan in combination with the radiator of the individual test candidates and show how the combinations behave in the different frequency ranges.

Spectral analysis of a test candidate
In order to be able to see the essential values ​​quickly during the spectral analysis, we have marked the detailed field information here with red arrows. The measured value in dB (A) and sone is shown at the top right and the information on the load condition at the bottom - in the middle. Next to it on the right, we list the test subject's fan speed.

In addition, of course, the actual graph provides die-hard connoisseurs with clear clues. Stochastic signals (random signals according to the definition in the acoustic range) in the range up to approx. 700 Hz are less misperceived by most people than in the more sensitive range (approx. 1.000 to 4.000 Hz). In addition, tonal signals in the range from around 200 Hz upwards can significantly impair subjective perception and be perceived as unpleasant (a so-called whistling tone as an example).

However, experience in this sector in recent years has taught us that larger CPU fans are much more gentle on our hearing in those areas. The age of the booming 40, 60 and 80 mm fans is over. Nowadays, hardly any cooler manufacturer starts developing with a diameter of less than 92 mm.

The test candidate at a glance

Key data and scope of delivery

Key data Thermalright True Spirit 120 Direct
Cooler type Tower cooler
Dimensions (W x H x D) 77 x 141 x 120 mm
Length of tubing -
Total weight 460 grams
Heat pipes 4 heat pipes - 6mm standard
Material Hybrid: nickel-plated copper and aluminum
Fan 4-pin PWM
Fan dimensions 120 x 120 x 25 mm
Fan speed 600-1.300 RPM
Airflow maximum 78,5 m³ / h
Noise behavior (manufacturer information) maximum 25,4 dB (A)
Features -
Pump -
Socket Compatibility - AMD FM1 / FM2 / FM2 + / AM2 / AM2 + / AM3 / AM3 + / AM4
Socket Compatibility - Intel LGA775 / 1150/1151/1155/1156/1366/2011 / 2011-3 / 2066
What's in the box Cooler, fan, instructions, thermal paste
Cheapest offer (as of June 24.02.2018, XNUMX) from approx. 34 euros
Amazon (as of June 24.02.2018, XNUMX) from approx. 37 euros
Caseking (as of June 24.02.2018, XNUMX) -

The scope of delivery of the Thermalright candidate is more or less common. You won't find any tools, but all you need is a Phillips screwdriver, which the manufacturer requires as a typical home tool and therefore does not include it.

Thermal paste is also included in the scope of delivery, so that the buyer can finally assemble the cooler with the enclosures and put it into operation.

The dimensions and weights mentioned in the table are manufacturer specifications and also include the fan supplied.

Impressions

With the Thermalright hybrid cooler True Spirit 120 Direct, there are few special features to be noted. The four heat pipes are based on the small 6 mm standard, are made of copper and are nickel-plated. The aluminum fins of the cooler are not soldered, but fixed in a simple pressing process. All of this is standard food.

The direct in the name of the cooler indicates that the heat pipes on the bottom surface offer direct contact with the cooling surface - this is also the case here. In this case, the pipes were incorporated as part of the cooler base surface and ground flat, which should lead to better heat dissipation.

In order to enhance the look a bit, there is a black anodized cover plate on the top of the cooler - it is a color similar to the black fan, but does not offer any special feature as a unique selling point.

To decouple the fan from the heat sink, small rubber tubes are included in the scope of delivery. These are to be inserted into the existing recesses in the slats. The attachment is a bit tricky, and if you take the wrong approach, these spacer tubes tend to be lost. From our point of view, a clear minus in terms of assembly and processing. That could / should be solved more elegantly.

By the way: If you do not insert these tubes, the pressure on the clamps with which the cooler is to be attached is too low, and the fan attachment is wobbly.

Assembly

All in all, we attest the Thermalright cooler fixation a very good, problem-free installation, but with certain compromises in terms of comfort. The backplate must be provided separately with a protective film to exclude contact with mainboard components. The screws that have to be inserted through the holes in the backplate do not have a lock. Instead, there are rubber rings which, after being pushed through the mainboard opening, have to be pushed over the screws from the opposite side so that the screws do not slip out for further assembly.

