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Thermalright Peerless Assassin 120 SE Review: Incredible, Affordable Air Cooling Performance

Tom’s Hardware Verdict

Wow. Not only is Thermalright’s Peerless Assassin 120 SE the best-performing air cooler I’ve tested. It runs whisper silent and is only $36. You can’t beat the value and performance offered by this cooler.

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    Capable of cooling 200W+ with Alder Lake CPUs

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    Budget-friendly price of just $36 USD

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    Extremely quiet

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    Exceptionally strong performance at lower TDPs

  • None!

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Today’s best Thermalright Peerless Assassin 120 SE deals

$35. 90


Thermalright was founded in Taiwan in 2001, and established itself as a cooling contender in decades past with options like its all-copper SP94 cooler, and unique products like the HR-07 memory cooler, which provided a full heatsink with two heatpipes for DDR2 RAM. The company’s current lineup includes air & liquid coolers, fans, thermal pastes, and a variety of accessories. 

After posting the previous review of DeepCool’s AK500, some of our readers asked us to test Thermalright’s Peerless Assassin 120 SE. We reached out to Thermalright, and the company sent us a sample for testing. It features a dual-tower radiator and two 120mm fans, but is that enough to tame Intel’s 12900K and earn a spot on our Best CPU Coolers list? The short answer is yes, but we’ll have to put it through testing to find out just how good it is. First, let’s check out the cooler’s specifications from Thermalright.  

Specifications for the Thermalright Peerless Assassin 120 SE

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Cooler Thermalright Peerless Assassin 120 SE
Heatsink Dimensions 125mm x 110mm x 155mm
Heatpipes 6 x 6mm
Net Weight 850g
Socket Compatibility AM4/AM5
  LGA 115x/1200/1700
Rated Noise Level Up to 25.6 dBA
CPU Block C1100 Nickel plated Copper

Packing and Included Contents

The Peerless Assassin 120 SE arrives in a medium-sized brown cardboard box, with cardboard and molded foam for protection.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

  • Thermalright Peerless Assassin 120 SE at Amazon for $35.90

Included with the package are the following:

  • Dual-tower heatsink
  • 2x TL-C12C 120mm fans
  • Mounts for modern Intel & AMD platforms
  • A medium-sized tube of thermal paste
  • Fan splitter
  • Installation guide

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Cooler Installation

Installing the Peerless Assassin was not hard. To begin, you’ll first want to secure the backplate to your motherboard. Next, mount the stand-offs and then secure the mounting brackets with the provided screws. After applying thermal paste, place the cooler on the brackets and secure them with the captive screws. Finally, attach the fans to the towers using the provided clips.

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(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

New Testing Configuration

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Cooler Thermalright Peerless Assassin 120 SE
Comparison Coolers Tested BeQuiet Pure Loop 2 FX, 360mm AIO
  Cooler Master Master Liquid PL360 Flux, 360mm AIO 
  Cooler Master Master Liquid PL240 Flux, 240mm AIO 
  Cougar Forza 85, Air Cooler
  Cougar Poseidon GT 360, 360m AIO
  Corsair iCUE h200i Elite, 240mm AIO
  DeepCool AK500, Air Cooler
  DeepCool LS520, 240mm AIO
  DeepCool LS320, 120mm AIO
CPU Intel i9-12900K
Motherboard MSI z690 A-Pro DDR4
Case BeQuiet! Silent Base 802 Window
PSU DeepCool PQ1000M

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

What’s different than other coolers?

  • Budget-friendly price of $36 USD 

While it’s not unheard of to find a single tower air cooler for $40, most dual-tower air coolers are priced higher at $60 and more.

  • Generous Packaging

I don’t normally comment on a cooler’s packaging in this section of the review, the Peerless Assassin is packaged exceptionally well, with cardboard cutouts and molded foam which make it highly unlikely it will get damaged during shipping. Its brown exterior and black ink are far from flashy, but what’s here is all about utility, and as we’ll see soon in testing, that goes deepter than just the packaging. 

