Thermalright Ultra-90 K8 Page: 1
<script type="text/javascript" src=""></script> Posted 5/4/2006
Author: Nicholas Sarpolis (NickS)
Hardware Acquired: Jab-Tech


Computers these days are generating more and more heat, and it's becoming harder to keep them reasonably quiet while keeping them cool. Watercooling is expensive, and aircooling can be noisy. With the Ultra-90, you get it all. Price, performance, and silence.



Thermalright's packaging has always been very simple.  A brown box with the Thermalright logo, and the model on the side, no specifications here!  Simple packaging isn't necessarily a bad thing, plus it keeps prices down. 



L45 x W102 x H147 (heatsink only)


435g (heatsink only)

Recommended Fan

Maker: Panaflo (Panasonic)
Model: FBL09A12M
Size: 92 x 92 x 25 (mm)
Bearing: Hydro Wave
Voltage: 12V
Speed: 2450 rpm
Air Flow: 48 CFM
Noise Level: 30.0 dBA
Weight: 110g (3.88 oz)

Compatible with: AMD Socket 754/939/940, Intel Socket LGA-775 (Socket T)

Let's take a closer look, shall we?

Thermalright Ultra-90 K8 Page: 2
<script type="text/javascript" src=""></script> Posted 5/4/2006
Author: Nicholas Sarpolis (NickS)
Hardware Acquired: Jab-Tech


The heatsink includes all of the necesarry items to get you set up except a fan. You must provide your own. This gives you the choice of fan for your heatsink, so you can get exactly what you want.  Performance, silence, or a fan that gives you fair performance that is on the quiet side.  Moving on to the included items, you'll find just the bare necessities.

1) Heatsink
2) AMD K8 Retention Clip
3) 2x 92MM Fan Clips
4) Manual
5) Thermalright Sticker
6) Thermalright Thermal Paste

The manual is very simple, yet effective.  It's only a single side of a piece of regular sized paper, but it gets the job done and tells you how to properly assemble and mount the heatsink.  For mounthing, Thermalright decided to stick with AMD's stock retention clip with this heatsink, vs. a custom styled P4/s478 one for the XP-90, so no chance of using this heatsink on your CPU if you removed your IHS, or if your CPU lacks one.  Though it can be a bad thing for owners that have CPU's without IHS', the stock mechanism usually makes the installation simpler, and less timely.  A large tube of thermal paste is included, vs. a pre-applied thermal pad.  The tube will be enough for probably 8-9 mountings or more.  Most enthusiasts prefer paste over a pad, because it offers a more custom application for better contact for everyones individual and unique CPU.


The first thing you'll notice with the Ultra-90 is it's large size.  This can pose problem for users with SFF rigs, or smaller sized ATX cases.  Albeit its very large, you'll most likely be OK if you have a regular sized ATX case, or even some M-ATX cases.  Looking at the rest of the heatsink, you'll realize Thermalright paid close attention to detail.  If you look at the top of it, you'll see the embossed Thermalright logo, a nice touch.  When looking at it from the side, you'll see the fins are bent slightly, to reduce air resistance and to direct air down towards your RAM/Mosfets, or up, towards your cases exhaust fan.

Thermalright Ultra-90 K8 Page: 3
<script type="text/javascript" src=""></script> Posted 5/4/2006
Author: Nicholas Sarpolis (NickS)
Hardware Acquired: Jab-Tech

A Closer Look

You can see here the Ultra-90 with the stock retention bracket/clip set in place.  Taking a look at the thermal paste included, you'll notice it's the usual silicone-styled thermal paste.  It'll still work fine for most applications, but for maximum performance you're better off with an after-market solution such as Arctic Silver Ceramique or Arctic Silver 5.

Moving on to the base, you'll notice it has a smooth, semi-reflective base. It is made out of solid copper, which is nickel plated for better heat transfer. The same goes for the six heatpipes.  Heatpipes are essentially hollow tubes with a liquid in them, usually water or alcohol.  When the base heats up, the liquid evaporates.  It then proceeds to rise up to the fins, which cool the liquid back down.  The cooled liquid then condenses and sinks back down to the hot base again, in an infinite loop.  This is much more effective than the usual fin-on-base style heatsinks.  With a fan mounted, the Ultra-90 look's awesome.  I'm using my Panaflo M1A, which has a grille and a sleeved tail.  The M1A is the reccomended model fan for both the XP-90 and the Ultra-90. 

