Thermalright TRUE Copper Ultra-120 eXtreme Cooler Review

We managed to get our hands on a new Thermalright cooler that can be considered a real rarity. It is made of pure copper. There are only 1000 coolers like that made in the world and today we are proud to offer you a detailed review of one of them.

Do you know that the last cooler model released by Thermalright Inc. is Thermalright IFX-14? I am sure you do. But I think very few overclockers know that this cooler was actually officially announced more than a year and a half ago. This is pretty serious age for cooling solutions manufacturers and for the Hi-Tech industry in general. As a rule, well-known brands, like Thermalright, release new coolers at least once every quarter, and here the interval turned out way longer. Let’s try figure out why.

First of all, this deliberateness can be explained by the fact that Thermalright Company boasts pretty modest sales volumes compared to Thermaltake, Scythe or Zalman, for instance. It means that they spend less on research and development of new cooling solutions and production lines upgrade, and refresh their product range less frequently, too. At the same time, the second factor – extremely high efficiency of the existing cooling solutions from this manufacturer – seems to me the most significant. Why invent anything new, spend money and time on it, when competition cannot outperform the already existing Thermalright coolers? Quite logical, isn’t it?

On the other hand, it is a little sad that a talented manufacturer like Thermalright doesn’t roll out their highly efficient cooling solutions more often. A new AXP-140 cooler has just been showcased at a few events, they release new LGA 1366 retention kit and started offering cooling solutions with fans, but it is still not enough for true fans of the brand. The company, however, decided to please their dedicated fans with a solid copper modification of their Ultra-120 eXtreme cooler aka TRUE Copper Ultra-120 eXtreme. The new solution is a limited edition product: only 1000 units were made.

There are many examples when cooling solutions with aluminum heatsink arrays have been modified to solid copper versions. Among the most recent ones are Scythe Ninja Copper and Thermaltake MaxOrb EX. We also remember that replacing aluminum heatsink plates with copper ones provides very small CPU temperature improvement under peak workload that doesn’t really justify the cost and cooler weight increase. Will this be true for Thermalright TRUE Copper Ultra-120 eXtreme? Let’s find out now!

Package and Accessories

The shape and “design” of the package didn’t change, the color did. Now it is made of white cardboard instead of brown:

1 thermalright true copper packaging

The heatsink sits in protective casing made of polyurethane foam. There is a small box with accessories next to it that contains the following:

2 thermalright true copper accesories
  • X-shaped steel retention plate for LGA 775 mainboards;
  • Backplate for LGA 775 mainboards;
  • Installation manual for supported socket types;
  • Backplate for Socket Am2 mainboards;
  • Steel retention plate for Socket AM2 mainboards;
  • A set of spring-screws;
  • Four wire clips for attaching fans to the heatsink;
  • Thermalright logo sticker;
  • Thermalright The Chill Factor 2 thermal compound;
  • Four sticky silicone strips absorbing vibrations.

Unlike the common Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme, the copper model comes with twice as many wire clips for fans installation and twice as many silicone strips. Therefore, the owners of TRUE Copper Ultra-120 eXtreme will not need to invent ways of attaching an additional fan to it.

Besides that, the bundle also includes new Thermalright The Chill Factor 2 thermal compound in a 2g syringe:

3 thermalright true copper

Today we are not going to test the efficiency of the new Thermal compound. It will be part of our next thermal interfaces roundup (we have already collected 7 new samples for it).

I have to add that the recommended retail price of the new Thermalright TRU Copper Ultra-120 eXtreme is set at $99, although the very first announcements mentioned the price up to $150! The cooler is made in Taiwan in the amount of 1000 units only.

Design and Functionality

In fact, it doesn’t make much sense to go deep into constructive details about the new copper modification of the well-familiar cooler. Therefore, in this section of our review we will simply look at this beauty from all angles and recall its key peculiarities:

4 thermalright true copper design

The cooler measures 132 x 161 x 63mm. the replacement of aluminum heatsink plates with copper ones increased the weight of the heatsink from 790g to 1900g! The number doesn’t really give you an idea of the actual cooler weight, so I suggest that you find something comparable to Thermalright TRUE Copper Ultra-120 eXtreme in weight and size and then imagine that THIS goes onto your processor and in most cases is positioned in a horizontal plane…

5 thermalright true copper design

The cooler looks remarkably beautiful. Six copper heatpipes 6mm in diameter hold 52 copper plates, each ~0.45mm thick. The plates are spaced out with ~1.8mm gaps:

6 thermalright true copper heatsink

The heatsink effective surface area makes ~8050 The plates edges are slightly bent in opposite directions, which allows making better use of the airflow created by the fan(s):

7 thermalright true copper heatsink

Each plate is polished and has manufacturer logo embossed on it:

8 thermalright true copper heatpipes

The heatpipes inside the heatsink array are shifted away from one another, which allows to better distribute the heat over the copper heatsink plates:

