Arctic Cooling Freezer 13 Pro Review
By: Preston Yuen
April 8, 2011
Canada -- the country full of ice. We live in igloos made from blocks of snow, ride dog sleighs to work, and, as bad as weather may seem, winter takes up almost twelve out of the twelve months of the year. There are a few months in between filled with surprising weather where you can't predict when will happen the next day, and such variable patterns are especially true here at APH Networks Calgary. For those who live in this city, you will know what I am talking about. Generally speaking, we can safely say that Canada might as well be the cold Arctic in the north with strange weather patterns. So how is technology able to survive in such a country? Well, while our awesome weather can provide natural phase change cooling for pretty much anything and everything, I don't think electronics would appreciate all the snow, and neither would I appreciate sitting in the snow all day. After all, it is much more comfortable in my igloo. Being a Canadian citizen for quite a number of years now, there is a company that always easily pops into my mind when it comes to CPU cooling, and that is Arctic Cooling. Not 'arctic cooling' as in opening my window, but actually Arctic Cooling, the company. (Take that, global warming!) Let me remind you that not too long ago, we have reviewed one of Arctic Cooling's heatsinks -- specifically, the Arctic Cooling Freezer 13. Today, what we have next to it is its bigger brother, the Arctic Cooling Freezer 13 Pro. I don't know about you, but as for myself, I always have a tendency of fighting with my younger brother over things, especially when we were young. But being the older one myself, in a completely unbiased and objective manner, it is usually the bigger brother who's better at these things. Therefore, as this logic carries forward in our review today, the question to ask is not whether the bigger Freezer 13 Pro is better than the little Freezer 13. The question to ask is how much better is the Freezer 13 Pro. Read on to find out what we have found!
Our Arctic Cooling Freezer 13 Pro came in a small corrugated cardboard box via FedEx International Economy from Hong Kong to our Calgary, Alberta, Canada location in near-perfect condition. You will see little bumps and bruises as in our photo above. Arctic Cooling has also packaged some extra foam, cardboard, and lots of plastic bubble wrapping to ensure it safely travels halfway around the world, as you will see in the next picture.
Much like the Arctic Cooling Freezer 13, the Freezer 13 Pro is packaged in a clear plastic box shaped to the Freezer 13 Pro. Just by looking at the retail packaging itself, we can only see a slim piece of cardboard slipped in between the packaging and the heatsink itself, which contains the features and specifications of the Freezer 13 Pro. I would like to see more protection in Arctic Cooling's packaging in the future, especially for those who are planning to buy this heatsink at online retailers -- broken parts serve no use in your system. I understand the corrugated box in which the Freezer 13 Pro arrived in had sufficient packaging, but I am sure consumers buying it straight off the shelf would appreciate something better. Before we move on, let's take a closer look at the specifications, as obtained from the manufacturer's website:
Intel Socket: 1366, 1156, 775
AMD Socket: AM3, AM2+, 939, 754
Heatsink Dimension (LxWxH): 134x96x159mm
Heatsink Material: 47x Aluminum Fins, 0.5mm thick
Heatpipe: 4x U-shaped Ø 6mm
Fan: 120mm, 300 – 1350 RPM (controlled by PWM); 50mm blower, 700-2700 RPM (controlled by PWM)
Air Flow: 49.7CFM / 96.8 m³/h
Maximum Cooling Capacity: 300 Watts
Bearing: Fluid Dynamic Bearing
Manufacturer Code: UCACO-FZP13-BL
- Unmatched cooling performance -- 300 Watts
- 4 U-shaped heatpipes and 47 aluminum fins for efficient heat dissipation
- Ultra quiet 120mm PWW fan with low noise impeller
- Easy installation with push pins
- Fluid dynamic bearing extends service life
- Pre-applied Arctic MX-4
The packaging of the Arctic Freezer 13 Pro comes in two halves -- the front half clipped onto the back half via plastic buttons in clamshell form. Once opened, you will be greeted with the Freezer 13 Pro itself, as well as four push pins and two M3 screws used for attaching it to the mounting plate on Intel CPUs. Also, two lugs and two additional M3 screws are presented to those AMD CPU fanatics. Last but not least, an Ikea-like instruction poster is folded multiple times to be fitted in the packaging along with the Freezer 13 Pro. That is really all there is to it -- nothing more, nothing less. Sometimes, simplicity may be a shocker.
In my personal opinion, the Arctic Cooling Freezer 13 Pro is much like its little brother. Maybe not exactly twins, but the kind that looks like each other to quite a significant degree. We shall see whether or not the Freezer 13 Pro is indeed better than its little brother, as I will examine this in our testing section. The Freezer 13 Pro is more of a function-over-form heatsink; where aesthetics do not matter as much as how well it performs. It is merely decorated with different shades of black and white. We can see from the picture above that Arctic Cooling has used a raw finish on the aluminum fins with welded ends of the four copper heatpipes sticking out at the top. I would much appreciate if Arctic Cooling had tacked on extra caps on the end of the heatpipes for better looks. It is equipped with a 4-pin 120mm PWM fan, which varies between 300 RPM to 1350 RPM as controlled by your motherboard. This fan is designed to push air into and through the gaps between the fins and out the other end, so make sure you install your heatsink in the right direction. This is standard configuration for tower heatsinks with fans installed perpendicular to the motherboard, as it is an efficient design in adhering to standard chassis airflow patterns.
