If geeks love it, we’re on it

Thermalright XP-120 Heatsink

Thermalright XP-120 Heatsink


Several months ago, Thermalright’s SP-94 was toppled from its position as the best Pentium 4-compatible air cooling solution on the market by the latest crop of “tower” style heatsinks, such as the Coolermaster Hyper 6 and the Aerocool HT-101. These heatsinks managed to outperform the SP-94 by virtue of their far greater surface area and the use of up to six heatpipes to distribute heat across that surface area as rapidly as possible. However, Thermalright has come back with a vengeance. Their latest heatsink, the XP-120, is truly unique. But, how does it perform?

xp-120_profile

Materials: Copper and aluminum, possibly nickel
Construction: (nickel?) plated copper base, soldered aluminum fins
Dimensions: approximately 125x130x63mm
Weight: 370g without fan
Compatibility: Socket 478

xp-120

Due to the fact that much of the XP-120 is aluminum, it actually weighs less than the Intel retail heatsink and fan. Even after adding a 120x25mm fan, the XP-120 weighs only around 100g more than the Intel solution. Although it uses the stock Pentium 4 heatsink retention mechanism, it is actually quite securely mounted.

The XP-120’s large size does pose one major problem: it isn’t compatible with all Pentium 4 motherboards. I found this out the hard way, when I discovered that the XP-120 would not fit on my DFI LANParty Pro875B motherboard. I then tried it on my ABIT IC7-G Max II Advance, only to find that it did not fit on there, either. I took the heatsink to a local computer store and test fitted it on all of the Pentium 4 motherboards they had on display. Here is a (far from complete) compatibility list:

Motherboard
Compatible?
Notes
ASUS P4SGX-MX
Yes
ABIT AI7
No
Northbridge heatsink in the way on one side, capacitors on the other
ABIT IC7-G Max II Advance
No
Northbridge heatsink in the way on one side, capacitors on the other
ABIT IS7
Yes
ABIT SG-72
Yes
ABIT VI7
Yes
You will loose the use of the DIMM slot closest to the CPU socket
Albatron PX865 Pro
Probably
The display board was missing the northbridge heatsink
ASUS P4P800-E Deluxe
Yes
DFI LANParty Pro875B
No
Northbridge heatsink in the way on one side, capacitors and heatsinks on the other
DFI PS83-VBL
Yes
You will loose the use of the DIMM slot closest to the CPU socket
ECS 648FX-A
Yes
ECS 848P-A
Yes
ECS L4VXA2
Yes
FIC VL13PE
Yes
Intel 865PERLL
Yes
Intel D845EPIL
Yes
Matsonic MS9087C
No
MSI 865PE NEO2-PLS
Yes
MSI PT880-LSR
Yes
PC Chips M950
Probably
The display board was missing the northbridge heatsink
PC Chips M952
Yes
PC Chips T12
Yes
Shuttle AB60N
Probably
Some fins on the display board’s northbridge heatsink were bent, but the heatsink is short enough that it should still clear the XP-120 without a problem
Soyo Dragon 2
Probably
The display board was missing the northbridge heatsink
Soyo SY-P4VTP
No
Northbridge heatsink in the way on one side, capacitors on the other

Although the heatsink is well built, as is typical of Thermalright, its base left much to be desired. While it was significantly smoother than the bases of previous Thermalright products, machining marks were still visible. These were also easily felt by dragging a fingernail across the heatsink’s base.

xp-120_base

The base was also somewhat concave, however this apparently didn’t impact performance to a great degree (load temperatures dropped only 1-2 degrees Celsius after lapping it on a granite surface plate calibrated to +/- 0.0001″) but I expect a better quality base than this on a $50 heatsink.

xp-120_lapped

Test Setup

The heatsinks were tested on a system with the following specifications:

  • Motherboard ASUS P4P800-E Deluxe
  • CPU 2.8GHz Pentium 4 “E”, Prescott core, HT enabled
  • Chipset Intel 865PE
  • RAM 2 512MB sticks of generic DDR400, 1GB total
  • Video ATI Radeon 8500 64MB DDR with a 1u CPU HSF on it
  • Hard Drives 80GB Western Digital SE 800JB 7200RPM/8MB/ATA-100
  • 80GB Maxtor DiamondMax 9 7200RPM/8MB/ATA-133
  • Power Supply 550w Enermax EG-651P-VE
  • Operating System Windows XP Professional
  • Test Software Motherboard Monitor 5
  • Folding @ Home

Heatsinks

  • Intel 2.8EGHz Retail HSF
  • Thermaltake Spark 5+
  • Thermalright XP-120

Fans

  • Intel stock fan
  • Thermaltake stock fan
  • 120mm Vantec Stealth (53cfm)
  • 120mm Thermaltake SmartFan Blue model A2018 (93.7cfm)
  • 120mm Y.S. Tech (approximately 130cfm)
  • Thermal Compound Arctic Silver 5
xp-120_installed1

xp-120_installed2

xp-120_installed3

The system was assembled outside of a case on top of my desk. It was booted and allowed to idle for approximately 15 minutes. Two instances of Folding @ Home were then started and allowed to run for approximately 15 minutes more. Folding @ Home was then closed, the system idled for another 5 minutes to cool down, and then the heatsink and/or fan was changed. Between each heatsink swap, a fresh layer of Arctic Silver 5 was applied. The room temperature was maintained at 70 degrees Fareneheit (21 degrees Celsius) throughout the testing.

