The Bottom Line
Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
Even though we have just looked at the TA120 from Thermalright, we are still in a bit of shock that they are back in the game, making coolers once again and allowing us to get our hands on them for review. While Thermalright may never see the success that the TRUE and TRUE Copper of year5s gone by, that does not mean they should throw in the towel and give up. Even though they have been absent for a while from the limelight, they were at the drawing-board behind closed doors, figuring out which step to take next. While we were pleased with that the TA120 brought to the table, we now can look at its bigger brother.
In essence, what we are looking at now, is a rehash of the much older Thermalright True Spirit 140 Direct, but with a few changes made here and there, to bring it up to today's standards. While the fin stack is identical in count and shape, the base of this latest version veers away from the direct touch base design in favor of a solid copper plate to remove heat from the CPU now. Another change is the fan, which cools the tower, and this time it is the TY-149A and its brilliant red blades in the box. The hardware has been updated, the packaging has changed, and hopefully, all of what has been addressed allows this Thermalright solution to be as well accepted as we were of the TA120.
Just on paper, with the specifications being what they are, not only should the new TA140 outperform its much older cousin, but it should also overtake the TA120, and hopefully a few other top-tier coolers as well. We are optimistic as we root for Thermalright to make a comeback into the market like they were almost a decade ago! We hope that this rehash of an older design is more than lipstick on a pig, as we have seen from other manufacturers.
In the chart we borrowed from the TA140 product page, we start with the heat sink specifications without the fan included. We find that the TA140 stands 159mm tall; it is 140mm wide and 42mm thick. Weight is 610 grams for the tower, but all told, the TA140 weighs in at 770 grams. From the base come five 6mm diameter heat pipes, which are nickel-plated, and run through a stack of forty-five aluminum fins that are 0.4mm thick and are spaced 2mm apart. The lower portion of the base is made of C1100 pure copper, which is nickel-plated after machining its surface. The TA140, along with the fan that comes in the box, allows Thermalright to give this CPU cooler a 200 W TDP.
The fan that comes in the box is the TY-149A and is oblong, where one way is 140mm, but the other is 152mm of the 26.4mm thick fan. The range of speed is 600 to 1500 RPM with a range of noise from 17 to 23 dB(A). Airflow, when the fan is slow, is quite paltry at 28.32 CFM, but at full whack, the CFM increases to 84.97! The power is delivered to the fan through a 4-pin PWM connector, and the fan blades spin on a sleeve bearing.
The cost of the Thermalright TA140 is acceptable, as it is yet another cooler to sell for less than $50, something that seemed virtually absent for a couple of years. As we hunted it down, we ran across Amazon's listing, where they are asking $44.99. If the TA140 can deliver thermal results that run in the middle of the pack and can keep noise at bay, the TA140 may be yet another cooler from Thermalright to get excited about. Let's dive right in and see what the TA140 delivers, and see just how well it can hold up to the current competition!
As the TA120 did, the TA140 also ships in a plain brown box for two reasons. It keeps costs low, and two, hardly anyone keeps the box and stares at it after installing the cooler. What we do find is the TA140 name, a snowflake, and compatibility at the bottom.
Both of the thin sides of the box offer the same information, so, we will show it just this once. What is found on these panels is the TR with the Thermalright logo between them, and the site address under it.
The back of the packaging is used to deliver a specifications chart, very similar to the one on the product page, but we notice that the 2.08 mmH2O of pressure and 0.2A of power draw are listed here and not on site.
The top of the box is the last panel to offer any printing on it, and what we see is the logo, the company name, and their "low temperature high performance" tagline.
While saving money on the box, we applaud Thermalright for not skimping on the internal packaging. The fan and the tower are separated inside of the two-part foam sleeve, blocking our view of either of them, with a thick foam base for it all to rest upon. There is a thin layer of foam keeping the hardware box away from the cooler and the manual resting on the hardware's right side. Our TA140 is in terrific shape and ready out of the box to be seen and used.
Thermalright TA140 CPU Cooler
The tower's front view shows us a stack of forty-five aluminum fins, plus a top fin that is black, where the rest are left in their natural state. We can see three avenues that the pipes take through the fins stack, and they are plated to batch the base, without much contrast to the aluminum fins either.
From the side of the tower, we see that the fins have open sides, the tower is skinny enough that an offset of the heat pipes is not needed, and is likely a good thing with how tight the five heat pipes are arranged.
The leading and trailing edges of the fins are identical, so we laid the tower down to get a perspective of what is going on. The side4s are raised, with a flat valley in the middle of them, giving this tower a dog bone shape.
