|by sswilson | August 26, 2007|
Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro CPU Cooler Review
Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro CPU Cooler
Price: $22.04 CDN Direct Canada
Availability: In Stock
Manufacturer's Part Number: Freezer_7_Pro
Table of Contents
Headquartered in Switzerland and founded in 2001, Arctic Cooling has managed in less than a decade to create a brand name synonymous with high performance after-market cooling. For anyone who's done research into the best after-market cooling solution for either Video Cards or CPUs it would be hard to imagine a world where Arctic Cooling didn't figure prominently in head to head comparison reviews.
Today we're going to take a fresh look at the venerable Freezer 7 Pro to see if this budget priced after-market CPU cooler stands the test of time.
First announced late in 2005, the Freezer 7 / 64 Pro series is the successor to the Freezer 7 / 64 line of CPU coolers. The Pro series offers better cooling performance as well as improvements to noise levels.
In spite of (or perhaps because of) being introduced almost 2 years ago, the Arctic Cooling Pro series of CPU coolers are still high on most budget overclockers' hardware lists.
No fancy colours or wild claims are evident on this packaging. It's nice to see minimal use of plastic. Not only is the box bio-degradable, this also means that we won't be spending 10 minutes trying to tear open a blister pack before running to the kitchen for a knife or pair of scissors.
Rear of the package includes a good description of airflow, including a pictorial demonstration of how the cooler will attempt to draw air over motherboard components.
The box sides include a list of features as well as full dimensions, weight, noise levels, and cooling performance. Use the "Cooler Dimension" when measuring out your motherboard for compatibility as it includes both the heatsink and the fan.
Inside we find more spartan yet functional packaging. Use of plastic is again kept to a minimum, however, it appears to be more than enough to provide effective protection during shipping.
The base plate is also protected against damage by a lightweight plastic cover. Not shown here is the pre-applied application of Thermal Paste on the base. (We'll hear more about that thermal paste later).
Arctic cooling's website offers a full description of the Freezer 7 Pro's features as well as its dimensions here Main Features List .
4. A Closer Look
Now that we've determined the ability of this unit to arrive on our doorstep in one piece, and done away with the niceties of reading what information is included on the packaging, let's get a look at what we can actually buy for under $25 CDN.
We've already seen this frontal view, but there is one glaring issue right out of the box which requires this image as reference.
The strange choice of mounting the cable so that it is coming from the top of this cooler is not something you'll notice from the picture on the box, nor can it be seen in the picture on Arctic Cooling's website. The wiring has conveniently been left off in both pictures with only the slightly different fan guard arm to hint at this strange choice of cable placement.
Well, just flip it over you say!?!?
No can do!
The fan case is not symmetrical and must be mounted as pictured. The only possible solution would be an attempt to detach the fan from the "patented vibration absorption" rubber mounts, however it appears that attempts to do so would only result in breaking the mounts.
Perhaps there is a perfectly good engineering purpose for this setup, but it brings to mind the picture of an aircraft designer holding up a bolt while the rest of the aircraft is built around it. This method works fine on paper, until it's discovered that this "now impossible to reach" bolt just happens to be the one that must be accessed after each flight. (Ok, maybe this cable placement isn't that bad, but that's what comes to mind).
With that unpleasantness aside, we'll move on to the rear of the cooler where you can see the high density of aluminum fins, as well as curved fins on the bottom which are designed to direct airflow over your motherboard components.
The website claims that the 6 Heat Pipes (3 X 2) are able to transfer up to 200 Watts worth of heat, and that the 42 heat exchanger fins provide a total surface area of 4700 square cm.
As you can see from this image, the build quality looks functional enough, but lacks the fit and polish we would expect from a high end after-market cooler.
Side views both with and without the fan installed give us a pretty good idea of this unit's size. Using the stock Intel mounting points as reference, we can see that its footprint is only slightly larger than a stock S775 cooler.
The only feature which protrudes much beyond the dimensions of a stock cooler is the fan, and it is raised up to provide ample clearance. Unlike some larger coolers, this one can easily be rotated 90 deg. on the off chance that some piece of motherboard hardware (like a NB heatsink) prevents it from being mounted in a standard front-to-back configuration.
Other than extremely tight mATX motherboard installations, this cooler should be compatible with virtually all motherboard configurations.
As you can see from the picture above, the same lack of fit and polish affecting the main body is also evident on the business end of this cooler.
