Thermaltake T-Rad2

Image Description

Video card vendors always seem to manufacture graphic cards that have undersized heatsinks with incredibly loud fans and that are almost as hot as the surface of the sun. One would think that after decades of building these things they'd take a hint and build reference cards with thermal solutions that are adequate for stock performance. However, due to this inadequacy many other companies have found a market to fill and Thermalright is a company with proven designs and great success.

Thermalright TRad2

Today I've got the Thermalright T-Rad2 for review. Thermalright is most well known for its HR-03 VGA cooler and Ultra 120 Extreme CPU cooler, both of which have a reputation for being some of the best heatsinks on the market. Unfortunately, the HR-03 is large heatsink that takes three slots by itself and Thermalright has taken notice of this with the launch of the T-Rad2. The heatsink itself is only two slots thick, just as thick as the stock cooler for the HD 4870 or GTX 280. Strapping a necessary fan to the heatsink makes it three slots thick -- just as thick as the HR-03 without a fan.

Thermaltake TRad2

The T-Rad2 has an incredibly thin and unique design that makes it incompatible with a few card designs. Before deciding to purchase the card, make sure to check out Thermalright's ATI and NVIDIA graphics card compatibility check list to insure that your card will be able to fit the T-Rad2. During testing I checked some of the cards I had lying around and had a few non-reference cards that did not fit due to capacitors and chokes being in the way of the heatpipes.

The Box and Heatsink

Thermaltake TRad2

I actually appreciate that Thermalright has chosen a very "plain" box and packaging for their T-Rad2. The heatsink is safely nestled away inside with all the mounting components and secondary heatsinks necessary to get the T-Rad2 functional on a slew of cards.

Thermaltake TRad2

Besides the heatsink itself, the T-Rad2 comes complete with a bag of other heatsinks used to sink the memory, mosfets, and chokes on every card the T-Rad2 is compatible with. Make sure to cover all the hot components that the stock heatsink covers or else you could toast the card.

Thermaltake TRad2 

Thermaltake TRad2

The heatsink has a total of six heatpipes soldered to the baseplate. The design features five heatpipes that dominate half the fin array while a single heatpipe diverts from the crowd and occupies the unoccupied half of the heatsink.

Installation


Installation of the heatsink is quite simple for those familiar with video cards. Today, I'll be installing the T-Rad2 onto a voltage modified Gigabyte HD 4850. I've chosen this HD 4850 as it's a reference card and the T-Rad2 fits. Secondly, I've voltage modified this card and completely mapped it out so I was able to accurately dial it in from stock clocks to its bleeding edge.

Thermaltake TRad2

To start things off, remove the stock cooler and remove any factory thermal material that may remain stuck to the core, memory chips, and mosfets. With the card bare, apply the memory and mosfet heatsinks to the card. If there is a component that the stock heatsink had direct contact with, make sure to sink it. Please disregard the heatsinks on the mosfets and chokes; these are epoxied on and not included with the T-Rad2 kit.

Thermaltake TRad2

Next, prepare the T-Rad2 for installation. Start by screwing in the 4 large double-sided screws into the mount and removing the plastic covering the base. Then, place the four white washers on the four screws; these will protect the PCB of your GPU. 

Thermaltake TRad2

Apply a dab of thermal compound the size of a small pea onto the core. When mounting the heatsink the mounting pressure will spread the material out and insure a sufficient thermal bond.

Thermaltake TRad2

Flip the card over and slowly lower the card over the heatsink. Once the heatsink is lined up and the card is resting on it, take the four black washers and drop them onto the heatsink screws and then use the thumbscrews to slowly tighten the heatsink down. I'd suggest screwing down in an alternating pattern going top left, bottom right, top right, bottom left. Screw them all till they are snug and then tighten with this pattern 'til hand tight without warping the card.

Thermaltake TRad2

You can choose to mount either one or two 92mm fans or a single 120mm fan. If you mount the 92mm fans you'll use the short screws, whereas if you mount the 120mm fan you'll use the two longer screws and the two fan clips.

Test System

Thermaltake TRad2 

I used my temporary LGA775 Intel test system to test the heatsink. The card I'm using is a voltage modified Gigabyte HD 4850 that'll let me adjust the core frequency and voltage from a stock HD 4850, stock HD 4870, and a heavily overclocked HD 4850/4870. I used a single 25mm thick 120mm wide fan that rotated at 1200 RPM and blew 60CFM.

For testing purposes I started with a 15 minute idle period followed by a 15 minute load period with the average temperature measured for the final 5 minute of the load period. This was repeated for each frequency/voltage combination and then each heatsink was also completely tested three times with the average temperatures presented as results.

Intel Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

Intel Core 2 Quad QX9650

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Motherboard

Asus X48 Rampage Extreme

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Memory

Corsair PC3-14400C7 Dominator 2x1GB

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Video Card

Gigabyte HD4850

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Hard Drive

Seagate 7200.10 320GB

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Cooling

QX9650 Box Cooler

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Power Supply

Corsair HX1000 PSU

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Operating System

Windows Vista Ultimate

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Results

Thermalright T-Rad2

Thermalright T-Rad2

The T-Rad2 wipes the floor with the stock HD4850 heatsink. Plain and simple, it's not a contest. With the HD4850 stock cooler at 875MHz I was only able to run loaded for 6 minutes before the system would crash due to temps. The T-Rad2 was able to keep the card stable at 875MHz indefinitely and even stretch its legs a bit more. Next up: swapping out the thermal material for Arctic Silver Ceramique.

Results with Ceramique

Thermaltake TRad2

To offer a better comparison than the stock cooler I've also tested an Arctic Cooling S1. The Arctic Cooling S1 offers similar performance but with a lower build quality and a larger footprint. On all of my heatsinks I've switched from the Thermalright Chill Factor to Arctic Silver Ceramique, my TIM of choice.

Thermalright T-Rad2

Thermalright T-Rad2

No surprise there, with a better thermal paste the T-Rad2 performs even better with a higher quality thermal paste. To switch things up I included my Arctic Cooling S1 which has been my cooler of choice for years. Looking over the numbers it looks like past 825MHz the Arctic Cooling S1 starts to fail while the superior quality of the T-Rad2 starts to make up some ground.

Conclusion

Thermaltake TRad2

If you own a graphic card with an unbearably hot core then it might be time to drop a bit of coin on an aftermarket heatsink. This is imperative if you are one of the few enthusiasts that enjoy taking a soldering iron to your precious electronics. Priced at $52, the T-Rad2 is a bit on the expensive side considering how you'll most likely be attaching it to a card that costs two to three times the price of the heatsink.

Thermaltake TRad2

Thermalright has a one year warranty for defective parts with their heatsinks. Since there are no moving parts on the T-Rad2 I believe you would be hard pressed to find a way to utilize this warranty but it exists nonetheless. When you factor in the build quality, presentation, and performance, the T-Rad2 makes a compelling offer compared to the HR-03 and even the Arctic Cooling S1.

The only major downside I can find with the T-Rad2 is the incompatibilities it has with certain video cards. Unlike a more generic card like the HR-03, the heatpipes on the T-Rad2 really do pose a problem and even on a proper card they are a close fit. My only concern over purchasing this heatsink is the ability to use it on future cards.

Legit Bottom Line: Thermalright brings out a great alternative to the HR-03 with the thinner T-Rad2 while still offering great performance.