Doing similar to the opposing side of the tower, we again laid it down so you can see the shaping offered. The chevron shape removed from the center is done for aesthetics, as locking the wire fan clips into the pair of grooves is not effected with flat fins in the middle.
We took this image to show that the five heat pipes are pressed into the fins, but we also found a series of holes stamped out of the fins. We have to assume there is some science to holes creating turbulence much like a dimple, as there is no other reason to go through putting them there.
The top of the cooler base is made of a thin chunk of aluminum, which is left in its natural state with the machining marks still visible. There is also a hologram sticker on the base's top, something we find on every Thermalright cooler.
To protect the finish of the base, Thermalright puts a sticker over it. In bright red letters, it is a warning to remove this before installation, as it is detrimental to good heat transfer.
With the sticker removed, we can see the plating's shiny finish that is applied to the slightly convex base. The machining process is not perfect, as fine lines can be seen on the base.
The top of the tower has a black aluminum fin on it, where the heat pipes terminate and are exposed as a contrast to the black. Each side gets five heat pipes coming out of it, six holes in each fin, and the Thermalright logo is cut out of all the fins in the stack.
Accessories and Documentation
The hardware ships inside a bag, which is inside the box, but is also bagged into groups. In one of the bags, we found this universal Intel backplate, where the studs are already locked into place, and a milky white plastic sheet is used to isolate the steel plate from the back of a motherboard.
Floating freely in the main bag, but not inside of another bag, we found the universal top bracket for all sockets and the top crossbar that sits on the cooler base, locking to the bracket to the right of it.
Another bag contains the AMD plastic standoffs to support the top bracket, the scr3ws to go into the factory backplate, and screws to mount the crossbar to the top bracket. For some odd reason, Thermalright includes the LGA775 preload spacer in with the AMD gear.
In yet another bag, we find the Intel hardware. On the left are the universal standoffs, in the middle are the nuts for mounting the top bracket to the standoffs, and at the right are the standoffs for LGA 2011/2066 users.
Another bag houses the Thermalright TF4 thermal paste with a couple of applications worth of paste is inside of it, sits above the four, wire, fan clips. To the right are two sets of fan isolation pads, so that they can be used on both sides of the tower should you want a second fan.
The manual may be short of words, but the renderings offered show you what needs to be done for all CPU sockets. Even without a word through the installation process, we feel that even novice assemblers can make it happen without much fuss.
Lastly, we have the TY-149A and its seven bright red fins. The cable is braided and is a 4-pin PWM connector at the end, and now we understand why Thermalright sends pads for the tower, as the frame is too thin to attach much in the form of isolation materials.
Installation and Finished Product
One of the first things to do when it comes to mounting the cooler is applying the fan's isolation pads. We do like that Thermalright offers a solution to the vibration issue, but at the same time, these pads are large and block a lot of fan airflow.
As many AMD CPU cooler require, as does the TA140, we are asked to remove the screws, and top brackets of the factory cooler mounting hardware, and leave the backplate to be used with the aftermarket cooler hardware.
With the backplate in place, the first thing to do is to place the black plastic spacers onto the protruding bits of the backplate. You then rest the top bracket into place, ensuring that the threaded holes are at either side and not top and bottom. Once aligned, grab the long screws from the hardware box, and secure this assembly together.
Next, we applied some thermal paste to the CPU, sat the cooler onto the CPU, and slid the crossbar mounting mechanism onto the base's top. We advise a magnetic screwdriver to hold onto the smaller screws as you attach the crossbar to the top bracket and be sure to alternate sides to apply pressure more evenly until the screws run out of threads.
Trying to keep the fan within the tower's height dimensions, we found that there is quite a bit of fan hanging below the fins and proved to be great for cooling the power delivery system of the CPU. If it hasn't' hit you yet, to get the fan so low, we had to be clear of the memory.
Not only does the fan clear the memory, but it also does so with a few millimeters to spare, and even the wire clips, while close, are clear of the memory area. Keep in mind; this is not even an offset design; it's just such a thin tower, that something like this is possible.
Getting a wider view of the cooler and top of the motherboard, we can see how far left the tower is on the motherboard. Even with the additional width of this tower, we can still access all of the screws, and should you want to add a second fan, you are well clear of the 8-pin EPS connection.
The Thermalright TA140, even with the bright red fan blades, from this angle, blends right in as if it were made to go here. The matte finish of the tower matches the motherboard and the chassis near perfectly, and we have no issue using the top PCI-e slot, but it is tougher to unlock the GPU latch.
