Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
The True lineup of CPU coolers has a long history with those who have spent many years in the PC industry. Most notably was the True Copper, whose debut was nearly a decade ago now. When released, it took the world by storm, not only due to the amazing looks of a solid copper tower cooler, but it was also one of the industry leaders in performance at that time as well. With such a solid foundation to build upon, and in our time of reviewing CPU coolers, we do not see the True line of coolers going anywhere anytime soon, as we have yet to see a bad incarnation of an air CPU that was blessed to carry the True name.
Of course, much has changed in that time, as far as design is concerned, but Thermalright has shown that they are not afraid to try something new. Thermalright is a company that starts trends but is also not afraid to follow them, incorporating all of the latest and greatest ideas into their CPU coolers. Offset designs for improved fitment, use of plating over exposed copper, increasing the size to fit 140mm fans, and some of the beefiest hardware out there on the market today are all things that tend to give Thermalright an edge when it comes to looking for a new CPU cooler. Not only are designs adjusted to fit with the times, but performance always seems to be on point with their products and without the need to make your ears bleed with the obnoxious noise levels found in many other companies cooler which try to compete.
The latest cooler to sport this heritage is the Thermalright True Spirit 140 Direct which has us here today. As far as coolers go today, this may seem standard in most respects, but there is a certain high-end feel that comes with a Thermalright product, which other coolers in this category seem not to be able to deliver. Yes, it is made to take on all of the latest and greatest processors, it is on the larger size for a tower cooler, yet at the same time, clearance all around it is afforded, and this stylish tower cooler is up to the task at hand. Since it covers all of the major concerns when it comes to looking for a replacement air cooler to cool your CPU, we can easily say that taking the time to see what we have to say about the True Spirit 140 Direct is well worth your time, and we do suggest you read on.
In the specifications offered from Thermalright, we do not find out much about the True Spirit 140 Direct, more so, just a brief overview. The body of the heat sink is 140mm wide, 77mm deep with the fan installed on it, and stands just 161mm in height, fitting inside of many mid and full-tower cases. All told, the True Spirit 140 Direct weighs in at 650 grams and offers five 6mm diameter heat pipes. What is not said is that there are 49 aluminum fins in the stack, the top fin of it offered in black, while the rest are left in their natural state. These fins are press fit over the five copper heat pipes, but only after they have been nickel plated. The base of this cooler uses a thick block of aluminum to contain the heat pipes as well as offering the mounting within the same hunk of metal, but at the bottom, this design leaves the pipes exposed to make direct contact with the CPU.
Matching the top of the True Spirit 140 Direct, the TY-140 fan which comes in the box is also black, the frame, the blades, and the fan power lead all blend right in. This fan is oval in shape; one side to side measurement is 152mm, while the other is 140mm, and its thickness is 26.5mm. The TY-140 weighs in at 160 grams, it offers a speed range from 300 to 1300 RPM and is specified to deliver a maximum of 21 dB(A) when it comes to noise levels. The TY-140 fan chosen here shows no static pressure rating, but we do see that it will deliver 73.6 CFM of airflow as long as the 4-pin PWM power lead is getting maximum signaling.
One thing which will draw the masses to a cooler like this is the price. While availability is not found in many locations, the major e-tailers are currently listing this cooler. The best deal can be had at Newegg at this time, where we locate the cooler under the magic $50 mark we feel a single tower cooler should be priced near, as it is listed there for just $44.95. If you happen to be an Amazon Prime member and wish not to go through Newegg for this cooler, expect to pay more for it. Their listing is requiring $46.95 for the True Spirit 140 Direct. Either route you take, there is a great deal to be had. This cooler has everything many want in a single tower cooler, and for this price point, you are getting quite a bit of bang for the buck in your investment.
In black packaging with a simple gray bar across the bottom, an image of the True Spirit 140 Direct takes center stage. The name of the cooler is presented in orange and red letters, while the Thermalright logo is white and green, and company name just in white.
The next panel shows the cooler name and the tagline "innovated – not imitated" at the top. The bulk of this panel is used to present the PWM, easy mounting, low noise, heat pipes configuration, compatibility, clearances, and that it ships with high-end thermal grease, as its feature set.
The back of the box is bright red and is where the specifications chart is offered to those who might be buying this off of a shelf in a big box store. There is also some iconography, the company name, and website address, and that it was made in Taiwan offered in the lower section.
The last panel on the packaging shows the product name and tagline across the top, but this is used primarily to afford a good view of the base design in the True Spirit 140 Direct. With the heat pipes being exposed and making contact with the CPU, it is where the Direct in the coolers name derives.
Found inside of the box is this sandwich of parts and goodies. The TY-140 fan rests on one side of the tower, separated by a layer of dense foam. This foam surrounds the tower to protect it, and on the other side of the foam is a box of hardware. We do also find a manual slid down one side of the box and is in easy reach to look it over before opening things up and getting ahead of yourself. This may be a simple way to ship a cooler, but the protection afforded from both the box and the dense foam, our True Spirit 140 Direct showed in impeccable condition.