The installation should therefore be possible at least with the main board removed or installed.

Then the spacer sleeves are screwed onto the inserted screws so that the backplate is finally correctly and securely in place. Then the locking frame for the cooler has to be put on and screwed tight in order to then tighten the cooler with two screws on the appropriate screw holes. The second assembly passage is therefore much more pleasant and well thought-out. The first part takes a little more effort.
In order to be able to decouple the fan from the heat sink and also to be able to achieve sufficient contact pressure via the clamp fastening, the plastic tubes included in the scope of delivery must be inserted into the appropriate recesses. But be careful, because these must definitely be inserted beyond the cooler so that the decoupling works and the tubes are firmly pressed by the fan and are not lost. Due to the fan implementation, the solution seems to us to be rather half-hearted, not very elegant and tricky to install.

A special feature is also the application of the thermal paste. The direct version (contact of the heatpipe tubes with the cooling surface of the CPU) results in grooves. Applying thermal paste as a blot method is less advisable in this case. Due to the existing grooves, the thermal paste is not pressed and displaced sufficiently on the heat spreader and is therefore not sufficiently distributed on the cooling surface. In the case of such a cooler design, one should rather use the credit card method for evenly thin distribution of the WLP.

Test results

Speed ​​behavior

Particular attention is paid to the speed behavior and thus the PWM control (pulse width modulation). For several years now, the CPU fan has been controlled by the mainboard, depending on the temperature in a "curve" programmed by the manufacturer. Depending on the design, the finally measured temperature or volume differ significantly. There is no specification from either Intel or AMD, so that every motherboard manufacturer can implement their own ideas, which is done diligently. Sometimes changes can only occur from one BIOS version to another, but at least from one model to another.

Many manufacturers have also integrated the option of adapting the PWM control to their own parameters. In this constellation, we typically only use two of the parameters: Fan control deactivated or activated. Some modern motherboards are currently no longer able to control 3-pin fans - this effort has been abandoned in favor of the common 4-pin fans.

The following table gives us an overview of the behavior of the test candidates consulted today (in alphabetical order):

System status: Idle Games (max.) Core2MaxPerf (video encoding) full load
Unit: RPM RPM RPM RPM
Alpenföhn Himalaya 364 1.146 1.151 1.150
Alpenföhn Matterhorn 529 1.536 1.550 1.558
Arctic Freezer i30 800 1.370 1.377 1.381
be quiet! Dark Rock Advanced 430 1.420 1.420 1.420
Enermax ETS-T40-TA 769 1.825 1.848 1.849
Noctua NH-U9S 563 2.150 2.150 2.150
Noctua NH-D9L 581 2.170 2.170 2.170
Noctua NH-U12S 348 1.325 1.402 1.418
Noctua NH-C14S 392 1.440 1.440 1.510
Noctua NH-U14S 405 1.290 1.460 1.448
Noctua NH-D15 425 1.370 1.500 1.500
NZXT Kraken X31 [lowest regulation] 720 720 720 720
NZXT Kraken X31 [PWM-controlled fan] 720 1.742 1.920 1.920
Phanteks PH-TC14PE 1.222 1.204 1.208 1.216
Prolimatech Super Mega 1.043 1.042 1.042 1.042
Raijintek Ereboss 946 1.414 1.420 1.420
Scythe Ashura 720 1.472 1.472 1.478
Scythe Grand Kama Cross 2 469 1.313 1.310 1.313
Scythe Mugen Max 520 1.352 1.345 1.374
Thermalright Macho 90 830 1.975 1.975 1.975
Thermalright True Spirit 140 Power 528 1.228 1.228 1.234
Thermalright True Spirit 120 Direct 624 1289 1289 1289
Thermaltake Frio Extreme 1.242 1.753 1.756 1.759
Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate 1.038 1.362 1.664 1.848
Xigmatek Dark Knight Frostbourne Edition 1.079 1.573 1.580 1.579

To determine the readout options of the main boards as well as an additional DT2L / K digital speedometer used by Voltcraft. The latter is used to compare the information provided by the monitoring software and as a control.

