Thermalright appears to offer a cooler for every budget in its True Spirit line-up. This round-up includes three to six heat pipes and 92 to 140 mm fans. We're including SilverStone's Argon AR01, which we recently tested as well, for comparison.
The thermal results are split into two charts to make them easier to read. The first one shows how far the CPU is above ambient, and the second one shows the total CPU temperature based on a theoretical ambient of 20 degrees Celsius.
Stock Clock Rate: AMD FX-8350 (125 W TDP)
As expected, the Thermalright True Spirit 140(BW) definitively outperforms its two smaller siblings. Dropping the fan speed to 1000 RPM on the 140(BW) and 120M(BW) doesn't hurt cooling effectiveness much, either. This isn’t really surprising, since both models have maximum stock fan speeds around 1250 RPM to begin with. Given smaller physical dimensions, the 90M is more dependent on high fan speeds, and is consequently impacted more when we try to dial it in for quiet running. It would fare better if we used it with a 95 W or less processor.
Depending on fan speed, the thin Thermalright True Spirit 140(BW) cooler keeps the AMD FX-8350 at 19.1 or 20.3 degrees Celsius above ambient temperature, which is a very good result. The 120M(BW) manages 22 and 24.9 degrees Celsius above room temperature, which is still quite solid. Even the 90M keeps up with the FX-8350 under full load. It's a viable alternative so long as its fan's 2000 RPM isn't a deal-breaker.
Overclocked: AMD FX-8350 At 4.4 GHz (At Or Above 180 W TDP)
The small True Spirit 90M just can’t cope with this 10% overclock, forcing us to leave it out of our second round of thermal testing.
This is where the Thermalright True Spirit 140(BW) shines. Its larger surface area allows it to put further ahead of the 120M(BW) than it did in the stock-speed benchmark. Keeping the processor at 30.9 degrees Celsius above ambient temperature with this high of an overclock speaks to the cooler’s solid performance. In fact, that's good enough to make a moderately aggressive overclock like 4.4 GHz viable for an everyday system. You could almost say the same for the 120M(BW)’s 35.6 degrees Celsius above ambient temperature.
Noise Level Benchmark
The acoustic results are similar to the thermal ones. Thermalright's True Spirit 140(BW) leads the pack with 38.1 dB(A) at 1232 RPM, which shouldn't be at all bothersome inside of a closed system. Its noise level drops to 36.1 dB(A) once we dial fan speed back to 1000 RPM. That should make it one of the quietest components in your case. Overall, the fan really doesn’t draw any attention.
Thermalright's True Spirit 120M(BW) doesn’t follow the 140(BW)’s good example. With 41 dB(A) at 1258 RPM and 37.4 dB(A) at 1000 RPM, plus noticeable vibrations thrown in for good measure, it’s usable if you force the fan down to slower rotational speeds, but that's about it.
The True Spirit 90M spins faster than any other cooling solution in our comparison. At 2002 RPM, you get a whopping 46.1 dB(A), and it also causes some vibration. This cooler should be alright for processors with TDPs of 95 or less, so long as you slow its fan down through an add-on controller or your motherboard's firmware.