Thermaltake Frio Extreme CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Coelho on June 29, 2012
We have already tested three members of this family of CPU coolers: the Frio, the Frio OCK, and the Frio Advanced. The first two are excellent coolers, but we were very disappointed with the Frio Advanced. The Frio Extreme that we are testing now seems to be the most aggressive family member.
Figure 1 shows the box of the Frio Extreme in a black background with red and blue details.
Figure 2 shows the contents of the box: heatsink, fans, a small tube of thermal compound, manuals, and installation hardware. It’s nice to see that the metallic parts come in a box, well-fitted in foam niches.
Figure 3 displays the heatsink of the Frio Extreme.
This cooler is discussed in detail in the following pages.
Figure 4 illustrates the front of the heatsink. The six heatpipes are distributed side-by-side in the large heatsink.
Figure 5 reveals the side of the cooler. Here you can see the two independent heatsinks with asymmetrical fins.
In Figure 6, you can see the top of the cooler. The fins are almost rectangular, and the tips of the heatpipes are exposed.
Figure 7 shows the way the heatpipes are distributed in the base.
Figure 8 illustrates the base of the cooler. The heatpipes don’t touch the CPU directly; there is a nickel-plated copper plate at the base. The base surface is so perfectly mirrored that you can actually shave using it.
Figure 9 reveals the 140 mm fans that come with the Frio Extreme. They both support PWM speed control.
Figure 10 shows the Frio Extreme with the fans in place.
In Figure 11, you see the fan controller that comes with the Frio Extreme. It can be switched to the automatic (PWM controlled) mode, or to a manual mode, where you set the speed of the fans using the knob.
A very interesting feature on the Frio Extreme is that it comes with two sets of clips for use in AMD processors. This means that, regardless of the orientation of the CPU socket on your motherboard, you can rotate the cooler by 90 degrees to fit the orientation you want.
The installation system of the Frio Extreme is the same as the one that is used on the Frio Advanced. Put the backplate on the solder side of the motherboard and insert four screws that emerge on the component side. Then position the four plastic spacers, the metal bars, and the nuts that hold everything in place.
Put the cooler in, holding it with a transversal bar. Notice that the first fan advanced over all of our memory modules, which means the Frio Extreme will have compatibility issues with memories with heatsinks taller than 1.5” (40 mm) on most systems.
The last step is to install the second fan, as shown in Figure 13.
We tested the cooler with a Core i5-2500K CPU (quad-core, 3.3 GHz), which is a socket LGA1155 processor with a 95 W TDP (Thermal Design Power). In order to get higher thermal dissipation, we overclocked it to 4.0 GHz (100 MHz base clock and x40 multiplier), with 1.3 V core voltage (Vcore). This CPU was able to reach 4.8 GHz with its default core voltage, but at this setting, the processor enters thermal throttling when using mainstream coolers, reducing the clock and thus the thermal dissipation. This could interfere with the temperature readings, so we chose to maintain a moderate overclocking.
We measured noise and temperature with the CPU under full load. In order to get 100% CPU usage in all cores, we ran Prime 95 25.11 with the “In-place Large FFTs” option. (In this version, the software uses all available threads.)
We compared the tested cooler to other coolers we already tested, and to the stock cooler that comes with the Core i5-2500K CPU. Note that the results cannot be compared to measures taken on a different hardware configuration, so 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 on the next page. Every cooler was tested with the thermal compound that comes with it.
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 panels of the computer case were closed. The front and rear case fans were spinning at minimum speed in order to simulate the “normal” cooler use on a well-ventilated case. We assume that is the common setup used by a cooling enthusiast or overclocker.
The sound pressure level (SPL) was measured with a digital noise meter, with its sensor placed near the top opening of the case. 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°C error margin, meaning temperature differences below 2°C 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 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, the fan was set at the full speed.
|Cooler||Room Temp.||Noise||Speed||Core Temp.||Temp. Diff.|
|Cooler Master Hyper TX3||18 °C||50 dBA||2850 rpm||69 °C||51 °C|
|Corsair A70||23 °C||51 dBA||2000 rpm||66 °C||43 °C|
|Corsair H100||26 °C||62 dBA||2000 rpm||64 °C||38 °C|
|EVGA Superclock||26 °C||57 dBA||2550 rpm||67 °C||41 °C|
|NZXT HAVIK 140||20 °C||46 dBA||1250 rpm||65 °C||45 °C|
|Thermalright True Spirit 120||26 °C||42 dBA||1500 rpm||82 °C||56 °C|
|Zalman CNPS12X||26 °C||43 dBA||1200 rpm||71 °C||45 °C|
|Zalman CNPS9900 Max||20 °C||51 dBA||1700 rpm||62 °C||42 °C|
|Titan Fenrir Siberia Edition||22 °C||50 dBA||2400 rpm||65 °C||43 °C|
|SilenX EFZ-120HA5||18 °C||44 dBA||1500 rpm||70 °C||52 °C|
|Noctua NH-L12||20 °C||44 dBA||1450 rpm||70 °C||50 °C|
|Zalman CNPS8900 Extreme||21 °C||53 dBA||2550 rpm||71 °C||50 °C|
|Gamer Storm Assassin||15 °C||48 dBA||1450 rpm||58 °C||43 °C|
|Deepcool Gammaxx 400||15 °C||44 dBA||1500 rpm||60 °C||45 °C|
|Cooler Master TPC 812||23 °C||51 dBA||2350 rpm||66 °C||43 °C|
|Deepcool Gammaxx 300||18 °C||43 dBA||1650 rpm||74 °C||56 °C|
|Intel stock cooler||18 °C||41 dBA||2000 rpm||97 °C||79 °C|
|Xigmatek Praeton||19 °C||52 dBA||2900 rpm||83 °C||64 °C|
|Noctua NH-U12P SE2||18 °C||42 dBA||1300 rpm||69 °C||51 °C|
|Deepcool Frostwin||24 °C||46 dBA||1650 rpm||78 °C||54 °C|
|Thermaltake Frio Advanced||13 °C||56 dBA||2000 rpm||62 °C||49 °C|
|Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk Edition||9 °C||48 dBA||2100 rpm||53 °C||44 °C|
|Thermaltake Frio Extreme||21 °C||53 dBA||1750 rpm||59 °C||38 °C|
In the graph below, 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.
In the graph below, you can see how many decibels of noise each cooler makes.
The main specifications for the Thermaltake Frio Extreme CPU cooler include:
After the deception regarding the performance of the Frio Advanced, we were skeptical about the Frio Extreme, even when considering the huge heatsink and the two powerful 140 mm fans. However, the results of the tests on the Frio Extreme left us astonished.
It not only beat by three degrees Celsius the best air cooler that we have tested so far; it also reached the same level of performance as the best liquid cooler that we have tested, being quieter than both.
The Thermaltake Frio Extreme is the best CPU cooler we’ve seen to date. Period.