When looking at this table, we quickly see that after idle mode, hardly any of the representatives can handle different speeds in the load states that are still present. Our different modes in connection with the test platform and the preset CPU ensure that the maximum fan speed is required there in the majority of cases.

So whether under CPU-demanding games or video encoding or simulated full load: Most coolers need the full fan speed at this point after only 20 to 30 minutes of load.

Thermalright True Spirit 120 Direct

Thermalright names the minimum speeds as 600 RPM and the maximum as 1.300 RPM - in practice we also find that relatively exactly. The fluctuations are in the range of the usual deviations.

Temperature behavior

Idle - dormant desktop

Temperatures

Idle: Windows desktop

Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate

98%
Phanteks PH-TC14PE

100%
Scythe Mugen Max

102%
Scythe Ashura

104%
Prolimatech Super Mega

105%
NZXT Kraken X31
[lowest regulation]

106%
NZXT Kraken X31
[PWM controlled fan]

106%
Thermaltake Frio Extreme

106%
Xigmatek Dark Knight Frostbourne Edition

106%
Thermalright True Spirit 140 Power

107%
Enermax ETS-T40-TA

107%
Raijintek Ereboss

108%
Arctic Freezer i30 *

108%
Alpenföhn Matterhorn

108%
Thermalright Macho 90

110%
Thermalright True Spirit 120 Direct

111%
Noctua NH-D15
[2 fans]

112%
Scythe Grand Kama Cross 2

112%
Noctua NH-D15
[1 fans]

113%
Alpenföhn Himalaya

114%
Noctua NH-U14S

115%
Noctua NH-U12S

115%
be quiet! Dark Rock Advanced

116%
Noctua NH-C14S

118%
Noctua NH-U9S

121%
Noctua NH-D9L

124%
centigrade

As already indicated elsewhere, here again to clarify: It is basically completely the same whether the cooler cools the four CPU cores at an average of 23 or 30 ° C in idle mode. Far more interesting and important in this operating state is the background noise with which it works. After all, what use are the few degrees Celsius difference if the fan is constantly annoying at high volume?

The Thermalright cooler shows the absolutely correct means here by accepting a higher temperature, but then acting practically absolutely silent - in this operating state the True Spirit 120 Direct cannot be perceived from a closed housing.

Games - worst case

Temperatures

The Elder scrolls: Skyrim

Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate

95%
Phanteks PH-TC14PE

100%
NZXT Kraken X31
[PWM controlled fan]

102%
Noctua NH-D15
[2 fans]

103%
Noctua NH-U14S

104%
Thermaltake Frio Extreme

105%
Noctua NH-D15
[1 fans]

105%
Scythe Ashura

105%
Scythe Grand Kama Cross 2

105%
Enermax ETS-T40-TA

105%
Prolimatech Super Mega

105%
Noctua NH-C14S

107%
Scythe Mugen Max

107%
Thermalright True Spirit 140 Power

108%
Noctua NH-U12S

108%
Raijintek Ereboss

109%
Alpenföhn Himalaya

111%
Thermalright True Spirit 120 Direct

112%
Alpenföhn Matterhorn

113%
Xigmatek Dark Knight Frostbourne Edition

115%
be quiet! Dark Rock Advanced

116%
Thermalright Macho 90

117%
Noctua NH-U9S

119%
NZXT Kraken X31
[lowest regulation]

121%
Noctua NH-D9L

122%
Arctic Freezer i30 *

122%
centigrade

The fan control of the mainboard changes this behavior already in the first load state. Thermalright has to run up to maximum speed with the specified fan curve due to the temperatures of the CPU, shows a reasonable cooling behavior, but works clearly audible.