9 thermalright true copper heatpipes

TRUE Copper Ultra-120 eXtreme shines with perfectly polished copper surfaces at any angle. I have to say once again that it is a very beautiful cooler:

10 thermalright true copper heatpipes

The thinnest part of the cooler base measures ~2.5mm. The heatpipes still lie in special grooves providing better contact with the base plate:

11 thermalright true copper heatpipes

The base surface is finished impeccably:

11 thermalright true copper base plate

And finally, the eternal problem of most Thermalright coolers – bent cooler base – has at last been eliminated in Thermalright TRUE Copper Ultra-120 eXtreme. The copper base surface is extremely even:

12 thermalright true copper thermal grease

The thermal compound imprint is slightly smeared because the cooler is too heavy and I had to move it a little bit in order to get off the CPU.

Installation Tips

Like the standard aluminum cooler modification, the new TRUE Copper Ultra-120 eXtreme can be installed on two platforms: Socket AM2 and LGA 775. The installation principle is the same for both socket types: the cooler is pressed against the CPU heat-spreader with steel retentions and fastened to the mainboard with spring-screws:

13 socket am2
Socket AM2
14 lga 775
LGA 775

The backplate on the reverse side of the mainboard PCB ensures reliable contact between the cooler base and the processor heat-spreader. However, almost 2 kg of pure copper placed onto the processor should already provide proper contact for efficient heat transfer even without any additional effort and any sort of retention. Taking into account significant weight of this cooling solution, Thermalright recommends users to avoid horizontal installation and suggests that you should better use it in “desktop” type cases.

The cooler is pretty compact in its lower part (around the base) and doesn’t interfere with any electronic components in the area around the CPU socket on the mainboard:

15 thermalright true copper
16 thermalright true copper

Even though I used a DFI LANPARTY DK X48-T2RS mainboard, which socket is surrounded with MOSFET and chipset heatsinks, the cooler still fit perfectly into its spot.

To lower vibrations you should stick bundled silicone strips to the heatsink where it contacts the fan(s). Now there are four strips like that included with the cooler:

17 thermalright true copper sillicone strips

A fan or fans are attached to the heatsink with two or four wire clips. And as I have already mentioned in one of my previous articles, for added reliability you may want to install the clips not as the manual suggests, but the other way around. When installed as the manual suggests, the clips seem too loose so that they can jump out of the retention holes in the fan frame. I believe that with all the time they had, Thermalright could have thought of something more reliable.

TRUE Copper Ultra-120 eXtreme paired with a 120-mm fan (38mm tall) didn’t hit against the tall heat-spreaders on the memory DIMMs:

18 thermalright true copper
19 thermalright true copper

The distance from the cooler base to the lower heatsink plate measures 41 mm. the cooling efficiency doesn’t depend on the direction the cooler is facing. As I have already said before, since it boasts record-breaking weight, it is not recommended for Tower cases. Or you should put your case sideways like this:

20 thermalright true copper inside case

This photo is provided as an example for your reference. All tests were performed only in an open testbed. Here I would only like to add that you can download installation instructions for Thermalright TRUE Copper Ultra-120 eXtreme cooler from the company’s official web-site (PDF file, 1.75MB). There is also a pretty long list of compatible mainboards that is being constantly updated.

Technical Specifications and Pricing

The detailed technical data as well as the MSRP for the new Thermalright TRUE Copper Ultra-120 eXtreme cooler are summed up in the following table:

21 thermalright true copper specs

Testbed and Methods

We tested the new Thermalright TRUE Copper Ultra-120 eXtreme and its competitor only in an open testbed when the mainboard sits horizontally on the desk and the coolers are installed vertically.

Our testbed was identical for all coolers and featured the following configuration:

  • Mainboard: DFI LANPARTY DK X48-T2RS (Intel X48), LGA 775, BIOS 10/03/2008
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 (3.0GHz, 1.25V, 2x6MB L2 cache, 4x333MHz FSB, Yorkfield, C0)
  • Thermal interface: Arctic Silver 5
  • Graphics card: ZOTAC GeForce GTX 260 AMP2! Edition GDDR3 896 MB / 448 bit, 648/1404/2106 MHz
  • Memory:
  • 2 x 1024MB DDR2 Corsair Dominator TWIN2X2048-9136C5D (1142MHz / 5-5-5-18 / 2.1V);
  • 2 x 1024MB DDR2 CSXO-XAC-1200-2GB-KIT DIABLO (1200MHz / 5-5-5-16 / 2.4V).
  • Disk subsystem: Western Digital VelociRaptor (SATA-II, 300GB storage capacity, 10,000RPM, 16MB cache, NCQ)
  • HDD silencer and cooler: Scythe Quiet Drive 3.5”
  • Control and monitoring panel: Zalman ZM-MFC2
  • Power supply: Thermaltake Toughpower 1500W W0218 (with a default 140 mm fan)

