We first reviewed the Silverstone TD03 just over a year ago, and I was thoroughly impressed with its build quality, performance and overall design. The TD03 is one of the best coolers in its class, but the only downside that I can see is that it was a little expensive; although you get what you pay for. Today, I’ll be taking a look at the TD03-Lite, a cooler that takes what we knew about the original, but for a much lower price and to reflect that, a few of the design features have been cut back to keep the cost down, offering the product to a much wider market, but has this had an effect on the performance? Let’s find out!
The specifications from the TD03-Lite are promising and the cooler comes equipped with a high-quality 120mm PWM fan, an aluminium 120mm radiator and copper contact block.
The packaging reflects SilverStones budget intentions, a brown box with printed decals, nothing fancy, but a box is just a box after all.
Everything comes neatly packaged in a custom shape carton, with separate compartments for all the major compartments and protective plastic over all sensitive hardware.
The included fan is a 120mm x 25mm design, with a black flat 4-pin PWM cable.
The fan features a 9-blade design and shaped edges to help better direct airflow, reduce noise and improve overall performance.
The included mounting kit supports Intel and AMD, comes with a universal backplate, Molex adaptor, all the required screws and a syringe of thermal paste.
The cooler is nothing too fancy, but it’s certainly presentable. It’s appearance isn’t much different from most 120mm AIO water coolers, with a black radiator, two thick hoses and of course, the CPU block/pump.
The radiator is a slim design, so it should be compatible with a wide range of system builds.
The pump is the biggest changes here, the TD03 had a metal housing, while the Lite has plastic. It’s nicely finished and features a nice logo on the top with some small blue LED indicators just behind the logo for some added flair.
The Intel brackets are pre-fitted for a quick and easy installation, but a few screws are all that need to be tweaked to remove it and install the AMD brackets which were included in the box. The pump comes with a 3-pin header, so you’ll need two fan headers on your motherboard; one for the pump, one for the fan.
The copper contact plate is huge, so it should offer lots of coverage on a wide range of CPU types. It’s also well polished and this should help you get a nice uniform fit.
The fan was very easy to install, just four screws and you’re done. Of course, you can mount the fan on the other side if needed and there’s small screws included to mount the radiator directly to your chassis.
The universal backplate couldn’t be any easier and it’s design so that it is obvious which way you need to orientate it.
There are four plastic spacers that need placing over the screw from the backplate; pretty easy to far.
Apply your thermal paste, then simply screw the pump onto the four screws on the motherboard using the included bolts. The whole process took me about five minutes, although it may take a few minutes more to install it into a chassis rather than an open air test bench.
Test System and Methodology
We always use the same test system and tests with CPU coolers that we compare against each other. The full specifications of our test system are as follows:
- ASUS P8Z77-V, LGA 1155 socket, Z77 chipset
- Intel Core i5 3570K with Gelid GC Extreme under the IHS
- 16GB Kingston 1866Mhz DDR3
- 128GB Kingston HyperX SSD
- Antec High Current Gamer 620W
- Cooler Master Test Bench v1.0
- We always use Gelid GC Extreme thermal paste to make sure testing reveals the efficiency of the tested coolers not the efficiency of the bundled thermal paste.
- Prime 95 is run for 10 minutes and then the average maximum temperatures as recorded by CPUID HWMonitor are noted
- The average temperature across the four cores is taken on our quad-core processor
- Fans are mostly left to operate at default PWM profile speeds and with maximum fan speed for reference.If PWM functions are not supported then fixed fan speeds are used and sometimes a low noise adapter if appropriate/provided. If fixed fan speeds or low noise adapters are used it will be clearly pointed out either on the graphs or in the write-up.
- All default result entries on graphs are for PWM performance unless otherwise specified. A variety of fan speed results are done for a particular product review and then removed from the graphs in future reviews of other products to avoid clutter. If you would like to see more fan speed results for a particular product please check its individual review.
