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Thermalright True Spirit: A Cooler Option For Every Budget

Three Thermalright True Spirit Heat Sinks, Reviewed
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Thermalright’s True Spirit family includes thin-profile coolers in three distinct sizes, offering varying levels of performance, and selling at three different price points.

The compact Thermalright True Spirit 90M is available for as little as $26 on sites like SuperBiiz. It’s aimed at processors with TDPs of 90 W or less. We'd recommend adjusting this thermal solution's fan speed through your motherboard's firmware, since the bundled does get pretty loud if it's allowed to spin up beyond 2000 RPM. If you feel like you need the fan's full performance to keep your CPU cool enough, then there are better options out there, and you'll probably need to spend a little more for an ambitious overclock. We do want to point out that the back plate Thermalright bundles yields a very solid installation, which is not a given for a cooler of this size and budget.

The larger Thermalright True Spirit 120M(BW) sports four 6 mm heat pipes and stands only 145 mm tall. It performs well given its size, and is even suitable for light overclocking (more so than the 90M). Selling for as low as $43 on Amazon, it’s supposed to be a budget cooler that also performs well, and it does meet this challenge. Still, the bundled fan is very noticeable at full speed. We'd like to see it run more quietly and vibrate less. Dial the fan back 20% or so to 1000 RPM, and it's a lot more tolerable, though it gives up some performance in the process. The 120M(BW)’s strong suit is good compatibility due to its compact measurements and bent heat pipes.

Last up is the Thermalright True Spirit 140(BW). It’s the largest model in this heat sink family, sporting six 6 mm heat pipes and a height of 170 mm. This puts it in the enthusiast-oriented, overclocking-friendly, high-performance cooler segment.

Value is probably not the first thing that springs to mind when faced with its $50 price tag. But make no mistake; that's inexpensive considering the cooler’s performance level. You might be tempted to save a couple of bucks by buying the smaller 120M(BW), but the seven extra dollars you spend buys a lot of additional performance, which is important when you're gunning for a aggressive overclock on a system you plan to use daily. Its fan is also quieter than the other two models we reviewed, making it the most pleasant of the three coolers in practical use. Even at 100% duty cycle, the cooler did well in our acoustic benchmarks. In light of that, the Thermalright True Spirit 140(BW) secures our Smart Buy award for excellent performance at a
reasonable price.

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  • 8 Hide
    expl0itfinder , August 5, 2013 9:28 PM
    I would love to see this compared against a wider selection of air coolers. For instance, the Cooler Master Hyper 212, or other fan favorites. Comparing it to 1 or 2 other brands does not give us a lot to look at.
  • 5 Hide
    Novuake , August 5, 2013 10:27 PM
    A single other well known cooler for reference would have been great for easy context.
    Not all sites and reviews used Delta temps.
    Nice review but kind of renders it moot for comparison out of the Silverstone and THermalright Scope.
  • 1 Hide
    Someone Somewhere , August 5, 2013 10:45 PM
    I think you got a bit lost on your graphs. At a guess, you meant to have one as distance from ambient, and one as absolute, or possibly there's idle readings.

    Also, please stick to the same units.

    More comparisons would have been nice.
  • 2 Hide
    SpadeM , August 5, 2013 11:43 PM
    There are a few issues /omissions in the article, first being that the motherboard cap is only used on 939 sockets (i did an install for 970A-D3 AM3+ and it didn't require it) also the anchoring plate is flawed in my opinion because the screw holes that hold it in place aren't actually holes, but more live grooves on the outside of the plate and so the screws actually hold the plate in place with only half of their screw cap. And finally, for users that aren't experienced with multiple cpu heatsinks, tightening the final plate that locks the cooler in place ca very well damage your processor since there's no limiter in place.

    Other then that, those are some fantastic coolers, even though the thermal probe on FX-8350 under windows gives me flawed measurements in idle, under load it's quite good.
  • -2 Hide
    iam2thecrowe , August 6, 2013 1:07 AM
    2000 rpm is noisy? i used to have a 6000rpm fan on my old athlon xp....... I think people these days are too picky about noise.
  • 0 Hide
    Someone Somewhere , August 6, 2013 1:12 AM
    Quote:
    2000 rpm is noisy? i used to have a 6000rpm fan on my old athlon xp....... I think people these days are too picky about noise.


    Diameter has a lot to do with it - it's more to do with tip velocity than actual RPM. Your fan was likely about 40-50mm.

    I've got 40mm fans that are near silent at 3K RPM. You can get 40mm fans that do 13K.
  • 8 Hide
    ubercake , August 6, 2013 4:03 AM
    Whether it's the motherboard or the heat sink manufacturers... We're still seeing 3rd-party CPU heat sinks and their fans blocking RAM slots for a decade. There's not much innovation going on here. I would tend to think the heat sink manufacturers need to accommodate the current motherboard designs. If they could solve that part of it in a full-size effective heat sink solution, innovation will have taken place. Until that time we'll keep seeing copper this; nickel-plated that; aluminum fins here; heat pipes there; one fan on this one; two fans on that.

