Thermalright HR-02 Review

Today, I am taking a look at Thermalright’s new offering for the quiet computing crowd, the HR-02. This is a bit of a change for me, as I really don’t insist on a very quiet cooling solution since I have a dedicated room for computers in my house. There are many people out there that have to live very close to their computers and noise does bother some people. So Thermalright has stepped up to the plate and has given us an updated offering that can be used totally fanless. It has much more surface area than its older and retired brother, the HR-01 Plus and hopefully it will be able to cool down a hot running, overclocked i7 930 processor at 4 GHz while just using case airflow to remove the heat. I would like to thank Thermalright for sending us this heat sink for review.

Specifications (Courtesy of Thermalright)

Features

  • Patented multiple support pressure vault bracket system, allow users adding pressure to the bracket system (40~70 lbs.), and have a more efficient and secure mounting.(1366/1156/775).
  • Fanless design for low-noise operation
  • Proprietary through holes on fins for efficient ventilation
  • Heatsink are all nickel plated to ensure the best quality and performance and could last for years.
  • Soldered heatpipes, copper base and fins, to ensure the best thermal conducting efficiency.
  • Six sintered heatpipe design, all heatpipes are nickel plated.To slow the oxidation deterioration to the heatpipe, to ensure longer usage and performance of the heatsink for the cpu.
  • Including 120*25 mm fan clips & 140*25 mm fan clips and Chill factor III thermal paste.
  • Convex copper base design, to ensure the Highest thermal conducting thermal efficiency between the cpu and the heatsink.

Specifications

  • Compatible with Socket 1366/1156/775  Socket AM2/AM2 (optional)
  • Size: 110 mm x 140 mm x 160 mm (L x W x H)
  • Weight: 860 g (excluding fan and bracket system)
  • Heatpipe: 6 mm sintered heatpipe *6 units
  • Copper base: C1100 pure nickel plated copper base

The actual measured weight of this heat sink came in at 867.2 grams with the four anti-vibration fan pads installed in the corners. The layout of this heat sink is like a big rectangle, and is offset so that the trailing side will be much closer to the rear exhaust fans than a more conventional heat sink design. It’s also offset on what would normally be the intake fan side, which gives plenty of access room for all your ram slots. And while it can be used fanless, it is also equipped to mount a fan on either or both sides of the body like a more conventional heat sink. Even with a 25 mm thick fan installed, there was plenty of room to install ram in all the ram slots on my P6T test board.

Packaging

The box the HR-02 is shipped in is once again in the familiar brown paper box, like the majority of Thermalright’s heat sinks have been shipped in since they began selling heat sinks. The box measured in at 279 mm X 195 mm X 115 mm deep (11 X 7 13/16 X 4 5/8 inches). Upon opening the box, you find the components very well protected in foam packing and cardboard boxes. You also see a long shank Phillips head screwdriver included too. This screwdriver is needed to tighten down the Intel mounting bracket due to the design of the heat sink. And while it’s no Klein or Snap On class screwdriver, it’s still a decent quality piece. All in all, a very welcome addition to this package.

Familiar brown cardboard Thermalright packaging.

Familiar brown cardboard Thermalright packaging.

Side of box. Both sides labeled the same.

Side of box. Both sides labeled the same.

Front side of box.

Opening box. Note the included screwdriver needed for installation.

Opening box. Note the included screwdriver needed for installation.

First Look and Installation

Installation of this unit is pretty straightforward. The brackets that install on the motherboard are very similar to the ones that come with the Venomous X heat sink. The only difference I found in the backplate for this one was the inclusion of 4 plastic insulating spacers that install on the baseplate studs that stick up through the motherboard holes. The top motherboard bracket is exactly the same as the one that came with my Venomous X. The crossbar bracket that secures the heat sink to the board is similar to the one that came with my early production Venomous X, but differs in the attachment screws. Instead of being spring loaded like the one that came with my Venomous X, they are just captured screws without springs, installed into the crossbar mount. I actually found it to be easier to install than the Venomous X crossbar bracket, since you aren’t fighting spring tension that tries to twist the bracket while starting the threads. A nice revision to the mount system, in my opinion. I have since seen posts in the forum that have this revised crossbar bracket coming with the newest Venomous X heat sinks also. Once mounted on top of the processor, the heat sink gives you plenty of clearance between it and the RAM slots, even with a fan mounted on the heat sink. On my P6T test board, I was even able to mount 38 mm thick fans on  it and still have enough room to barely clear the first ram slot. Instead of using the rubber strips for fan vibration control, Thermalright switched to using some triangular foam rubber type pieces that mount in the four corners of the heat sink. And Thermalright also includes two sets of fan clips with this heat sink. One set is for mounting 120 X 25 mm fans and the other set is for mounting 140 X 25 mm fans. One thing I don’t care for with the fan clips is that they changed the way they hold the fan. Instead of gripping the fan flange that mates up with the heat sink, they grip the side away from it and that precludes them from working with a thicker fan. But if you want to run a 38 mm thick fan on this heat sink, you can simply buy a set of wire clips for the Venomous X to use instead. I used the Venomous X fan clips for holding the thicker fans on during my testing with no problems, including mounting the Sanyo Denki 9CR1212P0G03 Beast fan on it, which weighs over 750 grams.

