Thermalright Venomous X CPU cooler

Thermalright Venomous X CPU Cooler

Thermalright is one of the top cooler manufactures, and for many years they sat as king of the hill with the Ultra 120 (or TRUE as some call it) and its many revisions. In the last couple of years that status has been challenged by companies like Noctua with the NH-U12P, and more recently the NH-D14. To get back on the top of the hill Thermalright has updated the Ultra 120 design and has called it the Venomous X.

We recently tested the Noctua NH-D14 and were very curious to see how the new Venomous X compared. So we contacted out friends at Crazy PC and they were nice enough to send us over a retail Venomous X. Let's get started by looking over the specifications and features of the Venomous X.




Thermalright Venomous X CPU Cooler Retail box

The Venomous X comes in a nice classy looking and very sturdy box.

Thermalright Venomous X HSF packing

Inside we can see the cooler is cradled nicely in a high density foam under a small accessories box.

External Impressions

Thermalright Venomous X

Anyone familiar with the Ultra 120 will see the Venomous X heritage right away. This is mainly due the fact that the design is pretty much the same with some subtle changes to the cooler itself. The most noticeable change is the profile of the cooling fins. The biggest change is in the new mounting base: more on that in a moment.

Thermalright Venomous X side view

Looking from the side we can see Thermalright kept the winglet design and six heatpipes. There are 47 fins on the Venomous X; the Ultra 120 had 52. Thermalright also increased the spacing between the fins to allow the air flow from the fans to flow easier and pull the heat away faster.

Thermalright Venomous X fin profile

The new fin profile has a saw tooth look to it. If you visualize in your head and connect the saw tooth points you get a bunch of X's.

Thermalright Venomous X winglets

The Venomous X still uses the winglet design from the Ultra 120 design. The winglets help minimize air flow resistance.

Thermalright Venomous X base protection

The base of the Venomous X comes protected by a sticky plastic cover.

Thermalright Venomous X base finish

The base of the Venomous X has a mirror polish to it so nice you could use it to shave. It's also slightly convex, or humped, in the middle to cause more pressure on the CPU heat spreader.

looking at the top of the Thermalright Venomous X base

The dimple on the base of the heat sink is for centering the cooler on the CPU. This was on both Thermalright coolers, but the Venomous X HSF uses this for the pressure adjustment screw. The screw fits in the dimple to center it and the large base plate helps apply and even out the pressure.

Installing the Venomous X

Thermalright Venomous X installation parts

The Venomous X comes with everything that is needed to mount to an Intel LGA 775/1156/1366 socket; sorry, AMD guys/gals -- no love for you. You may have noticed there are no fans in the images so far. That's because the Venomous X doesn't come with any. It does come with the spring clips and rubber vibration strips to mount up two 120mm x 25mm fans of your choice.

Thermalright Venomous X mounting base

The biggest design change is in the base. The base for the Venomous X is the best base I have seen from Thermalright. Easy to put on and holds the cooler in place rather well. It also can put variable pressure on the CPU itself.

Thermalright Venomous X mounting strap

The top strap for the retention system has a bolt that fits into the top of the cooler base. With the bolt out the pressure on the CPU is 40lbs; with it all the way in it will increase the pressure to 70lbs. The cross strap is also what does the cooler centering duty. It matches the profile of the base top and locks it in place rather well. I know with the Ultra 120, until it was tightened the cooler would move around. With this new design it stays put rather nicely.

Thermalright Venomous X backing plate

The backing plate has captured pins that slide in a slot to fit up to a particular socket. All the way out for 1366, all the way in for 775. A little dimple holds the pin in place to keep it from moving long enough to be installed on the motherboard.

Thermalright Venomous X board clearance

With the mount installed on our Intel DX58SO motherboard we can see how it clears all the board components.

Thermalright Venomous X finger clearance

It does get a little tight in one corner. If you have big fingers like me, then you may get slightly annoyed trying to put on one of the mounting studs.

Thermalright Venomous X mounted

With the Venomous X mounted we can see how the new mount locks in place. We can also see the pressure adjustment bolt.

adjusting the pressure of the Thermalright Venomous X

Adjusting the pressure setting is a straight forward process. The tighter the bolt, the higher the pressure. The tricky part is doing this in your case. I ended up taking the board out and removing a fan during testing so I could see what I was doing. The provided wrench did clear the Intel DX58SO motherboard components with no issues.

