Thermalright Macho Direct CPU Cooler Review

Thermalright's Macho Direct CPU cooler gets investigated under our cooling and sound tests to determine if it's worth buying or not.

Manufacturer: Thermalright
15 minutes & 52 seconds read time
TweakTown's Rating: 94%
TweakTown award

The Bottom Line

Only fine details like complications to LGA2011 users and the lack of coatings keeps this cooler from a gold award! The Macho Direct is a big cooler, but it does its job handily with a 200W TDP, the fan is quiet under all conditions, and for less than $50, how can you go wrong?

Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing

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Thermalright has been known to make some pretty decent coolers in the past, and while most of them are huge, Thermalright always seems to devise ways of making installation a breeze. One of the best-selling names in their lineup is getting a new addition, which will bolster the Macho series of coolers we have seen in the past. This is almost a refresh of earlier designs, yet Thermalright is offering the first cooler in which the heat pipes make direct contact with the CPU IHS, that we have seen from them.

There is a lot more going on with this design as well, most of which we have seen in some form in the past, but things that stand out is that the cooler we are about to look at today is rated at a 200W TDP, and it is designed to be run passive as well. This tower is offset to allow room around the cooler for things like memory, and it sits high enough not to come into conflict with motherboard heat sinks, and all of the materials are left in their natural state, reminding us of many coolers from the past. Another major thing that harkens back to the golden age of CPU cooling with this design is the price, and is one of only a select few coolers of this stature to be had for less than $50.

We are speaking of the Thermalright Macho Direct CPU cooler, and on paper as well as with what we have already seen of its performance is a cooler that should draw a ton of attention. Yes, this cooler is huge, but it is simple to install, leaves room all around it for other components, can be run without a fan for the utmost in silent operation, and best of all, the Macho Direct will not break the bank when it comes to getting one. While Thermalright may be a bit late to garner attention from when HDT coolers were all the rage, they are still able to produce a cooler that is up to the challenge of what today's processors push in heat output. There is much to cover with such a cooler, so let's get to it and show you just what this Thermalright Macho Direct CPU cooler is all about.

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Obtaining this chart from the Thermalright product page, we see they do a fairly decent job at covering the Macho Direct in these specifications. At the top, off to the left, we see that the Macho Direct is 140mm from side to side, 117mm from the front of the fins to the back of them, and stands 158mm in height, depending on how the fan is installed. For such a big cooler, we are surprised to see it only weighs in at 650 grams, but this is the cooler only; there are an additional 160 grams of fan weight to consider too. The last bit they disclose about the Macho Direct is that it sports five heat pipes which are 6mm in diameter. What is not disclosed is that the fins are made of aluminum and total 31 in the fin stack. There also is no mention of the aluminum base used to contain the five heat pipes, nor that said pipes are copper, with no treatment applied to them.

The fan included with this cooler is the TY-140 black fan, and you do have the option to use it or not with a 200W TDP rating of this cooler. The fan is a 140mm fan but is not square in its measurements, and it is 26.5mm in thickness. The rated speed of the TY-140 is 300 to 1300 RPM, controlled via PWM if desired with the 4-pin power connection. Airflow from the fan is sufficient, topping out at 73.6 CFM, but there is no mention of the amount of static pressure that pushes those CFM through the tower. As far as noise is concerned, Thermalright rates the TY-140 at a maximum of 21 dB(A), which means the Macho Direct can be actively cooled without much intrusion to your ears, even if the fan is at full speed.

Thermalright also included three, dimensional renderings, to go along with the specifications. These show everything from the offset of the cooler to the standard dimensions, as well as showing off clearances that this tower built into it. Even if you have a motherboard which makes you question the fitment of such a large tower cooler, just by referencing these images, and measuring the motherboard, it is easy to tell if fitment will be an issue with the motherboard you have chosen to use in your build.

