Final words and conclusion
It's hard to be disappointed with Thermalright products and well, you surely will not be disappointed by the HR-02. Throughout the installation we already had that weird 6th sense that we had something distinctive in our hands, and it is exactly that, the HR-02 is distinctive.
You can use the HR-02 in many ways, if you want to, you could go passive with it. Even then the cooling performance remains nice and even with a hint of an overclock (3.3 GHz / 1.3v on the 2.67 GHz Core i5 750 processor) the cooler managed to keep the processor at very acceptable temperatures, all measured with a full load of Prime95 CPU stress testing, let's not forget that.
One word of advice though, passive is never 100% passive. In some way or form the PC will always need airflow to get rid of heat. But the fact is, even with a tiny bit of cool airflow inside your system (in / outtake) the HR-02 will keep the processor chilled down passively fairly well.
Once you decide to opt to install a fan then the cooler starts to shine really brightly. It is very comparable to the performance of Noctua's grand NH-D14 coolers. Now, we slapped on Thermalright's TY-140 fan, a 140mm fan with a maximum RPM of 1300. We set it at 80% which we do for all our cooler tests and that makes this fan cooler combo run at roughly 1040 RPM. At that stage you cannot hear the cooler whatsoever, meanwhile we see performance levels that are excellent. The cooler becomes even more impressive when we start to overclock. In combo with this fan we overclocked the poor little 2.67 GHz processor to 4.2 GHz @ 1.5 volts. At that 1,5 GHz overclock started to stress all processor cores 100% again and barely touched 65 Degrees C on a virtually inaudible setup. Let's be honest here, we've tested liquid cooling kit solutions worse than that.
So let me wrap things up, product wise there is nothing remotely negative about the HR-02, except for the fact you'll need to purchase a fan if you want active cooling. That, and theres pricing. Currently we cannot find this new product in stores just yet, but we expect it to cost roughly 65 EUR / 79 USD without a fan. If you are in the market for this product then do yourself a favor and drop another 15 USD for that TY-140 fan. The combination of these two seriously is golden up-to an x-factor level product.
Nearly perfect cooling at completely inaudible noise levels, a product this good deserves our best hardware award, well done Thermalright.