The Legit Reviews Core i7 Test System

Legit Reviews Core i7 Test System

Here are the parts that make up the Legit Reviews Core i7 test system:

Intel Test Platform
Component Brand/Model Pricing
Processor Intel Core i7 920 Click Here
Motherboard Intel DX58SO Click Here
Memory Kingston DDR3 3GB 1333MHz ValueRAM Click Here
Video Card ATI X1950 XTX Click Here
Hard Drive Western Digital 250gb SATA Click Here
Power Supply PC&C Silencer 750 Quad Click Here
Chassis Ultra M998 Click Here
Operating System Windows Vista Ultimate (64bit) Click Here

To test the coolers I ran them on our Intel Core i7 test platform, which was then set to run at both default and overclocked settings. As a baseline all coolers will be compared to the retail boxed Intel cooler.

The previous coolers tested are:

All of the temperatures were obtained by using Core Temp v0.99.3 after the system sat at idle for 30 minutes and then again under 100% load while running Prime95 (64bit) v25.8 for 30 minutes using the blended test. The room temperature was kept a constant 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22c) for all benchmarking. All of the coolers were tested with Arctic Silver Lumiere as the thermal interface material.

The Results

Now, since the Venomous X does not come with any fans, but the instructions say to use a 120mm fan or a pair of 120mm fans of your choice. So, for today's testing I will be using a pair of Noctua NF-P12 120mm fans. The fans have a 54.3 CFM rating and have a static pressure rating of 1.68mm H2O, or roughly 0.002 PSI if my math is right. These are the same fans used on the NH-U12P SE2 we tested a few days ago.

Thermalright Venomous X stock temps

With the system at stock settings the Thermalright Venomous X paired with two NF-P12 fans did very well. With the cooler mounted at the 70lbs setting it’s a very nice 18.75 degrees cooler then the stock Intel HSF, and only 0.5 degrees warmer then the Noctua NH-D14.

Thermalright Venomous X temps at 3.5Ghz

Cranking the heat up a touch we overclocked the system to 3.5Ghz. The Venomous X still doing very well, but still just a hair behind the Noctua NH-D14 by a half degree. Not that this is a bad thing; it's still a whopping 20.75 degrees cooler than the stock Intel HSF.

Thermalright Venomous X temps at 3.8Ghz

Now let’s put on a little more heat and raise our C0 stepping i7-920 set to 190x20 and 1.3875v on the CPU to get 3.8Ghz. The CPU temp climbed up to 78.5* degrees at full load. This is 2 degrees warmer than the Noctua NH-D14, and 21 degrees warmer than our custom water loop with the Swiftech Apogee XT. So you can see the benefits of using water with these types of overclocks.

Venomous X Final Thoughts

Thermalright Venomous X

Thermalright has released yet another quality high performance cooler. Is it good enough to be the new king of the hill? With our testing I'm going have to say no. In most cases it is close to the Noctua NH-D14, but still ever so slightly behind at the 70lbs mount setting. With the mounting tension decreased down to 40lbs it was noticeably behind. The all new patented multiple support pressure vault bracket system was fairly easy to use and it allows users adding pressure to the bracket system (40~70 lbs.). Not only did this help secure the cooler to the board better, but we clearly had a more efficient mounting that improved cooling performance

Then there will be those who will ask "Why didn't you lap the CPU and cooler?" Well, the main reason is that we test the coolers as they are sold. Not everyone is going to have the desire to lap a cooler or their CPU and risk ruining either. Also, in this case the Venomous X did not come with fans, but said you have to use at least one in the instructions. So I used what I had a matching pair of, the NF-P12 120mm cooling fans. Results will vary depending on the fan used. Get a pair of Deltas and a set of ear plugs. Yeah the temps will go down, but the neighbors will complain about the noise.

The Venomous X CPU Cooler retails for $63.99 plus shipping at They also offer a variety of fans and can even lap the cooler for you for a small fee. Compared to the cost of the Noctua NH-D14 the Thermalright Venomous X is slightly more expensive if you don't already have a couple of fans to put on it. A pair of quality and quiet 120mm fans will run you anywhere from $30 to $40 depending on what you buy. That puts you into the $95 to $105 plus shipping range. Even with the price with fans, if you don’t have the space to accommodate the Noctua NH-D14 the Thermalright Venomous X should then be at the top of your short list.

As for which one to buy, well, as close as the two are it boils down to two things: motherboard clearance and hit to the wallet. The big one is clearance. The Venomous X will block less than the NH-D14. With either cooler you’re going to want to make sure of where the cooler sits in relation to the RAM on your board, or save a lot of hassle and just buy the shortest RAM that fits your needs. RAM like the Kingston HyperX T1 that comes in at 60mm in height will not work with either cooler if it covers a slot as there is a 43mm height restriction for both.

The CPU cooling market in 2010 is looking great and so far the Thermalright Venomous X and the Noctua NH-D14 are the two coolers to get if you want to stick with air cooling.

Legit Bottom Line: The Venomous X is a solid performer. If your setup can not accommodate the NH-D14 the Venomous X should be at the top of your short list.