Video encoding simulated

Temperatures

Core2MaxPerf

Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate

64,9
Phanteks PH-TC14PE

67,0
Noctua NH-U14S

69,4
Noctua NH-D15
[2 fans]

69,9
NZXT Kraken X31
[PWM controlled fan]

70,2
Prolimatech Super Mega

70,4
Enermax ETS-T40-TA

70,6
Thermaltake Frio Extreme

70,7
Noctua NH-D15
[1 fans]

70,8
Scythe Ashura

70,8
Thermalright True Spirit 140 Power

71,3
Scythe Grand Kama Cross 2

71,7
Scythe Mugen Max

72,7
Noctua NH-C14S

72,9
Noctua NH-U12S

72,9
Alpenföhn Himalaya

74,3
Raijintek Ereboss

75,1
Thermalright True Spirit 120 Direct

75,1
Alpenföhn Matterhorn

75,6
Xigmatek Dark Knight Frostbourne Edition

77,7
be quiet! Dark Rock Advanced

78,8
Thermalright Macho 90

79,4
Noctua NH-U9S

82,4
Arctic Freezer i30 *

82,5
Noctua NH-D9L

83,0
NZXT Kraken X31
[lowest regulation]

83,2
centigrade

Since the fan speed does not change any more, the background noise of the Thermalright True Spirit 120 Direct remains identical, only the CPU temperatures vary due to the higher load on the four processor cores.

Full load - mathematical calculations

Temperatures

Simulated full load:

Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate

72,3
Noctua NH-D15
[2 fans]

76,3
NZXT Kraken X31
[PWM controlled fan]

79,0
Noctua NH-D15
[1 fans]

79,3
Thermalright True Spirit 140 Power

82,5
Phanteks PH-TC14PE

84,8
Scythe Mugen Max

85,9
be quiet! Dark Rock Advanced

87,0
Prolimatech Super Mega

87,8
Noctua NH-U14S

88,8
Scythe Grand Kama Cross 2

89,5
Scythe Ashura

89,8
Noctua NH-C14S

90,3
Raijintek Ereboss

91,0
Noctua NH-U12S

91,5
Thermaltake Frio Extreme

91,5
Enermax ETS-T40-TA

91,8
Thermalright True Spirit 120 Direct

92,0
NZXT Kraken X31
[lowest regulation]

92,8
Alpenföhn Himalaya

94,0
Alpenföhn Matterhorn

94,8
Thermalright Macho 90

94,8
Noctua NH-U9S

94,9
Noctua NH-D9L

95,3
Xigmatek Dark Knight Frostbourne Edition

95,5
Arctic Freezer i30 *

100,0
centigrade

In the last load test, the test candidate was asked to use its maximum cooling capacity. It copes with this at the edge of the limits with a CPU temperature of around 90 ° C, but manages it - like most candidates - without the CPU dropping its clock.

Background noise: sound pressure (dB (A))

Idle - dormant desktop

Volume (sound pressure - dB (A))

Idle: Windows desktop

Alpenföhn Himalaya

7,1
be quiet! Dark Rock Advanced

8,0
Thermalright True Spirit 140 Power

8,4
Noctua NH-U12S

8,6
Alpenföhn Matterhorn

8,9
Noctua NH-U14S

8,9
Noctua NH-D15
[1 fans]

9,0
Scythe Grand Kama Cross 2

9,1
Enermax ETS-T40-TA

9,2
Noctua NH-D9L

9,7
Noctua NH-C14S

9,7
Noctua NH-U9S

9,8
Arctic Freezer i30

10,1
Thermalright Macho 90

10,3
Noctua NH-D15
[2 fans]

10,8
Scythe Ashura

12,0
Thermalright True Spirit 120 Direct

12,1
Scythe Mugen Max

13,6
Raijintek Ereboss

14,3
NZXT Kraken X31
[lowest regulation]

15,8
NZXT Kraken X31
[PWM controlled fan]

15,8
Prolimatech Super Mega

17,4
Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate

17,5
Xigmatek Dark Knight Frostbourne Edition

19,8
Phanteks PH-TC14PE

21,4
Thermaltake Frio Extreme

27,7
dB (A)

We have to point out that reported values ​​below 9 or 10 dB (A) are clearly too much for our measuring system and significantly higher measuring tolerances can occur here. And yet the values ​​are a certain indication.

