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Thermalright HR-02 Macho Quiet/Fanless Cooler

Thermalright HR-02 Macho Quiet/Fanless Cooler

July 18, 2012 by Lawrence Lee

Product
Thermalright HR-02 Macho

CPU Cooler
Manufacturer
Thermalright
Street Price
US$55

Thermalright is a premier heatsink manufacturer with a long history of producing high performance CPU coolers. Their SP line were hot commodities back in the day and they followed that up with the XP series which also did extremely well. Though they were industry leaders in 2005, they were a little late to the vertical tower heatsink party, and followed various models from Scythe and even Zalman with the CNPS9500. They eventually responded with their first tower, the HR-01 "High Riser" before finally taking command with the Ultra-120 series (which lives on today in various iterations).



The HR-02 box.

The HR-01 received an update in 2008, the HR-01 Plus, which proved to be a superb low noise cooler thanks to the addition of a third heatpipe and an improved mounting system. Though it was a big step-up, the much larger HR-02 "Macho" is more of a proper successor. Macho is an amusing name considering the decidedly unmacho neon green prominent on the box art. If the packaging is any indication, Thermalright is attempting to dress up its image. Gone is the familiar plain cardboard box. They took it a step further by audaciously placing an image of the product on the exterior as well.



Included in the package is one a Thermalright X-Silent 140 fan, mounting hardware, and the various installation instructions for the various supported sockets.

The HR-02 has many of the same design elements as the HR-01, namely wide fin spacing and "through holes" to provide added ventilation in the vertical direction. Combined with a substantially higher heat dissipation area, it looks well suited for low noise or even passive cooling. The funny thing is, it doesn't look like the HR-01, but rather more closely resembles the Scythe Ninja, the HR-01's main competitor when it was released. The HR-02 doesn't have a symmetrical design or the nickel-plated heatpipes of a typical Thermalright tower.



Mounting equipment.

The mounting system is the same as the Thermalright Archon SB-E. Note that there is only one set of fan clips provided.

Thermalright HR-02 Macho: Key Features
(from the product
web page
)
Feature & Brief
Our Comment
Multiple support bracket system For Socket 1366/1156/1155/775 & AM2/AM3. Expected.
The Best C/P CPU Cooler for Overclockers & Gamer!
How exciting.
Proprietary through holes on fins for efficient ventilation.
The through holes might make a big difference for low airflow/noise cooling.

Fanless design for low-noise operation.

We shall see.
Including one Thermalright TY-140 Utra-low noise 900~1300RPM PWM-Fan (MAX21 dBA). Not our favorite sounding fan but undeniably quiet.
Convex copper base design, to ensure the highest thermal conducting thermal efficiency between the cpu and the heatsink. A given for a Thermalright cooler.


Thermalright HR-02 Macho: Specifications

(from the product
web page
)
Heatsink Specifications:
Dimension: Length 140mm x Width 102mm x Height 162mm
Weight: 860g (including fan and mounting brackets)
Heatpipe: 6mm heatpipe*6 units
Copper Base: C1100 Pure copper nickel plated
Fan Specification:
Dimension: L160mm x H140mm x W26.5mm
Weight: 140g
Fan speed: 900~1300RPM (PWM controlled)
Fan noise: 19~21dBA
Airflow: 56~73CFM
Connector: 4 Pin (PWM Fan connector)

PHYSICAL DETAILS

The Thermalright HR-02 Macho is composed of a copper base soldered to 6 x 6 mm thick copper heatpipes friction-fit to just 31 aluminum fins. The heatsink isn't particularly tall for a premium model, 161 mm by our measurements. According to our digital scale, it weighs approximately 690 grams bare and about 850 grams total with the fan secured.



The X-Silent 140 has been Thermalright's go-to fan for the last couple of years. It's not a standard-sized 140 mm model but it has the same mounting holes as a 120 mm fan.



Two things about the HR-02 jump out immediately. Its 102 mm thickness is ridiculous, and its shape its asymmetrical. The fin-stack is not centered over the base but rather pushed to one side. While this unbalances the heatsink it also prevents interference with memory slots and reduces the proximity to the rear exhaust fan in most tower cases.



Like the Scythe Ninja series, the fins are rather thin, only 0.34 mm thick on average, making them prone to bending, particularly at the corners. The fin spacing is very generous, about 3.12 mm, ideal for low airflow situations.



