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Thermalright Macho 120 SBM CPU Cooler Review

Thermalright's Macho 120 SBM CPU cooler gets the job done in thermal performance and shouldn't cause any issues with hardware compatibility.

Manufacturer: Thermalright
11 minute read time
TweakTown's Rating: 95%
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The Bottom Line

Compared to some of the monster coolers we have seen, the Macho 120 SBM delivers no compromise cooling! Clear of other components, good thermal results, and minimal noise to do it.

Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing

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Thermalright has been building CPU coolers for what seems like forever. Believing it to be the TRUE Copper heat sink that put Thermaltake into the limelight of the masses, they have not stopped developing and innovating since. The TRUE line of coolers was such a success that they still produce them today, but under the TRUE Spirit name now, with many variations. Thermalright has also had much success with the smaller AXP coolers, the Archon, and SilverArrow coolers as well, but one name stands out to us, and that is the Macho line of CPU air coolers.

The Thermalright Macho has to be Thermalright's bread and butter, as they are continuously making changes and improvements to this series. In our history with them, we have seen the Macho 90, and not that long ago we looked at the Macho Rev.B; both coolers impressive in their own right. As we look at the Thermalright page today, we see this line expanded into not only the Macho 90, Macho 120, Macho Rev, and Macho X2, they even have a Macho Direct which is the first Thermalright cooler to use HDT. So, where does this leave us in the grand scheme of things? Well obviously we are dealing with another Macho cooler, but this time engineered to be large, yet more capable for smaller systems like those on Micro-ATX and Mini-ITX motherboards.

The Thermalright Macho cooler we are looking at today is the Macho 120 SBM. We are unsure if the SBM stands for exactly, but we can tell you that this design is based off the Macho 120 Rev.A cooler. What you are about to see is a thinner cooler that takes RAM, motherboard screws, and graphics card proximity all into account. This way, even buyers that do not house their components in massive cases can still take part in what makes Thermalright such a success, with this new design. While we are unsure if the SBM stands for Small Bodied Macho, Super Bitchin' Macho, or Sleek Black Macho, what we do know, is that this cooler is built to impress, and we strongly urge you to take the time to find out why.

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The chart that Thermalright provides just covers the essentials, but there is still some good information to be had here. On the left, things start with the measurements of 130mm of length, 86mm of width without the fan, and 150mm of height. All of this can also be seen in the trio of renderings to the right, as well as noting the offset base and heat pipe arrangement. We see the 560-gram weight, that there are five 6mm diameter heat pipes, and that the base is made of C1100 copper. They also make mention of the base being nickel plated, but this treatment is carried onto the heat pipes as well. What we do not see in this chart is that the five heat pipes travel through 30 aluminum fins, nor is there a mention of the black anodization of the top fin in the stack.

There is also full details for the fan that accompanies the Macho 120 SBM. The 120mm fan of choice is the TY-127, which sports a rounded black frame surrounding seven white blades. This is a 25mm thick fan that weighs in at 130 grams, bumping the total installed weight up to 690 grams all told. The TY-127 will run at speeds from 300 to 1300 RPM, delivering up to 55.8 CFM of air flow. We do not see a pressure rating, but we do see the 33 dB(A) noise rating, as well as the fact that it is powered via 4-pin PWM fan connector.

One stumbling block we have run into is the availability. While we can search other countries and find the Macho 120 SBM, this CPU cooler is not yet listed anywhere inside of the USA at the time of writing (update: it's on Amazon now). While looking around, we found this cooler listed at £43 including VAT. While we hope that when this cooler hits the US shores, we get a dollar for pound conversion, but the reality is that the Macho 120 SBM. With the current rate of conversion, would cost in the realm of $57. Even so, we feel that this is an affordable solution, not as budget friendly as say the Hyper 212 coolers, but still attainable by those that are serious about their cooling needs, and appreciate a bit of style.


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A large image of the cooler is offset to the right of the front panel, where Thermalright also offers their name along the bottom, and the Macho 120 SBM name to the right. Along with the white used to highlight the cooler image, the use of dayglow green accents will draw eyes to this cooler.

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The next panel offers us the naming at the top and the tagline "Innovated – not imitated" in the bold green stripe. The larger section then offers ten features that this Macho 120 SBM provides.

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Using this bold green color to fill an entire panel makes it tough to read the white text used for the specifications. While these charts are condensed from what we saw earlier, they do also provide the socket compatibility on this panel.

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The last side of the packaging offers an image of the TY-127 fan included inside. Arrows are showing the direction of airflow, but they are also pointing at the slots in the frame that aid in this fan's performance.

