PC Components

Thermalright Assassin X 120 SE review – Low price, high performance

The manufacturer Thermalright was founded in Taipei (Taiwan) in 2001 and has been developing air and water coolers as well as other cooling components for PC systems ever since. The Macho CPU cooler caused the first real stir in the summer of 2012, demonstrating very good cooling performance, not only due to its massive dimensions, and was therefore further developed in two further revisions. A little later, Thermalright even included a special screwdriver with the Macho, as it was almost impossible to install with conventional screwdrivers.

However, after the distributor PC-Cooling discontinued the operation and sale of Thermalright products at the beginning of 2020, it initially became very quiet around the manufacturer in Germany. About 18 months ago, however, Thermalright returned with numerous products. In addition to the very popular Thermalright Peerless Assassin 120 SE, the Thermalright Assassin X 120 SE was also introduced. This CPU cooler is just 148 millimeters high and costs only € 18.59 *. This could make it the perfect replacement for any boxed cooler and for installation in more compact cases. To test this, we have the Thermalright Assassin X 120 SE on test today.

Thermalright Assassin X 120 SE review: Technical details

General specifications

Dimensions (with fan): 125 x 148 x 71 mm (W x H x D)
Weight (with fan): 510 g
Material: Copper (heatpipes and base plate, nickel-plated), aluminum (cooling fins)
Heatpipes: 4 x Ø 6 mm
Cooling capacity: N/A
Compatibility AMD: AM5, AM4
Intel compatibility: LGA,1700, LGA1200, LGA115x
Price: € 18.59 *

Fan specifications

Fan designation: Thermalright TL-C12C
Bearing type: Fluid Dynamic Bearing (FDB)
Dimensions: 120 x 120 x 25 mm
Number of fans: 1
Fan speed: max. 1550 rpm
Noise level: 25.6 db(A) – N/A
Delivery volume: 26 – 143.6 m³/h
static pressure: max. 1.53 mmH2O
Operating voltage: 12 V
Voltage range: 0,2 A
Power consumption: 2,4 W
Connection: 4-pin PWM

Packaging & scope of delivery

Thermalright packs the Assassin X 120 SE in a compact box made of printed cardboard. On the outside, we find the product name as well as some pictures of the CPU cooler, a list of the most important features and a table with all the technical data. Inside the box, Thermalright wraps the heat sink and the fan in plastic film and places the bag with the mounting accessories between the cooling tower and the cardboard packaging. Additional thin foam padding is also provided to prevent damage during transportation.

The scope of delivery includes the heat sink, a 120 mm fan and the mounting accessories. These are divided into various spacers, two mounting brackets, a backplate and suitable screws, each of which are required to attach the cooler to all current mainstream sockets. A tube of thermal paste, assembly instructions and two fan clips for attaching the fan are also included.

Design & workmanship

The Thermalright Assassin X 120 SE is a normal CPU cooler with a cooling tower and a single 120 mm fan. With a maximum weight of 510 grams and dimensions of 125 x 148 x 71 mm (W x H x D), it is neither particularly heavy nor particularly large and is therefore also very suitable for mini-tower cases that do not offer space for more bulky tower coolers. In terms of design, Thermalright has kept the look simple with silver and black elements.

The cooling tower of the Assassin X 120 SE consists of 51 aluminum fins, of which only the upper one is painted black. All other fins are still shiny silver. The manufacturer’s logo can also be found on the cover plate. Four heat pipes, each with a diameter of six millimeters, are responsible for transferring the heat from the CPU to the aluminium fins. These are flattened in the area of the base and touch the CPU directly (heatpipe direct touch). Thanks to its compact dimensions, the Assassin X 120 SE should not protrude over the RAM or PCIe slots, even with the fan installed.