Visible at the top are the "through holes," slits punched into every fin to increase ventilation. The big hole at the center acts a screwdriver access point for mounting the cooler. There are holes for mounting a second fan but only one set of fan clips is provided.



Faint semicircular lines from the milling process are visible on the base but it still has a mirror finish. Like most Thermalright heatsinks, the base is convex at the center, bumping outward slightly to maximize contact with the center of the CPU heatspreader, which is almost always slightly concave.

INSTALLATION

The most critical aspect of installation is that the heatsink be securely
mounted. A firm mating results in good contact between the heatsink's base and
the CPU heatspreader and more efficient heat conduction. Ideally it should
also be a simple procedure with the user having to handle as few pieces of
hardware as possible.



The mounting system is the same as the Thermalright Archon SB-E. Bolts are inserted through the backplate and held in place by white rubber washers.



A mounting frame is assembled around the CPU socket and a clamp goes over the heatsink base and is secured to the frame the frame with two screws. Prolimatech and Noctua use similar systems but are easier to assemble thanks to the use of thumbscrews and nuts with coarser threads.



Installed on our LGA1366 test platform.



After installation we found it difficult to insert one of the fan clips due to interference from one of the VRM heatsinks. It's advisable to do this beforehand.



There is about 49 mm of space below the bottom fin but total clearance depends on how the fan is positioned. With the HR-02 being so thick, adding a second fan to create and push-pull configuration might be helpful but it may be too close to the rear exhaust fan. If this is the case one could flip the heatsink around.

TESTING

Before thermal testing, we took some basic physical measurements.

Approximate Physical Measurements
Weight
690 g

850 g with stock fan and clips
Height 161 mm
Fin count 31
Fin thickness
0.34 mm
Fin spacing
3.12 mm
Vertical Clearance*
49 mm
* measured from the motherboard PCB to
the bottom fin of the heatsink


Large Heatsink Comparison:

Average Fin Thickness & Spacing
Heatsink
Fin Thickness
Fin Spacing
Thermalright HR-01 Plus
0.45 mm
3.15 mm
Thermalright HR-02 Macho
0.34 mm
3.12 mm
Scythe Ninja 3
0.39 mm
2.64 mm
Noctua NH-U12P
0.44 mm
2.63 mm
Noctua NH-C12P
0.47 mm
2.54 mm
Noctua NH-D14
0.43 mm
2.33 mm
Thermalright Archon SB-E
0.49 mm
2.33 mm
be quiet! Dark Rock 2
0.38 mm
2.22 mm
Prolimatech Armageddon
0.51 mm
2.08 mm
Prolimatech Megahalems
0.50 mm
2.00 mm
Zalman CNPS10X Quiet
0.40 mm
2.00 mm
Scythe Kabuto & Zipang 2
0.34 mm
1.94 mm
NZXT Havik 140
0.41 mm
1.91 mm
Scythe Mugen-2
0.31 mm
1.89 mm
Swiftech Polaris 120
0.43 mm
1.85 mm
Thermalright Venomous X
0.53 mm
1.84 mm
Noctua NH-C14
0.38 mm
1.79 mm
Scythe Yasya
0.32 mm
1.78 mm
Cogage TRUE Spirit 1366
0.40 mm
1.70 mm
Arctic Cooling Freezer Xtreme Rev.2
0.30 mm
1.70 mm
Scythe Grand Kama Cross
0.38 mm
1.66 mm
Reeven Kelveros
0.47 mm
1.61 mm
Zalman CNPS9900 MAX
0.16 mm
1.59 mm
Thermalright Silver Arrow
0.32 mm
1.57 mm
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus
0.43 mm
1.54 mm
Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme Rev.C
0.56 mm
1.52 mm
Zalman CNPS10X Extreme
0.42 mm
1.50 mm

Testing on larger heatsinks are done on our
LGA1366 heatsink testing platform
, while smaller coolers tackle our LGA1155 heatsink testing platform. A summary of the test system
and procedure follows.

