Fluid film thrust bearings are expected to handle ever higher loads and speeds and to fit in a smaller footprint, all without overheating. We explored potential pathways to achieving this by conducting experiments on three different fluid film bearing designs – classical flooded, leading edge groove, and between pad groove – to evaluate which design has the greatest potential for size reduction or increased load within the same size. For a variety of different shaft speeds, we incrementally increased the loads until the bearings reached alarm-trip temperatures. The tests showed that one fluid film bearing – the between pad groove type – is capable of carrying higher loads that the other two, while supporting that load over a smaller area of the bearing pads. We then compare two methods of modeling the experiment: computational fluid dynamics simulations versus classical hot oil carryover theory.