While using Google to shop for this cooler, not many hits pop up except for a few links to eBay. However, if you dig into the search feature at the major retailers, you will find this cooler listed with the big players at taking money from PC users in the US. First, we looked at Newegg, and there we see a listing for the Macho Direct at just $49.90 with Nan's Gaming Gear as the actual supplier of this cooler. If you want to save a little bit more on the purchase of this CPU cooler, you could go to Amazon. It is there we found the lowest current pricing, with a listing of the Macho Direct at $47.99, sold directly from Thermalright. In the past, we used to be able to compare coolers by the magic $50 mark, and while it has been a while since we have seen competitive air coolers anywhere near this price, it's nice to see that Thermalright is not trying to empty your wallets.

Instead, they are delivering a quite competent CPU cooler, which follows all the guidelines of what makes a great cooler, and leaves customers with a warm and fuzzy feeling knowing they did not have to shell out near $100 to do what the Thermalright Macho Direct is capable of doing.


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Even though the cost is cut to an affordable level, this does not mean that the box should not attract the eye. On the front panel of the box, there is a huge image of the cooler taking up most of the space, with a black background around it. Using orange and red we see the name of the cooler, and the Thermalright name and logo are found at the bottom.

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The Macho Direct name at the top is bright and easy to see, but the rest of the information here is presented in white, on top of the black backdrop. Thermalright points out many things here, like included bits, features of the included fan, as well as many of the features found in this cooler.

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The back of the box changes pace a bit, as Thermalright chose red as the backdrop this time. Offered on this panel, we find three specifications charts that cover only the basics. Near the bottom, we find the Thermalright address and are shown that this CPU cooler is made in Taiwan.

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The last of the sides is delivered with black again, but this time there is a look at the base of the Macho Direct, showing that the heat pipes make direct contact with the CPU in this design. Along the bottom, Thermalright also added some awards they were previously blessed with, to help bolster the fact that this is a product from a company which has proven itself in the past.

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Inside of the box, we find the tower us wrapped in dense foam on all sides to protect it from the bumps and vibrations of shipping. In a layer above the cooler, the fan is also protected by thick foam, and that leaves the hardware box and paperwork sitting on the top of the packaging. As to this specific cooler, the packaging did its job well, and allowed our Macho Direct to show up in excellent condition for images and testing.

Thermalright Macho Direct CPU Cooler

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From the front of the Macho Direct, there is quite a bit to see and discuss. There are the aluminum base and the five copper pipes which exit the base and run through the fins in a staggered pattern. There are also the 31 fins in the stack, and if you look closely, you can even make out all of the tabs pressed down between the fins to help grab and direct the airflow through the fin stack.

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This side of the Macho Direct is the side that will be nearest the top of the motherboard, and we can see the offset of the design which moves the cooler away from the RAM, allowing for full clearance, no matter the height of the memory. We can also see that down the side of the stack, tabs are bent between each of the fins to keep the spacing proper between them as well.

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Looking through the back of the Macho Direct we can see that some of the heat pipes do not run in line with the rest of them. We can also see that there is a valley in the center, and this is made so that if desired, a second fan has room to build pressure to evacuate air at a higher rate than if it were flat.

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Since we covered much of what the sides offer with the last image like this, there is one last thing to point out. With the offset pushing the cooler toward the rear I/O of the motherboard, this also puts the cooler much closer to the chassis exhaust fan, helping to offer some air flow to the tower should you choose to run this passively.

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The top of the Macho Direct has a lot to cover. The tiny holes at the right and left are used to send wire fan mounts through the tower, and there are 62 tabs cut into each fin in the stack to address airflow and help to cool each fin. We also see that three of the pipes are in line, with two offsets to them, and the large hole near the back to aid in mounting this cooler to the rest of the hardware.

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At the opposite end of the Macho Direct, we can tell that the fins are pressed onto the heat pipes. We can also see that the tabs are in each fin of the stack, and if you look near the base of the cooler, there is a Thermalright holographic sticker present as well.

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After removing the protective sticker from the base, we can see the flattened sections of the heat pipes as well as the rough texture left from the milling process. There are wide gaps between the pipes which will eat up a lot of thermal paste, and the entire aluminum section will not make any contact with the CPU, as it sits much lower than the level of the pipes.

Accessories and Documentation

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Inside of the hardware box, this is some of the gear you will find. Four wire fan clips come with this cooler, as well as a packet of Chill Factor paste, and eight fan isolation pads. We also have the backplate isolation material under the top mounting bracket, as well as the 150mm long #2 Phillips head screwdriver.