The Ultra-90 uses the stock retention bracket that comes with your Socket 754/939/940 motherboard (bottom). The XP-90 uses a custom P4/s478 style mounting bracket (above).

Thermalright Ultra-90 K8 Page: 4
<script type="text/javascript" src=""></script> Posted 5/4/2006
Author: Nicholas Sarpolis (NickS)
Hardware Acquired: Jab-Tech


The XP-90 is quite a large heatsink, but cools the mosfets to the left of it, and can be rotated 180º to cool RAM if wanted.  I have a dedicated fan for my RAM though, as it gets very hot under load.  After removing the XP-90 & its custom retention module, I've re-installed the stock retention module and applied a blob of Arctic Silver 5 to my CPU.  Now it's time to install the Ultra-90. Getting the heatsink installed was by far harder than installing the XP-90.  The way the Ultra-90 mounts, it allows the heatsink to rotate 180º fairly easily, even when fully secured down. When installing, my hand would nudge it and it'd move, which was very annoying.  Upon getting it mounted, I noticed there will be a bit more stress on the motherboard around the socket, so be careful when moving your case.  One quick jolt could send your heatsink flying.

During testing, I encountered problems with my RAM (when OC'ed) overheating, so for the Ultra-90 to have proper load results, a fan needed to be rigged in to blow on my RAM which was getting painfully hot to the touch.  With my XP-90, I usually have a fan mounted right on my ram, but with the Ultra-90, you cannot do this. This might cause problems for users like me, with hot running OC'ed ram.

Thermalright Ultra-90 K8 Page: 5
<script type="text/javascript" src=""></script> Posted 5/4/2006
Author: Nicholas Sarpolis (NickS)
Hardware Acquired: Jab-Tech

Testing & Performance
Test Setup

CPU AMD Athlon 64 3200+
MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum BIOS 1.B
2x 512MB Crucial Ballistix
Sapphire X1800XT 256MB
Antec Super Lanboy
Tagan 2Force 480w

BIOS Settings

Stock CPU  Overclocked CPU

For the temperature readings I used MSI CoreCell.  To put load on the CPU, I used Prime95.  Look above for the exact settings I used for overclocking the CPU.  RAM was 1:1 at all times.  (Stock, left.  24/7 OC, right.)

In-place large FFTs used for all testing.  To test load, Prime 95 was run for 10 minutes.  To test idle temperature, the computer idled at desktop for 5 minutes.

XP-90 Testing

2610MHz, 1.54v vCore

(Idle, right.  Load, left.)

2010MHz, 1.40v vCore

(Idle, right.  Load, left.)
Ultra-90 Testing

2610MHz, 1.54v

(Idle, left.  Failed, right.)

The Ultra-90 failed prime.  Why?  Remember that ram fan I had to rig up earlier, that was without it.  No worries, it passes as soon as I get a breeze on my Ballistix.

With a fan blowing on my RAM, the Ultra-90 excelled, beating the XP-90 by a full 2ºC. 


Same exact temperatures.  Impressive!

As soon as the heat load increases, the Ultra-90 shines.  Cooling my 3200+ Venice a full 2ºC better, when heavily overclocked.  This is most likely because the Ultra-90 has 2 more heatpipes for a total of six, vs. the XP-90, which has four.  Heatpipes transfer heat from the base to the fins much faster than a regular "fins-on-base" styled heatsink.

Thermalright Ultra-90 K8 Page: 6
<script type="text/javascript" src=""></script> Posted 5/4/2006
Author: Nicholas Sarpolis (NickS)
Hardware Acquired: Jab-Tech


The Ultra-90 shined when a more intense heat load was applied, showing what more heatpipes can really do when running an overclocked CPU. Despite lacking the features of the XP-90 like cooling surrounding motherboard components, the Ultra-90 still manages to get by, and keep's the CPU a full 2ºC cooler when overclocked.

Overall the heatsink is a great buy. Price vs. performance ratio is great. Paired with the 30 dBa Panaflo, it makes for a quiet, and effective cooling solution on any budget, for almost any socket.

Good Performance
Quiet Operation
Uses stock AMD mounting system
Great Price
Light Weight

Doesn't cool surrounding components
Difficult mounting system

A special thank's goes out from OC3D to Jab-Tech, for providing OC3D with this magnificent product to review!

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