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Thread: Thermalright True Spirit 90 Direct

  1. #1
    Xtreme Reviewer
    Join Date
    Apr 2011

    Thermalright True Spirit 90 Direct


    Somewhere along the line, heatsink manufacturers decided to toss volumetric size restrictions out the window. Consumers now frequently fawn over utterly gigantic CPU coolers that are quiet and cool extremely well, but don't really fit inside anything less than an E-ATX case. The other half of the problem with big heatsinks is that motherboard makers only have so much wiggle room with respect to where they can locate the CPU socket and memory slots. Sooner or later, these three volumetric spaces overlap and the headaches start... I'm sure many of you have faced the situation where a new heatsink forces you to sacrifice half the memory slots or downgrade to IGP graphics just to get the computer up and running! Thermalright has responded to the siren call for a more compact CPU cooler with its True Spirit 90 Direct heatsink. The True Spirit 90 Direct is even more compact than the True Spirit 90 M and fits in just about any housing with an installation height of just 122 mm. Due to its low overall height, the cooler is ideally suited for compact Mini ITX systems in narrow PC cases. It claims this mid-size cooler has "100% RAM compatibility" and "100% compatibility with PCIe cards on miniITX" motherboards. That's relatively easy to accomplish by sticking to the Intel/AMD thermal design guidelines, but how much thermal performance is sacrificed?


    Packaging & Contents

    Thermalright's True Spirit 90 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 90 Direct " prominently displayed.

    The rear of the box displays the specifications of the heatsink and 90mm 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 90 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 90 Direct is even more compact than the True Spirit 90M and fits in just about any housing with an installation height of just 122 mm. Due to its low overall height, the cooler is ideally suited for compact Mini ITX systems in narrow PC cases.With the fan installed, this is a very nice looking and basic cooler. The fan covers the heat sink almost completely, thus enabling efficient heat dissipation.

    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.

    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 90 Direct is comprised of aluminum fins which are fed heat from the base via three 6mm 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.

    Here is the 90 mm fan, which is controlled by the PWM signal via the mainboard automatically and steplessly and regulates the fan speed from 800-2,000 rpm (+/- 15%)

    Installation Process

    Installing Thermalright True Spirit 90 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 90 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 90 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. 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.


    The Thermalright True Spirit 90 Direct is performing really good considering its small size.

    These results once again are quite impressive considering we are talking about an air cooler with nothing but a 90mm fan on it. With an average of 43.7 Delta it is pretty warm but very stable as you can see. This goes a long way into showing the quality of product we are dealing with here.

    Noise Level

    For a small cooler with a 90mm fan, as opposed to the 120mm fans usually found on CPU coolers, the noise levels are super.


    When we look at the broad picture, Thermalright seems to know CPU cooling well, both big and small. The True Spirit 90 Direct is again a similar story, demonstrating excellent build quality and aesthetics. All of the design choices were optimized for a low noise and mid-performance balance, and it shows in our tests. As for performance, much like the ukulele, the True Spirit 90 Direct is very capable when considering its size, and performs on par with what we expect. We never expected it to perform close to its larger sized heatsinks, but these numbers from our performance tests are still quite good. It is also more capable than the Intel stock cooler, and keeps your processor cool where it otherwise would be fried. The 90 mm fan fitted to the True Spirit 90 Direct is also superb, and provide cooling without sacrificing the quietness. Under load, you will hear the whirring a bit more, but during everyday use, the 90 mm fan spins quietly in the background. Installation is again very easy and this is, without a doubt, one of the best mounting system implementations out on the market at this time. All of these positives make the True Spirit 90 Direct again excellent for HTPCs and other compact systems, which are limited in their height space.

    When it comes to the value there are a lot of things to consider, the overall performance, design and all of that fun stuff which is all on point. The price (€24) for the cooler falls right into place for what it is and what it has to offer. If you are in the market for a cooler and are not looking for a massive monstrosity than the Thermalright True Spirit 90 Direct is a good all-around option: mid-performance, design and value are all words that can be associated with it.

    Last edited by testman78; 09-25-2019 at 06:42 AM.

  2. #2
    Xtreme Cruncher
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Rhode Island
    At 122mm installed, it might just fit in my particularly narrow case. Thanks for the review!
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