As you can see the Ultra-90 leaves a considerable amount of space from components on this DFI NF4 Ultra-D Motherboard. The mounting clip, at least the K8 one, allows you to rotate the heatsink some which could come in handy for some boards.
There looks to be enough clearance to use the x4 PCI-E slot above the first x16 PCI-E slot even with the Ultra-90 at a 90 degree angle from the PCI slots.
No issues installing the OCZ PC3500GX memory used here, even if the modules were a bit taller. Rotating the Ultra-90 could allow enough clearance to install them.
Testing was done with the following hardware configuration on the open test station seen in the pictures above:
AMD Opteron 165
DFI Lanparty UT NF4 Ultra-D - SLI-modded
2x 7800GTX 256 @ 490/1300 with Accelero X1's
2x 512Mb OCZ PC3500GX
2x 80Gb WD SATA - raid0 stripe
16x Pioneer DVDRW
700W OCZ GameXStream
To obtain idle temperatures, the system was allowed to idle at the deskop for 20 minutes after booting (5 minutes of off-time allowed for cool-down when changing heatsinks).
To obtain load temperatures, an instance of Prime95 running the 'Small FFT' Torture Test was run on each core, 0 & 1, for 100% simultaneous load of both cores for 30 minutes.
I ran each heatsink with 2 system configurations:
1,800Mhz, 200x9 @ 1.3v, 1:1 "200" 200Mhz DDR @ 2.8v
2,600Mhz, 289x9 @ 1.45v, 9:12 "150" 216Mhz DDR @ 2.8v
Summary of all heatsink/fan combinations tested:
Thermalright Ultra-90 - 46cfm 92mm (push)
Thermalright XP-90C - 46cfm 92mm (push)
Noctua NH-U9 - 46cfm 92mm (push)
Noctua NH-U9 - 46cfm 92mm (push) & 37cfm 92mm (pull)
Noctua NH-U12 - 79cfm 120mm (push)
Nocuta NH-U12 - 79cfm 120mm (push) & 64cfm 120mm (pull)
I tried a couple different ways of mounting a second fan to the Ultra-90, but neither proved beneficial to it's performance in my testing. The results were the same with one fan. I wouldn't doubt that installing two higher CFM fans could provide even better performance.
Now on to the results.
The Ultra-90 clearly put it's predecessor in it's place. We have seen a good difference in performance between the heatsinks using the same fan, and the Ultra-90 clearly is a better performer. The Ultra-90 isn't far off from the performance of the NH-U12 with a 79cfm 120mm fan, with 33 less cfm and a lot less surface area. The Nocuta heatsinks certainly benefit from dual fans, but the Ultra-90 is only two degrees warmer under load with a single 92mm fan than the Noctua NH-U9 using dual 92mm fans; that's impressive. The NH-U12 is the overall winner with dual 120mm fans in this particular test, but there is still the Ultra-120 to compete with that.
Overall the Ultra-90 is an excellent cooler, the performance is great, the weight isn't too shabby, it looks good and the installation method is simple. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this cooler to anyone.
Great cooling performance.
Just one set of fan clips.
We would like to award the Thermalright Ultra-90 the OCIA.net Seal of Approval.
Thanks to Thermalright for supplying us with this review sample.