Key Components in LGA1366 Heatsink Test Platform:

  • Intel Core i7-965 Extreme
    Nehalem core, LGA1366, 3.2GHz, 45nm, 130W TDP.
  • Asus
    P6X58D Premium
    ATX motherboard. X58 chipset.
  • Asus
    EAH3450 Silent
    graphics card.
  • Intel
    X25-M
    80GB 2.5" solid-state drive. Chosen for silence.
  • 3GB QiMonda
    DDR3 memory. 3 x 1GB DDR3-1066 in triple channel.
  • Seasonic X-650 SS-650KM
    650W ATX power supply. This PSU is semi-passively cooled. At the power levels
    of our test platform, its fan does not spin.
  • Arctic Silver
    Lumière
    : Special fast-curing thermal interface material, designed
    specifically for test labs.
  • Noctua 140 mm fan (used when possible with heatsinks that fit 140x25mm
    fans)
  • Nexus 120 mm fan (used when possible with heatsinks that fit 120x25mm
    fans)
  • Nexus 92 mm fan (used when possible with heatsinks that fit 92x25mm
    fans)

Key Components in LGA1155 Heatsink Test Platform:

  • Intel Core i5-2400 Sandy Bridge core, LGA1155, 3.1 GHz, 45nm, 95W TDP, overclocked/volted to 3.6 GHz and 1.300V.
  • Intel DP67BG ATX motherboard.
    P67 chipset.
  • Asus
    EAH3450 Silent
    graphics card.
  • Kingston
    SSDNow V
    30GB 2.5" solid-state drive. Chosen for silence.
  • OCZ Platinum Extreme Low Voltage DDR3 memory. 2 x 2 GB, DDR3-1333 in dual channel.
  • Seasonic X-400 SS-400FL
    400W ATX power supply. Passively cooled
  • Arctic Silver
    Lumière
    : Special fast-curing thermal interface material, designed
    specifically for test labs.
  • Noctua 140 mm fan (used when possible with heatsinks that fit 140x25mm
    fans)
  • Nexus 120 mm fan (used when possible with heatsinks that fit 120x25mm
    fans)
  • Nexus 92 mm fan (used when possible with heatsinks that fit 92x25mm
    fans)

The systems are silent under the test conditions, except for the CPU cooling
fan(s).

Normally, our reference fans are used whenever possible, the measured details
of which are shown below.

Reference Noctua 140mm fan

Anechoic chamber measurements
Voltage
Speed
12V
28~29 dBA
1250 RPM
9V
21 dBA
990 RPM
7V
15~16 dBA
770 RPM
6V
13 dBA
660 RPM


Reference Nexus 120mm fan

Anechoic chamber measurements
Voltage
Speed
12V
16 dBA
1100 RPM
9V
13 dBA
890 RPM
7V
12 dBA
720 RPM


Reference Nexus 92 mm fan

Anechoic chamber measurements
Voltage
Speed
12V
16 dBA
1470 RPM
9V
12 dBA
1150 RPM

Measurement and Analysis Tools

  • Extech 380803 AC power analyzer / data logger for measuring AC system
    power.
  • Custom-built, four-channel variable DC power supply, used to regulate
    the fan speed during the test.
  • PC-based spectrum analyzer:
    SpectraPlus with ACO Pacific mic and M-Audio digital
    audio interfaces.
  • Anechoic chamber
    with ambient level of 11 dBA or lower
  • Various other tools for testing fans, as documented in our
    standard fan testing methodology
    .
  • SpeedFan,
    used to monitor the on-chip thermal sensors. The sensors are not calibrated,
    so results are not universally applicable. The hottest core reading is used.
  • Prime95,
    used to stress the LGA1366 CPU heavily, generating more heat than most real applications.
    8 instances are used to ensure that all 4 cores (with Hyper-threading) are
    stressed.
  • CPU-Z,

    used to monitor the CPU speed to determine when overheating occurs.

  • Thermometers to measure the air temperature around the test platform
    and near the intake of the heatsink fan.

Noise measurements are made with the fans powered from the lab's variable DC
power supply while the rest of the system was off to ensure that system noise
did not skew the measurements.

Load testing was accomplished using Prime95 to stress the processor, and the
graph function in SpeedFan was used to ensure that the load temperature is stable
for at least ten minutes. The temperature recorded is the highest single core
reading. The stock fans were tested at various voltages to represent a good
cross-section of airflow and noise performance.

The ambient conditions during testing were 10~11 dBA and 21~23°C.

STOCK FAN MEASUREMENTS

Specifications: Thermalright HR-02 Macho Stock Fan
Manufacturer
Power Rating
2.4 W
Model Number
TR-TY140
Airflow Rating
56~73 CFM
Bearing Type
Hyper-Flow
Speed Rating
900~1,300 RPM
Corners
Open
Noise Rating
19~21 dBA
Frame Size
151 x 140 x 26 mm
Header Type
4-pin
Fan Blade Diameter
132 mm
Starting Voltage
5.2 V
Hub Size
41 mm
Weight
160 grams
Data in green cells provided by the manufacturer
or observed; data in the blue cells were measured.


