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Thermalright HR-03 GTX (On GTX275)

 

Do you feel your GTX275 is running too hot? Me too, that is why today we have a Thermalright HR-03 GTX. It is not specifically for the 275, but we can make it fit.

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introduction

If you feel that your new GTX275 is running too hot then you are not alone. I also can not stand to see that temperature gauge go well into the 80’s. If you are sick of these temperatures (like me), then you will be glad to hear there is a solution. Thermalright has had the HR-03 GTX out for awhile, but it has never been certified for the GTX275. This is because a few of the GTX275’s differ from each other, which causes some obstructions so this cooler will not mount right.

If you happen to have the Leadtek version of the GTX275 then you are in luck, because today I will show you exactly what you have to do to get this cooler to fit perfectly on your GTX275. Don’t worry, its nothing that takes an advanced knowledge of machining, just a few tools from the garage are all you will need. These include a saw, or any other cutting device such as a Dremel (I did it with a hack saw). Certainly a Dremel will make it much easier. You will also need a screw driver. Not too demanding hu? Thats enough talk, lets take a closer look at this cooler.

features

  • 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 through holes adapted from the High Riser Series for best heat dissipation.
  • Sleek and stylish appearance.

The HR-03 GTX features a total of 6 heat pipes. This is great, as heat pipes are the best way to transfer heat away from the GPU to the heat sink fins for dissipation. Another great feature is the included sinks for the VRM’s. This is pretty much needed, and it would be a very bad thing to not include them.

Specifications

  • 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

As you can see, this cooler is not that small. A benefit of its height is its ability to be inverted, and thus be on the other side of the card from the GPU. Also worth noting is Thermalright uses copper in the coolers construction. Copper is one of the best metals for transferring heat, so you can be sure this cooler will easily be able to transfer all that heat away from the GTX275 chip.

pictures & impressions

Here we can get a good look at the box. The included window is nice, so you can see the product before you pull it out of the box. The box is also of some sort of higher quality plastic, so the cooler should be well protected.

When we open the box we can get a better look at the cooler itself. It is packed and surrounded by cardboard with a foam piece at the top. There are no edges to catch on, so the cooler is at no risk of having any of the sink fins being bent.

Time for the HR-03 GTX’s close up. You can clearly see the heat pipes coming into the heat sink fins. You can also see the close spacing of the fins, which is good because it increases the cooling potential.

When we tilt the cooler on its side, we see the design more clearly. As with just about every other Thermalright cooler, there are rough edges. This is a neat design cue, and a nice break from the more modern clean lines that you see on most products these days. We can see the heat pipes sticking through on both the bottom and the fins themselves. This is great because it means the heat pipe touches all of the fins, which means this cooler will be operating at its maximum potential.

Lets take a look at the side of the cooler now. Again we can see the heat pipes extend throughout the whole cooler. You can also see the space between the bottom of the cooler and the heat sink itself. Even with this extra space, you can’t actually mount the cooler backwards. Thermalright says that the VRM’s need some airflow to keep them from overheating, so the fan from the cooler must blow back on the PCB.

When we take a look at the final side we can see the individual heat pipes. As Thermal right stated, there are 6 of them here. They are all spread out, so they will evenly spread heat throughout the heat sink.

As you can see, the bottom of the cooler is pretty well polished. I have seen better, but this is better than many of the heat sinks out there. You can almost clearly see the coin in the reflection.

installation

Yes I know, I skipped one part. But I am sure you can figure out how to unscrew a few screws yourself, so lets get started right here with the heat sink off. It may be a pain to pull it off (was for me), but twisting it a bit, and pulling on the heat sink and PCB of the card for awhile will eventually separate the two. As you can see here, there will be a few thermal pads, and some thermal paste. Carefully wipe off the thermal paste with something (I use a paper towel). Be sure that you are careful, and don’t hit anything. The heat pads will easily peel right off.

Now that we have that pretty chip all exposed its time to get it all clean before we move on. I recommend you make your paper towel slightly damp, but not much at all, and gently wash off the RAM chips as well as the VRM’s (Little black things to the right). Also don’t forget to clean off the little chip in front (known as the HSI).

Now the first step is to install the RAM sinks. I recommend the configuration I have pictured here. Make sure that the RAM chips on top of the GPU are covered with the shorter heat sinks otherwise the heat pipes from the cooler will interfere with them. Also if you look to the left you will see the HSI heat sink with a small modification. Lets take a closer look at that.

