Thermalright Le Grand Macho RT CPU Cooler Review

Thermalright's Le Grand Macho is one of the best CPU air coolers we've tested in a long time. You need to take a look at this one.

Published Fri, Dec 23 2016 12:45 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 6:58 PM CST
Rating: 97%Manufacturer: Thermalright

Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing

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Even though we just had a look at the Macho Direct, Thermalright has also introduced a cousin to this cooler, still sporting the Macho name as well. This time around, we are still offered a semi-passive CPU cooling option, but improvements have been made to what we just saw from their previous submission. In this design, there are more fins added to the stack, the base is larger to take on the LGA2011 CPUs, and along with an added heat pipe in the mix, this time the cooler is dressed to the nines as well. While similar at a glance, for those who thought he Macho Direct was a bit on the dull side, Thermalright still has an option for those of you who need the coolers appearance to be dressed up.

Adding more fins and an extra pipe does take up some of the available room the previous design offered, but it also does one vital thing on top of that as well. Rather than the 200W TDP that the Macho Direct has, this cooler offers an astonishing 280W TDP. This means that whether going AMD or Intel for your processor, this cooler has the grapes it takes to handle anything you can throw at it, even the most extravagant overclocks for suicide runs if that is the type of thing you enjoy doing. Of course, to do so, you will want to use this cooler with a fan to actively cool the tower. On the flip side, the TDP is so high, so that when and if you decide to run this cooler without a fan on it, depending on only the chassis cooling to pass air over it, you can still manage temperatures without any noise associated from this cooler at all.

If this were just the Macho Direct with a bit of lipstick on it, we would have no issues telling you that, but this is not the case. The Le Grand Macho RT shipped from Thermalright is a level above, while just resembling a more affordable solution. Something to pay attention to though is that there are two versions of this cooler. There is one sold as Le Grand Macho, which ships without a fan, and then there is the Le Grand Macho RT shipped with a TY-147 fan to cool it actively. As for our needs, we will be testing the cooler with the fan that accompanies it, as our test rig is not made to test passive coolers adequately. Since we run without an exhaust fan, our results in semi-passive mode would have shed a bad light on the Le Grand Macho, as it would be left to stew in its juices inside of the D-Frame chassis. That being said, we should move on, and see what this Thermalright Le Grand Macho is all about, and just what this 280W TDP cooler is capable of.

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Our chart for the specifications is taken directly from the product page of the Le Grand Macho from Thermalright. In it, we are first shown the dimensions of the cooler, where we are shown that it is 150mm from side to side, it is 120mm from front to back without the base included, and 125mm with it included, and to the top of the pipe tips from the base, this cooler stands 159mm tall. We also see the weight has drastically increased from the Macho Direct, and that 900 grams does not include the 160 additional grams of the fan. We see there is a total of seven heat pipes in this design, all of which are 6mm in diameter. The aluminum fins are 0.4mm thick with a 3.1mm gap between each of them, and there are 35 fins in total. There is a mention of the C1100 Pure copper used in the base, but no mention of the copper that comprises the heat pipes, and there is also no mention of the nickel coating applied to both of them.

The fan that comes along with the Le Grand Macho RT is the Thermalright TY-147B fan. This fan is 140mm wide, 152mm tall, and 26.5mm in thickness. The speed of it can range from 300 to 1300 RPM, pushing a range of air flow from 16.9 to 73.6 CFM, but no mention of the air pressure level. We also see that this fan is shown to be only 21 dB(A) in noise level when fully powered, but normally it will be below that while using the 4-pin PWM controlled connection to the motherboard. The last couple of things to note in this chart are that the fan uses a fluid dynamic bearing, and the Le Grand Macho is indeed rated at 280W of TDP.

From earlier emails, we were shown the MSRP for both the Le Grand Macho, as well as the Le Grand Macho RT, where the former is offered at €59.99, and the latter was to release for €69.99. With the Euro nearly identical currently to the US dollar, pricing should still be close to what the MSRP is on the other side of the pond. We were able to find listings for the Le Grand Macho, where Newegg is asking $69.90 for it, and Amazon is asking $69.99 right now. So, there is a $10 increase on US shores. However, while the fan-less version is easy to get your hands-on, we only found one listing of the Le Grand Macho RT, and it is shown without a price as it is currently unavailable from Amazon at this time.

If we had to take a stab at the pricing, we would expect it to fall in the $79.99 to $89.99 range to add the TY-147B to the cooler. Considering the Le Grand Macho has a near $40 increase on the asking price over the Macho Direct, this cooler better look the part and play the part even better. The bar was raised high once we saw what the Macho Direct brought to the table.


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A large image of the Le Grand Macho is presented to see on the front of the box, over a white backdrop. To bring attention to this cooler as it sits on the shelf, it is hard to pass by that bright green behind the name and along the bottom of the box.

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While the box does not say whether this is the Le Grand Macho RT or not, we would assume that it is because we saw a fan on the front panel, and it is mentioned on the side panel as well. There are many other things mentioned her too, about features like airflow, clearances, and what to expect from a product such as this.