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To the left in this image are eight plastic spacers. The four at the top are for AMD and are a bit larger, while the four below them are for Intel mounting. There is also the universal backplate which is drilled for AMD and Intel, and Thermalright also includes an LGA775 preload spacer to use with the backplate.

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Here we have the standard standoffs for AMD and Intel mounting, and off to the right are the standoffs used for LGA2011 mounting. The longer screws on the left are used for the backplate and standoffs, the trio in the middle is to mount the cooler to the top bracket, and the shorter screws are used to attach the top bracket to the top of the standoffs.

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We also wanted to show off the black TY-140 fan that comes with the cooler. This fan is a seven-blade design, the frame is taller than it is wide, and it gets power from the 4-pin connection which runs down the sleeved wiring.

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The manual which is supplied with the Macho Direct is quite comprehensive. There is a list of all the parts you will need to have for installation to check against the hardware that was supplied in the box to start things off. After this, you will find renderings and basic text descriptions to take you through the standard Intel mounting, specific instructions for LGA2011, and yet another section on AMD mounting so that no user will have issues when it comes to getting the Macho Direct up and running properly on any motherboard.

Installation and Finished Product

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You do not want to forget to be sure and install the rubber fan isolation pads on the tower. With only one fan supplied, we only put them on the front edge of the fins, but there are enough to do both sides. Without these in place, the fan will fit sloppy to the fins, and will likely cause excess noise that you do not want when this cooler is billed to be near silent.

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To get the back plate onto the motherboard, you must first take the long screws, slide them into the correct holes, and use the white plastic washers to help lock the screws into the backplate. Once that is completed, you just align the screws and set the plate into place.

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On top of the motherboard, you first need to install the standoffs onto the long screws, and these are isolated with plastic washers as not to damage the motherboard. Once those are in, you set the top bracket onto them and using the shorter screws without washers on them, you secure the top bracket into place.

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After adding some thermal paste and screwing the cooler onto the top bracket, we can start to get an idea of what the Macho Direct has to offer. Looking past the RAM, we can see this is a big cooler, and in our installation, the fan is the highest point of the tower, which increases the overall height. On a side note, the 140mm fan is much larger than the fin array, and will have no issues keeping all of the fins cooled.

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Populating all of the RAM slots is not an issue when it comes to AMD or most of the Intel motherboards. Seen in this image, there is a slight gap between the memory and the fan, which means you can use RAM of any height with this cooler as well.

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Moving back a bit to get the full picture of what is going on with the Macho Direct, we can see there is a lot more of the tower behind the socket. For LGA2011 users, this means memory can conflict with the cooler, and you are left with needing to use memory which is 37.5mm or shorter as not to cause issues with fitment. It is also easier for the chassis exhaust fan to help pull air through the cooler, and adding a second fan to the tower may not even be needed or possible depending on the case used in the build.

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From this view, there is a lot of CPU cooler covering the top of the motherboard, but the first PCI-e slot is open. The Macho direct is close to the slot, but cards will fit without making contact, but getting to the release clips for the cards is complicated by such a large footprint. While the Macho Direct does have an old-school look to it, as you are about to see in our charts, it is more than capable of doing what it is intended for.

Test System Setup, Thermal Tests, and Noise Results

Chad's CPU Cooler Test System Specifications

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 (October 2016) for more information.

Thermal Results

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57 degrees is very respectable as a result with the processor at stock. Comparing to the others we have run on this CPU, it is only two degrees out of first in air coolers listed, and even outperforms the H80i when it is in Quiet Mode. Shockingly, as you will see in the noise level chart, the fan is running at a very low RPM to get this result too.

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With the processor now overclocked, and the motherboard PWM still on control of fan speed, the 72.5-degree result is still splendid. The gap widens just slightly from the Noctua, adding a half of a degree, but at the same time, it is still able to hold up with the fat 120mm radiator of the H80i. Again, since the PWM fan curve favors silence over RPMs, the fan speed here was only around half of its potential.

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In this test, we still have the processor overclocked, but this time we allow the fan to spool up to full speed. At this point, we were able to reduce the average of all of the cores another 3.25 degrees from our last result. As you are about to see too, even at full blast, we would not consider the Macho Direct to be loud.