The supplied TL-C12C fan is based on the 120 mm format and is completely black. It is connected to the mainboard via a 4-pin PWM connector. The manufacturer specifies a maximum speed of 1550 revolutions per minute for the 9-blade rotor. Small rubber buffers for decoupling can also be seen at the corners. Unfortunately, the Assassin X 120 SE does not come with an additional pair of brackets for mounting a second fan.

The build quality of the Thermalright Assassin X 120 SE is okay and corresponds to the targeted price range. There are no sharp edges on the heat sink and the paint finish on the upper fins is good. Similar to the Peerless Assassin, however, we were able to detect some minor visual blemishes on the cooler base and the aluminum fins. Although these are not noticeable when installed and should have no technical impact on the cooling performance, they should still be mentioned.

Thermalright Assassin X 120 SE test: Assembly

A test system is used for the review, which is mounted on a benchtable. This allows us to rule out factors such as heat build-up in the case. The test system consists of the following components.

Thermalright relies on a plastic backplate for Intel sockets or the pre-installed retention module for AMD sockets to mount the Assassin X 120 SE, which is screwed to the front with a bracket construction and to which the heat sink can then be attached. No special tools are required for installation.

For our AM4 system, the front plastic brackets of the AMD retention module had to be removed first. The four red plastic sleeves were then slipped onto the protruding lugs of the backplate. The silver metal mounting brackets were then placed on top and screwed in place with four screws.

We then applied the thermal paste to the CPU and removed the protective film from the base of the heat sink. In our review, as always, we use Arctic MX-4 and spread it evenly over the heatspreader of the CPU. Next, the heat sink is placed on the CPU and screwed evenly on both sides. In the final step, the fan was then attached to the heat sink using a wire bracket.

Thanks to the bracket design used, mounting the Thermalright Assassin X 120 SE is child’s play. All the necessary elements are clearly labeled and some are even color-coded. What’s more, the mounting system supports all current Intel and AMD mainstream sockets. If you have any questions, a look at the assembly instructions should provide clarity. Although they are quite compact, the drawings are sufficiently large and clearly presented.

In terms of compatibility, the Thermalright Assassin X 120 SE should have no problems with either the RAM or the PCIe slots. In both cases, the Assassin X 120 SE is so compact that it does not protrude beyond them.

Volume and cooling performance

As already shown in the previous chapter, we use an AM4 system based on the Ryzen 5 1400 and the ASUS TUF Gaming B550M-Plus as test hardware. The Ryzen runs at 3.8 GHz at 1.175 V. To heat up the processor, it was loaded with Prime95 for 30 minutes. The temperature of the CPU was then read out with the CPUID hardware monitor. The room temperature was always around 20 °C during the measurements.

wdt_ID CPU-Kühler Temperatur 50% PWM (in °C) Temperatur 100% PWM (in °C) Minimale Lüftergeschwindigkeit (in U/min) Lüftergeschwindigkeit bei 50% PWM (in U/min) Lüftergeschwindigkeit bei 100% PWM (in U/min) Minimale Pumpengeschwindigkeit (in U/min) Pumpengeschwindigkeit bei 50% PWM (in U/min) Pumpengeschwindigkeit bei 100% PWM (in U/min)
123 Thermaltake TH280 V2 ARGB 46,60 45,90 550 1.200 1.800 680 2.100 3.200
124 Cooler Master MasterLiquid 240 Atmos ARGB 50,40 46,50 560 1.340 2.270 1.965 6.620 10.230
125 be quiet! Pure Loop 2 240mm 50,70 46,70 800 1.070 2.080 4.150 4.700 5.530
126 Alpenföhn Panorama 2 76,00 66,80 450 1.450 2.720
127 Alpenföhn Brocken 4 53,60 49,60 410 870 1.610
128 AMD Wraith Stealth 95,00 76,00 800 1.430 2.630
129 Corsair A115 49,40 46,90 190 920 1.560
130 Thermalright Peerless Assassin 120 SE 49,50 47,50 350 1.050 1.680
131 Thermalright Assassin X 120 SE 53,60 50,60 340 1.070 1.690
132 DeepCool Assassin IV (Silent) 51,40 48,70 500 860 1.330
CPU-Kühler Temperatur 50% PWM (in °C) Temperatur 100% PWM (in °C) Minimale Lüftergeschwindigkeit (in U/min) Lüftergeschwindigkeit bei 50% PWM (in U/min) Lüftergeschwindigkeit bei 100% PWM (in U/min) Minimale Pumpengeschwindigkeit (in U/min) Pumpengeschwindigkeit bei 50% PWM (in U/min) Pumpengeschwindigkeit bei 100% PWM (in U/min)