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

  • Dual TL-C12C 120mm Fans

There’s more to an air cooler than just the heatsink. The fan included has a significant impact on cooling, noise levels, and performance. Included with Thermalright’s Peerless Assassin 120 SE are a pair of  TL-C12C 120mm fans. There’s no RGB or lighting at all, but again, this cooler is all about performance at a low price. And as our testing will show, it’s truly unmatchable on that front.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

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Model TL-C12C
Dimensions 120 x 120 x 25 mm
Fan Speed 1550 RPM±10%
Air Flow Up to 66. 17 CFM
Air Pressure Up to 1.53mm h3O
Noise Level Up to 25.6 dB(A)
Lighting None

I’ll be testing Thermalright’s Peerless Assassin 120 SE with Intel’s Core i9-12900K. Due to the increased thermal density of the Intel 7 manufacturing process, as well as changes to core and component layouts, Alder Lake CPUs are more difficult to cool than previous generation CPUs in the most heat-intensive of workloads. 

This means that coolers that kept previous-gen products like the i9-10900K nice and cool sometimes struggle to keep Intel’s i9-12900K under Tj max–the maximum temperature before the CPU starts to throttle. Many coolers, air coolers in particular, fail to keep the i9-12900K under TJ max when power limits are removed in workloads like Cinebench and OCCT when I’ve tested them, including many coolers I previously considered top of the line.

Please note there are many factors other than the CPU cooler that can influence your cooling performance. A system’s motherboard can especially influence this, as there are boards on the market with CPU sockets that aren’t up to Intel’s spec, which can cause warping or poor contact with the CPU. The case you use will also influence cooling results. 

With Alder Lake’s cooling demands in mind, I’ll be rating CPU Coolers in 3 different tiers.

Tier 1: These coolers are able to keep the i9-12900K below TJ max in most loads, with no power limits enforced. I expect only the best liquid coolers to meet this standard. 

Tier 2: These coolers are able to keep the i9-12900K under the TJ max threshold with CPU power limits of 200W enforced. I expect most liquid coolers and the best air coolers to meet this standard.

Tier 3: These coolers are able to keep the i9-12900K under TJ max with CPU power limits of 140W enforced.

Testing Methodology

To test the limits of a cooler’s thermal dissipation capabilities, I run two primary stress tests: Cinebench and OCCT, each for 10 minutes. While this may be a short amount of time, it is sufficient to push most coolers–air and liquid–to their limits. 

While stress testing in Cinebench, I run both with power limits removed and with an enforced 200W CPU power limit,  using MSI’s Z690 A Pro DDR4 Motherboard and Be Quiet’s Silent Base 802 Computer Case. Only the most capable coolers are able to pass Cinebench testing when power limits are removed. 

I don’t test OCCT without power limits, because attempting to do so results in CPU package power consumption jumping to over 270W and instantly throttling with even the best AIO coolers. Instead, I test at 200W to give coolers a chance at passing. I also include 140W to give data comparable to cooling a CPU like Intel’s i5-12600K. 95w results are also included to give data closer to low TDP CPUs such as AMD’s Ryzen 5600X or Intel’s i5-12400.

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Features and Specifications

Next Page Core i9-12900K Thermal Results

Albert Thomas is a contributor for Tom’s Hardware, primarily covering CPU cooling reviews.

Buying guide CPU coolers

Noctua offers a wide selection of CPU coolers for various demands and purposes. Use the following criteria to select the model that works best for you:

  1. CPU socket: Which CPU socket are you using? Select a cooler model that fits your socket using our socket compatibility chart.

  2. Motherboard: Which motherboard are you using? Select a cooler model that fits your motherboard using our motherboard compatibility list.

  3. CPU, and performance/noise considerations:Which CPU are you using? Do you want to make full use of its turbo mode (if available)? Do you want your system to run as quietly as possible?

    As a rule of thumb, the bigger a cooler is, the greater its cooling performance: Whereas some of our compact, low-profile cooler models are only suitable for lower power CPUs, the bigger models are ideal for high power CPUs, extensive turbo mode usage and overclocking. We specify the thermal performance of our CPU coolers using the Noctua Standardised Performance Rating (NSPR), which allows you to assess and compare their efficiency at a glance (the higher the NSPR, the better the performance). At the same time, in the CPU database of our compatibility centre, we classify each heatsink’s performance on a particular CPU using an easy-to-understand classification scheme that allows you to get a good idea about how much turbo or overclocking headroom you can expect with each cooler model.

    Also note that cooling performance and noise go hand in hand: By choosing a cooler that offers plenty of performance headroom for your CPU, you will be able to run the fan(s) at very low speeds and noise levels. By contrast, if you choose a cooler that will be fully maxed out by your CPU, the fans will run at higher or maximum speeds more often when your CPU is under full load.