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The back of the box is almost hard to read with the use of bright green as the background color here. On it is white text showing condensed specifications for this cooler in three different languages.

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The last panel on the outside of the box shows us the TY-147B fan, and that it has side venting built into the frame of this fan. We also see awards Thermalright received in the past, and we see that this cooler is innovated-not imitated.

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The inner packaging is identical to what we saw with the Macho Direct, where dense foam surrounds the body of the cooler as well as the 140mm fan. The hardware box and paperwork are on top of it all, and slid down the side of the box we found the Thermalright screwdriver too. Just like it did with the previous cooler to this, our Le Grand Macho showed up in excellent condition without a mark on it or any signs of damage.

Thermalright Le Grand Macho CPU Cooler

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Down the front of the Le Grand Macho RT cooler, we see that there are 35 fins in this stack, including the top fin, which is black. Below the fins we see a two-part base assembly, and that it and the heat pipes have been plated with nickel to dress it up and fight oxidation.

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From the right side of the cooler, we can see the fins are all supported with three tabs in the middle, which keeps the spacing correct and help to trap air from escaping. We can see the lowest three fins are cut shorter for better RAM clearance with LGA2011 motherboards, and we can also see the severe angle in which some of the pipes are bent to make it into the rear of the fin stack.

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Viewing the Le Grand Macho RT from the back, we can see that the heat pipes do not follow each other in just one single file line. The four at the front are inset, while the other three near the back run slightly outside of that line. We also see many tabs in each fin bent into the airflow, forcing air to run a certain way through the stack, making it more efficient without completely closing off the sides.

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Since the left side of the cooler is a reverse image of the right side, we are left with just one thing to cover. If you look at the top fin and follow that groove seen there at the front and back, all the way down the cooler, this groove is intended to lock the wire fan clips into.

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From the top, we see the edges of the fins are higher near the edges and are cut shorter in the middle. We counted a total of 58 tabs that are bent into each fin; we can see the offset of the heat pipes better, and there is also a large hole running through all of the fins to aid in mounting this large cooler.

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At the bottom of the cooler, we see that the fins are pressed onto the heat pipes. Not only are the lower fins cut shorter for memory clearances, but they are also cut even more at the back to allow for the bends used of the second set of three heat pipes. With the use of a larger base in this design, this is what allows Thermalright to offer seven heat pipes in this cooler.

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The base of the cooler is made of copper, and rather than leaving rough milling marks, it is polished to near perfection before the nickel plating has been added. Together they offer a mirror-like surface but is smooth across the slightly convex surface.

Accessories and Documentation

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The Le Grand Macho comes with only one set of wire fan clips, but the cooler is made to allow for two fans if desired. We also have the backplate isolation material under the top mounting bracket, along with the cross bracket to mount the cooler to the top bracket, and the small tube of Thermalright Chill Factor III paste.

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In this image, we have the Intel washers, the LGA775 pre-load spacer, and the AMD washers off to the left. In the middle is the universal backplate which is drilled for all the holes one would need, as well as having holes for Intel socket screws. Then, off to the right is a set of isolation pads for the fan, and we only get one set to go with the fan shipped inside of this box.

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The rest of the hardware is what we see here. In the back are the standard standoffs for both AMD and most of the Intel sockets, but just in front of them are the LGA2011 specific standoffs. The longer screws are used to pass through the backplate and used with the standoffs, while the shorter screws are used to secure the top plate as well as with the cooler cross bracket.

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The manual that comes with this cooler is thorough and will guide you through any installation that the Le Grand Macho RT is capable of. There are exploded diagrams and step-by-step renderings to get the installation completed, and one should have no issues getting the cooler installed and working properly if you follow what is inside of it.

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The fan of choice for the Le Grand Macho cooler is this TY-147B 140mm fan. The fan has seven white blades housed inside of the black round frame, and while it uses a 4-pin PWM connection for power, there are also four grooves cut into the side of the frame to allow this fan to draw air from every angle.

Installation and Finished Product

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Since we will not be testing this cooler passively inside of our open air chassis, we needed to install the rubber fan isolation pads first. If you were to forget these while using the fan, you would notice there is some movement to the fan once it is installed, and that can lead to chattering of the fins from the vibrations in the fan.

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We then moved onto the backplate installation. All you need to do is take four of the long screws, send them through the appropriate holes for the socket that pertains to you, and push the white plastic washers over the ends of the screws. Once that is all done, the screws should line up with the holes in the motherboard, and easily be installed against the back of the motherboard. Also, do not forget to put the plastic isolation material under the plate as we have here.

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To get to this point, you first need to screw the standoffs down onto the motherboard, making sure the end with the washer is against the PCB. Once that is completed, you can set the top bracket onto the standoffs, and use the short screws to secure it to the rest of the hardware.

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To get to this point, we installed the cross bracket on top of the base of the cooler, and also installed the fan. Much like we saw with the Macho Direct, when it comes to mounting this 140mm fan, you can easily increase the height of the cooler. With such a large fan in play, it does cover the vast majority of the fin stack behind it.

