Check out our interview with Magnus Huber, managing director for Arctic.
Your original focus was cooling products, but in past years, Arctic expanded into other areas. What made you go in this direction?
Our cooling department did not change over past years. We still have a full developer team focused on finding technologies and designing products targeting a better cooling efficiency to price ratio. With our cooling products, we pursue the same goal as we always did – value for our customers.
Consumer electronics was a topic for us for a long time. Entertainment and IT started merging to a large extent; thus, new options opened up. We focus on this second business field with an independent developer team built up from scratch.
Is it possible for you to give us a breakdown of your revenue, in percentage, for each product segment?
65% cooling, 30% consumer electronics, 5% hobby
Why the “hobby” segment, which has nothing to do with computers?
The hobby segment is businesswise, not as relevant to us as consumer electronics and cooling. It gave our engineers and marketing people options to dive into a new world once in a while to gain a little distance from what they do all day long.
With so many competitors in the VGA and CPU cooling business, how can Arctic survive? What makes your products better or more unique? How do you position yourselves on the market?
Our customers are looking for a good cooling efficiency to price ratio; practical products which fulfill their everyday requirements. We put all our focus on development in order to make technical innovations affordable. Our customers are not expecting outstanding marketing or fancy business models. We have always strived for true value – and our customers have supported us on this path for more than a decade.
Do you design your own products, or do you buy products designed by others and only add your sticker on them?
As an engineer myself, it is very hard to be satisfied with all of the shelf parts from China – impossible with the shelf products. We are not a marketing company; we are creators. By developing every single part, it sometimes takes longer to launch a product. We use heatpipes and small parts like screws and nuts off the shelf. Any other part of our coolers, including the motor, is designed in-house from scratch and manufactured with our tools. For our latest headphone, the ultra light P402, the headband is from the shelf, but the rest of the mechanical parts are designed by Arctic and made with our own tools. The driver is an adjustment of an existing part in order to match our requirements. Our media center MC101 is fully developed in-house, including a custom-made motherboard, the chassis and, of course, every component of the dual cooling system.
You have both entry-level and high-end CPU coolers. Can you tell us the breakdown, in percentage, of revenue for each segment?
We do about 20% revenue with entry-level, 50% with mid-range and 30% with high-end CPU coolers.
In the future, are you more interested in creating two separate CPU cooler line-ups, one targeted towards high-performance and another targeted to low-noise, or are you trying to create products that merge both concepts?
We are fully focused on the cooling efficiency. The customer decides through the fan controller at which noise and cooling point he/she would like to operate our cooler. All our coolers have to be able to fulfill their job quietly. Loud coolers are not necessary and are rarely accepted. Even overclocking is possible at a relatively low noise level.
You just released a liquid cooling solution for VGAs. Do you have plans to release a liquid cooling solution for CPUs as well? If so, what can you tell us about it?
So far, we could not see a [significant] advantage of CPU liquid coolers in terms of cooling efficiency. Therefore, we don’t see enough benefit for our customers yet.
Speaking of VGA cooling, you were the first ones to come up with VGA cooling solutions on the market, back in 2002. Did you get “mad” when other companies started copying your ideas, or do you think that copying is the highest form of compliment?
Copies do not make me mad nor please me on the other side. When ATI and NVIDIA adopted our Direct Heat Exhaust System (DHES) and pushed air with a blower from the back across the GPU toward the bracket, it became evident that we have not done everything wrong. Usually, such a confirmation from a third party is not necessary since your sales figures confirm it earlier – and so they did in this case. Despite the popularity of our DHES, we had soon learned about the limitations in cooling efficiency and that this architecture would not allow quiet high performance coolers – a problem AMD and NVIDIA are still facing.
The new Freezer i30 and Freezer A30 have direct-touch heatpipes without any gap between them. Why the change, and should we expect a higher performance due to this new configuration?
The direct-touch configuration eliminates the thermal interface from the copper base to the heatpipe, though it is not assuitable for CPUs with small DIEs due to the missing copper base and the distance between the heatpipes. The heat spreader on top of the die is helping only a bit. The thermal resistance towards the edges increases significantly. Our direct-touch configuration without gaps eliminates one thermal interface and deals well at the same time with small dies.
Are you planning to incorporate vapor chamber technology or any other upcoming technology on your products?
We tested vapor chamber heatsinks six years ago and could not prove any advantage to well-designed heatpipe heatsinks. Thus, we only see a marketing advantage, if at all. As I’m sure you understand, I can’t talk about upcoming technologies. Next year will certainly be an interesting one from Arctic’s products point of view.
Please feel free to add any final comments to our readers.
I would like to use this opportunity to thank our customers for supporting us faithfully through more than a decade. You allowed us to explore new ways and break with conventions. All of us at Arctic go the extra mile to continue offering you exciting products in the future.