Thermalright XP-120 K8/P4 CPU Cooler Review

Admin - 2007-02-19 17:41:36 in CPU Cooling
Category: CPU Cooling
Reviewed by: Admin   
Reviewed on: September 28, 2004
Thermalright
Jabtech
Price: $47.95
Introduction
We don't review many heat sinks anymore, unless we think it's something very special. Today, we're going to take a look at Thermalright's new XP-120 heat sink which we believe will fall under the "special" category. The XP-120 is what Thermalright calls "Heavy-Weight performance in a feather-weight package" which seems to accurately describe this cooler. To give you an idea of how massive this heat sink really is, the XP-120 utilizes a 120mm fan!

The XP-120 is an aluminum heat sink with six heatpipes and has a nickel plated high purity copper base. The XP-120 was designed for performance but also for quiet cooling. We're going to put the XP-120 up against our Alpha PAL 8150, a heat sink that is sure to put the XP-120 to the test!


About Thermalright
"Thermalright specializes in the design and manufacture of a wide array of cooling systems and modules for the information communication technology (ICT) industries. Our CPU cooler line of products is designed with a diverse group of end users in mind; as such, our products are suitable in a variety of distribution channels. Thermalright employees the top-notch designers and uses advance testing equipment and process that meet the stringent testing specifications of Intel and AMD. Our people and our process are ISO-9000 certified. We work only with the leading component vendors of the world to ensure the best quality to our customers."


Specifications
Dimension 100x125x63mm (without fan)
Weight 370g (without fan)
Material Aluminum & Nickel Plated Copper Base



Features
In-Depth Look


The heat sink came in a plain cardboard box with Thermalright's logo stamped on it. Inside the box, I found the heat sink protected by styrofoam cut to the shape of the heatsink. I inspected the heat sink carefully and found no shipping damage.



Packaged in the box, I also found the following:
  • (2) Screws
  • (2) Pieces of Rubber
  • (2) Fan Clips
  • Black Socket
  • Instructions
  • Thermal Paste


There is currently two versions of the XP-120, one that will fit both P4 and K8 CPU's and other that just fits P4's. The K8 package will come with a custom bracket that will allow you to use a K8 setup.

 

Despite the fact that the XP-120 is so massive, it actually doesn't weigh all that much since it's made mostly from aluminum. The XP-120 consists of 52 aluminum fins with total of 5 heat pipes, two on each side and one in the center. Thermalright has been successful with heatpipes on their other CPU coolers and I would expect the XP-120 to be no exception. For those of you that don't know what a heatpipe is or how it works, I'm going to attempt to explain it.

1. The pipe itself is actually a hollow tube that contains a special fluid. When the fluid becomes in contact with the CPU core, it heats up and that fluid turns in to a gas.
2. Once heated, the gas flows to the opposite side of the heatpipe (to the cooling area of the heatsink).
3. After the gas has been cooled by the heatsink/fan, the gas will again become a liquid and flow back to the hot side of the heatpipe (where the CPU core is).



The bottom of the XP-120 was not lapped well like you would expect from a $50 heatsink.. I think Thermalright could have invested more time in to the lapping process, to achieve a smoother and shinier end result.

Instead of using a four bolt design like some K8 CPU's use, the XP-120 uses regular clips that we are all so familiar with. This could become a problem when installing the heatsink, since the heatsink is so large it may be difficult to clip it to your CPU socket. We will take a closer look at that during the installation process.
Installation



Before we actually install the XP-120 we must first add two rubbers strips on top of the heatsink where the 120mm fan will sit. This helps keep the fan in place on the heatsink and will also prevent fan vibration for quieter cooling. You can also see the clips that I installed on top of the heatsink, which will aid in keeping the fan securely fastened.



Next, we're going to install the provided socket on our motherboard with the provided screws. Your motherboard may already have a black rention bracket installed and if this is the case, you should remove the old one and replace it with this one. If you do not already have a rention bracket on your motherboard, there is a good chance you don't have a "back plate" on the back of your motherboard. The back plate is simply a piece of metal with screw holes on them so that you can mount the rention bracket to it from the other side.

Once I applied thermal paste to my CPU, I proceeded to install the heatsink on my CPU. The XP-120 was so large and so difficult to install, I had to slide my motherboard out of my case. Even then, I had a very hard time trying to install the massive heatsink. One problem I quickly came across was the capacitors on my motherboard being in the way of the heatpipes on the heatsink. I had to slightly bend all of my capacitors out of the way so the heatsink would clear them. I thought I was home free after that, but that was only the beginning. I had removed my memory from the motherboard so that I could get a screwdriver on the clips to clip them in to the socket. Using your fingers was out of the question, unless you have some very small fingers to get in there. I found that even using a screwdriver it was hard, considering you don't have much room for leverage. After about 10 minutes, I finally got the clips secured on the socket. As I proceeded to install my memory, I found that the heatsink was covering my DIMM slot. I did manage to get the memory installed, but the heatsink was pushing the memory to the side at an awful angle. I could not simply use the other DIMM slot, because this motherboard is picky about the memory configuration and would only see one of the memory sticks.