The Freezer 13 Pro measures to 134 mm in length, 96 mm in width, and 159 mm in height. For your reference, the Freezer 13 Pro is 11 mm longer and 29 mm taller than its the original Freezer 13. Taking a closer look, The Freezer 13 incorporates 47 aluminum fins, each 0.5mm thick. These fins are designed in a very unique asymmetrical geometric shape than the usual rectangle or similar trapezoid. I did not actually calculate the exact total surface area of the fins since due to the way it is designed, and doing all the number crunching would mean dividing the fin into smaller shapes without effectively eliminating all other factor of errors. If you are really picky, this would also mean drawing lines all over the fin plus the calculation of the difference in area when comparing a sharp corner versus a rounded off corner. Having that said, according to my rough calculations, the surface area turns out to be approximately 1.2 square meters, which is a mere 0.1 square meter more than the Freezer 13. It is also rated at a rather ambitious 300W cooling capacity, which is a whole 100W over the Freezer 13. Without its fan, the Freezer 13 Pro makes it just under the 1kg marking on the scale at 902g. However, with the fan on, it brings the total weight to a hair over 1kg -- to be exact, 1.05kg. This figure is actually pretty high, but considering its size, it is fairly reasonable. Its aluminum construction provides it with a material property in regards to thermal conductivity of 237 W/mK, which is not as optimal for heat transfer as it retains more thermal energy than copper; except the downside to copper is that it is significantly heavier than aluminum. Therefore, it could exert excessive stress on your motherboard. It is a good idea to have a balance between lightweight materials as well as good heat conductance, and Arctic Cooling has made an attempt to optimize it in the Freezer 13 Pro.
Here, we can see the underside of the Freezer 13 Pro. You may be wondering why there are two wires splitting off to the heatsink. First of all, we can see the first split leads to the 120mm fan. The second one leads to a blower hidden located right between the heatpipes and aluminum fins. This blower would feed additional cooling air down at your CPU for an extra kick in performance. As far as thermal interface material is concerned, Arctic Cooling has already pre-applied their well regarded MX-4 thermal compound on the base. Meanwhile, the copper heatpipes are designed in a U-shape to lead the heat up and away from your CPU and is dissipated along the way as it makes contact with the aluminum fins. For your reference, the thermal conductivity of copper is 401 W/mK, which is better than that of aluminum in terms of heat transfer and dissipation as less thermal energy is retained in the process. One drawback here is that the fins are pressed onto the heatpipes rather than being permanently welded. This results high in initial performance, but as time progresses, your Freezer 13 Pro will inevitably degrade in performance to a certain extent due to the heat induced expansion and contraption cycles.
Installation of the Arctic Cooling Freezer 13 Pro is relatively straightforward, but somewhat tedious in my opinion. In order for you to get the M3 screw in place under the fan, you will have to pry the fan itself off, and have the screw mounted on the mounting plate before installing the fan back on. While screwing the screw in, you will find that an extra long screwdriver will be useful, because of the sheer height of the Freezer 13 Pro. The push pins come separately from the mounting plate, so you will have to align the base of the pins correctly according to which holes that will fit on your motherboard. The outer most holes correspond to LGA 1366 motherboards, middle holes for LGA 1156 motherboards, and innermost holes for LGA 775 motherboards. There are also two lugs and two M3 screws that correspond to AMD CPU motherboards.
Here is a shot of how I pinned down the mounting plate on my ASUS P6T motherboard. It actually took me quite some time for such a simple task, as the pins did not seem like they want to go into the holes. Being patient that I am, I eventually had them all fit snugly. As you can see, the screw holes are on the right and left sides. This corresponds to the mounting plate on the Freezer 13 Pro. The mounting plate must be in this position, rather than having the holes on the top and bottom sides, because this determines which way the Freezer 13 Pro faces. Having the holes on the top and bottom will either make your Freezer 13 Pro pull air from the top of your chassis or from the bottom of your chassis, which is a viable setup, but atypical in most situations.
