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.

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Thermaltake Frio

As mentioned in the introduction, Thermaltake makes some big claims with the $60 Frio. Most aftermarket heat sinks can handle a small amount of overclocking as long as you go easy on the voltage. Thermaltake boasts that the Frio is ‘designed for overclocking’ with the ability to handle up to 220 watts of heat output. With no less then five full-length, eight millimeter heat pipes and a dense array of aluminum fins, I am inclined to believe them. Of course, Thermaltake wouldn’t be the first company in history to make bold claims about its products only to have them not live up to the hype. That is exactly what we intend to find out. Let’s break it down.

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Package & Specs

The packaging for the Frio is exceptional. Though, once you lift the box you understand why. It is a heavy heat sink and the full foam padding Thermaltake provides is easily required to keep the unit in tact during transit.

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Dimensions: (L)139mm x (W)98mm x (H)165mm

Weight: 1042g

Material: Copper heat pipes & base with aluminum cooling fins

Heat Pipes: 5 - full length, 8mm heat pipes

Compatibility:

    Intel

  • LGA 1366
  • LGA 1156
  • LGA 775

    AMD

  • AM2
  • AM2+
  • AM3
  • 940
  • 939
  • 754

Fan: (2 included)

  • Size: 120 x 25mm
  • Speed: 1200~2500 RPM
  • Noise Level: 20~43 dBA
  • Max Air Flow: 101.6 CFM

Contents & Flatness

Thermaltake included all accessories required to get the maximum performance from the Frio. Not pictured is the additional fan though you can see the rubber plugs included to fasten the fan and reduce the noise from vibration. As we’ll see in the next section, this does little to reduce the noise of the unit.

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The base of the Frio contains no major warps or irregularities that will hamper the transfer of heat to the pipes and fins. Be sure to check out your sample before installing and save yourself the troubleshooting headache should you receive a less than perfect unit.

Photos

Shots of the Frio from various angles.

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Installation & Contact

I have always had a love/hate relationship with installing coolers from Thermaltake. Some coolers come with well thought out systems that are easy and get the job done. Others, it seems, have a large assortment of tiny little screws that require lots of time, patience and a clear work area for when you inevitably drop one of the tiny screw. Such is the case when you offer so much compatibility I suppose.

The Frio leans towards the latter. The Frio requires you to remove your motherboard which is not so unusual by today’s standards. What is tricky is trying to tighten the bolts on the bottom of the motherboard while holding the back plate on and keeping the Frio steady. By my count we are up to three hands and that is unusual by any standards.

Once installed a few points became abundantly clear. First, is that this cooler make no apologies for its size. With other coolers we are used to the first slot of our RAM being blocked. This is usually remedied by removing the top clips on the RAM so they clan slip underneath the CPU heat sink. Not so with the FRIO. It sits low enough that with our motherboard there is just no way of using that first DIMM slot. Certainly this is just one motherboard, so your experience may differ, but it is very likely that this HSF is going to limit your RAM slots.

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Secondly, because the Frio has such low clearance it is very possible that it interferes with motherboard components. Adding the second fan left us with just one millimeter of space between the bottom of the fan and the heat sink for the motherboard mosfets. Since we are dealing with enthusiast components it seems odd that Thermaltake would seemingly discount such an important detail. If I am going to use a heat sink that can handle 220 watts of energy than it is likely I will have a motherboard to match. And that means big heat sinks on motherboard components.

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