Noise Level Results

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The baseline for the fan is 300 RPM, and at idle we saw the fan spinning near 400 RPM for all of the testing, making it unheard while nothing was going on with the system. Once the stock testing was underway, the highest fan speed we saw in that thirty-minute run was 690 RPM, and at that time we were only getting 23dB of noise.

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Even adding more voltage and speed to the processor with the overclocked setting applied, we were still very impressed with the lack of noise during this pass. Only 27dB is heard from the Macho Direct at this point, and the maximum fan speed for this round was only at 976 RPM.

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Once we applied 12V to the fan, we did get the speed up to the rated top end, with AIDA64 reporting 1450 RPM for the majority of this phase of testing. Even so, there is only 35 dB of noise coming from the Macho Direct, and while it is just getting to an audible level for most users, inside of a chassis, most of it will be blocked from reaching your ears.

Final Thoughts

The Thermalright Macho Direct has a lot going for it. It is big, rated with a 200W TDP, and in our charts, it has been shown to be more than capable of handling even the most serious of overclocks, which can run all day every day. The cooler is easy to set up, mount, and use and everything you need is right there in the box, including the screwdriver.

Our thermal results show that while not the best air cooler on our charts, it is close to them, and is even able to keep up with the H80i in Quiet Mode, with less fan speed and noise associated with it too. The noise level or lack thereof is where the Macho Direct shines. Allowing the PWM circuit to control the speed of the fan, you rarely even use half of the possible speed to keep this tower cooled. Even if you do choose to run the fan all out all day, the 35 dB measurement we took at its maximum speed is little more than a hum to deal with at all, and that is only if you keep the chassis within a foot of your head.

As far as downsides go, we only found two that may make or break this cooler for certain users, and a couple that we just found not to the top standards of what most expect in an air cooler today. As for the real concerns, due to the offset of the fins to the base of the cooler, LGA2011 users are limited to not being able to fill all of the RAM slots. The fins can hang over the slots to the left of the socket, and while the cooler does offer 37.5mm of room for standard memory, most users are using taller sticks with their builds these days.

The second thing that can make things complicated is the weighting of the tower. Again, due to that same offset, the tower is back heavy and will not stand upright on its own. This means you could easily have it tumble off the table when trying to assemble the cooler, and when it comes time to mount the cooler to the motherboard, you may want some help holding the cooler while you screw it into place.

Outside of that, the only thing we see left is that old-school look. The fins are left in their natural state, and most users have moved to black coolers or fancy shrouds these days. Also, the pipes are left in their natural state as well, so the copper will turn dark over time. We also wish the aluminum base was level with the milled pipes. In the Macho Direct, you may find you need to use a bit more thermal paste than you would with other HDT coolers due to this. Keep in mind too, nickel plating and getting the fins anodized all cost money, and this is a cooler which does not demand a bunch of that.

Speaking of the pricing, this Thermalright Macho Direct is as impressive as it is in both thermal and audio testing; you can get this CPU cooler for less than $50. It has been a long time since coolers had all of the necessities to get the job done, and have fallen into what we would consider the budget-friendly end of the spectrum. Pricing the other coolers found near it on the charts, only the Thermaltake is near it in cost, and the Noctua and Corsair in direct comparison cost near double the money. For just $47.99 at Amazon, the Thermalright Macho Direct proves you do not have to get all fancy or break the piggy bank to get excellent cooling and a lack of noise associated with it to do so.

At this price, with all of the cards on the table, it is hard to deny that this Macho Direct from Thermaltake is a CPU air cooler worthy of much attention and fanfare. It may look old-school, but everything about this design is up to date and accommodating to most user's needs.

TweakTown award
Performance 93%
Quality including Design and Build 90%
General Features 92%
Bundle and Packaging 99%
Value for Money 98%
Overall 94%

The Bottom Line: Only fine details like complications to LGA2011 users and the lack of coatings keeps this cooler from a gold award! The Macho Direct is a big cooler, but it does its job handily with a 200W TDP, the fan is quiet under all conditions, and for less than $50, how can you go wrong?

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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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