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The 'Thermalright HR-02 Macho' and my current desktop

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Since I purchased my desktop back in 2011, I’ve made numerous improvements and changes. First, I replaced the Western Digital hard drive with a Seagate hard drive, sheerly because the Western Digital was incredibly loud in operation, especially as an operating system drive. Secondly, I replaced the case, the original case while seemingly full of features, was essentially flimsy and horrible to work with. Next came an SSD, and finally a new power supply I bought from my friend Scott, as while the one I had functioned perfectly well, cable management was a nightmare. All was well for a while, besides a high pitched noise I was managing to keep quiet with certain BIOS settings.

Then not long ago I returned my motherboard (ASUS P8P67) for a replacement, the high pitched noise wasn’t present on the replacement for a time until it eventually crept up on me again (see previous post). Regardless, at the time I also learned it was perfectly possible to overclock my CPU without affecting the RAM (which had stopped me before), as I only needed to adjust the CPU multiplier (considering I own an unlocked CPU), not the base clock which could have affected the RAM speed (although that multiplier could have been reduced anyway). Overclocking appeared to remove the high pitched noise for some reason I have yet to determine, which was perfect, I simply changed the multiplier in the BIOS/EFI setup to 40, changed Phase Control to ‘ASUS Optimized’, enabled the EPU, and manually set the base clock to 100MHz. Voltages are boosted automatically, however this isn’t ideal, as from what I’ve read it overshoots a little, and can provide more voltage than necessary. I should either set a manual voltage, or use the offset functionality I’ve yet to figure out. If anyone reading this wants to overclock there’s plenty of guides online, I used this, however I recommend reading around quite a lot before you attempt anything, and you’ll need a half decent CPU cooler and power supply!

Then...

...and now

My original CPU cooler was a Titan model, which was okay for a 4GHz overclock, temperatures idled around 30°C and maxed out around 60-65°C on a fairly high load (encoding in Handbrake for a few hours). With Prime95 however, it reached around 70°C, which is a little too hot for my liking. The main problem was that it was quite audible when the fan speed increased to meet the demand of the CPU, so I began to look for a replacement.

I had originally settled on the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO, which would have sufficed for the overclocks I was aiming for, especially for my Core i5 2500K CPU which doesn’t actually produce that much heat. At the time, the Hyper 212 EVO was going for around £30 minimum, which was a bit pricey. I had looked around and found CPU coolers such as the Xigmatek Gaia, and the Thermalright True Spirit 120, which were similar, but with quiet fans my top priority, reviews of these either didn’t seem to instil much confidence in their silence, or didn’t exist. Finally I found the Thermalright Macho 120, which looked huge, but I couldn’t find any decent reviews mentioning its fan. Finally I found the Thermalright HR-02 Macho, which turned out to be the same price as the Macho 120, however with a much larger TY-140 fan, which reviews indicated was absolutely silent. After finding this cooler for £39.99 on Amazon, which was also the aesthetically superior black and white fan (TY-147) version, it seemed the best option, although £10 more than the Hyper 212 EVO.

My original Titan CPU cooler, the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO, and the Thermalright HR-02 Macho

The Thermalright HR-02 Macho arrived in a sizeable box, the outer Amazon packing was ridiculously huge, but I appreciate the extra packaging considering the cooler was not particularly well padded inside its box. Besides that, the cooler was quite large, came with a decent looking mounting system, clear instructions, and a full sized screwdriver of all things.

Mounting the HR-02 Macho was a hassle. In theory it should have been quite simple, the instructions were clear, and the mounting system was all well and good, but for anyone attempting to do it, regardless of whether your case is quite large (my HAF 912 Plus is), or if you have an opening at the back of your case to install a backplate, don’t. Remove the motherboard, install the cooler, and then reinstall the motherboard to the case. You might think it will be more difficult, but believe me it would have been easier. If you’re adamant about fitting the CPU cooler with the motherboard in the case, you will definitely need a second person, as one will need to hold the backplate plus washers and screws from the rear of the case, while someone screws in the nuts from the other side. Trying to do this yourself is quite the task, although I did manage it somehow. Connecting the fan cable also proved near impossible, there was so little space between the heatsink and case, I could not fit my hand into the gap to properly push the connector into the motherboard. Additionally I couldn’t see why the fan clips weren’t fitting properly when attaching the fan, as I could not see the bottom right corner at all. Finally, another thing to be careful of, is that because the cooler is imbalanced (it is heavier on the left side to make room for RAM slots), keeping it upright while screwing in the mounting plate is quite difficult, it tipped over for me once (luckily not damaging anything!) but having someone to hold it will help. I also think I applied too much thermal paste, but there is no way I’m reapplying it any time soon after that ordeal!

While I was there I replaced the screws on my case fans with Akasa rubber fan mounts to reduce vibrations due to fans. Another reason I should have removed my motherboard, pulling these through the fan into the case was a lot more difficult than I’d expected, and I snapped a few in the process. They also didn’t fit into the holes for the front fan, which was disappointing, I don’t understand why Cooler Master decided to change things for the front fan.

Finally, when I was finished, I switched on my computer and was greeted by a CPU fan error, as the fan speed on this cooler is quite low (500RPM). I lowered the fan warning level in the BIOS/EFI setup and while I was there overclocked a little more to 4.2GHz, and started up Windows. Everything so far was quite quiet, but my previous cooler was too. Checking the temperatures, I noticed idle temperatures of around 30°C which was quite normal. Using Prime95 to stress the system, the CPU temperatures maxed out around 65°C after about 15-20 minutes (In-place large FFTs), which I am more than happy with, especially considering these kinds of temperatures won’t be reached even with quite high loads day to day. As well as keeping the temperatures in check, the fan noise was inaudible over the other fans in my system, so quite a success! Hopefully I can push my overclock higher when I have the time to properly set the voltage (as it may be a little too high, contributing to more heat than necessary) so I might even get better temperatures still.

Overall I’m quite happy with my current desktop, it is cool, quiet and apparently devoid of high pitched noises when overclocked. After routing the cables around the case properly, and installing the HR-02 Macho I am happy with the aesthetics internally too. Airflow could probably be improved by removing the hard drive cage, but the drives are much quieter in the removable cage, so I am against that for now. I still haven’t solved dampening the front fan however, and I’d still like to make upgrades to quieter and better components, but I don’t quite have the money for that yet!