Thermalright TRUE Spirit 140 Direct CPU Cooler
The body of the cooler is made of 49 fins in a stack pressed over heat pipes which are oriented in three lines to either side. The orientation delivers more airflow across the pipes to improve efficiency but does make for some odd shaping as they leave the aluminum base.
The side of the tower is made with a jagged shape, and even has a set of grooves which one would think the fan would connect with, but not in this design. At the bottom, we also see that the pipes sidestep each other as they make their way into the fin stack.
Since the fin stack is identical in number and shape to the front, we want to point out that this cooler, even though it looks nearly symmetrical, there is a slight offset to the design to allow for PCI-e slot clearance too.
Both of the sides are designed with an open fin stack, but the fins will stay spaced evenly without the sides being closed off. With five pipes in three sections of the fins, the punched out holes and the lips created from that process do a great job of spacing the fins, and ensuring they will not move.
Since the base is wider than the tower is, we placed the True Spirit 140 Direct on the TY-140 fan. Each side offers five pipes which are evenly spaced, and we also see four small holes punched into each fin as well. The Thermalright logo is cut from every fin in the stack, and the two holes found near the edges is how fan clips are attached to this tower.
From this angle, we see that the holes are found all the way through the tower and that each of the nickel plated copper heat pipes is only pressed into each fin as means of transferring heat to the aluminum.
The five heat pipes are evenly spaced across the base with small sections of the aluminum base plate. The pipes sit much higher than the spacers, and the mating surface is rough in texture. Either there is so much nickel that the milling on the heat pipes is no longer visible, or it could be the pipes were never machined in the first place.
The top of the base has a Thermalright sticker placed on it which offers the serial number of only the tower. Each edge of the base plate has the Thermalright name and logo carved into it, just as the shape changes to offer the mounting tabs.
Accessories and Documentation
Recalling back to that white cardboard box which contains all of the hardware, once we opened it, all of the hardware is found in one large bag. There are smaller bags inside to section off the bits, so feel free to rip it open to get to what is inside.
Floating freely inside of the large bag is what we have in this image. There is an LGA1151 socket spacer centered in the four wire fan clips. Along the bottom, we see the backplate isolation membrane, the universal backplate, and the top mounting bracket which is highly polished in appearance.
In smaller bags, we find the Chill Factor grease at the top, with larger bags below it. The bag on the left contains the fans isolation tubes, nylon washers for both Intel and AMD mounts, and a socket LGA775 pre-load spacer as well. The bag on the right delivered the backplate screws, LGA2100 standoffs, standoffs for all other sockets, screws to mount the top plate, as well as screws with washers on them to mount the cooler to the hardware.
If our description of the included fan earlier was not defined enough, here you can view the product sticker. More specifically we can see that this is the TR-TY140Black fan which can draw 12V and uses only 0.20A. It is shown to be made in China, and there is another fancy Thermalright sticker with a serial number unique to just the fan.
The manual for this cooler is thorough and easy to follow. Starting off with a parts list to verify you have everything needed, the manual moves onto the installation process. There are a few exploded diagrams to show how it works, but there are also sections specific to LGA2011, Intel and AMD, which contains renderings, denotations of the parts required, all in a simple to follow format.
This is the first time we have seen this additional component and insert, but this explains it all. The clear plastic spacer we just mentioned is made to fit over the CPU, but to be held into place with the retention bracket on the socket. There is no literature as to why it is needed, but we will be employing its use for testing.
Installation and Finished Product
It may be tough to see since the spacer is clear, but we have fitted it around the CPU and locked the retention bracket down as usual. It appears that this spacer locks the CPU into a centralized location, but we cannot see it helping with pressure as it does not touch the locking mechanism.
Following the instructions, we find the four longest screws and slide them through both the backplate as well as the isolation membrane. Once that has been done, for Intel, you grab the smaller set of nylon spacers and send them down the threads of the screws.
After that last step, we are then told to put the backplate on the motherboard. Orientation matters little, as both ends are drilled equally with three holes, and the other two side are cut short enough not to conflict at all.
To get to this stage of completion, we screwed the standoffs in place to each screw in the backplate. Once that is done, you place the top bracket over them, and then screw it into place using the four shorter screws.
On both sides of the fin stack, close to the corners, you will find an area with notches cut from six fins. This is where you squeeze in the rubber tubes which act as the isolation for the fan. We also recommend that you install the wire fan mounting clips before installing the cooler as well.
Giving five or six turns to a screw, then switching sides and repeating that process, the screws mounting the cooler to the hardware are intended to bottom out. The top plate will flex slightly under pressure, but the tabs should be making contact with the top plate.
We chose the option to use the fan sitting wider across the middle, to help keep the height down, and the fan covers nearly the entire fin stack at this point. If you are worried about the use of the first PCI-e slot, turn the fan ninety degrees, so the fan clips will not contact the card.
The fan slides in behind the memory, causing no conflicts for us here. Also, note that the fan can sit low on the tower so that it will deliver airflow across the board and over the power delivery system as well.