Contents of box.

Contents of box.

Intel mounting hardware, fan clips and anti-vibration pads.

Intel mounting hardware, fan clips and anti-vibration pads.

Side view of heat sink. The offset side goes toward the exhaust fans.

Side view of heat sink. The offset side goes toward the exhaust fans.

Front view of heat sink.

Front view of heat sink.

Other side of heat sink.

Other side of heat sink.

Top view of heat sink. Note the hole through it for access to tighten the crossbar bracket.

Top view of heat sink. Note the hole through it for access to tighten the crossbar bracket.

Bottom view. Note that the base is well finished, but not to a high gloss finish like the Venomous X; more like the TRUE Rev. C.

Bottom view. Note that the base is well finished, but not to a high gloss finish like the Venomous X; more like the TRUE Rev. C.

Parts sheets for the heat sink.

Parts sheets for the heat sink.

Instruction sheet for mounting to Intel platforms.

Instruction sheet for mounting to Intel platforms.

Mounted fanless on motherboard, bottom side view.

Mounted fanless on motherboard, bottom side view.

Back side view.

Back side view.

Top side view.

Ram side view of mounted HR-02. Plenty of clearance for any type of ram.

Ram side view of mounted HR-02. Plenty of clearance for any type of ram.

Side view with Nocuta NF-P12-1300 fan mounted. Note the excellent ram clearance.

Side view with Noctua NF-P12-1300 fan mounted. Note the excellent ram clearance.

Inside case with 120 X 38 mm fan mounted using the Venomous X fan clips.

Inside case with 120 X 38 mm fan mounted using the Venomous X fan clips.

Inside case with the Sanyo Denki Beast mounted.

Inside case with the Sanyo Denki Beast mounted.

Test Setup

Fans used for testing were as follows:

Fan Size (mm)
RPM CFM dBA H2O Static

Pressure

Wattage Weight (g)
NoctuaNF-P12 120 X 25 13001100

900

54.346.2

37.3

19.816.9

12.6

.0661″.0563″

.0476″

1.08 176
Scythe

SFF21F

120 X 25 1600 63.7 28.0 N / A 2.88 182
NMB-Mat (Panaflo)

FBA12G12L-1BX

120 X 38 1700 68.9 30.0 .13″ 2.4 255
Sanyo Denki San Ace

109CR1212H1011

120 X 38 2600 102.4 39.0 .26″ 6.24 243
Delta FFB1212VHE 120 X 38 3200 151.85 53.0 .445″ 12.0 403
Sanyo Denki San Ace

9CR1212P0G03

120 X 76 6200/2700(compound fan) 300 70 1.93″ 86.4 753

The first question you are probably asking yourself is why am I testing with fans at all, if this heat sink was designed to run fanless? The second question you are probably asking is why did I test with some high pressure, high noise fans? The answers to these are as follows. I tested with fans since this heat sink is equipped to run fans on it if you want to. The answer to the second question is that I wanted to see what kind of scaling in cooling I would see as the CFM and pressure of the fans increased, in order to see if there was an optimum point where increased pressure and CFM did little to improve cooling. I also added a Noctua NF-P12 fan to this testing regime, since it is a quiet running fan even at its full 1300 RPM. And it also comes with 2 different inline resistors to drop the speed down to 1100 and 900 RPM. At the lowest speed, it is almost inaudible, especially if it is installed inside a case.

The testbed system consists of the following components:

  • Case – Chieftech clone of the Antec 1040 case series, with the original 80 mm exhaust fans being removed and the holes enlarged to mount two 92 mm fans on the rear case bulkhead.
  • Motherboard – Asus P6T
  • Processor – Intel Core i7 930, overclocked to 4000 MHz @ 1.320 volts load vCore
  • RAM – Corsair XMS3 DDR3-1600
  • Video Card – eVGA 7900GTX
  • Power Supply – HEC Cougar series (German HEC, not US model) S700
  • Hard Drive – Western Digital Caviar 250 GB SATA hard drive
  • Optical Drive – Lite On DVD-RW drive
  • OS – Windows Vista Ultimate 64 Service Pack 2
  • Arctic Cooling MX2 thermal paste was used for testing as I have found it to give good consistent results with no appreciable break in and it applies and cleans up easily.

I have changed out the processor in my testbed setup from my 980X to an i7 930. The 980X is going into my main system at the house and the 930 will become my standard testing processor for the foreseeable future. Don’t worry though about the heat, as these 45 nm Bloomfield processors have proven to be real heat monsters, with an overclock such as this one pulling well over 200 watts of power. I will hopefully be upgrading the testbed system to a new, more modern case in the near future also. And normally I mount the two exhaust case fans externally on the rear bulkhead for extra room, but since this heat sink is designed to use case ventilation as it source of air movement I moved them back inside the case so that they are mounted closer to the heat sink.

