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Thermalright Spitfire & VRM-R5 VGA Cooler

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Posted May 24, 2010 by Jake in Cooling

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by Jake
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Summary

The current crop of graphics cards are behemoths, both in performance abilities but also in terms of sheer physical size. The Radeon 5870, for example, is over 11" long and has an utterly massive cooler in order to keep that horsepower under control. Make no mistake, the 40nm core is certainly an improvement in terms of temperatures over the last generation chips, but it is still a monster in terms of heat output.

The Thermalright Spitfire has absolutely no problems handling that heat, taming the Radeon beast in impressive fashion. In terms of thermal performance, the combination of Spitfire/VRM-R5/X-Silent 140mm fan is an extremely impressive air cooling kit.  It’s not only capable of handling the heat but does it in a surprisingly quiet manner.  On the other hand, the trade off to have this kind of performance is that you have to sacrifice the case temperature, especially when you use it as passive cooling.   So before you consider using this cooler make sure you have at least a full tower with good airflow to the VGA area.  The Spitfire is definitely an efficient cooler but it is starved for airflow; you must have great airflow in your case (or else consider an open case) to achieve the best results.  Recirculating hot air inside your case will cripple the performance, so keep that in mind.

One note we wanted to mention that came us just as we were ready to publish this review: while we tested the Spitfire on the Radeon 5870, we just found out that Thermalright announced a retention bracket for the bloody hot Nvidia GTX 480 graphics card, so it’s now compatible.  However, GTX owners will have to wait a bit until Thermalright  releases the VRM heatsinks for the 470/480 cards, or else you have to find an alternative solution to cool the VRMs on those VGA cards.  As we all know, the GTX 480 runs much hotter and louder than the Radeon 5870, so it will be interesting to see how the Spitfire stacks up against the heat monster GTX 480.

For the price point, a complete combo kit as reviewed here costs about $103 USD. That is not cheap, and frankly it falls into the price territory of a full coverage water block that will perform even better.  However, that doesn’t account for the rest of the water cooling setup, not to mention that a full coverage block won’t be compatible with another model graphics card later.  Chances are the Spitfire will be compatible though, allowing you to get more out of your investment.

That being said, the Thermalright Spitfire is an extremely impressive air cooler, utterly trashing the stock cooler, and will allow you to overclock your graphics card to new performance heights. With the 140mm X-Silent fan, this setup will run cool and quiet, but it also comes with a few critical space restrictions and a very hefty price tag that limits its universal appeal. Frankly, you need deep pockets and a big case to make this behemoth work. But if you have the space and the money, the Spitfire and VRM-R5 is a performance king.

Thermalright Spitfire and VRM-R5

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