Thermalright has always been a staple in the world of computer modding. A well known item from them is the “TRUE” 120mm cooler. To me, that was a great cooler that could still be named as “King” of all CPU coolers. Now, can they make the King of the VGA too? One can only debate on who is ruler. But, I am here to shed light onto their HR-03 GTX cooler. Since, by design of the GTX260/280 (65nm) series cards, it shows that it shouldn’t need one… Now, are they right? The Thermalright HR-03 GTX cooler can be found at numerous places online, and to be sold at $59.99us. * For this review I will be doing the following set up* Maximus Formula x38 Board Q6700 CPU 4gbs (2x2gb) G-Skill Pi 1100mhz Ram Custom Water set up for CPU Western Digital 250gb Sata 3.0 hdd Vista Ultimate x64 Auzen X-plosion 7.1 sound card GTX280 video card Cooler Master Real Power 750w The Features of the Cooler is of followed: 6 quality heatpipes for maximum amount of heat transfer to work with 120mm*25mm fan for best configuration to suit your needs (fan not included). Nickel-plated heatpipes to reduce oxidation effect, maintaining top performance for long term usage. Proprietary through holes on fins for efficient ventilation and proficient cooling. Heatpipes soldered to every heatsink fin to increase heat transfer efficiency. Includes the VRM heatsink with proprietary thru holes adapted from the High Riser Series for best heat dissipation. Sleek and stylish appearance. Technical Specs: Dimension: L133 x W156 x H38 mm Weight: 410g Recommended Fan: 120 x 120 x 25mm fans Heat pipes: Six heat pipes Nickel Plated Base material: copper While the Package components are: 1-HR-03 GTX Heatsink 1-VRM-Heatsink 1-HSI Heatsink 1-Bracket Mount 1-Backplate 6-Ram Heatsink A 2-RAM Heatsink B 2-RAM Heatsink C 2-120mm Fan wire clip 4-Screw Cap 4-Screw 4-Washer 1-Chill Factor 1-Thermal pad They give you everything for the card, but the fan itself. In this review, I go with two different CFM fans and then throw out the “warning” that they say with using the cooler. Try out how good it is, via passive! Now for a close look of the cooler, and everything that comes with it. Once open, you can see that it comes all polished and with a famous “sticker”. Then, when you take out the cooler, there is a trap on the bottom where all the rest of the cooler components are at. Here is a comparison shot of the size of it compared to a Mountain Dew can To take off the protective cover of the GTX 280 you’ll need the following tools: A small Philips screw driver Knife/ Flat Head screw driver Needle Nose Pliers I say a knife for the fact that it’s easier to pry the case off. Due to the fact that it was a huge pain in the behind to even take it apart. I guess it is the fact that nVidia believes that there will never be a reason for you to take off that case around the video card. I do want to note that when you do take off the cover, that you start taking off the cover at this section of the card. Since there won’t be any components there to mess up. Here is what I have found to make it easier to take off the casing of the card: Start with a knife or a flat head screw driver to start the prying of the card When you start to fully ply the cover off, it’s best to use your hands with it. Also do it a slow pace. If you do it fast, you could tear the memory chips off due to the tape. It is also better to take off the back of the card first. At the end of the card is the fan connector, so I suggest when you have it taken apart enough, just pull it off. You might need to use the needle nose pliers to do that. Then once done with the back end, just follow do the same you did with the back side to the top cover. It took around 10 minutes to fully take it apart. I also suggest that you clean all the chips, besides the GPU and Ram Chips. That way you make sure it’s all clean and ready to go. Now, after the fun of taking it a part, we get to put on the cooler! As you can see from the pictures below, it has some nice silver heat sinks for it. And the reason I got it!!! Now, I won’t go into detail on putting it together. If you can’t read instructions, then I suggest that you shouldn’t even be modding. But, I do want to forewarn people on the ram sinks. You do have to apply some pressure on them, or they may fall off, like so. Now, once it is done, you can bask it its glory, like I did. There is a warning that I do have