We would also like to note that all values ​​below 15 dB (A) - we call the standardized value at a distance of one meter - can be classified as absolutely quiet. In the majority of cases, a healthy, young, human ear hardly perceives such a value - it can no longer be perceived from a closed housing (based on the standard distance).

In the range between 15 and 20 dB (A) you are usually still in the audible segment, but these values ​​also represent a quiet operating behavior. You can speak of clearly perceptible background noise, which subjectively sometimes as loud and sometimes is classified as less loud. And so the around 21 dB (A) of the Phanteks fans are still pleasant, but the almost 28 dB (A) of the Thermaltake model can be classified as a clear source of noise in a quiet system.

Games - worst case

Volume (sound pressure - dB (A))

The Elder scrolls: Skyrim (Outdoor)

NZXT Kraken X31
[lowest regulation]

15,8
Prolimatech Super Mega

17,4
Thermalright True Spirit 140 Power

18,6
be quiet! Dark Rock Advanced

19,0
Arctic Freezer i30

20,0
Noctua NH-U14S

20,1
Noctua NH-U12S

20,5
Thermalright Macho 90

22,6
Thermalright True Spirit 120 Direct

23,1
NZXT Kraken X31
[PWM controlled fan]

23,5
Alpenföhn Himalaya

24,0
Raijintek Ereboss

24,0
Scythe Grand Kama Cross 2

26,5
Noctua NH-U9S

26,7
Enermax ETS-T40-TA

26,8
Noctua NH-D15
[1 fans]

26,8
Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate

27,4
Alpenföhn Matterhorn

28,0
Xigmatek Dark Knight Frostbourne Edition

28,2
Scythe Ashura

28,4
Noctua NH-C14S

28,9
Phanteks PH-TC14PE

29,1
Noctua NH-D15
[2 fans]

29,3
Noctua NH-D9L

29,3
Scythe Mugen Max

30,2
Thermaltake Frio Extreme

38,2
dB (A)

And now we come to the point of the evaluation at which the top cooler in the temperature range and equipped with two fans now also take the top positions in terms of volume - to be understood in a negative sense, of course.

In addition, we have representatives in the range between 25 and 30 dB (A). At this point we say “acceptable”, although in most cases the operating noise would be too loud for us to have our own inconspicuous computer, because it can be clearly identified from the system.

Thermalrights True Spirit 120 Direct has to work at full speed from this load. The manufacturer states that the combination of fan and cooler has a maximum sound pressure level of around 26 dB (A). Our measurement shows a slightly better picture. The combination reaches around 23 dB (A), which is still a reasonable value, a lot of which is lost in the closed case, but still remains perceptible.

Video encoding and full load

Volume (sound pressure - dB (A))

Core2MaxPerf

NZXT Kraken X31
[lowest regulation]

15,8
Prolimatech Super Mega

17,4
Thermalright True Spirit 140 Power

18,6
be quiet! Dark Rock Advanced

19,0
Arctic Freezer i30

20,0
Noctua NH-U12S

21,5
Thermalright Macho 90

22,6
Thermalright True Spirit 120 Direct

23,1
Alpenföhn Himalaya

24,0
Raijintek Ereboss

24,0
Noctua NH-U14S

24,3
Scythe Grand Kama Cross 2

26,5
Noctua NH-U9S

26,7
Enermax ETS-T40-TA

26,8
NZXT Kraken X31
[PWM controlled fan]

27,1
Alpenföhn Matterhorn

28,0
Xigmatek Dark Knight Frostbourne Edition

28,2
Noctua NH-D15
[1 fans]

28,3
Scythe Ashura

28,4
Noctua NH-C14S

28,9
Phanteks PH-TC14PE

29,1
Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate

29,2
Noctua NH-D9L

29,3
Scythe Mugen Max

30,2
Noctua NH-D15
[2 fans]

31,2
Thermaltake Frio Extreme

38,2
dB (A)

And so our comments made earlier remain.