    Please refer to our CPU compatibility list for detailed information and select a cooler that is compatible with your CPU. Pick one of the models that offer the highest turbo/overclocking headroom if you want to make full use of your processors turbo mode and/or if you want the cooler to run as quiet as possible.

  4. Case compatibility and cooler height: Different PC cases offer different amounts of clearance for CPU coolers. Please refer to our case compatibility list to select a cooler that fits your case.

  5. RAM compatibility: With some of our bigger cooler models, either the heatsink itself or one of the fans may overhang the RAM slots on some motherboards, which limits compatibility with taller memory modules. Please refer to our RAM compatibility list to check which modules are compatible with which CPU cooler models on a particular socket. Note that many popular models such as the NH-U12A, NH-D12L, NH-U12S, NH-U9S and NH-D9L are compact enough not to overhang the memory slots at all and thus offer 100% compatibility with RAM modules of any height.

  6. PCIe compatibility: On some motherboards, bigger coolers may overhang the top PCIe slot. If this is the case, we indicate it in our motherboard compatibility list. Note that this depends both on the size of the cooler and on the location of the CPU socket and top PCIe slot on the motherboard. For example, coolers with 120mm or 92mm size fans generally don’t overhang the top PCIe slot on ATX or µATX size motherboards. On ITX motherboards, where the CPU socket is often closer to the PCIe slot, coolers with 120mm size fans may overhang the slot. Please refer to our motherboard compatibility list to check which coolers overhang the top PCIe slot on a given motherboard. Models such as the NH-U9S, NH-D9L, NH-L9x65 and NH-L9i are compact enough not to overhang the top PCIe slot on any motherboard and thus offer full compatibility in all cases.

  7. Popular choices and recommendations: Still undecided? Here’s a list of our most popular models that have proven to work extremely well for the vast majority of users:
    • NH-D15: our flagship model, providing the best possible performance for overclocking and silent-enthusiasts. Due to its size, we highly recommend checking case, memory and PCIe compatibility before purchase.
    • NH-D15S: performs very close to the NH-D15 but offers full compatibility with RAM modules up to 64mm height and has hardly any PCIe compatibility restrictions on ATX and µATX size motherboards.
    • NH-U12A: performs very close to the NH-D15 but offers 100% RAM compatibility and 100% PCIe compatibility on ATX and µATX size motherboards.
    • NH-U12S: excellent quiet cooling performance for CPUs with moderate heat-output, 100% RAM compatibility and 100% PCIe compatibility on ATX and µATX size motherboards.
    • NH-U9S: good quiet cooling performance for CPUs with moderate heat-output, mild overclocking with lower TDP CPUs, only 125mm height, 100% RAM compatibility and 100% PCIe compatibility on ITX, ATX and µATX size motherboards.

Still unsure which model to buy? If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us at [email protected] at.

Huawei and Honor will be left without processors? What do the new sanctions promise to fans of cheap smartphones

What happened?

Taiwanese semiconductor manufacturer Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) terminated cooperation with HiSilicon, a subsidiary of Huawei, which designs Kirin processors for smartphones, server and telecom equipment. TSMC itself, by the way, has not officially announced this yet. The company called the series of publications «market rumours». That, however, did not slow down the flurry of events. nine0006

TSMC manufactures processors under contract. In this industry, it ranks first by a wide margin. Huawei is one of the Taiwanese firm’s biggest customers, but far from the only one. In addition to the Chinese giant, TSMC is also ordering products from AMD, Nvidia, Apple, and more. The latter, by the way, is the largest customer of TSMC. Huawei is in second place. In 2019, only Apple and Huawei brought Taiwanese 37% of revenue.

Why did TSMC do this? nine0005

Photo © Kevin Frayer / Getty Images

Less than a week ago, the US Department of Commerce changed its technology export rules . The main point of the update was to limit the cooperation of semiconductor companies with Huawei and its 114 subsidiaries. From now on, to supply chips to the second smartphone manufacturer in the world, semiconductor factories need to obtain permission from the United States.

