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Thread: Thermalright True Spirit 120 Direct

  1. #1
    Xtreme Reviewer
    Join Date
    Apr 2011

    Thermalright True Spirit 120 Direct


    Since their establishment in 2001, Thermalright has made quite the name for themselves in the professional computer cooling solutions industry. In the near 15 years they've been around, Thermalright have brought innovation to the industry and have helped revolutionize the products in which we use to help us keep our precious computing hardware cool. From copper heatsinks, to the inclusion of heat pipes, all the way up to using 120mm fans on CPU coolers, Thermalright has been leading the industry and if they weren't the first to do something, you can bet they did their part to help improve it in some way or another.Today on our test bench we have their latest offering called the True Spirit 120 Direct a CPU cooler aimed at mid-end users who are simply not willing to pay much for cooling.

    Utilizing a thin single-tower design with a 120 PWM fan, its relative lack of weight, coming in at just 360g, and rated TDP of 160W has me intrigued.Let's take a closer look without any further delay.

    Packaging & Contents

    Thermalright's True Spirit 120 Direct comes in a relative small box.The front displays a large image of the cooler complete with fan.The top of the box is just a black with "True Spirit 120 Direct " prominently displayed.

    The rear of the box displays the specifications of the heatsink and 120mm fan along with regulatory marks.

    Moving on, the left side again has a glossy color image of cooler, but this time, it prominently shows the heatpipe direct-touch base.

    The other side of the box is filled with diagrams emphasising the benefits and features of the cooler.

    While the box may be a bit small, Thermalright did go above and beyond most manufacturers by putting soft foam on two sides of the cooler.It certainly is nice to see the True Spirit 120 Direct so well protected.

    In a thin compartment, you will find a sealed bag of hardware.We do get a universal backplate for AMD and Intel sockets.To the right is the top mounting ring, and along with some other bits.The mounting ring will allow the cooler to be mounted in place.We see a set of four standard standoffs with nylon washers under them to lock the backplate to the motherboard.There is a set of four to use specifically with LGA2011 mounting.There are srews to pass through the motherboard.There are also top bracket and cross bracket mounting screws.We see the fan isolation pads prior to peeling them off and sticking them to the fins.We see an LGA775 preload spacer, and also two sets of four white spacers(the smaller set is for Intel use, and the larger set is for AMD installations).In addition, the cooler is equipped with mounting material for the new AMD AM4 Ryzen processors and can be mounted on the new Intel LGA 2066 processors.We get two pair of fan clips, and a packet of Chill Factor thermal paste.An illustrated manual is included.

    A Closer Look

    My initial impressions pulling the cooler out of the box were that the materials used here are quite nice and feel solid.The design is typical for a single-tower cooler.

    The True Spirit 120 Direct is even more compact than the True Spirit 120 M BW Rev. A and fits in just about any housing with an installation height of just 141 mm. Due to its low overall height, the cooler is ideally suited for compact Micro-ATX or Mini ITX systems in narrow PC cases.With the fan installed, this is a very nice looking and basic cooler.

    Flipping it to a side profile, you will see just how slim this cooler is!

    The top plate has a black finish, which looks nice with the Thermalright logo cut out.

    It adds a bit of flair while remaining classy and neutral in terms of color scheme.If you pay attention to the corners on the top, you'll notice a cutout in the tower.These are the positions for the rubber tubes to be installed. What are the rubber tubes for, you ask? They are utilized for anti-vibration / noise dampening and also end up lifting the fan a little bit off of the cooling tower.

    With the rubber tubes installed, this is what it looks like.

    Quite frankly, these are not too difficult to install for me, but someone with big hands will absolutely throw a fit trying to install them. I would have liked to see these omitted and the fan have an anti-vibration system integrated instead.

    The True Spirit 120 Direct is comprised of aluminum fins which are fed heat from the base via four heatpipes.

    The heatpipes are configured in a traditional U-shape and make direct contact with the CPU-integrated heatspreader.Utilizing direct contact heatpipes allows for superior cooling versus having to touch a copper base and then dissipate into the heatpipe.

    The gaps, however, are quite pronounced and will likely take more thermal paste than normal to properly fill.

    A high-quality 120 mm fan, which is controlled by the PWM signal via the mainboard automatically and steplessly and regulates the fan speed from 600 - 1,300 rpm (+/- 15%), is included in the delivery.The fan covers the heat sink almost completely, thus enabling efficient heat dissipation.