Test Results

xp-120_graph

Temperature (Celsius)
Heatsink
CPU Low
CPU High
Case Low
Case High
Intel Retail
36
52
26
32
Thermaltake Spark 5+
32
45
25
30
Thermalright XP-120, Vantec Stealth (53cfm)
33
44
24
31
Thermalright XP-120, YSTech (~130cfm)
32
41
28
31
Thermalright XP-120, Thermaltake SmartFan (93.7cfm)
32
41
28
31

It’s clear that the XP-120 is really in a class by itself in terms of performance. 41 degrees Celsius under full load with a near-90w heat load is truly incredible for air cooling. What is interesting is that the performance did not improve by going from 94cfm to 130cfm. The limiting factor seems to be getting the heat into the heatsink; the XP-120 didn’t get any warmer than room temperature to the touch with either of the two higher flow fans, and even with the Stealth fan, only the heatpipes got very mildly warm.

One beneficial side effect of the XP-120’s design is that on many motherboards it will cool the power circuitry for the CPU as well as the CPU itself. In the case of the P4P800 that I tested it on, the XP-120 dropped the power circuitry temperature by an average of 10 degrees Celsius under full load.

Conclusions

Thermalright’s XP-120 is an outstanding heatsink—easily the best performing heatsink that I have ever used—but that performance comes at a price: it may not fit your motherboard of choice. Beyond that, although it did not impact performance in any significant way, I don’t appreciate a $50 heatsink having a poorer quality base than many of the $20 heatsinks I’ve used.

The bottom line is that the XP-120 is an outstanding heatsink for both silent computing enthusiasts and overclockers. Even with the nearly silent Vantec Stealth on it, the XP-120 is easily powerful enough for very serious overclocking, and in fact, going to much higher airflow (and much noisier) fans netted almost no performance increase.

Assuming that it fits on your motherboard, the Thermalright XP-120 is the best heatsink on the market. Highly recommended.

Highs

  • Very good peformance
  • Good for overclocking
  • Quiet (by choice of fan)

Lows

  • BIG
  • Does not fit all motherboards

Scores Breakdown
Attribute Score Comments
Design & layout 7.5 The build quality is excellent, but a $50 heatsink should have a better base. Fits most motherboards, but not all.
Performance & stability 10 The best heatsink this reviewer has tested to date, bar none
Price / value 10 $50 for peace and quiet, along with the most overclocking headroom you’ll find in the world of air cooling, is a great deal
Total score 27.5/30 91.7%

Comments

  1. fatcat
    fatcat thermaltake or thermalright...im so confused ;D

    nice article and get some sleep mm :thumbsup:
  2. MediaMan
    MediaMan Actually...It's Geeky1's article. And be damned if I can find that monster for sale anywhere...it's HUGE! Geeky1 must have the prototype "snap off your socket" version.

    :thumbsup:
  3. Thrax
    Thrax 410C? 1-20C?

    Methinks you need to fix your degree marks, guys.
  4. MediaMan
    MediaMan Title revised to THERMALRIGHT...waiting for site to catch up and update itself.
  5. Geeky1
    Geeky1 So I send keebs and mediaman this review. I give the correct heatsink manufacturer-Thermalright-repeatedly, AND I have working degree symbols. Leave these two yutzes with it for a couple of days and they break my degree symbols and decide to announce a new heatsink called the Thermaltake XP-120. And this is S-M's editorial "dream team"? :rolleyes: :D

    Seriously though, mistakes happen, mediaman and keebs are both busy, and I can't fault them for it. I've gotten Thermaltake and Thermalright mixed up before myself (but this time it wasn't me!! :D). It's fixed, so no worries. :)
  6. JChretien
    JChretien I demand that this be fitted to a 6800 or x800 next! =D
  7. Geeky1
    Geeky1 I might consider it, but I suspect that it wouldn't work too well. The heatpipes probably wouldn't like being inverted.
  8. primesuspect
    primesuspect Geeky1, that is a great review. Very thorough.... good work :)
  9. Unregistered
    Unregistered Good review, however, you didn't test one of the most important motherboards. IC7-MAX3. DOH!
  10. Thrax
    Thrax
    Good review, however, you didn't test one of the most important motherboards. IC7-MAX3. DOH!

    Thermalright didn't. The compatability listing is direct from them.
  11. Geeky1
    Geeky1 No, it's not thrax. I did the testing myself.

    Unregistered: If they'd had any on display, I would have. However, I would NOT bet money on it fitting. It doesn't fit on the Max II, and the III is almost the same, but with some ducting over the power circuitry. At least that's what it looks like to me. And in that case, it almost certainly will NOT fit.
  12. Omega65
    Omega65 nice review Geeky1! Thermalright is also claiming Athlon 64 compatibility for the XP-120!

    The XP-120 is on sale at FrozenCPU and The Heatsink Factory
  13. Geeky1
    Geeky1 It's not compatible with the one I got. I only got the P4 clips. :-/
  14. Unregistered
    Unregistered It does fit on the IC7-G , I have it currently installed in my system. Very slight cap. bending, but it fit nicely.
  15. Unregistered
    Unregistered "The build quality is excellent, but a $50 heatsink should have a better base. Fits most motherboards, but not all."
    Better base????
    It`s cooper nickel plated...only a pure silver base it`s better than that.
  16. Unregistered
    Unregistered Awesome heatsink. 2.8ghz prescott oc'ed to 3.6 with this best and a 120mm fan!!
  17. Leonardo
    Leonardo Will it fit an Abit IC7 (non-'G') board? I'd love to have that power, with it's low noise.

Howdy, Stranger!

You found the friendliest gaming & tech geeks around. Say hello!