The True Spirit 140 Direct is a tall and narrow cooler, and with all the room left behind the cooler, one could easily add in another fan for a degree or two boost in performance. If you happen to have an extra fan on hand, Thermalright already offers extra fan clips, so a push-pull configuration is simple to try out to see if it is worth the trouble of buying a matching TY-140 fan.
Setting up the True Spirit 140 Direct for testing, we find it to be hanging firmly from the motherboard with the hardware supplied with it. It does not twist in the slightest; you can look down through the cooler inside of the logo, and hanging in this image, it almost begs to have a second fan on it. If for anything, just to fill the gap behind it and block our view of the hardware.
Test System Setup, Thermal Tests, and Noise Results
Chad's CPU Cooler Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Maximus VIII HERO (Intel Z170) - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- CPU: Intel Core i7 6700K - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Memory: Patriot Viper 4 3000MHz 4X4GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Graphics Card: MSI GeForce GTX 1060 6GB OC - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Storage: Corsair Neutron XTi 480GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Case: INWIN D-Frame - Read our review
- Power Supply: Thermaltake Toughpower DPS 1050W - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64-bit - Buy from Amazon
- Software: RealTemp 3.70, AIDA64 Engineer 5.75.3900, and CPU-z 1.77.0 x64
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.
With our stock settings at play for this round of testing, we see that the True Spirit 140 Direct is a strong contender. Only three degrees behind a fat AIO, and within a range of many popular and more expensive CPU cooling solutions. The 56.25-degree result in this test does not make them the champion, but the result is awfully good considering size and that it is not a water cooler.
Still using PWM to control the fan, we applied our overclocked profile to the motherboard and ran another test. The True Spirit 140 Direct held its ground and produced a 72-degree result at this time. Just two degrees behind a cooler twice its size, and more efficient than many more expensive coolers below it, we feel Thermalright has made their point well.
We were able to gain another 3.25 degrees in performance by forcing the fan to run at full speed. At this time, the 68.75-degree result put this cooler right on the heels of a dual tower cooler design, and only two degrees out of first place.
Noise Level Results
You have to nearly climb on top of the TY-140 fan during the stock testing to even hear a slight hum. The fan topped out at 660 RPM in this run of the test, and at that time there was only 25 dB of noise coming from it. If you are more than a foot away from the chassis, it is likely you will never hear it under normal conditions.
Still, under control of PWM voltage to the fan, our first run with overclocked settings still leaves the True Spirit 140 Direct quite quiet. Moving into the audible scale at 30 dB, with the fan turning at a speed of 965 RPM, we still feel the claim to silent cooling on the box to be valid.
Even as we changed the BIOS to push the fan to one hundred percent of power, we only got 35 dB of noise to register on the meter. At this time our fan was spinning at 1400 RPM, which is over the rated speed, but still within plus or minus ten percent. To get the best from the cooler and leave it running full speed all of the time is tolerable, and for the extra boost in performance, we think it is worth it.
Coolers like the Thermalright True Spirit 140 Direct are a rare breed. It is not very often that you find a single tower cooler which offers this level of efficiency. On top of that, every bit of the design, the hardware, and the way in which is mounts and the fact they include a spacer, it shows that Thermalright is offering their best in a design such as this.
While you may find other coolers which perform better, most of them are priced so high that we could easily afford a matching fan and still not hit the same price point. With this angle of attack, we would venture to guess you can drop temperatures another two degrees across the board, which lend well to the design that Thermalright is delivering here. The fact of the matter is, though, that while we could always boost the ability if needed, for the cost of this cooler and the price it sells for, we honestly have not a single thing to complain about.
The True Spirit 140 Direct offers clearances to the memory, even for LGA2011 users, plenty of room to use the top PCI-e slot, and all of the screws on the motherboard close to it are accessible, which means you do not have to install the motherboard first, and then the cooler. The hardware is all bits we are used to seeing, they are easy to assemble, and the manual will guide you through any parts that may raise questions. There are no fancy LEDs, but the nickel plating and natural aluminum playing off the black top fin and fan delivers in appeal.
Competing, in the best conditions, with the NH-D15, trading blows with the NiC-C5, and besting the MASTERAIR coolers, Thermalright handled their business, and did not require an exorbitant price to give you near silent cooling with performance which is appreciated as well. All in all, it is hard to fault this design in any way. It may appear to be plain, but what it lacks in show, it more than makes up for in everything else.
For those of you who do not want to jump on the RGB LED craze, or have any desire to buy a CPU air cooler that is there to look decent and do its job, Thermalright has the cooler for you. Options to add a second fan to boost performance from already good results, a cooler you do not have to battle with to hear other things in the room, and it can all be had for less than $50.
With the actual cost being set as low as $44.95, we feel that the True Spirit 140 Direct is well worth the investment, and providing you have room for a cooler this size in your build, you will not be disappointed with the purchase of this Thermalright cooler.
The Bottom Line: Superior performance, low noise levels, ease of installation, and the option to add a second fan are all terrific reasons to buy! The Thermalright True Spirit 140 Direct ticks nearly all the boxes, and is a workhorse ready and willing to do the job at hand.
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