    Installation Process

    Installing Thermalright True Spirit 120 Direct is easy and this is an area which it has a significant advantage over other offerings.The installation procedure for the Thermalright True Spirit 120 Direct is fairly straight forward, though it will require motherboard removal for cases that do not feature a hole in the CPU tray. Although the process is fairly simple, the instructions guide is something that some may reference to in order to double check the correct method is carried out.First, i installed the provided back plate and secured it in place to my motherboard.

    There are four double sided bolts bundled with Thermalright True Spirit 120 Direct, these are screwed into the mounting holes on the socket. Soon after this is done the brackets need to be placed on top of these bolts to have the cooler in the traditional orientation so that the heatsink/fans are facing the rear exhaust fan inside a computer chassis the brackets should be placed in a horizontal fashion with the brackets bending outwards, not inwards. Next simply apply the thumbscrews to secure these brackets down, using a screwdriver to completely tighten. After this, all that needs to be done is apply thermal paste, place the cooler on the CPU and screw down.

    Place the Heatsink Body on top of the CPU.Make the Mounting Plate go through the Heatsink Body.Then use the a Screw Driver to fasten the two Screws to Secure the Mounting Plate.After placing the pads mounting the fan is extremely easy. It really is as simple as that.

    Installed - Memory Clearance

    Even with large heatshink rams installed there's still plenty of clearance between the rams and the fan.Mission accomplished.

    Test System & Methology

    Test System:

    Cpu:Intel Core i7-4770K
    Motherboard:ASUS Maximus VI Gene Z87
    Memory: 16GB Mushkin
    Graphics Card: Sapphire HD 6970
    Power Supply: Antec HCG 750W
    Boot Drive: Ocz Vector
    Storage Drive: 3TB Seagate Barracuda
    Boot Drive: Ocz Vector
    Chassis: Dimastech Bench Table Easy V2.5


    CPUID HW Monitor 1.23
    CPUID CPU-Z 1.65

    I am testing the performance as follows:

    AIDA64 is run for 10 minutes and then the average maximum temperatures as recorded by CPUID HWMonitor are noted.The average temperature across the four cores is taken on our quad core processor.FPU-only load average is used to simulate worst case scenario load levels similar to Intel Burn Test or OCCT. Please keep in mind that this test is brutal and not even close to real-world load (especially not that constant for that amount of time), so not many CPU coolers are expected to pass this test but the ones that do are exceptional. Delta temperatures are always used (Observed temperature minus ambient temperature) and i keep the ambient at 22 (+/- 1) degrees for all testing.Delta temperatures should correct for any marginal ambient differences between 21-23 degrees.Acoustic measurements are taken 10cm horizontally away from the CPU cooler with the VGA fan disabled,hard drive in idle and power supply isolated. These are taken at desktop idle and AIDA64 load.The cooling performance tests are run at overclocked 4.2GHz (1.2v) settings.Voltages are fixed to prevent inaccuracy between comparisons.All other coolers in the graphs have been tested under identical settings so are fully comparable.Each test is repeated 3 times with 3 remounts for consistency of results


    At idle, The Thermalright True Spirit 120 Direct performs well, which is to be expected as the only way to fail an idle test is for the cooler not to make any contact with the CPU.At stock and with the CPU overclocked, the True Spirit 120 Direct is doing its job. As there are no issues to report on here, it is now time to move on to load testing!

    While Thermalright's True Spirit 120 Direct isn't a top performer during the AIDA64 test, its performance is, again, solid.In FPU test, the True Spirit 120 Direct comes in toward the back of the pack.

    Noise Level

    The quietest cooler at 25% and 100% PWM


    The True Spirit 120 Direct from Thermalright was a pleasant surprise as it offered stellar cooling performance for its size.Cooling performance is key, but Thermalright's cooler managed to surprise again as it is also the quietest cooler at both 25% and 100% PWM.With solid performance and noise output, it is also well constructed and easy to install. Not only that, but like its larger sibling, the True Spirit 140 Direct, the True Spirit 120 Direct also offers perfect memory clearance. You can even mount a second fan for further performance improvements as Thermalright includes an extra set of fan clips.

    Considering that this cooler costs less than 34€, the overall design of the cooler makes the pricing appear too good to be true.Overall, there's a great deal to like about this small tower cooler.With perfect memory clearance, solid performance, and low noise levels, the Thermalright True Spirit 120 Direct is the mainstream cooler to beat.

    Last edited by testman78; 02-05-2018 at 11:39 PM.



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