Thermalright HR-03 Plus VGA Heatsink Review

Cooling/VGA & Other Cooling by geoffrey @ 2007-04-24

The NVIDIA Geforce 8800 VGA cards are available for some time now, but the amount of aftermarket heatsinks is still rather scarce for those power beasts. Now Thermalright steps forward with their HR-03 Plus, capable of cooling the G80 passively? Read on to learn more.

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Maximum overclock & conclusive thoughts

Maximum overclock

For this test we first searched the maximum overclock with stock cooling and afterwards tried to improve that overclock with the help of the HR-03 Plus. As we've seen on previous pages, the HR-O3 Plus offers better GPU and Ambient card temps, and with this we managed to overclock our card from 513MHz on the GPU core to 648MHz, a 135MHz bonus. Unfortunately our memory didn't gain any overclocking headroom, and reached a maximum clock of 1026MHz. Here is what happened in the 3D Mark 2005 synthetic benchmark provided by Futuremark:

Madshrimps (c)

With our stock heatsink we end up at 14% extra performance, with the HR-03 plus we managed to add another 2%. This is how that translates into real life frame rate:

Madshrimps (c)

Compared to our stock card we see that with our overclocked cards the average frame rate is being boosted up to the mid 40's, resulting in 32% extra performance with our stock cooling and another 5% when the HR-03 Plus is used for cooling our 8800 GTS.

Conclusive thoughts

Madshrimps (c)

The HR-03 Plus left us quite impressed. Even though the stock NVIDIA heatsink is already a very decent offering with low noise and acceptable temperatures, we were surprised that the HR-03 Plus had noticeably more cooling power.

Comparing both heatsink designs it all makes perfect sense: 6 heat pipes, more cooling surface and the right fan combination will offer you extreme air-cooling performance or complete noiseless VGA cooling. Yes the HR-03 Plus kept the Geforce 8800 GTS running stable, overclocked, without the use of any fan, do note that some airflow inside your case is necessary to achieve this.

While we did not have a second sample of the HR-03 Plus to test SLI compatibility, we did mix a HR-03 Plus powered GTS with a reference 8800 GTS, the SLI bridge fit perfectly. The two installation possibilities of the Thermalright unit will prove useful when you’re looking to use two of these units to cool an SLI setup.

Installation went without much hassle due to the self explaining pictures in the install manual, though we do find that the sticky thermal pads used with the RAM heatsinks might have been of better quality. During our tests it happened multiple times that one of those heatsink lost its grip.

Thermalright is known for shipping their products without fans, but we feel the addition of a high quality 92mm would not be a bad idea for the HR-03 Plus, considering that the price of the heatsink only is 54$.

+ Excellent VGA Cooling
+ System compatibility
+ Low Noise (combined with the right fan, or no fan!)
+ Easy installation

- No fan added in the package
- Thermal pads on memory heatsinks not very adhesive
- Price on the high side: 54$

We would like to thank Hank from Thermalright for sending us their HR-03 Plus sample and we hope you enjoyed reading this article!

Madshrimps (c)
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Comment from jodiuh @ 2007/04/24
Printing now! Please never, ever take that feature away.

I've had this sink sitting on my desk for almost a month now and just can't decide if it's worth it. It'd be paired w/ a Scythe SFLEX E 1200RPM 120mm fan.

I used the original HR-03 on the X1900 because it's OEM cooler sounded like a jet engine, but this 8800GTX cooler never gets loud. Tho it does get up to 80ish C when gaming...

EDIT: Just finished reading...still not convinced this is the cooler for me...oh well.
Comment from jmke @ 2007/04/24
print feature won't leave site soon
the original HR-03 features less heat pipes, so might end up less effective than the stock cooling