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Inside of the box, we find the cooler on the bottom, wrapped up in dense foam. The fan is then placed on top of it, and then the hardware and literature rest on top of the stack. There was also a screwdriver included that rests on the other side of this stack, slid into a gap in the foam, next to the cooler body.

Thermalright Macho 120 SBM CPU Cooler

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Looking into the face of the Macho 120 SBM, we see a 30-fin stack of aluminum, the heat pipes are slightly offset through the fins, and we can also tell that bits of the fin are bent along the surface. This is all designed to redirect air through the cooler, increasing the efficiency.

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We took the fan and installed it at this time so that we could see how much of the stack it covers. The fan is taller than the cooler and leaves small sections at the corners uncovered. Depending on how it is placed, it changes the overall height. The cooler is offset, allowing the fan to go all the way down, staying within that 150mm height measurement.

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This is what we mean when we say it is offset. The side of the cooler that is next to the memory is shifted way back, almost even with the base at the bottom. We can also see that three of the heat pipes run straight up into the fins, while the alternating two pipes are leaning towards the back to pass through the fin stack with equal spacing between them.

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The view from the back of the Macho 120 SBM shows two distinct places that the pipes line up in, and we do see the nickel plated tips being the tallest part of the cooler. While the outer pipes look to be 8mm diameter, the increase in girth is caused by the bends, they are 6mm pipes.

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From this angle of the cooler, again the pipes are allowing the stack to stay well clear of the memory, we also see that the sides of the fins are bent over in the front and at the back. This allows the fins to stay evenly spaced rather than capturing lost air flow.

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Just for perspective, we added the fan again. This does add another 25mm to the depth of the cooler but is still able to clear the memory. We can also easily see the three slits that make their way around the TY-127 fan frame.

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Looking at the anodized top fin of the Macho 120 SBM, we can tell the pipes are offset in groups, and all of the tabs are arranged to maximize flow around them and through the fins. The large hole at the top edge it to allow the passage of a screwdriver when it comes to mounting this cooler.

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From this angle, we can see that the fins are pressed onto the copper heat pipes after they have been nickel plated. The three straight pipes make gentle bends, while the other two are gentle at first, but are slightly distorted as they make the bend back into the fins. As to the copper base, the pipes are soldered there.

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Thermalright provides a protective film to cover the base while in transit. This keeps the mirror-like finish of the base from being scratched or getting something on it, and of course, needs to be removed before installing this cooler.

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Just how polished is this slightly convex base? Well, it is polished enough to reflect the screwdriver handle without much distortion at all. Only very fine marks are found in the nickel plating from when the copper was machined.

Accessories and Documentation

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Thermalright has always sent their goodies in sealed bags to ensure the parts count is always right, and it is easy to tell where everything is. Here we have the universal backplate and nylon isolation material for it. In the middle are all of the screws, standoffs, and nuts needed to mount the cooler, and another bag with an LGA pre-load spacer, AMD, and Intel washers, and black tubing used to isolate the fan from the fins. Then, at the bottom, we see the packet of Chill Factor thermal paste, enough for a few mounts.

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In a larger bag, free of the rest of the hardware, we found the universal top plate portion of the mounting hardware. The plate that straddles the base of the cooler and mounts to the plate to its left, and four wire fan mounting clips covers all of the hardware. To help put it all together, Thermalright supplied the Macho 120 SBM with a long Phillip's head screwdriver, which is long enough to go through the entire coolers fin stack.

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The manual supplied with this cooler is as good as it gets. A full parts list, detailed and well-written instructions, along with renderings of each step, you have everything you need to know. At the back of this manual is a bit about the warranty coverage and site information. If you do have an issue, all of the information is at hand. With this little booklet, even the greenest of builders will have no issues mounting this cooler to a compatible socket.

Installation and Finished Product

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Before dropping the back plate onto the back of the motherboard, you need to install the isolation layer, as well as using 10mm screws and lock washers. This will hold the screws in place while it is dropped onto the back of the motherboard.

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To get to what is shown here, there are standoffs that attach to the screws running through the back plate. You can then set the top bracket on the standoffs, and screw the bracket into place. This bracket is also drilled to allow AMD users the proper orientation, no matter how the socket is laid out.

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For testing, we prefer to cover the tower as well as we can with the supplied fan, and the overall height increased 8mm like this. While the Macho 120 SBM seems tall, it is of average height, but being only 130mm wide, it also does not cause issues in other areas either.

