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Thermalright T-Rad² Video Card Cooler Review

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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12,841
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HD 4870 Performance Benchmarks

HD 4870 Performance Benchmarks


Idle Temperatures


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Load Temperatures


T-RAD-47.jpg


Overclock Temperatures


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Here we put Thermalright newcomer up against the HR-03 GT we used in the 9800 GTX benchmarks along with an Arctic Cooling S1 Rev. 2 (which wasn’t compatible with the 9800 GTX). Granted, the S1 Rev.2 is not natively compatible with a 120mm fan but we have added it for comparison’s sake anyways.

When installed on an HD 4870, the T-Rad² performs better than we expected considering its diminutive size. Remember, neither of the other aftermarket coolers used as a comparison here is compatible with a Crossfire setup which makes the temperatures from the T-Rad² that much more impressive. We all know that the stock cooler on the HD 4870 is not the most efficient on the market but the second you install an aftermarket cooler, its deficiencies come into stark contrast. It is pretty apparent that the T-Rad² is the cooler to have if you are looking at a compact solution for a Crossfire setup.

Finally, we have to make a mention about the heat production of the HD 4870 core since this review is a perfect venue to put this to rest once and for all. When you look at the load temperatures from the aftermarket coolers on both the HD 4870 and 9800 GTX, you will see that they are nearly identical. Lets put this into context: two coolers, mounted the same way, in the same atmospheric conditions, with the same TIM and fans installed on two different cards result in the nearly the same temperatures. For those of you who think the HD 4870’s core is inefficient; let this be the last word: the core seems to produce the same heat as that of a 9800 GTX while offering significantly better performance. But its stock cooler does blow chunks…
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Conclusion

Conclusion


There are very few companies out there that consistently impress us with their products but it seems like Thermalright has been able to do it again and again. They are able to do this through good engineering which breeds new levels of cooling innovation and performance with nearly every new heatsink. Sure, there have been some rehashed products like the TRUE Black Edition that failed to really catch our eye but overall, Thermalright has almost always led the way when it comes to innovation.

The T-Rad² is no different from past examples of Thermalright GPU heatsinks in that it is brings something new to the table while still offering the performance everyone was hoping it would. However, performance benchmarks are only half the story since Thermalright has managed to pack some serious cooling potential into an extremely compact package. Not even the S1 Rev.2 is able to claim Crossfire or SLI compatibility without resorting to fanless operation but the T-Rad² can fit into nearly every dual card configuration without any problem at all. This all comes without having to sacrifice the cooling potential that comes with a standard-height 92mm or 120mm fan installed. Speaking of fans, we really need to give Thermalright a pat on the back since they have finally provided us with a product that doesn’t need those ass-backwards clips for every conceivable fan installation.

It should be said right here and now that the lads over at Thermalright were not aiming to replace the vaunted HR-03 GT with this new cooler. Rather, they have set out to compliment their space-hogging high performance GPU heatsink with a product which has a smaller vertical footprint and retains as much performance as possible. We believe they have completely accomplished what they set out to do since the cooling potential of the T-Rad² is close to that of its taller cousin. Indeed, one of the main complaints leveled at the HR-series of GPU coolers is that they are just too damn big. Before the T-Rad² came into being, in order for a consumer to “downsize” they had to look at a competitor’s product. Thankfully for Thermalright, this is no longer the case.

Like with every other product, the T-Rad² is far from perfect. We always hate to drag another company’s product into a conclusion but this begs to be said: if you have the necessary space, the Arctic Cooling S1 Rev.2 with a 120mm fan installed provides much better overall value than the $60 T-Rad². On the other hand, if it is the space / performance ratio you are looking at instead of price / performance, then this new cooler is just the thing you should be looking at. There are also some SLI and Crossfire motherboards which are not compatible with the T-Rad² but that is more the fault of the motherboard manufacturers for some odd expansion slot layouts rather than an oversight on Thermalright’s part.

On a personal note, I really struggled with the decision of whether to give this cooler an award or not. On one hand, its performance isn’t quite up to the level of some competing products but on the other hand, there really isn’t any competition in this size category. The same thing goes for price; is it really worth nearly 20% of the price of a new HD 4870? The answer came to me when I caught myself looking high and low for another T-Rad² to add to my own personal Crossfire gaming setup: this product accomplishes exactly it needed to and is sure to appeal to more than just the dual card crowd. Thus, it gets our Dam Good Award but lets just hope more places start carrying it soon.



Pros:

- Good cooling on both HD 4870 & 9800 GTX
- Option to install either 92mm or 120mm fans
- Great build quality
- Easy installation


Cons:

- Price
- Performance versus larger coolers


 
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