Thermalright coolers have traditionally been a little pricey, and the Spitfire is certainly no exception. The heatsink alone is £55, on top of which you’ll also need to buy an additional VRM-R2 heatsink for the VRMs so, with a fan you’ll be hard pressed to get much change from £80.
The additional heatsink for the HD 5870 wasn’t unavailable in the UK at the time of writing, so we were left with no option but to test it on an HD 4980, for which we used the VRM-R2 heatsink. Unfortunately its crazy price is outdone by its simply baffling design. It’s designed to sit on the GPU core with the heatsink pointing up or down. Pointing up will mean you’re limited to using a very small (read: noisy) CPU cooler while pointing down got in the way of the PSU even when we installed the Spitfire in the gargantuan Antec Twelve Hundred case.
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As if this wasn’t enough, the Spitfire is far from easy to install, with the giant heatsink working against us while we tried to deal with its fiddly mounting mechanism. A mountain of heatsinks were included, several of which kept falling off. Gravity is such an issue with this huge cooler that it needs its own scaffolding in the form of metal rods that support it from mounts on the motherboard tray.
Despite its ridiculous size, the Spitfire proved worse than the reference HD 4890 cooler, with a load delta T of 53ºC using a very quiet 120mm Sharkoon Silent Eagle 1000 fan. The poor cooling ability is the final nail in the coffin for this frankly terrible heatsink. Unless you have a fetish for overpriced, oversized products that a hard to install and don’t do a good job then the Spitfire should be avoided at all costs.
As with the Spitfire, the Trad2 requires an additional VRM heatsink when used with many of the AMD graphics cards it’s compatible with. As you also need to buy either two 92mm fans or a single 120mm fan, you’ll be lucky to see any change from £60. As it’s not compatible with Nvidia’s GT 200-series cards we opted to see how it performs on an ATI HD 5870 in combination with the VRM-R3 heatsink.
Even with a 120mm fan attached the Trad2 only takes up three expansion slots – a lot less than many of the other coolers reviewed in this months Labs test. Despite its slim design, Thermalright has still managed to squeeze in six heatpipes.
Installation was similar to the HR-03 GTX, except instead of a VRM cooling plate, you have to contend with the VRM-R3 heatsink. The main heatsink is secured using four pins held in place from the other side of the PCB using screw caps. The whole process was fiddly but straightforward and thankfully the RAM heatsinks stayed on long enough for us to get through the testing.
We opted for a single 120mm Sharkoon Silent Eagle 1000 fan for cooling and this returned a delta T of 38ºC. This was on par with the Scythe Setsugen and a massive 27ºC lower than the reference HD 5870 cooler. Our Crysis benchmark ran from start to finish with no hiccups too.
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While the Trad2 oozes quality and offers great cooling, it’s a lot more expensive than the Scythe Setsugen once you total up the cost of the VRM heatsink and fan(s). What’s more, you could buy a full-cover HD 5870 waterblock for the same price as a fully-equipped Trad2. For this reason, despite its good cooling and relatively easy installation we can’t recommend the Trad2.