This moratorium, however, is not monolithic. As if laughing, Washington made a small reservation in the new document. They say that all chipmakers who produce products using American technologies are obliged to reckon with the new rule. An evil mockery lies in the fact that almost all modern standards for semiconductor components are somehow related to American patents. nine0006

Take at least processors for smartphones (but you need to understand that Huawei and TSMC are connected not only by them). The vast majority of them (Snapdragon, MediaTek, Kirin, AMD, Intel, Nvidia and not only) are created on the ARM architecture. The technology licensing company ARM Limited is nominally British. However, it also depends on the United States, because American developments are also used in the ARM architecture. Last year, ARM defended the title of a British company. But it was a victory in battle, not in war. The current generation of the ARM v8-a architecture and the future of ARM v9 are recognized by lawyers as non-US. However, this issue will have to be reconsidered when the time for new generations comes.

US patents are not the only stumbling block in the way of cooperation with Huawei. Formally, the new amendment of the US Department of Commerce puts manufacturers before a choice: to be with the Americans or be with the Chinese. Despite the fact that Huawei is one of the largest customers of the Taiwanese (14% of all Taiwanese chips went to China in 2019), TSMC has opted for the US. Literally a day before the announcement of the new rule, the Taiwanese company told that it would build a factory in Arizona with 1,600 jobs by 2024.

Assassination attempt on Xiaomi Redmi and Samsung Galaxy A. Huawei P40 Lite review of 2020

And this is rational. After all, TSMC uses Western technologies and equipment in its factories. If she chose Huawei, US would have banned from working with TSMC for all its other customers: Apple, AMD, Nvidia and more.

What is the USA for?

These events are a new stage in the trade war that the United States is officially waging under the pretext of ensuring national security. Recall that the conflict began with the fact that Huawei was accused of creating backdoors in its technology. Through the latter, the Chinese government allegedly spies on ordinary and not very Americans. Convincing evidence of which, however, Washington did not provide. Therefore, even the American media do not really believe in this version as a pretext. nine0006

#5G networks will change the way we live. But some 5G companies, like Huawei, may put your data at risk.

Trust 5G providers in democratic countries with independent judiciaries.
Trust 5G vendors with ethical and transparent business practices. pic.twitter.com/nTODbJNwWk

— USA in Russian (@USApoRusski) January 17, 2020

Journalists are much more willing to support the theory that accusations of industrial and civilian espionage serve as a pretext to contain China’s economic potential in the field of information technology. Which is absolutely no wonder, since Huawei crushes competitors not only and not so much in the smartphone market, but in the telecommunications equipment industry. Huawei is currently the largest infrastructure provider for 5G. nine0006

However, containment has long since turned into suppression. The United States seeks to establish hegemony in IT. Moreover, high-ranking officials from Washington have recently not particularly hidden this position.

This decision will put America, American companies and American national security first.

In the end, we dare to assume, Donald Trump was corny afraid of the futility of excommunicating Huawei from Google. More precisely, it had a result, but did not lead to the desired one. Sales of smartphones Huawei sank outside of China, but the company does not even think about curtailing its activities. In addition, the UK mostly spit on Donald Trump’s paranoia and still chose Huawei as a contractor for deploying 5G networks.

What will Huawei do?

Photo © Kevin Frayer / Getty Images

Huawei has yet to announce any specific measures. But the company spoke out about US pressure on TSMC and the Taiwanese’s subsequent decision. The Chinese believe that the United States acted extravagantly. And if they win in the short term, then in the long term, the entire industry, including the American part of it, will suffer from new sanctions. nine0006

In its relentless pursuit of increasing pressure on our company, America has chosen to completely ignore the warnings of many market players and industry associations. This decision was arbitrary and pernicious. It can undermine the industry around the world. The new rule will affect the expansion, maintenance and continuity of networks in more than 170 countries. Our business will definitely suffer. But we’ll do our best to find a way out of this situation0005 — reads the official statement of Huawei Chairman Guo Ping.

Despite such a dramatic tone of the message, one should not think that half of TSMC’s lines have already stopped, and Huawei has stopped collecting smartphones and 5G base stations. This is not true. First , TSMC’s decision to stop working with a Chinese customer has a 120-day grace period. In four months, the Taiwanese company will fulfill all Huawei orders placed before May 15.

  • In Italy, they created a robot crab — video began to change old Android-smartphones for a discount to buy iPhone Huawei anticipated such a scenario and prepared for it.