Our test setup is as follows:
CPU: Intel Core i7-930 (Stock settings)
Motherboard: ASUS P6T
Graphics: HIS Radeon HD 6870 1GB
Memory: Patriot Extreme Performance Viper II Sector 7 PC3-12800 6x2GB
Chassis: Cooler Master HAF 932 (3x Cooler Master 230mm fans)
Power: Cooler Master Silent Pro Gold 1000W
Sound: Integrated (Motherboard)
Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24B1ST 24x DVD-RW
Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1.5TB; Western Digital Caviar Green 1TB
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
- Arctic Cooling Freezer 13 Pro (Approximately $40 at press time)
- Arctic Cooling Freezer 13 (Approximately $30 at press time)
- Noctua NH-C14 (Approximately $80 at press time)
- Intel Stock
All tests were run on a custom built test platform. The computer remained in the same location for all of the tests, with a room temperature at approximately 21c. Stock thermal paste respective to Arctic Cooling's Freezer 13, Noctua's NH-C14, and Intel's stock cooler were used to rate their individual performances, and were given sufficient time to fully settle. Arctic Cooling's pre-applied thermal compound was used to test the Freezer 13 Pro as well. The fans on all heatsinks were directly connected to the motherboard's 4-pin connector running at max performance settings. Our computer was turned on and idling for a minimum of one hour before the idling tests. High CPU load results were obtained using the Prime95 in-place large FFTs test with four worker threads running for a minimum of ten minutes until the temperatures were deemed stable.
We have spent a lot of time, to our fullest ability, to create a very similar environment to ensure accurate temperature measurement when comparing the Arctic Cooling Freezer 13 Pro, the Arctic Cooling Freezer 13, Noctua NH-C14, and Intel's stock cooler.
The readings displayed on our graph above were the temperatures readings of the processor taken from Core Temp using data provided by the CPU's Digital Thermal Sensor. The temperature of the highest core was recorded. I have also cross-checked the temperature readings with Real Temp to ensure correct temperature readings throughout. I also made sure that the heatsink itself is heated properly beforehand to verify the idle state after a full load cycle. All idling tests, as well as the load tests coming up next, were done in my high airflow Cooler Master case with a triple 230 mm fan setup.
As we can see from the chart above, there was not much of a competition in terms of performance between the Freezer 13 Pro and its brother, but still came out significantly better than Intel's stock cooler by a 16c margin. As a reference, I have also included the best and the worst case scenarios of the Noctua NH-C14 in terms of temperature readings. The NH-C14 in Low Profile ULNA mode performs marginally better than the Freezer 13 Pro. At maximum speeds, the NH-C14 has the Freezer 13 Pro beat by 14c.
Under load conditions, we are presented with a very similar situation as the idle conditions. The Freezer 13 Pro again did marginally better than its brother by 3c, and much better than Intel's unacceptable 82c (An 18c difference). Referencing the Noctua's NH-C14, we can clearly see at maximum speeds, the Freezer 13 Pro is overrun by 11c.
The topic of noise is quite interesting in my opinion. Obviously, having the processor running at idle would mean lower fan speeds, as it is PWM controlled. On the flip side, running the processor at load would increase fan speeds drastically. I am quite a picky person when it comes to noise emission from my computer, so on average, on a scale from 0-10, where 0 is silent and 10 is loud, I would rate the Arctic Cooling Freezer 13 fan to be approximately 2.0/10 during idle and 4.5/10 under load. I would say that the noise level from the fan is pretty decent, but if Arctic Cooling were to make minor tweaks to the fins in terms of geometry, this would decrease airflow impedance, and thus, reduce noise emissions from the fan, leading to an improvement in overall cooling performance.
Retailing for approximately $40 USD at press time, I find the Freezer 13 Pro to be decently priced against the competition. But whether the 3c difference makes up for the $10 difference over the Freezer 13 vanilla is really worth it is up to you. Although its looks certain has room for improvement, I found it is good enough the way it is. Its cooling capabilities is commendable according to our test results, and the overall performance and impression of the Freezer 13 Pro is reflected in our graphs above. Unfortunately, simplicity in heatsinks does not rid itself of heatsink problems. Due to the way this heatsink is constructed, it will lose some performance over time; this occurs when its components loosen up after many heating/cooling cycles. Installing the heatsink onto the mounting plate was quite a hassle, as I found the fan to be difficult to unlatch in order to screw the base to the plate. Additionally, for Intel users, the push pins must also be tightly secured onto the mounting plate, but for whatever reason, I found that installing the mounting plate for the Freezer 13 Pro was slightly easier than the original Freezer 13, even though it was the same design. This means that Arctic Cooling may have made some improvements to the installation process, although I don't mind having aftermarket backplates. Generally speaking, the Arctic Cooling Freezer 13 Pro is quite a decent product for the market it resides in. In the long run, if Arctic Cooling were to brush up on the minor details -- such as optimizing the installation process, as well as improving overall long term quality -- then we will have an undeniable winner in our hands.
Arctic Cooling provided this product to APH Networks for the purpose of evaluation.
APH Review Focus Summary:
7/10 means Great product with many advantages and certain insignificant drawbacks; but should be considered before purchasing.
-- Final APH Numeric Rating is 7.0/10
Please note that the APH Numeric Rating system is based off our proprietary guidelines in the Review Focus, and should not be compared to other sites.
The Arctic Cooling Freezer 13 Pro delivers commendable numbers for the price -- but soldering the heatpipes to the fins will improve long term performance.
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