Stock Fan Measurements
Voltage
Speed
12V
1260 RPM
22 dBA
10V
1070 RPM
19 dBA
9V
970 RPM
15 dBA
8V
850 RPM
14 dBA
7V
730 RPM
12 dBA
Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle from
the center of the heatsink.

Ambient noise level: 10~11 dBA.

The HR-02 stock fan is the same model included with the Silver Arrow and Shaman. It is fairly quiet for a 140 mm model, producing only 22 [email protected] at full speed, and almost inaudible at 7V while spinning at 730 RPM. It doesn't have great acoustics, though, as the motor generates some undesirable noise. Between 800 and 1100 RPM there is an audible hum with some slight clicking. Thankfully, at one meter distance with a case side panel running interference, it would be difficult to detect.



At 10V, the stock fan emits a noise level of 19 [email protected] It has some tonal elements, peaking near 200 and 300 Hz.


TEST RESULTS

Thermalright HR-02 Macho
Fan Voltage
Temp
°C Rise
Stock Fan
12V
22 dBA
58°C
38
10V
19 dBA
59°C
39
9V
15 dBA
60°C
40
8V
14 dBA
61°C
41
7V
12 dBA
63°C
43
Reference Noctua 140mm Fan
12V
28 dBA
56°C
36
9V
21 dBA
59°C
39
8V
19 dBA
61°C
41
7V
15 dBA
63°C
43
6V
13 dBA
65°C
45
Reference Noctua 140mm Fan x 2
12V
31~32 dBA
54°C
34
9V
25 dBA
55°C
35
8V
22 dBA
56°C
36
7V
18 dBA
57°C
37
6V
15 dBA
60°C
40
°C Rise: Temperature rise above ambient (20°C)
at load.

The Macho performed very strongly, keeping the thermal rise above ambient at about 40°C using the stock fan. There was only a variance of 5°C between full speed and 7V. While we prefer the sound of our reference Noctua fan, it simply wasn't as efficient, losing by 2~3°C at similar noise levels to the stock fan. A second Noctua helped considerably, lowering the CPU temperature by 5~6°C between 6V and 8V.

We ran into one odd little problem when we swapped out the stock fan. The X-Silent fan is 1 mm thicker than the standard 25 mm and the Macho's fan clips are designed to take this into account. As a result, our reference fan hung a bit loose when used with the stock clips. Oddly enough, the clips from the Silver Arrow, which we borrowed to test the dual fan configuration, had no issue as it seems to be designed to fit tighter.

COMPARISONS

CPU Coolers (ref. 140mm fan): °C Rise Comparison
Heatsink
Fan voltage / SPL @1m*
9V
7V
6V
18~21 dBA
13~16 dBA
11~13 dBA
Thermalright Archon SB-E
37
40
42
Prolimatech Armageddon
39
42
45
Thermalright Venomous X Silent Edition
40
43
44
Thermalright HR-02 Macho
39
43
45
NZXT Havik 140
40
43
47
Noctua NH-C14

(top mounted)
40
44
48
Noctua NH-C14
40
44
49
Thermalright Silver Arrow
39
45
49
*Note: there are minor differences in measured SPL due to the variety of fan orientations and mounting methods offered by the compared coolers.

As a single fan heatsink, the Macho doesn't really stand out against the other top tier coolers we've tested. Its cooling proficiency was similar to the smaller Venomous X.

Dual Fan CPU Coolers (ref. 140mm fans): CPU °C Rise Comparison
Heatsink
Fan Voltage / SPL*
8V
7V
6V
18~20 dBA
15~17 dBA
12~14 dBA
Prolimatech Genesis
36
37
39
Thermalright HR-02 Macho
36
37
40
Noctua NH-C14
37
39
41
Thermalright Silver Arrow
37
39
41
Noctua NH-D14
38
40
42
Thermalright Venomous X
39
41
42
NZXT Havik 140
39
40
43
*Note: there are minor differences in measured SPL due to the variety of fan orientations and mounting methods offered by the compared coolers.

The HR-02 is a much stronger performer when a second fan is added, challenging the Prolimatech Genesis for the champion's crown.