    This is evidenced by at least a report on the semiconductor market for the first quarter of 2020. According to it, the Huawei HiSilicon division became the first semiconductor company in the history of China to enter the top 10 industry leaders. In just three months HiSilicon jumped five lines up. The large and sharp increase in revenue suggests that Huawei has pre-purchased a huge stock of processors from HiSilicon for the future.

    Thirdly, once again marvels at Huawei’s foresight. Taiwan insiders tell that shortly before the announcement of the new rule, the Chinese tech giant signed several more contracts with TSMC. And one of them is an order for five-nanometer elements, which Huawei announces only in September. nine0006

    A Chinese vendor has gained some time to find a new processor supplier. For the sake of inaccessibility from the West, Huawei is likely to replace TSMC with a local contractor. The most anticipated contender is the Salaire minimum de croissance (SMIC). At least because it already makes budget Kirin 710A processors using a 14-nanometer process technology.

    Photo © Kevin Frayer / Getty Images

    Although many doubt that SMIC will be able to fully satisfy Huawei demand for processors anytime soon. Firstly, the Chinese do not yet know how to solder elements «thinner» than 14 nm and, as a result, will not be able to provide flagship devices and gadgets of the middle price category with up-to-date components. Secondly, SMIC is, in principle, an enterprise that is several times smaller than TSMC. nine0006

    TSMC is the semiconductor industry leader with the most advanced technology. Therefore, it will be difficult for other Chinese semiconductor manufacturers to keep up with the capabilities of the Taiwanese company. TSMC has 12 factories that can provide large orders for top solutions in microelectronics/electronics. The leaders of the global industry (like Apple) place their orders with TSMC due to the fact that there is one of the best technological processes and a well-established service, , says Evgeny Maslennikov, CEO of GS Nanotech (developer and manufacturer of microelectronic products as part of the GS Group) . At the same time, the expert is confident that Huawei’s business will survive the crisis in any case. The company will lose time and money, but will emerge. nine0006

    In the medium term, Huawei will be able to cover part of its needs at other factories in mainland China or in Korea or Taiwan. But, of course, this will affect the ability to produce individual components, in general on the production cycle and profitability of Huawei is not for the better. Kirin chips for top-end Huawei smartphones are manufactured at TSMC, and it is unlikely that you can quickly find a replacement for the established technical process, , says a representative of GS Nanotech. nine0006

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    The company is also leaning towards a scenario in which China develops its own semiconductor production.

    Of course, without government support and investment, this issue will not be resolved. But the country has effective proven mechanisms and experience in implementing such projects, , says Yevgeny Maslennikov.

    What about the Chinese government? nine0005

    Speaking of government support. Huawei has it. And on two fronts at once. The first is an investment. Soon after TSMC was cut off from Huawei, it became known to that SMIC would receive $2.2 billion from the government for expansion.

    Second — countermeasures against the USA. They say that China intends to list Apple, Qualcomm, Cisco and Boeing as unreliable organizations. The latter is fraught with bureaucratic terrorism for American business in China. Listed companies will be subject to all sorts of restrictions and endless checks for compliance with local laws. nine0006

    The calculation, obviously, is that as soon as the closure of the Chinese market looms before the same Apple, Tim Cook will ask Donald Trump to slow down. In the absence of a reaction, the American IT industry may begin to boycott the White House. Which is not so unlikely, given the tension between IT corporations and the US government.

    An Nvidia fan from Saransk killed an AMD fan in an argument over which company makes the best GPUs | Page #2








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    nine0003 31-year-old programmer Alexander Trofimov from the city of Saransk was sentenced to 9. 5 years in a penal colony for the murder of his 37-year-old friend Evgeny Lyulin . The tragedy happened last fall. The reason was a dispute that broke out from scratch about which of the leading international companies produces the best graphics processors — AMD or Nvidia . The court sentenced Trofimov just now, the details were shared by the regional edition Stolica-s .

    On September 16, 2016, Lyulin, who gravitated toward AMD products, came to visit Trofimov to celebrate his professional holiday — Programmer’s Day. Previously, he worked with Trofimov at the Elektrovypryamitel plant. Soon, a “holivar” began between the men on the topic “AMD vs. Nvidia”. Lyulin emphasized that AMD creates the best devices for professionals, while Trofimov insisted on Nvidia’s leadership in the field of solutions for gamers. At some point, Trofimov lost his nerve, he grabbed a kitchen hatchet and hit the guest twice on the head with the tip.