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Overclocking On Air: 10 LGA 1156-Compatible Performance Coolers

Thermalright MUX-120

Packed in the same brown box as the original sample we’ve used in all our P55 motherboard roundups, Thermalright’s $50 MUX-120 has a few improvements compared to the OEM samples most reviewers received from Intel.

Chief among its updates is a screw-on bracket kit that’s also available separately from Thermalright. Other changes mostly focus on the manufacturing process, although the fan has also been replaced.

The MUX-120 has the best-looking socket support plate, with all the right clearance holes and threaded collars that easily slip into the motherboard’s mounting holes. Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer the added socket support we’d hoped for, as the center doesn’t actually touch the LGA 1156 back plate. The load that’s placed on the PCB (rather than on the back of the socket) is still relatively light, since this lightweight cooler requires only moderate spring pressure to seat firmly.

The MUX-120’s base is almost perfectly flat, with a fine machined finish that requires barely any paste to fill small voids. Ultra-thin plating prevents oxidation of the copper base without having a noticeable effect on thermal transfer (at least in theory).

Thermalright’s LGA 1156 “bolt-through” installation kit installs easily, with extra-long threaded collars on the base plate that prevent cross braces from touching any live circuits on the motherboard’s surface. Those parts must be installed prior to fitting the motherboard in a case, but the cooler and its bracket can be installed and removed from an assembled system. Side clips on the MUX-120 ease fan installation and removal, allowing access to the cooler bracket’s front screw.

Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.