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Since the Le Grand Macho is also offset to move the body of the tower to the back of the motherboard, when it comes to memory on this side of the cooler, even with the fan installed, we have plenty of room, and the height of the RAM makes no difference either.

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Stepping back to get a better view of the rest of the coverage, we do see that the fins will ride over the top of some of the DIMM slots on an LGA2011 motherboard. However, with the lowest fins being cut short, it leaves plenty of room for memory to go there, even if they are taller than naked or low-profile options.

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After installing everything into the test rig, there is a lot of Le Grand Macho RT staring back at you. There is still room to get to the motherboard screws with it installed, and it does allow for a card to install in the top slot of the motherboard too. This is a heavy tower cooler, though, and we do not recommend using this cooler if you want to travel with your chassis, as it has the potential to cause a lot of issues if allowed to be jostled around.

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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For a single tower cooler with just one fan to cool all of the fins, when it came to the stock testing we do, the Le Grand Macho RT is impressive with its results. Just slightly behind the NH-D15 at 55.25 degrees, this CPU cooler shows it is very efficient at what it is designed to do.

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With PWM still in control of the fan for this round of overclocked testing, we see that the Le Grand Macho RT shines above all of the air coolers we have tested with this system thus far. Not only does it beat the Noctua results, but the 69.75-degree results are nearly as good as the AIO with its pump and fans running all out.

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When it comes to this round of testing, we supply the fan with 12V and were able to squeeze another 2.5 degrees improvement out of the Le Grand Macho RT. Still, though, coming in first in air cooling, and only second to an AIO says a lot about this cooler, and keep in mind, this is a couple of degrees better across the board than the Macho Direct as well.

Noise Level Results

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At idle under all of the phases of testing, we found that the TY-147B would be spinning at only 460 RPM. Allowing the fan header to use the PWM control for the stock testing, we saw the fan spool up to only 644 RPM at the maximum, and recorded only 22 dB of noise at this time.

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Even once the overclock was applied, the noise level hardly moves. The fan at this point topped out at just 817 RPM, and that 150-ish RPM increase took the fan to 25 dB. This is where you would normally experience the maximum noise level, where it is designed to run under extreme loads.

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When it comes to pushing the fan with 12V all of the time, we saw the fan was spinning at a constant 1311 RPM. At this time, the fan just creeps into the audible spectrum at 33 dB. Keep in mind that this is worst case scenario too, and since most use PWM to control the fan speeds, it is unlikely you will ever hear the Le Grand Macho cooling the CPU inside of a chassis.

Final Thoughts

Thinking back and pondering all of the good things we found in the Le Grand Macho RT, the list seems endless. Top–tier performance in our thermal testing, and at the same time, this is one of the most silent coolers we have yet to test on this or any of our systems from the past. The hardware is beefy, it is easy to use and assemble, and it is rugged enough to keep over 1000 grams of the cooler in fan securely mounted to the motherboard.

The base is nearly perfect in its lack of texture or imperfections, and the convex shape adds pressure in the middle of the IHS and helps to draw the heat out of the ever decreasing die sizes we see today, as well as being big enough to handle the large LGA2011 processors too. There are seven heat pipes in this design where most use only six, and there is also the nickel plating and black anodized top fin which dresses up the aesthetics as well.

When it comes to reasons why this cooler should not be your next cooler of choice, it is only the weight which concerns us, and only if you plan to lug your PC around to LANs or a friend's house a lot. We would normally be complaining about memory clearances, but the Le Grand Macho has accommodations in this design to make sure that no matter what motherboard you choose, you can stick in 46mm worth of memory under the back side of the cooler too. This means that while you may have issues trying to remove RAM with the cooler in place, you do get a wide selection of choices in heat spreader designs without causing a conflict. No matter how hard we try to come up with something, we just cannot fault this design in the slightest - Thermalright has thought everything through and made sure that the Le Grand Macho RT is up to the task.

To some, the main downfall of this cooler could be the price, as we are seeing that even obtaining this cooler without a fan will set you back nearly $70. With a fan it will cost you another ten to twenty dollars, at least we would expect as much. Without a current listing of the Le Grand Macho RT, this is all conjecture, but even so, we feel that this cooler is worth every penny. It can go toe to toe with the NH-D15 and is quieter while doing so, and it is also priced in this range. Even when it comes to the H80i GT which ranges from $90 to $149 depending on the location, it sheds light on the fact that the Le Grand Macho is priced right where it should be honestly.

That being said, we do like the look of this cooler once it is installed, and none of its competition is designed to run anywhere near passive, where this 280W TDP tower cooler is. For what it's worth, we feel that Thermalright is right on point with every aspect of the Le Grand Macho RT. If you have room for a large air cooler on top of your CPU, this is one of the best and should warrant a serious look when it comes to your next cooler purchase.

TweakTown award
Quality including Design and Build99%
General Features97%
Bundle and Packaging98%
Value for Money95%

The Bottom Line: Thermalright hit it out of the park! Yes, this cooler is huge, but it looks good, performs better than most in our charts, and does so in virtual silence. It may be costly, but chart topping performance is not usually cheap, is it?

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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, cooling, as well as peripherals.

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