The base appears flat, however no attempt has been made to provide anything even closely resembling a mirror finish. The tooling marks you can see in the picture are not just cosmetic, the mating surface is in fact slightly rough to the touch.
The surface treatment of the base may cause concern, but since the cooler ships with the base hidden from view by the thermal paste, we'll hold off on judgment until the conclusion of testing.
Maybe Arctic Cooling has an ace up its sleeve....
The features list promises easy installation, and on this claim there is no failure to deliver. Even the strange placement of the cable assists in mounting the cooler with minimum of fuss since there is no requirement to root around between the motherboard and HSF searching for the best routing.
If you've already mastered the art of removing and instaling a stock Intel cooler, you're ¾ of the way to installing the Freezer 7 Pro. If you haven't already mastered this skill, the included one page instruction sheet is clear enough to walk you through both removal and installation.
It's not absolutely necessary, but removing the fan from the heatsink (in accordance with the instructions) will make installation much easier by allowing access to the mounting clips.
Installed and ready to go. Depending on your motherboard's NB & SB heatsink design you may need to rotate the cooler 90 deg. one way or the other.
Final note for folks who may have run an earlier version of the Freezer 7 Pro and had isues with fan speeds:
You may have noticed the "NEW" label on the box front referring to PWM functionality. I can verify that at least on the DFI P965-S Dark the bios is able to ramp fan speed up and down.
All comparison testing was done on an open test bench keeping abient temps as close to 22 - 23c as possible. Recorded temps were as reported in Speedfan (same readings as DFI's Smartguardian monitoring software). Load temps were taken after 1 hour Orthos. Idle temps were taken 15 minutes after Load ceased.
Arctic Cooling MX-1 thermal paste was used for all comparisons unless otherwise stated. Application of thermal paste was according to manufacturer's instructions, and allowed to cure for 48 hours under moderate load prior to testing. Installations not meeting expectations were re-applied. Only best results are represented.
OC settings were 421 FSB/3.37 Clockspeed/1.55 Vcore
Idle temps certainly don't look promising. Slightly better performance under the higher Vcore OC tests, but not something to write home about.
Now we're talking!!! Once a load is introduced to the system, the Freezer 7 Pro demonstrates why it continues to be the budget cooler of choice.
A 7C difference at stock is impressive on its own, but throw in a fairly hefty OC and the difference is between high but acceptable temps at full load, and "you don't want to run your computer 24/7 at these temps".
Obviously the base of this heatsink does a fine job at transfering heat from the CPU to the heat exchanger in spite of our initial concerns regarding the rough finish.
7. Stock Thermal Paste vrs MX-1
One of the concerns with a budget cooling solution is that the included thermal paste may not perform as well as retail thermal pastes. With this in mind, HC will attempt to provide comparisons between included thermal paste and a quality retail thermal paste for our air cooling reviews.
In the case of the Freezer 7 Pro, this comparison may seem unnecessary as the thermal paste included pre-installed is MX-1 (web site lists MX-1/MX-2 so I suspect newer units will ship with their latest thermal paste once it hits retail channels) and it just so happens that the latest flavour of thermal paste on this test bed is also MX-1. At the very least, the results will demonstrate how well the factory application performs.
As you can see, the results for the two installations are virtually identical. Differences of only 1C during testing of air cooling components can be dismissed as slight variations in testing conditions.
Armed with these results, it's safe to say that the Stock thermal paste application performs up to standards, and that its removal for installation of fresh thermal paste is unnecessary.
What can you expect to get for around $25 CDN these days?
With regards to the Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro you can expect to get some very impressive cooling results when compared to a stock Intel Cooler. An improvement of 7C at stock speeds and upwards of 16C on a heavy overclock will not only benefit longterm CPU health, but will also provide a lot more headroom for a higher overclock.
This cooler may be devoid of any fancy bells and whistles, and the overall build quality may be a little rough around the edges, but it's hard to argue with the results we've seen from these benchmarks. It may not post results that quite match up with high end air coolers, but from a price / performance perspective this cooler is in a league all of its own. At this price point, there is absolutely no excuse for not including decent after-market cooling on even the most budget minded OC build.
For bringing affordable CPU cooling to the masses, Arctic Cooling's Freezer 7 Pro gets a score of 4 out of 5 as well as a Dam Good Value Award!!!!!
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We look forward to seeing you on the boards!!!!
Review by sswilson