Thermalright's HR-03 Is A VGA Cooler Gorilla!


The HR-03 has a few interesting quirks. First, it can be mounted in two different configurations. In the first, the heat pipe cooler can be mounted to wrap around your video card, putting the cooling fins on the opposite side of the graphics components. In theory, this would yield the best thermal results, because it would push the hot air in the direction of your case fans (although it might also shove the heat right into your CPU). This setup also takes up the least amount of space, because the cooler sits tightly against the video card; if you were to use the HR-03 in a Crossfire or SLI dual graphics system, one of the cards would have to use this method for space reasons.

In the second configuration (pictured below), the heat pipe can wrap away from the video card, using up the most space, but leaving the most clearance. In the case of our test Radeon X1900 XTX by ATI, we chose this configuration simply because we had a bit of trouble getting things to fit wrapping the cooler around the card. We could have made it work, but wrapping it away from the card was really easy, so we set it up and went off to the races.

The HR-03 installed in configuration #2.

Have It Cool Or Cool It Down

Installed on a ATI Radeon X1900 XTX - without a fan.

Once the cooler is installed, you can choose if you'd like it to be passive or active. In the former case you get a fanless and quiet setup, in which case you're done once the cooler is in place; in the latter case you of course have to add a fan. We tested it both ways, to see if the hotter-than-average Radeon X1900 XTX graphics processor could actually be cooled passively, and to see how this monster cooler could perform with active cooling.

Unfortunately, the HR-03 does not come with a fan for active cooling, so if you choose this route you have to supply your own. This does allow you the freedom to choose your favorite brand and noise level, but it would have been nice if Thermalright had included a fan like it did with the V1 Ultra. In fact, we used the fan that came with our V1 Ultra sample to test the HR-03.

Installed on the ATI Radeon X1900 XTX - with a fan.