Thermaltake Frio Extreme CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Otto Coelho on June 29, 2012


Introduction

Hardware Secrets Golden AwardLet’s test the Frio Extreme, a huge CPU cooler from Thermaltake. It has two twin heatsinks, six heatpipes, and two 140 mm fans.

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.

Thermaltake Frio Extreme
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Figure 1: Package

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.

Thermaltake Frio Extreme
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Figure 2: Accessories

Figure 3 displays the heatsink of the Frio Extreme.

Thermaltake Frio Extreme
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Figure 3: The Frio Extreme

This cooler is discussed in detail in the following pages.

The Frio Extreme

Figure 4 illustrates the front of the heatsink. The six heatpipes are distributed side-by-side in the large heatsink.

Thermaltake Frio Extreme
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Figure 4: Front view

Figure 5 reveals the side of the cooler. Here you can see the two independent heatsinks with asymmetrical fins.

Thermaltake Frio Extreme
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Figure 5: Side view

In Figure 6, you can see the top of the cooler. The fins are almost rectangular, and the tips of the heatpipes are exposed.

Thermaltake Frio Extreme
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Figure 6: Top view

Figure 7 shows the way the heatpipes are distributed in the base.

Thermaltake Frio Extreme
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Figure 7: Heatpipes

The Frio Extreme (Cont’d)

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.

Thermaltake Frio Extreme
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Figure 8: Base

Figure 9 reveals the 140 mm fans that come with the Frio Extreme. They both support PWM speed control.

Thermaltake Frio Extreme
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Figure 9: Fans

Figure 10 shows the Frio Extreme with the fans in place.

Thermaltake Frio Extreme
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Figure 10: Fans installed

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.

Thermaltake Frio Extreme
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Figure 11: Fan controller

Installation

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.

Thermaltake Frio Extreme
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Figure 12: AMD clips

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.

Thermaltake Frio Extreme
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Figure 13: Metal bars

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.

Thermaltake Frio Extreme
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Figure 14: Heatsink installed

The last step is to install the second fan, as shown in Figure 13.

Thermaltake Frio Extreme
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Figure 15: Installation finished

How We Tested

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.

Hardware Configuration

Operating System Configuration

Software Used

Error Margin

We adopted a 2°C error margin, meaning temperature differences below 2°C are considered irrelevant.

Our Tests

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.

CoolerRoom Temp.NoiseSpeedCore Temp.Temp. Diff.
Cooler Master Hyper TX318 °C50 dBA2850 rpm69 °C51 °C
Corsair A7023 °C51 dBA2000 rpm66 °C43 °C
Corsair H10026 °C62 dBA2000 rpm64 °C38 °C
EVGA Superclock26 °C57 dBA2550 rpm67 °C41 °C
NZXT HAVIK 14020 °C46 dBA 1250 rpm65 °C45 °C
Thermalright True Spirit 12026 °C42 dBA1500 rpm82 °C56 °C
Zalman CNPS12X26 °C43 dBA1200 rpm71 °C45 °C
Zalman CNPS9900 Max20 °C51 dBA1700 rpm62 °C42 °C
Titan Fenrir Siberia Edition22 °C50 dBA2400 rpm65 °C43 °C
SilenX EFZ-120HA518 °C44 dBA1500 rpm70 °C52 °C
Noctua NH-L1220 °C44 dBA1450 rpm70 °C50 °C
Zalman CNPS8900 Extreme21 °C53 dBA2550 rpm71 °C50 °C
Gamer Storm Assassin15 °C48 dBA1450 rpm58 °C43 °C
Deepcool Gammaxx 40015 °C44 dBA1500 rpm60 °C45 °C
Cooler Master TPC 81223 °C51 dBA2350 rpm66 °C43 °C
Deepcool Gammaxx 30018 °C43 dBA1650 rpm74 °C56 °C
Intel stock cooler18 °C41 dBA2000 rpm97 °C79 °C
Xigmatek Praeton19 °C52 dBA2900 rpm83 °C64 °C
Noctua NH-U12P SE218 °C42 dBA1300 rpm69 °C51 °C
Deepcool Frostwin24 °C46 dBA1650 rpm78 °C54 °C
Thermaltake Frio Advanced13 °C56 dBA2000 rpm62 °C49 °C
Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk Edition9 °C48 dBA2100 rpm53 °C44 °C
Thermaltake Frio Extreme21 °C53 dBA1750 rpm59 °C38 °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.

Thermaltake Frio Extreme

In the graph below, you can see how many decibels of noise each cooler makes.

Thermaltake Frio Extreme

Main Specifications

The main specifications for the Thermaltake Frio Extreme CPU cooler include:

Conclusions

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.

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Thermaltake-Frio-Extreme-CPU-Cooler-Review/1583


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