Thermaltake Frio CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Otto Coelho on September 14, 2010
The Thermaltake Frio is a CPU cooler with a tower design, five heatpipes, and that can be used with one or two 120 mm fans. Let's analyse and test it.
The Frio box is cardboard, big and with no transparent windows. You can check it in Figure 1. By the way, "Frio" means "cold" in Latin, Spanish, and Portuguese.
In Figure 2, you can see the box contents: the cooler with one fan installed, a second fan, manual, installation hardware, and a small tube of thermal compound.
In Figure 3, you can see the Frio.
In the next pages, you will see this cooler in detail.
In Figure 4, you see the front of the cooler, where you can see the 120 mm fan with white blades and black frame.
In Figure 5, you see the cooler from the side. Note the five 8 mm heatpipes.
In Figure 7, you see the top of the cooler. There is a decorative acrylic cap as a top panel.
In Figure 8, you see the additional fan that comes with the product, which is identical to the one that comes attached to the heatsink. This fan isn't compatible with PWM speed control (as it has a three-pin connector), but it has a small potentiometer where you can set the fan speed.
The fans are attached to the plastic frames using rubber holders. In Figure 9, you can see the Frio with both fans installed.
In Figure 10, you can see the base of the cooler and the thermal compound tube. Note that the base is nickel-plated and has a mirror-like looks.
In Figure 11, you can see the backplate and the clips for socket LGA1156. The clips for sockets 775 and 1366 are pretty much the same, using different set of holes depending on the socket type. There is also a set of backplate and clips that fit AMD sockets AM2, AM2+, and AM3.
In Figure 12, you can see the base of the cooler with the socket LGA1156 clips in place and rubber washers applied. You just need to put the cooler on the CPU, put the backplate behind the motherboard, and fasten four nuts on the solder side of the motherboard in order to hold the cooler.
We tested the cooler with a Core i7-860 CPU (quad-core, 2.8 GHz), which is a socket LGA1156 processor with a 95 W TDP (Thermal Design Power). In order to get higher thermal dissipation, we overclocked it to 3.3 GHz (150 MHz base clock and 22x multiplier), keeping the standard core voltage (Vcore), which was the maximum stable overclock we could make with the stock cooler. Keep in mind that we could have raised the CPU clock more, but to include the stock cooler in our comparison, we needed to use this moderate overclock.
We measured noise and temperature with the CPU idle and under full load. In order to get 100% CPU usage in all threads, we ran Prime 95 25.11 (in this version, the software uses all available threads) with the "In-place Large FFTs" option.
We compared the tested cooler to the Intel stock cooler with a copper base (included with the CPU), as well as with other coolers. Note that in the past, we tested coolers with a socket LGA775 CPU, and we retested some "old" coolers with this new methodology. This means you can find different values in older reviews than the values you will read in the next page.
Room temperature measurements were taken with a digital thermometer. The core temperature was read with the SpeedFan program (available from the CPU thermal sensors), using an arithmetic average of the core temperature readings. During the tests, the left panel of the case was open.
The sound pressure level (SPL) was measured with a digital noise meter, with its sensor placed 4" (10 cm) from the fan. We turned off the case and video board cooler fans so they wouldn't interfere with the results. This measurement is only for comparison purposes because a precise SPL measurement needs to be made inside an acoustically insulated room with no other noise sources, which is not the case here.
Operating System Configuration
We adopted a 2 oC error margin, meaning temperature differences below 2 oC are considered irrelevant.
The table below presents the results of our measurements. We repeated the same test on all coolers listed below. Each measurement was taken with the CPU at idle and at full load. In the models with a fan supporting PWM, the motherboard controlled the fan speed according to core load and temperature. On coolers with an integrated fan controller, we set the fan at the minumum speed on the idle test and at full speed on the full load test.
Processor at Full Load
|Cooler||Room Temp.||Noise||Speed||Core Temp.||Noise||Speed||Core Temp.|
|Intel stock (socket LGA1156)||14 °C||44 dBA||1700 rpm||46 °C||54 dBA||2500 rpm||90 °C|
|Cooler Master Hyper TX3 G1||14 °C||47 dBA||2050 rpm||33 °C||56 dBA||2900 rpm||62 °C|
|Zalman CNPS10X Extreme||14 °C||45 dBA||1400 rpm||27 °C||53 dBA||1950 rpm||51 °C|
|Thermaltake Silent 1156||14 °C||44 dBA||1200 rpm||38 °C||49 dBA||1750 rpm||69 °C|
|Noctua NH-D14||14 °C||49 dBA||1250 rpm||27 °C||49 dBA||1250 rpm||53 °C|
|Zalman CNPS10X Performa||14 °C||46 dBA||1500 rpm||28 °C||52 dBA||1950 rpm||54 °C|
|Prolimatech Megahalems||14 °C||40 dBA||750 rpm||27 °C||60 dBA||2550 rpm||50 °C|
|Thermaltake Frio||14 °C||46 dBA||1450 rpm||27 °C||60 dBA||2500 rpm||50 °C|
In the graph below, at full load you can see how many degrees Celsius hotter the CPU core is than the air outside the case. The lower this difference, the better is the performance of the cooler.
The main features of the Thermaltake Frio CPU cooler include:
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.
Thermaltake did a great job with the Frio. It reaches the same cooling performance of the most efficient cooler we tested so far, which means it is a true high-end air cooler. As expected on a top-performance cooler, its weak point is its noise level, but you can use the included potentiometers to slow down the fans, reducing noise.
The good point is that Frio is not too expensive. Its price tag is compatible with most similar-designed coolers.
With its excellent cooling performance and good cost/benefit ratio, Thermaltake Frio receives the Hardware Secrets Golden Award.