Thermalright Spitfire – Review
Due to the constraints posed by the cooler size and securing mechanism, a secondary system was used to test the system (the first choice system had a core i7 processor). This was not necessarily a bad thing as the test was to assess the efficiency of the cooler, not the prowess of the system. Regardless, the system specs are given below
The following programs (synthetic benchmark and games) were used to test the cooling performance
- 1. 3DMark –Vantage
2. Metro 2033
3. Just Cause 2
For all tests the resolution was set to 1280x1024. In game settings were turned to their maximal possible (for graphics). As different games have different settings a “universal” list of features activated is not possible to create. For 3D Mark –Vantage the default test was run.
GPU-Z (–V.4.2) was used to monitor the video card parameters. The measured parameters included:
1. GPU temperature (GPU Temp)
2. GPU Shader Core (GPU SC)
3. GPU Memory IO (GPU M)
4. GPU Display IO (GPU D)
5. VRM temperatures (3 phase control)
a. VDDC 1 (VDDC 1)
b. VDDC 2 (VDDC 2)
c. VDDC 3 (VDDC 3)
*spitfire+ includes the spitfire GPU cooler and VRM-R2 heatsink
The VRM-R2 was also tested without the 80mm while running 3DMark Vantage (as this proved to be the only benchmark that pushed temperatures north of 100°C). The final comparison was between the stock cooler at 75% and the spitfire while running 3DMark Vantage
1. 3DMARK VANTAGE
3DMark Vantage generated the most heat; it was the only program that heated all the voltage regulators to 100°C! The GPU temperature was also at their highest when testing with Vantage.
There is a very significant difference between the two solutions (i.e. stock and spitfire+ vrm-r2). In all cases the difference is more than 30%.
2. ALIEN VS PREDATOR
The Jungle Level was chosen (with the Marine as the selected player).
The temperatures continue to fall like 9 pins using the spitfire. There is again a substantial difference between it and the stock cooler. The game, however doesn’t heat the GPU or the VRMs like 3DMark Vantage did.
3. METRO 2033
Metro 2033 is the latest game from the Russian developer 4A games, utilizing their own 4A Engine. They broke off from the group developing STALKER. The similarities between the two engines are uncanny, though 4play insist that theirs is a very different engine from the one that powers STALKER (X-ray Engine).
The game again shows how well spitfire works as compared to the stock cooler
4. VRM-R2 80mm FAN VS PASSIVE COOLING
Addition of an 80mm fan adds about 9°C of cooling. This is in my opinion a substantial gain.
Note: As I was not able to use a standard “tower” CPU cooler, the efficiency of the VRM-R2 in passive mode was reduced. A small factor tower cooler with a front facing fan can potentially draw hot air away from the VRM-R2 improving its temperatures. But as TR recommends the use of a top down CPU cooler in conjunction with the spitfire this argument is probably redundant, and is only mentioned here to keep the facts “straight”.
5. STOCK COOLER @ 75% FAN SPEED
Finally the test that will really prove the worth of the cooler especially in terms of noise reduction. As the fan speed of the stock cooler ramps up, its efficiency does increase respectably.
The stock cooler does much better here, but it is still no match for the gigantic spitfire. The difference, while less spectacular is still significant. The noise levels are much more significant. At 75% the stock cooler sounds like an aircraft preparing to take off, while the spitfire is sounds like a Lexus at idle.
The age old adage; “you get what you pay for” is very relevant here. The total cost of the cooler with the VRM module is above US$ 100. This is a very significant amount of money. But as I said you have to look at what those 100 dollars get you.
For your money you get the absolute best GPU air cooler that money can buy. You get the absolute best performance out of an air cooler for a GPU. You get this performance at a very bearable noise level, in fact over the case fan and the processor cooler fan it was difficult to discern the noise coming out of the Thermalright fan on the spitfire.
This is an absolute heaven for those that are bothered by noise. For those that are not bothered about noise and are willing to increase the speed of the stock cooler they still have something to look towards –better performance. But this performance (for this crowd) does come at a very high price. The consolation for you, my friends, is that this cooler (minus the VRM-R2) can be used with the latest Nvidia GTX480 video cards. As they generate heat like rabbit generate babies, you will definitely get your money’s worth once you plan to upgrade. You will need to buy a new VRM cooler, but that expense is less as compared to that of the spitfire (US$ 25).
The price performance apparently might look high, but if you think in terms of long term investment, the cooler will certainly pay off dividends.
This is one product that I really wanted to like, but the frustration surrounding the installation put me off more than once. Once you get things going the cooler really shows what it can do for you. Is the headache in the end worth it? In my opinion yes. I knew the cooler was going to do better, but not by the margin the benchmarking showed. Yes it is a pain to install and has very specific requirements. The most damning is that it won’t work with most CPU tower coolers, unless you are willing to sacrifice (almost) all of your expansion slots. Another issue that will arise is for those with dual video cards, or a video card with dual GPU. For the former it might be possible to orient two spitfires differently (one overhanging, the other over the expansion slots). Arrangement of VRM modules for the two cards is going to be tricky or nigh on impossible. For the latter it might be possible to again orient two spitfires differently on the same card. Again cooling the VRMs will be a cause for concern.
Again as I said, I really wanted to like the spitfire, in the end we ended the relationship on a sweet-sour note. The performance was great, but getting there has too many ropes attached to it. (Analogy: The sex was great, but it came at too high a price)