Thermaltake Frio CPU Air Cooler Review

Thermaltake's new Frio CPU heatsink uses a traditional heatpipe and fin design all built under an eye-catching facade. It comes complete with not one but two 120mm fans that will give you up to 2500 RPMs each and is rated for dissipating 220w of heat which makes it good cooling for any CPU you can put on a desktop motherboard.

Introduction

Today we are going to look at the newest heat sink and fan combo from one of the biggest players in the market. The company is Thermaltake and the cooler is named Frio. Thermaltake makes some pretty strong claims when it comes to its newest offering. Claims such as "Ultimate Overclocking Thermal Structure Design" and supports up to 220 watts of cooling. We will certainly put these claims to the test and see how it stacks up against other enthusiast class coolers. With a long history and some bold claims, Thermaltake has set the stage for the Frio to either blow us away or fall flat on its face.

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System Setup

All testing of the coolers will occur on our Intel Core i7 test bed. Consisting of the GIGABYTE X58-Extreme motherboard, six gigabytes of Corsair DDR3 RAM and paired with the Intel Core i7 920. With four cores and triple channel memory populated expect to see lots of heat. The video card of choice is the NVIDIA 9500 GT thanks to its low heat output and silent fan.

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Test Methods

CPU

In keeping with the spirit of the [H] we are once again doing hardware testing of all heat sinks. This means milling a very small path into an expensive CPU to place our thermocouple into. This is by far the best way to test coolers and the only way here at the HardOCP.

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Temperatures for the CPU will continue to be measured using our Sperry Digital 4 Point thermometer.

GPU

For this article the GPU will be kept at stock speed to keep any excess heat away from the CPU that could impact the results. In 2D mode the 9500 GT generates very little heat and to further isolate it from the rest of the system we will install it in the secondary PCIE slot.

Thermal Paste

Noctua's NT-H1 thermal paste was selected as the paste of choice for a few key reasons. The thermal paste has been shown to provide excellent thermal conductivity allowing the heat sinks to better do their job. There is no observed curing time. That is, performance does not get any better over time. Any curing time could have introduced variables into the equation causing at best dubious results and at worst unreliable ones. Our channel milled CPU also requires a compound that is more viscous so the mating compound will not seep into the channel and run off.

Temperatures

Ambient temperature will be kept at 25C for the duration of the tests and measured with a MicroTemp EXP non-contact infrared thermometer and cross referenced with the Sperry Digital 4 Point thermometer. Any variance greater then 0.2C will halt the testing until temperatures return within spec for fifteen minutes.

Idle

Idle temperatures will be recorded after a fifteen minute period of inactivity. Any fluctuation during the last sixty seconds will reset the timer for an additional five minutes..

Load

Load temperatures will be recorded after a fifteen minute period of 100% load. To obtain this load we will be using Prime95 v25.3 set to blend mode. In this way we can heat up the CPU as well as the memory controller which is now integrated into the die. Any fluctuation during the last sixty seconds will reset the timer for an additional five minutes.

Sound

Sound levels will be measured with a Reliability Direct AR824 sound meter from a distance of four feet away. With everything turned off and the room completely silent the meter registered a sound level of 38dB(A). This is a very quiet room where a simple pin drop could be heard. All sound measurements are recorded in the very late evening to further reduce any ambient noise.