Thermalright HR-01 CPU Heatsink

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Our testing showed that the High-Riser is a very good performer, but how good is it? Our current champion is the Scythe Ninja. Can the High-Riser beat it? The question just begs for a direct comparison...

Thankfully, the Ninja was tested with the same Nexus reference fan used for the High-Riser, so a close comparison should be possible. The only variation between the two test setups was the ambient temperature, which was a single degree warmer when the Ninja was tested. In the table below, the Ninja's temperatures have been dropped by one degree to compensate for the ambient temperature difference.

Thermalright HR-01 vs. Scythe Ninja, both w/ Nexus 120mm fan
Fan Voltage
Thermalright HR-01
Scythe Ninja
Load Temp
°C Rise
Load Temp
°C Rise
not measured
not measured

With the fan at full speed, the Ninja wins hands down by a margin of 4°C. However, as the fan speed is decreased, the performance advantage begins to diminish, until it gets within a degree when the fan is below 7V. This is probably at the limit of our test resolution. As airflow is reduced, the Ninja seems to decrease in performance more quickly than the High-Riser, which suggests that the High-Riser might actually be a better heatsink with low airflow, and thus do better in a passive setup. This is speculation. All that can be said for sure is that these are both very fine low airflow heatsinks! [Editor's Note: The reality is that the noise reduction with the Nexus 120 fan as you go below ~8V is pretty much inaudible in just about any system, so there's really no reason to run it that slow anyway. Of course, if you have a noisier fan...]


Thermalright has delivered a very competitive heatsink in the HR-01. Performance is neck-and-neck with the Scythe Ninja, and that's saying something. Yes, there are nuances to the comparison between the two, but when it comes down to it, the two perform very similarly. That means that Thermalright is back at the top of the quiet high-performance heap — it seems they never fade for long.

We were pleased to report that installing the High-Riser was a breeze: It's easier to install than the Ninja, and a huge improvement over Thermalright's own XP-120. The High-Riser has one of the most elegant clips we've seen, similar to that used by Shuttle in some of their SFF systems.

Of course, there are always a few bones to pick, mostly related to compatibility. At the moment, the only processors supported out of the box are AMD. Intel's current processors are not yet supported at all, as there are no mounting options available for Socket 775. Older socket 478 processors require the purchase of a separate clip. Still, the lack of Intel support isn't as big a problem. Passive cooling is simply not an option for most of Intel's chips because they run so hot, and the performance (and silencing) markets are currently dominated by AMD anyway.

There are some other potential issues:

  1. Not all motherboards have the CPU socket oriented in the same direction, so there may be a few situations where the heatsink cannot be mounted in the correct orientation. This hurts compatibility.
  2. The height of the heatsink may prove to be an issue in a smaller case.
  3. The cantilever effect is strong, so shipping with the HS on is not recommended.
  4. There is currently no standard way to attach a fan to the High-Riser, but cable ties or solid-core wire will both work well.

All of these are relatively minor issues, however. What counts most is performance, and the High-Riser delivers. If you're looking to build a high-end quiet system, the only other serious contender among tower heatsinks is the Scythe Ninja.


* Excellent performance
* Potential for passive cooling
* Very easy installation
* Widely spaced fins make for good low-airflow performance
* Very well packaged
* Relatively light weight

* No fan clips available
* Not compatible with Socket 775
* Socket 478 support is only optional
* Restricted to a single orientation
* Very tall, cantilever effect

Much thanks to Thermalright for the HR-01 sample.

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