Full load - mathematical calculations

Volume (sound pressure - dB (A))

Simulated full load:

NZXT Kraken X31
[lowest regulation]

15,8
Prolimatech Super Mega

17,4
Thermalright True Spirit 140 Power

18,6
be quiet! Dark Rock Advanced

19,0
Arctic Freezer i30

20,0
Noctua NH-U12S

21,5
Thermalright Macho 90

22,6
Thermalright True Spirit 120 Direct

23,1
Alpenföhn Himalaya

24,0
Raijintek Ereboss

24,0
Noctua NH-U14S

24,3
Scythe Grand Kama Cross 2

26,5
Noctua NH-U9S

26,7
Enermax ETS-T40-TA

26,8
NZXT Kraken X31
[PWM controlled fan]

27,1
Alpenföhn Matterhorn

28,0
Xigmatek Dark Knight Frostbourne Edition

28,2
Noctua NH-D15
[1 fans]

28,3
Scythe Ashura

28,4
Phanteks PH-TC14PE

29,1
Noctua NH-D9L

29,3
Noctua NH-C14S

29,6
Scythe Mugen Max

30,2
Noctua NH-D15
[2 fans]

31,2
Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate

33,3
Thermaltake Frio Extreme

38,2
dB (A)

And of course there are no changes to the previous comment in the last test either.

Background noise: Loudness (sone)

We present the sone considerations to complete our results. In doing so, sone would like to present a subjectively clearer value, which we cannot grasp either through spectral analyzes or other facts.

It may be interesting that the test candidates were reloaded for the first sone measurement years later, but their assessment of the loudness was completely different from years before. "Sone" crap! Jokes aside: sone is a quantification based on field trials with humans. An evaluation option was derived from this, which should come close to human perception. The evaluation schemes resulting from such an approach are always subject to a certain change as a function of time. Translated: The aging of people naturally also contributes to the fact that noises are perceived in a different form, perhaps as quieter, perhaps as louder, and so the previous inventory of these people has its corners.

Nevertheless, sone remains a value that is gladly seen today, and that's why we show it too.

Idle - dormant desktop

Volume (loudness - sone)

Idle: Windows desktop

Alpenföhn Himalaya

0,4
be quiet! Dark Rock Advanced

0,5
Thermalright True Spirit 140 Power

0,5
Noctua NH-U12S

0,5
Noctua NH-D15
[1 fans]

0,5
Enermax ETS-T40-TA

0,6
Alpenföhn Matterhorn

0,6
Noctua NH-U14S

0,6
Noctua NH-U9S

0,6
Noctua NH-C14S

0,6
Scythe Grand Kama Cross 2

0,6
Noctua NH-D9L

0,6
Arctic Freezer i30

0,6
Noctua NH-D15
[2 fans]

0,6
Thermalright Macho 90

0,7
Scythe Ashura

0,8
Thermalright True Spirit 120 Direct

0,8
Raijintek Ereboss

0,8
Scythe Mugen Max

0,9
NZXT Kraken X31
[lowest regulation]

1,0
NZXT Kraken X31
[PWM controlled fan]

1,0
Prolimatech Super Mega

1,1
Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate

1,2
Xigmatek Dark Knight Frostbourne Edition

1,3
Phanteks PH-TC14PE

1,6
Thermaltake Frio Extreme

2,6
sonnet

Games - worst case

Volume (loudness - sone)

The Elder scrolls: Skyrim (Outdoor)

NZXT Kraken X31
[lowest regulation]

77%
Prolimatech Super Mega

85%
be quiet! Dark Rock Advanced

100%
Thermalright True Spirit 140 Power

100%
Arctic Freezer i30

108%
Noctua NH-U14S

108%
Noctua NH-U12S

115%
Thermalright True Spirit 120 Direct

131%
Thermalright Macho 90

131%
Raijintek Ereboss

138%
Alpenföhn Himalaya

138%
NZXT Kraken X31
[PWM controlled fan]

146%
Noctua NH-D15
[1 fans]

177%
Enermax ETS-T40-TA

177%
Scythe Grand Kama Cross 2

177%
Noctua NH-U9S

185%
Alpenföhn Matterhorn

192%
Xigmatek Dark Knight Frostbourne Edition

192%
Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate

192%
Noctua NH-D15
[2 fans]