to throw out now. Once you put it in the computer, it becomes a 3 slot cooler with the fan on it… So, I had to take out my Physx card in order to even place it in my Maximus Formula board. Then, the other warning is that I had to move my sound card to the top of the motherboard so that the fan doesn’t dig into it. Dig in it I said. Yeah, I’ve found one thing that makes this cooler, besides it taking up 3 slots, a problem. It tends to bend the PCB of the card if it’s in a case. So, for myself, I threw some Styrofoam covers of a power supply tv connector, to give it proper stability. It’s finally in the case. So, what to do next? Do I say temperature workout!? To me, I feel that if you use Furmarks with its stability test for 120secs, then you have reached the max temps of what it will get at while gaming and so forth. I may be wrong in it, but to me, it seems right on the numbers. Before I threw on the cooler, I was reading temps of: 48c at idle and 76c load. Those are some good temps since I’m in a tropical area and the house is kept at 24c. But, I’m always looking for something to give me “better” temperatures! In the review start, I said I was going to do passive and a few other ways. Those where not a lie. I used two different types of fans on the HR-03 GTX cooler. The first fan that I will show is the fan that comes with the Xigmatek HDT-RS1284 cooler. It has 61cfm at 20.1dbs, so it pushes a pretty good amount of air, and is silent. The fan does do pretty good for it. The temps went down to 40c on idle (8c drop) and was at 71c load (5c drop). Xigmatek fan at idle Xigmatek fan at fur load For a small db/cfm type fan, the temps are pretty good. But, still not good enough for me! Since I know there is still a good db/cfm rated fan out there! So in walks the Scythe Kaze-Juni “Slip Stream” 1900rpm fan. It comes in at 37dbs and 110 cfms.. That’s pretty good since the “Ultra Kaze” 3000rpm fan comes in at 45dbs and 133cfm. It’s a nice difference. But how nice you may ask? Pretty nice to spend about $10 at most places. It drops a total of 2c more than the Xigmatek at idle (38c), but a whopping 13c (58c) off from the Xigmatek’s fur. I know it may look strange. And some may say it is fubar, but after doing the test 3 times over a week, It’s true. Scythe Kaze-Juni at idle Scythe Kaze-Juni at fur load So, the winner in that is the Scythe Kaze-Juni fan. It’s still silent over my radiator fans. But, there is one thing I wasn’t kidding about… That is passive cooling. Now there is only a few reasons why a person would go passive. They have great air circulation, or is trying to get something for a HTPC. How were the temperatures? They weren’t what I cared to have it as… The card didn’t want to boot right when I was starting with the fan off, so I had to pull the power on the fan, and let it sit for 30 mintues before I took the temps. So, after 30 mintues of it being off, It read at 58c. That’s pretty high for the card. Not even having my stock cooler on, did it get that high on idle. So, I was a tad scared to even try fur. But, you gotta do what you gotta do. So, Fur for 120secs. Scary tempetaures happened. It got to 110secs before it started to slow down on fur, so heat was getting to be a issue. But, after 120secs it hit 104c. Almost double idle… Passive at idle (30 mins after unplugging the fan) Passive at 120secs fur It wasn’t something I would love to see. In today’s building of HTPC’s there really isn’t a need to take the stock cooler off, unless it’s really needed to have a aftermarket cooler added on. You can get great air flow due to the types of fans you can get. Price: $59.99 USD Pros: Great looking cooler to have With the right set up on fan, you can get it as cool as you want and as silent as you want. Includes everything to set it up yourself but the fan Cons: Can take some time to get the case cover off. Tends to bend the PCB if you have it in a case. Takes up 3 slots of your motherboard No way it can be passive cooler To me, to say if the Thermalright HR-03 GTX could be king isn’t really a right thing to say. The Arctic-Cooling Accelero XTREME cooler isn’t out yet. So, this is the only one that is out besides you going water. But, with the ability to set up this cooler the way you want it, sound and pull wise, then it’s a great thing to buy. But, only, if you don’t mind the few little cons that some may think it’s not worth it.