Test Methodology and Results

The testing methodology used is the same as I used with my previous reviews. All energy saving features of the motherboard and processor were turned off to keep it from down clocking the processor speed and vcore. All fan control functions were turned off in bios to keep the fans at maximum speed. For processor temperature monitoring purposes, I am using Real Temp 3.46, with logging enabled at 2 second intervals.

Temps in my computer room were maintained between 20.5 to 21.1 °C (69-70 °F), measured at the front of the case. If room temperatures exceeded these parameters I re-ran that individual test run.

For loading the CPU, I used Prime95 version 25.8 using in-place large FFT’s and ran it for 30 minutes to stabilize temps. After 30 minutes, I would exit Prime95 and let the CPU idle for at least 10 minutes. The highest recorded temperature from the hottest core for each run was then recorded off of the Real Temp log, the lowest temperature on any core was recorded and the average temperature on the hottest core was calculated during the load portion of each run.

Each fan configuration was tested with three remounts of the heat sink, and the lowest average temperature run recorded, to minimize any problems between mount to mount installations. When testing with fans installed, all fans were installed in a push configuration.

This chart gives the results with the various fanless and fan-equipped configurations:

Conclusion

First of all, I am simply astounded that this heat sink was able to successfully pass a Prime95 run at my full overclock settings with no problems and no errors reported by Prime95, all with no active cooling on the heat sink! It did get a little toasty, but those temps are well within the operating range of an i7 processor. The addition of a fan with low airflow and noise characteristics improved the cooling quite a bit too. I did notice a trend in the airflow and static pressure differences between the various fans where the cooling trend flattened out, only to get better once you got into the more extreme airflow regimes. Since this heat sink is designed for quiet cooling with low to very low airflow through it at very little static pressure, it has been optimized by using wide fin spacing for minimum resistance and it is very large, giving it plenty of surface area to be able to shed the heat to whatever airflow it can get. For people who insist on quiet computing and still want to do some overclocking, this is the best choice around in my opinion. Now there are drawbacks to this heat sink in that it is so large it might have problems fitting into a crowded micro-ATX case and it will have problems being mounted in a narrow case due to its height. Barring those two scenarios, this is the ideal choice for people that demand quiet computing and as such, I give this heat sink the Overclockers Approved label. Once again, I would like to thank Thermalright for sending us this heat sink to review.

- muddocktor

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Discussion
  1. Great writeup jim!!! I was surpised how poorly it scaled...13c difference between no fan and the beast, you can really tell what was in mind when they designed the hr-02
    Yes, HT is always on unless specified. And the only reason why I would turn off HT is if I would run into a thermal stability problem when testing a heatsink. So far I haven't run into that problem yet in my testing on i7 with the various heatsinks and LCLC systems I've tested.

    And you do see a moderate drop in temps when you add a low rpm fan to it. And the Noctua with the ULV resistor added inline is pretty much inaudible when installed inside a case. And with the LV resistor inline it's not much louder. I also think one of the lower rpm Gentle Typhoon fans would be an ideal choice for this sink if you did want active cooling on it.

    I presently still have the HR-02 installed fanless and left the system running, crunching Rosetta when I left to go offshore. I first put it back on Rosetta about 12/13 and the highest Rosetta crunching temps I saw before I left on the 22nd were running around the mid 60's, which is pretty damn good in my opinion. And checking my Rosetta stats, that machine is having no problems at all while running unattended. Most apps aren't going to load the proc as badly as Prime95 or OCCT or IBT.

    And this heatsink is aimed squarely at the silent computing group and not the pure performance bunch like we tend to lean toward. So it didn't surprise me too much that temps didn't drop off more than they did with increasing cfm, since it was aimed for best performance at very low cfrm and static pressure. Plus, I do believe my 930 happens to be one of the hotter running variety. If I get time, I plan to retest a few heatsinks with the 930 and look at the temp difference I see with it compared to my 980X.
    Was HT on during tests? I just noticed that wasn't listed...my bad...

    Is it just me or is the temp scaling with fans not very good? 78.6C fanless or 71.4C w/ H1011 at full blast? The temp difference definitely isn't worth the fan noise for 24/7, in my opinion. Even the low speed Noctuas only net up to a 4.5C decrease. To me, this sink is only worth it if you are going fanless or the fans used literally cannot be heard at all. If the fans can be heard, you might as well just go fanless.

    So, yeah, this is THE heatsink for high-end systems built with silence as a high priority. Good job as always :thup:
    Thanks David. Like I said in the review, if you want silence and overclocking, this is a "must have" heatsink for your needs. If it can handle a 930 at 4 GHz without a fan installed, it can pretty much handle anything out there you might want to run. And installing a low cfm, quiet fan gives you even more headroom.