As can be seen from the table and the diagram, the CPU of our test system reaches a maximum of 53.60 °C (at 50% PWM fan speed) and 50.60 °C (at 100% PWM fan speed) under full load. Considering the rather compact dimensions of the Thermalright Assassin X 120 SE for a tower cooler with a 120 mm fan, it definitely knows how to impress in terms of cooling performance. The Assassin X 120 SE is even close to the Alpenföhn Brocken 4, which is three times as expensive, if you only consider the cooling performance.

The noise level logically depends on the set fan speed. Below 900 to 1000 revolutions per minute (approx. 40-50% PWM), the fan is very restrained and can hardly or not at all be heard from the system. The minimum speed of 350 revolutions per minute is also a very good value and allows the fan speed to be greatly reduced at idle. At 100% PWM or maximum speed, however, the fan is clearly audible at approx. 1700 revolutions per minute and is no longer suitable for silent operation. The Alpenföhn Brocken 4 is therefore quite a bit quieter with similar cooling performance.

Conclusion of the Thermalright Assassin X 120 SE test

If even the already very affordable Thermalright Peerless Assassin 120 SE is still too expensive, then the Assassin X 120 SE still offers a very good overall package for another €15 less. We were impressed by the CPU cooler’s sleek appearance, well thought-out mounting system, compact dimensions for a tower cooler and very good cooling performance, which is on a par with larger and sometimes more expensive CPU coolers.

However, the Thermalright Assassin X 120 SE has to pay for this good cooling performance with a slightly higher noise level. However, the fan has a wide speed range, so you can find a good balance between cooling performance and noise. We also found the overall workmanship to be somewhat negative. Although this is basically okay, small flaws and blemishes can be seen in one place or another. When installed, however, these were not visible and had no influence on the performance shown.

Nevertheless, this is already complaining on a high level when you consider that the Thermalright Assassin X 120 SE only costs € 18.59 *. Looking at the overall package, the Assassin X 120 SE offers a very good price-performance ratio and can easily replace any boxed cooler and is also suitable for cooling mid-range CPUs. If you want to replace your boxed cooler or don’t have that much space in your case, then purchasing the Thermalright Assassin X 120 SE is, in our opinion, a clear and well-rounded decision.

Thermalright Assassin X 120 SE

Design
Workmanship
Mounting
Performance
Value for money

90/100

The Thermalright Assassin X 120 SE is a high-performance and visually discreet CPU cooler that is easy to install and offers an excellent price-performance ratio. However, you have to do without a particularly high-quality finish or appearance.

Simon Lüthje

I am co-founder of this blog and am very interested in everything that has to do with technology, but I also like to play games. I was born in Hamburg, but now I live in Bad Segeberg.

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The manufacturer Thermalright was founded in Taipei (Taiwan) in 2001 and has been developing air and water coolers as well as other cooling components for PC systems ever since. The Macho CPU cooler caused the first real stir in the summer of 2012, demonstrating very good cooling performance, not only due to its massive dimensions, and was therefore further developed in two further revisions. A little later, Thermalright even included a special screwdriver with the Macho, as it was almost impossible to install with conventional screwdrivers. However, after the distributor PC-Cooling discontinued the operation and sale of Thermalright products at … (Weiterlesen...)

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