After the hair pulling installation, one can only hope that the performance of this monster is out of this world!


Compatibility
The XP-120 has a lot of compatibility issues, obviously because of it's massive size. On some motherboards you may have to tilt capacitors to the side, move your memory to another slot, install chipset cooler after the XP-120, and on some boards the XP-120 won't even work at all. Thermalright has compiled a list of motherboards that have problems with the XP-120. Of course this list is probably not all of the boards, because my motherboard wasn't even on the list and I had to tilt my memory and the capacitors. Below is a table that I made using the list at Thermalright. You will see the compatibility issue with each board to the right under "Remark".

Manufacturer
Model
Remark
Abit
AV8 can not use Dimm #1
AV8 Third Eye can not use Dimm #1
KV8 Not Compatible
KV8-Max3 Not Compatible
KV8 Pro Not Compatible
KV8 Pro - 3rd Eye Not Compatible
IC7 Max3 Not Compatible (due to OTES)
IC7-G caps mechanically obstruct pipe slightly, cap tilting necessary, remove and install stock chipset cooler after HSF installed
IC7 caps mechanically obstruct pipe slightly, cap tilting necessary, remove and install stock chipset cooler after HSF installed
Asus
P4C800 caps mechanically obstruct pipe slightly, cap tilting necessary
P4C800 Deluxe caps mechanically obstruct pipe slightly, cap tilting necessary
K8V caps mechanically obstruct pipe slightly, cap tilting necessary
K8V Deluxe caps mechanically obstruct pipe slightly, cap tilting necessary
K8V SE Deluxe caps mechanically obstruct pipe slightly, cap tilting necessary
P4C800-E Deluxe caps mechanically obstruct pipe slightly, cap tilting necessary
P4SDX caps mechanically obstruct pipe very slightly, no cap tilting necessary
P4S800D-E Deluxe caps mechanically obstruct pipe very slightly, no cap tilting necessary
P4S800D caps mechanically obstruct pipe very slightly, no cap tilting necessary
Chaintech
ZNF3-150 ZENITH Not Compatible
DFI
LP Pro875 caps mechanically obstruct pipe slightly, cap tilting necessary
LP Pro875B caps mechanically obstruct pipe very slightly, no cap tilting necessary
LP Pro875B rev. B caps mechanically obstruct pipe very slightly, no cap tilting necessary
875 Infinity caps mechanically obstruct pipe very slightly, no cap tilting necessary
Gigabyte
GA-8IK1100 Not Compatible (Heatpipe loop in contact with PWM coils)
GA-8KNXP Not Compatible
GA-8KNXP (rev 2.0) Not Compatible
GA-8KNXP Ultra Not Compatible
GA-8KNXP Ultra(rev 2.0) Not Compatible
MSI
865PE Neo2-PFISR caps mechanically obstruct pipe slightly, cap tilting necessary
K8N Neo2 Platinum Not Compatible (caps mechanically obstruct pipe.)

* Tilting capacitors may damage motherboards. Users do this at their own risk.
Testing
Testing Method
Arctic Silver 5 thermal compound was applied to the CPU with both of the tested heatsinks and according to the directions located on the Arctic Silver web site. Thermal compound was given 72 hours of use before we started testing. To achieve the "idle temperature" reading, the computer was allowed to set idle for 15 minutes then the reading was taken. To achieve the "load temperature" Prime95 was ran for 25 minutes and then the reading was taken.

Test Setup


The XP-120 will be going up against another heavy weight, both in size and performance, the Alpha PAL 8150. The Alpha PAL 8150 is a copper heatsink which uses a bolt type installation that makes for a much easier installation. Let's see how well the heatsinks performed in our tests.










Conclusion

The XP-120 is an excellent performing heatsink, beating the Alpha PAL 8150 by a degree or two. While it does offer some impressive cooling, it can be a major headache to install it. I think Thermalright should have spent more time looking at the compatibility aspect of this cooler. It would seem to me that they could raise the height of the fins so that they easily clear all motherboard capacitors and memory installed in the motherboard. I also prefer the bolt type installation like the Alpha offers because it's faster, easier, and safer. You simply put two screws in and you're done! The XP-120 also has a lot of compatibility issues with motherboard capacitors being in the way of the heatpipes and also the memory.

The XP-120 is an excellent performing heatsink and I would recommend it over almost any heat sink, but not over the Alpha PAL 8150. The Alpha PAL 8150 provided very similar cooling performance but above all else, it's much easier to install!

Pros

 

Cons