Thermalright TRue Black 120
Author: Zahn Funk
Editor: Shawn Knight
Date: 06-27-2008
Provided by: Thermalright
Testing / Conclusion

I originally planned to test the TRue Black on my Phenom 9850, however due to the incompatibility with the stock backing plate, I opted to pull the SI-128SE off my 6400+ BE and install it there instead. Yes, I could have transferred the Thermalright plate over to the Phenom machine, but I didn't want to tear apart two systems to do it. The 6400+ BE will still offer a good test of the cooling properties of the TRue Black as it is a dual-core 125w TDP processor.

I ran the 6400+ at two different settings, the stock configuration of 3.2Ghz @ 1.4v and an overclocked 3.4Ghz @ 1.5v for comparison. The CoreTemp program was used to record temperatures from the CPU die, and three sets of readings were recorded for each configuration. Idle and Load temperatures were taken with both fans set to 7v for noise tolerance, and a third set labeled High indicating both fans set to maximum speed, producing 130cfm and 50dB each. Both cores were loaded to 100% utilization using the F@H SMP Client.

Temps remained very good even with increased voltage and speed. Although there was very little difference observed between performance with fans run at almost half power vs. at full speed, the TRue Black is still the best performing air cooling solution I've tested to date.


I have long been a fan of Thermalright heatsinks and the TRue Black 120 has done nothing to change that; it does not disappoint in either appearance or performance. While technically it is no different physically than the Ultra-120 eXtreme, Thermalright has included two sets of fan clips and a tube of their newest thermal compound, the Chill Factor 2, to give a slight advantage to the TRue Black. My initial thought upon seeing this product was that it is being targeted towards users of AMD Black Edition processors, the X2 5000+, 6400+ and latest 9850 X4 Phenom, but then again maybe it's pure coincidence that the term "black" seems to have become the latest buzz word to denote computer parts of an extreme or ultra classification. In any case, the nickel black coating is a first for Thermalright and they've managed to enhance the good looks of the Ultra-120 eXtreme if nothing else.

While I certainly had no qualms about the performance of the TRue Black, I was a bit disappointed that Thermalright did not include the optional AMD backplate, as they obviously seem to have addressed the issue with previous heatsink models. In fact the only way I was able to even attach the TRue Black to any of my boards was by using the Thermalright plate from my SI-128SE, a part that was included with that particular model. For the cost of the TRue Black, I would expect Thermalright to provide this inexpensive piece. After all, they do include one for Intel socket 775, but in their defense, I'm not sure if this affects all AM2 boards or how many would actually need it.

Pricing on the TRue Black seems to average in the $70-$80 range at online retailers, compared to the typical $50-$60 neighborhood of the Ultra-120 eXtreme. So you could be paying up to $20 more for essentially a heatsink of a different color, although in all fairness Thermalright does throw in an extra set of fan clips and their new thermal paste. There will undoubtedly be those who buy the cooler solely for the new color and black does seem to be in right now, so maybe the marketing department over at Thermalright isn't as crazy as you might think. I predict this isn't the last "black edition" product we'll see anyway.

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