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The second cycle of tests (with the cooler installed on the front and reverse sides of the PCB) was performed a week after the main test session due to certain reasons. The ambient temperature was 25.5°C and the monitor had been replaced with a widescreen 22” Samsung SyncMaster 226BW that had a max resolution of 1680x1050 pixels in which I ran the tests. Here are the results:

Thermalright HR-03 Plus – Front

Thermalright HR-03 Plus – Rear

As you can see, the GPU temperature has got worse by 4°C and there is no improvement in the PCB temperature I have anticipated.

I also want to tell you about the thermal conditions inside the system case after the stock cooler of the GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB was replaced with a Thermalright HR-03 Plus. As I wrote above, the new cooler from Thermalright doesn’t exhaust the hot air out of the system case. As a result, the hot graphics card influences the thermal conditions of the other system components quite a lot. For example, the temperatures of the CPU and mainboard grew by 2°C and 3°C, respectively, in 3DMark06 tests after I had replaced the graphics card’s stock cooler with the HR-03 Plus. These are not critical numbers and they didn’t affect the system’s overall stability, but you should be aware that replacing a cooler that exhausts the hot air outside with an alternative, like the Thermalright HR-03 Plus, is sure to affect the temperature inside the system case.

Conclusion

I liked the cooler even with the above mentioned drawbacks. It delivers higher performance and is quieter than the stock GeForce 8800 cooler. And I guess many owners of such graphics cards are viewing the photos in this article and thinking if they could attach a 120mm rather than a 90mm fan to it. I think the only serious drawback of the new cooler is that the hot air is not exhausted outside as is the case with the reference GeForce 8800 cooler, but this is a rather subjective thing and should be evaluated for a particular system case with its system fans. The heavy weight of the cooler and its blocking of three neighboring expansion slots are drawbacks, too. As for the price, the HR-03 Plus matches the price of the graphics cards it is meant for. Expensive cards can’t be cooled with cheap coolers.

I want to add that if you’ve got a top-end card with an AMD/ATI chip, i.e. a Radeon 2900 XTX, XT or Pro, you can replace its stock cooler with a cooler from Thermalright. The company offers the HR-03/R600 model for such cards – this cooler differs from the one I described in this review with its slightly different base and fastening mechanism. I guess that finding alternative coolers for AMD’s cards is even a more urgent problem than with Nvidia’s GeForce 8800 series.

 
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