All tests were performed under Windows Vista Ultimate Edition x86 SP1. SpeedFan 4.37 was used to monitor the temperature of the CPU and mainboard chipset, reading it directly from the CPU core sensor and to monitor the rotation speed of the cooler fans:

22 thermalright true copper temperature

The mainboard’s automatic fan speed management feature as well as CPU power-saving technologies were disabled for the time of the tests in the mainboard BIOS. The CPU thermal throttling was controlled with the RightMark CPU Clock Utility version 2.35.0:

23 cpu core clock

The CPU was heated up in two modes. First we used Linpack 32-bit with convenient LinX shell version (includes updated Linpack with even higher load) to heat up the CPU to its maximum. We manually set the RAM capacity at 1536MB and recorded 15 runs.

24 linx

Since we ran the test twice with 20/10-minute idle period between the runs for the system to cool down and temperatures to stabilize, the relatively short actual testing period was quite enough for the maximum processor temperature to become stable.

For the second type of load we usedOCCT (OverClock Checking Tool) v2.0.1:

25 overclock checking tool

We ran a 23-minute test with maximum CPU utilization, during which the system remained idle in the first 1 and last 4 minutes of the test.

I performed at least two cycles of tests in both test modes and waited for approximately 15 minutes for the temperature in an open testbed to stabilize during each test cycle. We took the maximum temperature of the hottest processor core after two test cycles for the results charts. The table will also show detailed temperature readings for each processor core.

The ambient temperature was checked next to the system case with an electronic thermometer that allows monitoring the temperature changes over the past 6 hours. During our test session room temperatures varied between ~24.0°C. It is used as a starting point on the temperature diagrams. Note that the fan rotation speeds as shown in the diagrams are the average readings reported by SpeedFan, and not the official claimed fan specifications.

Quite logically, the pure copper Ultra-120 eXtreme cooler will be competing against its brother with aluminum heatsink plates. Both Thermalright coolers were tested with one and two 120 x 120 x 38 mm Scythe Ultra Kaze fans ($13.6). We ran the tests in two fan modes: in quiet mode at ~1020 RPM and at maximum rotation speed of ~2000 RPM. The fans were installed as intake-exhaust.

Cooling Efficiency Tests

During Linpack tests using the “weakest” cooling system of the today’s testing participants we managed to overclock our 45 nm quad-core processor to 3.77 GHz (+25.7%). The nominal processor Vcore was increased to ~1.52 V in the mainboard BIOS (+32.2%):

26 intel core 2 extreme cpu

The CPU could work stably at even higher frequency under workload created by OCCT (3.95GHz+). However, we decided to run the tests in second operational mode at the same frequency and Vcore settings. We did it not only in order to reveal the difference in CPU temperature under OCCT and Linpack, but also in order to see how exactly processor temperature changes depending on the cooler and the type of application running.

The detailed results of our cooling efficiency tests are given in the following table and on the diagram (the coolers are grouped according to their noise level):

27 c2e qx9650
28 dfi lanpart dk x48

Evidently, no wonder happened. The solid-copper version of Thermalright’s super cooler is only 1~2°C more efficient than its aluminum counterpart. So, we can conclude that the copper giant doesn’t really demonstrate any serious advantage. Too bad, I really hoped to see at least 4°C improvement.

Speaking of the maximum CPU overclocking results using the new Thermalright TRUE Copper Ultra-120 eXtreme cooler, we managed to get our CPU to run stably in Linpack at 3.84GHz with 1.55V Vcore. The test was performed in an open testbed with two ~2000 RPM fans:

29 cpu overclocking results

As you can see, the peak temperature of the hottest CPU core reached 83°C. The cooler was pretty noisy at this point, but the main goal was to reveal its maximum cooling potential in the first place. By the way, we are not going to discuss any acoustic measurements today, because they are hardly different from what we have already talked about in our Fan Roundup.


What can I say? Thermalright TRUE Copper Ultra-120 eXtreme is a solution for real fans of the brand, for wealthy well-connected collectors who have desktop system cases or none at all. High price of the newcomer, its limited edition and heavy weight are yet another proof to the point. All others who would ever face the choice between the two, should probably settle for a significantly lighter Ultra-120 eXtreme modification with aluminum heatsink plates. However, it would be really nice if it were also bundled with retention clips and shock absorbing strips for two fans and a new LGA 1366 retention kit. And if they could also fix the base to make sure it is even, the super cooler could become even more attractive and competitive. And the happy owners of truly unique Thermalright TRUE Copper Ultra-120 eXtreme could polish the heatsink to mirror shine, put it behind the glass window as a work of art and 40 years down the road show it to grandkids while sharing extreme overclocking stories 🙂

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XbitLabs Team

We are a team of enthusiasts thriving to provide you with helpful advice on buying tech.

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