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This is what we meant earlier, saying the fan can be dropped to stay below the tips of the pipes. Since it is entirely clear of all for memory slots, the only thing stopping the fan from being lowered is the cross mounting bracket, which is much lower than this fan is currently.

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The cooler comes equipped with fan clips to allow for a second fan. On our particular motherboard, it would have to sit higher, and again is something you need to ponder with an offset cooler such as this. If using an X99 motherboard, a second fan would cause issues with DIMM slots to the left of the socket.

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In this photo, the Macho 120 SBM looks less massive than when it is standing by itself. Full clearance to the memory, as well as to the motherboard screws, and even the first PCI-e slot. The Macho 120 SBM, while stylish, almost blends into the background, nothing overdramatic, just an expanse of black anodized aluminum, and a fan that appears to have three white racing stripes around it.

Test System Setup, Thermal Tests, and Noise Results

Chad's CPU Cooler Test System Specifications

I would like to thank ASUS, InWin, Patriot, and Fractal Design for supplying products for me to test with.

To see our testing methodology and to find out what goes into making our charts, please refer to our CPU Cooler Testing and Methodology article for more information.

Thermal Results

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With six degrees between the Macho 120 SBM and first place, we feel that Thermalright is really onto something here. Not many tower air coolers can reach this high on the charts, and most will make your ears bleed if they do. At 51 degrees, with the CPU at stock, we have no issue with this result at all.

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The gap to first place widens as we applied the overclock. At 72.83 degrees, we are ten degrees from the best cooler on the market, and near 30 degrees from the processor throttling. It keeps company with many of the better 120mm fan based tower coolers in our charts and is better than expected considering Thermalright's fan choice.

Noise Level Results

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With the TY-127 spinning at 950 RPM for our first part of the audio test, we are very pleased to hear, rather not hear this fan. You need to get right in on top of the cooler to listen to the fan at all, and from a foot away it is only 24 dB.

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Still within specifications, but with our fan at 1376 RPM, the noise from the TY-127 is easily tolerable. Considering that with the PWM in control, you will only rarely hit the 38 dB level we recorded from this fan with full power supplied to it.

Final Thoughts

The Thermalright Macho 120 SBM may not be a chart topper, it may not be exactly flashy or over the top with its design, but there are tons of thing Thermalright got very right with this design. Taking the highly coveted Macho Rev.A CPU cooler, putting it on a diet while offering more users a cooler that is more than capable of the demands from today's processors. Do you need more? Of course, you do, and Thermalright has evolved and provided us with a cooler that is capable of performing to the level of larger air coolers, doing so with minimal noise involved, and offering no conflicts with anything else on the motherboard. This cooler is full of win.

The hardware is old-school, but it does the trick. The only issue we have here is that we do wish the screws in the backplate locked somehow. Balancing the motherboard with one hand on a standoff and the other hand screwing in from the back is not easy to do, and could be adjusted in the future to eliminate the possibility of dropping the motherboard. The only other thing we found a little strange, was the use of tubes to isolate the fans. Our issue is not so much of the material used; it is more based on the fact that they are touch to install into the grooves of the fin stack. We almost had to crush them to fit the gap, and let them expand and settle into the groove. While this does work, and kept all of the vibrations at bay, there has to be an easier solution to this issue. With low noise and above average performance from the cooler, the smaller issues we mentioned do work out for the best in the end.

With no mention of actual US pricing at this point, all we can base our opinion off of is the £42.99 MSRP and listed pricing we saw via Google. Converting this to US dollars is the most reasonable guess to add pricing perspective to the Macho 120 SBM, and at $57 you could do worse. While most of the competition for this cooler ranges from $80 on up to $200 for a handful of degrees, it sheds a fair light on Thermalright. Silence is golden, and the Macho 120 SBM is impressive in many categories and is a solid answer to anyone who wants a more compact cooler that stays clear of everything else inside the PC.

TweakTown award
Quality including Design and Build95%
General Features98%
Bundle and Packaging99%
Value for Money92%

The Bottom Line: Compared to some of the monster coolers we have seen, the Macho 120 SBM delivers no compromise cooling! Clear of other components, good thermal results, and minimal noise to do it.

PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.

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Chad joined the TweakTown team in 2009 and has since reviewed 100s of new techy items. After a year of gaming, Chad caught the OC bug. With overclocking comes the need for better cooling, and Chad has had many air and water setups. With a few years of abusing computer parts, he decided to take his chances and try to get a review job. As an avid overclocker, Chad is always looking for the next leg up in RAM and coolers.

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