As you can see I simply cut a hole in the HSI heat sink. This can be done with a tool as simple as a hack saw. I can’t guarantee that every GTX275 has this same obstruction, but if it does this is a simple fix. Make sure to first apply thermal paste to the HSI chip before you put this heat sink on the chip. Also blow off any metal shavings, because if you don’t and one gets on the PCB it will probably fry itself.

Now that we have those sinks taken care of, lets address our attention to the VRM’s. If you look closely to the left you will see part of the memory heat sink. Now look one heat sink over. These are not VRM’s, however they happen to produce a lot of heat, so why not use some extra heat sinks and cool them.

Now lets attach the heat sink itself. Make sure to put thermal paste between the heat sink and the GPU. Then you simply press the heat sink on, and put this cover over it. You can then press the included screws through the holes.

Now on to the back of the card. Make sure you put the included pad on the back plate. Put the sticky side to the back plate, or you will have an issue putting the back plate on with the pad in-between the card and the back plate. You can then start screwing the heat sink on. Make sure to do each corner evenly so you have the best possible contact with the GPU surface.

Now it is time for the final step, putting on a fan. You have a choice on what size you want to use here. You can certainly fit a 92 mm fan on here, but I chose to go big and put on a 120mm. The benefits of a 120mm fan are more airflow with less noise.

methodology

I tested the cards idle temperature by letting it sit idle for 30 minutes. I then wrote down the GPU temperature. To test the load temperature, I ran an instance of Furmark to heat the card up for 30 minutes. I then recorded the highest temperature reached. Below is a table with more detailed specifications.

Test Rig
Case Type

Ikonik Ra X10 Liquid

CPU Intel i7 920 @ 3.8
Motherboard MSI X58M
Ram (6×2) DDR3 1600 @ 9-9-9-24
CPU Cooler D-Tek Fuzion
Hard Drives Corsair P64 SSD
WD SE16 750 GB
Optical Lite-On DVD R/W
GPU

Leadtek GTX275

Case Fan

Two Front 120mm Intake
One Back 140mm Exhaust
Four Top Side 80mm Exhaust
Four Bottom Side 80mm Intake

PSU

Corsair HX1000W

 

Testing

As you can see, the HR-03 GTX beat the stock cooling by quite a bit. At first glance you may think this is not a whole lot, but the G200 chips run really hot like the G80’s of yesterday did, so this is a great temperature decrease.

Lets not forget about the overclock. With less heat, a higher overclock should be achievable. This is definitely true. I went from a core clock of 690 on the stock cooler to 735 on the HR-03. That is quite a big difference, especially from the stock clock of 633 mhz. The shader clock was increased from 1630 on the stock cooler to 1640 on the HR-03. Finally the memory went from 1250 on the stock cooler to 1300 with the HR-03 GTX. All through the overclocking, the card never went over 78° C, which is pretty darn good.

Conclusion

The benefits of an aftermarket cooler well outweigh the work to get it on your graphics card. The ability to remove more of the heat from the GPU means your card will be running cooler, and thus increase its life. This is a good thing if you happen to be a person who doesn’t like to buy a new GPU very often. This is not the only benefit of an aftermarket cooler. With the lower temperatures, your GPU will run better, and thus be able to overclock higher. Depending on how much higher you can overclock, you could get getting a few more frames in your games. This can give you just the boost you need to make a game that was right on the edge of not lagging stop lagging.

There are a couple of problems with this cooler on a GTX275 however. The card is not designed like the GTX260 or any of the other cards this cooler natively supports. This means you will most likely have to do a bit of modding to make it fit. However I am told by Thermalright that it should fit on every reference based GTX275, so you should not have any issues getting this cooler to fit the card with a bit of hard work. If you can overlook this, then you will find many benefits of using this aftermarket cooler.

We are using a new addition to our scoring system to provide additional feedback beyond a flat score. Please note that the final score isn’t an aggregate average of the new rating system.

  • Performance 7.5
  • Value 8
  • Quality 10
  • Warranty 8
  • Features 8
  • Innovation 7

Pros:

+  Pretty Good Performance
+  Higher Overclock
+  Plenty Of Small Heat Sinks

Cons:

-  May Have To Modify
-  Height

The Thermalright HR-03 GTX is a very capable cooler, which can improve not only your cards lifespan, but its overclocking ability as well which is why it receives a:

7.5 out of 10, and the Bjorn3D Seal of Approval

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