    Same old stuff; different day.
  • -2 Hide
    Someone Somewhere , August 6, 2013 4:17 AM
    There's only so many ways you can build a MB, or a cooler...
  • 0 Hide
    Myrkvidr , August 6, 2013 4:33 AM
    @Someone Somwhere: Sorry, there's a copy&paste issue in the 2nd and 4th chart on page5: It should say "CPU temperature at 20°C ambient" while the 1st and 3rd chart are Delta temps.

    @SpadeM: Seems like I just did not RTFM close enough ;)  But the measurement results were not affected by using or not using the plastic cap (I ran two separate measurement series). The anchoring plate is sitting very tight - I installed a lot of Thermalright heatsinks during the past couple of weeks. The contact pressure between the True Spirit heatsinks and the CPU is not excessively high, so it shouldn't cause any damage to the CPU.

    @all: We just startet off with the new system for CPU cooler testing and had to start somewhere - there will be more results and coolers coming soon :) 
  • 1 Hide
    mironso , August 6, 2013 4:47 AM
    I hope they will fix this issue with memory in next gen on 140 series.
  • 1 Hide
    JPNpower , August 6, 2013 7:12 AM
    How does it compare to a hyper 212 no overclock high load i7?
  • 1 Hide
    WickedPigeon , August 6, 2013 7:24 AM
    Dear TH - If it is possible, could you make a master chart of coolers?

    Your very informative review in July compared 9 large coolers recommended the Noctua's NH-U14S. And I cannot tell if the "Smart Buy" recommendation here makes the Thermalright a better choice or not. Plus the top picks at Newegg are well known models from Cool Master, Zalmen, Noctua and Rosewell.

    I'm really curious how these top models really stack up. Thanks
  • 1 Hide
    Myrkvidr , August 6, 2013 8:02 AM
    @WickedPigeon: I'm actually working on an article about the Noctua NH-U12S & NH-U14S for Tom's Hardware Germany, so there might be some results for a direct comparison soon.
  • 0 Hide
    Calculatron , August 6, 2013 10:13 AM
    A nice, simple, basic article. I am not going to complain about it, especially if they keep the format and test set-up for near-future brand-product reviews.

    The fact that the little guy managed to (barely) handle the overclock was a bit surprising, but really cool to see. Thermalright makes good cooling solutions for its customers.

    The noise levels seemed a bit inflated, but then I noticed that they said "distance: 30cm." Using the lazy-man's method of correcting the noise to a distance of 1m, I think that works out to mean we could shave off about 10db from the obtained results. (It's within the ball-park, at least. Using the numbers from another review, the Silverstone AR01 had a difference of 17db.)
  • 0 Hide
    Myrkvidr , August 6, 2013 10:35 AM
    Quote:

    The noise levels seemed a bit inflated, but then I noticed that they said "distance: 30cm."


    Is seems like the bearing of the TR-TY147 is of a better quality compared to the TR-12025-BW and TR-9225-BW, whose bearings are a little more noisy. Anyway, they're still "okay" and you don't have to push the fans towards max rpm ;) 
  • 0 Hide
    RedJaron , August 6, 2013 11:33 AM
    Sorry, I can't see this being a Smart Buy. It looks like the CM-212 outperforms the 120 ( both are similarly priced. ) The 212 and the 140 are probably pretty close, except the 140 is $15 more and 10mm taller. That extra height makes it a lot harder to fit into modest cases. And if you're getting a larger case, chances are you're getting a more demanding system with a larger budget. At that point the D14 or liquid cooling is an option.
  • -1 Hide
    lagur , August 6, 2013 8:09 PM
    Interesting product but I'm actually expecting some CM Hyper212 EVO, Noctua DH14, Corsair H80 and even stock HSF to include in the benchmarks. To be honest those graphs to me looks completely useless.
  • 0 Hide
    Oleg Melnikov , August 6, 2013 8:39 PM
    Those tech are so old age , how about some real cooling solutions that cools without struggle ...
  • 0 Hide
    Steelwing , August 7, 2013 4:31 AM
    I just bought the True Spirit 140 for my new rig a few days ago. It really is a great cooler! The fan isn't dead silent but is fairly quiet. Temps are excellent on my i5-4670k. (I haven't tried overclocking yet.) I was a little worried that it wouldn't fit in my Fractal Design Define R4, but there's enough clearance. I just can't use a fan on the side. Overall I'm quite pleased by its performance.
  • 0 Hide
    joezkg , August 8, 2013 7:13 PM
    Maybe this one is better than Hyper Evo 212.
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