- For watercooling tests all pumps have been operated at 12 volts directly from the power supply
- Delta temperatures are always used (Observed temperature minus ambient temperature) and we keep the ambient at 22 (+/- 1) degrees for all testing . Delta temperatures should correct for any marginal ambient differences between 21-23 degrees.
- Acoustic measurements are taken 10cm horizontally away from the CPU cooler with the VGA fan disabled, hard drive in idle and power supply isolated. These are taken at desktop idle and Prime95 load.
- The cooling performance tests are run at stock 3.4GHz (with Intel Turbo up to 3.8GHz) and overclocked 4.5GHz (1.35v) settings. Voltages are fixed to prevent inaccuracy between comparisons.
- All other coolers in the graphs have been tested under identical settings so are fully comparable.
- Each test is repeated 3 times with 3 remounts for consistency of results
- There is approximately a 1 degree celsius margin of error in our temperature recording software CPUID HW Monitor
- There is approximately a 1.5dBA margin of error with our Benetech GM1351 decibel meter
In all these graphs we may have a few “reference” results of particular products that do not fit within that category for comparative purposes.
Stock performance for the TD03-Lite is pretty good, on par with a range of similar specification, albeit more expensive AIO water coolers.
Cranking up the heat with some much higher CPU clock speeds, the TD03-Lite drops down the charts a bit, making it one of the less impressive AIO water coolers we’ve tested, but still offering competitive performance given its price.
Disappointingly, the TD03-Lite is a little louder than I expected, but by no means our loudest AIO water cooler. There’s a noticeable hum from the pump, although it’s unlikely you’ll hear this with the cooler mounted in a chassis.
Similar results when overclocked, but more fan noise this time. It’s not unbearable, but you’re going to notice it. In fairness, this is what I expected given the value for money approach and it’s only a hint away from the more expensive NZXT and Cooler Master products.
The SilverStone TD03-Lite AIO CPU cooler is available from Overclockers UK for just £54.95, which is fantastic value for money. The original TD03-E is available for £64.99, but it’s really up to you if you can justify the extra money.
This cooler really is a mixed bag, on one hand it doesn’t seem like it’s that great, but on the other it actually does. At just £10 less than its fancier brother, the TD03, the TD03-lite puts up some interesting competition. At stock temperatures, it’s actually cooler than the more expensive model and while its performance dropped further in overclocked testing, I wouldn’t count it out just yet. Not everyone needs, nor has the hardware for high-end overclocking, if you’re running a high-end CPU that has a decent boost clock ratio, then the TD03-Lite is going to be well suited to your needs. Of course, enthusiast overclockers should be looking at spending around twice the price of the TD03-Lite if they’re thinking about high-end and even extreme overclocks.
The price is also very affordable, at least for a water cooler and it puts it alongside the likes of high-end coolers from Noctua, be quiet! and more. Sure it’s going to make more noise than coolers of that caliber, but it’s also going to offer improved cooling performance, so it’s finding a balance that works best for you.
The design is a little more basic than the TD03, but the TD03-Lite isn’t exactly ugly. The fans are a really nice design and should blend in well with virtually any system build. The pump design looks nice enough and the blue LED lighting is very subtle, so it’s not going to draw too much attention to its self overall. That being said, looks are not what this cooler is about, those wanting something flashy to show off should get the more expensive model, those with a windowless, sound-proofed style chassis would do well to save the £10 and get this model instead.
- Simple, yet smart-looking design
- Nice quality fans
- Good price vs performance cooling
- Affordable price tag
- Easy to install
- Trusted brand name
- Fan noise is a little high, especially when overclocked
- Pump could be quieter
“The SilverStone TD03-Lite is great for those looking for their first CPU AIO water cooler. It’s not the best in the world, but given the respective price tag, it offers great performance and tidy aesthetics that would suit most system builds with ease. If you want even better performance, you only have to look a little higher up the SilverStone product ranges.”
Thank you SilverStone for providing us with this sample.