Test System Setup, Thermal Tests, and Noise Results
Chad's CPU Cooler Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII HERO [Wi-Fi] (AMD X570) - Buy from Amazon
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600X - Buy from Amazon
- Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 4000MHz 4X8GB
- Graphics Card: ASUS GeForce RTX 2060 6GB OC - Buy from Amazon
- Storage: Galax HOF Pro M.2 1TB SSD
- Case: Hydra Bench Standard
- Power Supply: ASUS ROG Thor 850W - Buy from Amazon
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64-bit - Buy from Amazon
- Software: AMD Ryzen Master, AIDA64 Engineer 6.25.5400, and CPU-z 1.92.0 x64
To see our testing methodology and to find out what goes into making our charts, please refer to our 2020 CPU Cooler Testing and Methodology article for more information.
The TA140 is a degree warmer than the TA120 in the stock chart may seem odd, but due to the pads blocking some airflow and the fact that the 140mm fan turns over 200 CFM slower adds the perspective to sort that. Even so, the 62.1-degree average, with peaks to 64-degrees, leaves the TA140 trailing just behind some of the much more expensive options.
With our all core ove4rclo0ck applied, the TA140 loses momentum. Compared to the TA120, the TA140 is nearly two degrees warmer, but it can pass up the Pure Rock2, the Shadow Rock 3, and the Ninja 5, all roughly in the same cost ballpark. While we saw an average of 69.1-degrees with the max at 77-degrees, the results are not horrible; they aren't that good!
With almost three and a half degrees left in the tank, we saw an average of 65.7-degrees average across the cores with the peak at only 71-degrees at this time. Another plus for this additional performance is that the TY-149A isn't that annoying to your ears at full speed!
Noise Level Results
600 RPM is the bottom of the PWM curve for us when the system is at idle, and when running the stock testing, we saw a maximum fan speed of 990 RPM, which has to have your ear close enough to get clipped by the fan to hear the 23 dB it puts out.
With the application of the o0verclock, the CPU gets warmer, and the PWM signal increases, this time to the tune of 1210 RPM. For the average user with the plug-and-play mentality, the 30 dB we read during the overclocked testing is the worst-case scenario with the slightest hum coming from the TA140.
We did not quite make it to the full 1500 RPM specifications of the TY-149A, but we did see it spinning at 1450 RPM, shooting 12V to the fan. Even so, the extra two hundred plus RPM sends the noise up to 39 dB, which is acceptable to us, and barely audible in a closed chassis.
Putting you in our mind, when we opened the box, we were like, yeah, cool, a wide thin tower with a kick-ass fan, this ought to be good! We continue taking pictures of the tower, and once we were done, we opened the hardware. Once we saw the sheets of stickers, a bell went off in our minds, and we checked the manual immediately to verify what we were seeing. The huge rubber sticker, indeed, intended to be placed on the tower to isolate the fan and looks to take at least ten percent of the tower's surface area hidden behind a wall, and we are thinking we are generous saying just ten percent!
However, we carried on and hoped that maybe Thermalright could overcome this obstacle. We noticed later that due to the many levels at which the fan can be attached, compounded with the odd-ness of the fan design, solutions are limited. However, we would have rather had a thin strip down each side over these huge pads in the kit.
Beyond that, we have nothing to complain about. It offers compatibility with all of the current systems, it stays clear of anything around it, it is affordable, it looks awesome and is easy to install. It performs better than many of the similarly priced coolers. There is still the elephant in the room, which the TA120 thermally outperforms the TA140, but it is a tradeoff of less noise across all tests, and its earlier mentioned handicap.
However, nobody said you could not trim the pads to open up the intake of this tower! On top of all that is exciting and new with the TA140 from Thermalright, there is that brilliant red accent of the fan that is hard to miss, and quite a contrast to our system.
While, like anyone else, we would have loved it if the TA140 was all around a better cooler than the TA120, but that is not the case in the general sense. However, without any tricks of the trade like bent fin edges, dimples in the fins, odd-shaped, and a lack of disturbances in the airflow, Thermalright can bring it to their competition with such a thin single tower cooler.
While it may not be everyone's cup of tea, we can appreciate where this cooler got started, and where it has evolved to today. At $44.99, we feel that those with RAM on both sides of the CPU will love a cooler, such as this, the same for those who want a dual-fan tower cooler without any clearance issues. While it is not the chart-topping cooler the TRUE was a decade or so ago, it can hold its own, and does so with barely a peep heard from it under almost all conditions!
The TA140 has its merits and the scores tell the story! It may not be the best thermally, but audibly it is impressive for a near 90CFM fan. It is priced well and widely available, making it a strong contender for your next CPU air cooler.
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