Again, the True Spirit line-up’s installation should be familiar if you've ever used one of Thermalright's Macho coolers. The parts are identical.
A universal back plate fits all current AMD and Intel processor interfaces, and serves as a solid base. If you're using a Socket 939-based AMD platform, you need to put a protective plastic cover on the back plate. Then, you attach screws with plastic spacers. After that, the back plate is mated to the motherboard from underneath.
The installation screws now stick out of the top of the motherboard. Next, you'll want to place four spacers with dual-sided internal threads over those screws. It’s important to install the spacers so that the rubberized side faces the motherboard, avoiding direct contact between the spacer’s metal surface and the board. The retention frame is then screwed onto the spacers.
Install the vibration-isolating rubber strips and fan retention clips before dropping the heat sink onto your motherboard, since certain spots are really difficult to reach once the cooler is in place. The True Spirit 90M and 120M(BW)’s fans are recessed a bit into the cooler’s fins and decoupled with thin rubber strips. The 140(BW) has rubber pads glued to the body of the cooler.
After applying the thermal paste, the cooler is put in place on top of the processor. Then, it's attached with a small installation plate, which is put on top of the cooler’s base plate.
In the case of Thermalright’s True Spirit line, it makes sense to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and apply thermal paste on both the CPU and cooler base for optimum results. Without enough thermal paste, you'll lose contact surface area between the processor's heat spreader and the cooler’s base plate. That's typically more problematic than too much.
A Few Words on Compatibility
We used Gigabyte's GA-990FXA-UD7 for testing. This board diverges from AMD’s reference design. Gigabyte moves the northbridge so that its heat sink is under the VRM's passive cooler. This placement results in installation problems because the CPU heat sink collides with its retention frame. The smaller Gigabyte motherboards (-UD5 and below) don’t have this issue. We’ll shave 1 to 2 mm off the motherboard's heat sink for future round-ups, which should be enough to eliminate the problem. For now, since all of the coolers utilize the same retention mechanism, we kept it simple and shaved 1 mm off of the retention plate.