200%
Phanteks PH-TC14PE

200%
Scythe Ashura

215%
Noctua NH-C14S

223%
Scythe Mugen Max

223%
Noctua NH-D9L

231%
Thermaltake Frio Extreme

354%
sonnet

Video encoding and full load

Volume (loudness - sone)

Core2MaxPerf

NZXT Kraken X31
[lowest regulation]

1,0
Prolimatech Super Mega

1,1
be quiet! Dark Rock Advanced

1,3
Thermalright True Spirit 140 Power

1,3
Arctic Freezer i30

1,4
Noctua NH-U12S

1,7
Thermalright True Spirit 120 Direct

1,7
Thermalright Macho 90

1,7
Raijintek Ereboss

1,8
Alpenföhn Himalaya

1,8
Noctua NH-U14S

2,0
Enermax ETS-T40-TA

2,3
Scythe Grand Kama Cross 2

2,3
NZXT Kraken X31
[PWM controlled fan]

2,4
Noctua NH-U9S

2,4
Alpenföhn Matterhorn

2,5
Xigmatek Dark Knight Frostbourne Edition

2,5
Noctua NH-D15
[1 fans]

2,5
Phanteks PH-TC14PE

2,6
Scythe Ashura

2,8
Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate

2,9
Noctua NH-C14S

2,9
Scythe Mugen Max

2,9
Noctua NH-D9L

3,0
Noctua NH-D15
[2 fans]

3,1
Thermaltake Frio Extreme

4,6
sonnet

Full load - mathematical calculations

Volume (loudness - sone)

Simulated full load:

NZXT Kraken X31
[lowest regulation]

1,0
Prolimatech Super Mega

1,1
be quiet! Dark Rock Advanced

1,3
Thermalright True Spirit 140 Power

1,3
Arctic Freezer i30

1,4
Noctua NH-U12S

1,7
Thermalright True Spirit 120 Direct

1,7
Thermalright Macho 90

1,7
Raijintek Ereboss

1,8
Alpenföhn Himalaya

1,8
Noctua NH-U14S

2,0
Enermax ETS-T40-TA

2,3
Scythe Grand Kama Cross 2

2,3
NZXT Kraken X31
[PWM controlled fan]

2,4
Noctua NH-U9S

2,4
Alpenföhn Matterhorn

2,5
Xigmatek Dark Knight Frostbourne Edition

2,5
Noctua NH-D15
[1 fans]

2,5
Phanteks PH-TC14PE

2,6
Scythe Ashura

2,8
Scythe Mugen Max

2,9
Noctua NH-D9L

3,0
Noctua NH-D15
[2 fans]

3,1
Noctua NH-C14S

3,1
Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate

3,8
Thermaltake Frio Extreme

4,6
sonnet

Summary

Test scoring Thermalright True Spirit 120 Direct
What's in the box +
Documentation +
compatibility ++
Assembly +
application +
cooling capacity o
Volume idle ++
Volume load games +
Volume load video encoding +
Volume full load LinX +
Price +

Evaluation options: ++ [very good] / + [good] / o [satisfactory] / - [very bad] / - [bad]

Caseking: - Amazon: around 38 euros Manufacturer product page

With the True Spirit 120 Direct, Thermalright presents all in all a perfectly round product with a few rough edges during assembly and the qualitative implementation of details in the fan decoupling.

In the meantime, these points are certainly due to the competition and the price war. For example, you could take a look at Noctua, but you would then have to drift into completely different price regions. So that no longer seems to be the manufacturer's target group.

Thus it remains at a very attractive price of less than 40 euros for a product that tries to score points with its low weight and dimensions, but good cooling performance for processors up to 160 watts in connection with quiet to pleasant behavior in the background noise. The True Spirit 120 Direct manages all of this, as our test shows.

If you have to work in confined spaces and have not overclocked your processor to the last bit, you should definitely take the Thermalright cooler into your shortlist.

[pg], February 25, 2018

About David Maul

David Maul is a qualified business IT specialist with a passion for hardware