FANLESS

The HR-02 is marketed in part for its fanless cooling potential. In Taipei last month, Chris Lee of Thermalright urged SPCR Editor Mike Chin to test the Macho without direct cooling in a case equipped with an exhaust fan. Chris felt the HR-02 would take on all comers in such a setup.

We decided to test Thermalright's claim by installing it on a system in a case with modest airflow. We used our small heatsink test platform featuring an overclocked/volted Core i5-2400 running at 3.6 GHz with 1.30 V, which produces more heat than a i5-2500K at stock settings. We are quite sure that our standard 1366 test platform simply produces too much heat for any fanless cooler to handle.



Inside our test system.



A closer look.

The system was installed inside a popular quiet case, the Fractal Design Define R3. We used the two included stock fans, one mounted as a rear exhaust, and the other installed in the upper intake position. The two ceiling fan placements were unblocked to maximize ventilation. A passively cooled Radeon HD 5450 was used for video but it doesn't contribute much heat.

Passive Cooling Results: Thermalright HR-02 Macho
Fan Voltage
Exhaust Fan Only
Exhaust + Intake Fan
CPU Temp.
CPU Temp.
12V
24~25 dBA
68°C
66°C
26~27 dBA
9V
20~21 dBA
71°C
69°C
22 dBA
7V
18 dBA
76°C
74°C
18~19 dBA
5V
15 dBA
87°C
83°C
15~16 dBA
Ambient temperature: 22°C.

CPU throttling temperature: ~100°C.

The Macho didn't blow us away in passive operation but it performed well enough to keep our test CPU from overheating with very limited airflow. With only a single stock fan running at just 5V, the CPU remained stable, albeit with a very high temperature of 87°C. An 11°C improvement was attained at 7V, a much safer level, but any higher and the system would no longer be considered quiet by our standards. Having an intake fan didn't make a huge difference in the grand scheme of things. There was a 4°C improvement at 5V but this was cut in half at higher speeds.

MP3 SOUND RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high
resolution, lab quality, digital recording system
inside SPCR's
own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber
, then converted to LAME 128kbps
encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation
from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of
what we heard during the review.

These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds
in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer
or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient
noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. Be aware
that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn't hear it from
one meter, chances are we couldn't record it either!

The recording starts with 5~10 second segments of room ambiance, then the fan
at various levels. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that
the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don't change the volume
setting again.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Thermalright HR-02 Macho was able to passively cool our mildly overclocked Sandy Bridge quad core processor with very little case airflow, though the temperatures were rather high as one would expect; we wouldn't attempt it with anything more demanding like a Bulldozer, Nehalem or Sandy Bridge Extreme chip. We should also note that this isn't our preferred cooling strategy, not when you have the option of putting a fan directly on the heatsink.

On our higher power Nehalem open testing platform, its single fan performance was excellent, producing numbers similar to the likes of the Thermalright Venomous X and NZXT Havik 140. The Macho shone even brighter with two fans, edging out most of the dual 140 mm fan coolers save the Prolimatech Genesis. It's a shame that Thermalright didn't include a second set of fan clips.

Despite its size, the Macho is considerate with regards to compatibility. The 161 mm height allows installation in most standard sized towers. It also doesn't interfere with the system memory (typically a problem for DIMMs with tall heatspreaders) because some of its mass is cleverly shifted toward the opposite side, which incidentally, brings it closer to the rear exhaust fan in most cases. The HR-02 lacks the nickel-plating of most high-end heatsinks and has only 31, very thin fins that are spaced widely apart. So while it's quite thick, measuring 102 mm wide, its weight is on the light side for a cooler of its capabilities.

Fortunately these cutbacks along with the decision to omit the second fan, help keep the cost of the Macho down. With a street price of about US$55, the HR-02 is not only an excellent buy, but a worthy heir to the HR-01/Plus.

Our thanks to Thermalright for the HR-02 Macho CPU cooler sample.




Thermalright HR-02 Macho receives the SPCR Editor's Choice Award

* * *

SPCR Articles of Related Interest:

Cooler Master GeminII M4 Low Profile Heatsink
Reeven Kelveros & Arcziel CPU Coolers
Thermalright Archon SB-E 15cm Fan CPU Cooler
Scythe Big Shuriken 2 & Reeven Vanxie CPU Coolers
Noctua NH-L12 Low Profile Cooler
Antec Kühler H20 620 & 920 CPU Water Cooling Units

* * *

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