ARCTIC Freezer A13 X Review (Page 2 of 4)

Page 2 - Physical Look - Hardware; Installation

The overall design of the ARCTIC Freezer A13 X is slightly different from that of a regular tower cooler with a side-mounted fan. The shape of the fins is close to rectangular shaped, where the front side is cut as if it is baby proofing itself and the back side is the opposite, as it is basically entirely spiked. The sides of the fins are bent downward, closing off the view between the fins. To secure the fan to the heatsink, the full heatsink cover design of the fan is able to clip onto the sides of the heatsink by hooking onto the fins by the notch.

The fin on the top of the heatsink is the same width as the other fins. The heatpipes are also exposed at the top of the heatsink. Generally, manufacturers will use a thicker top fin to aid in creating a sturdier build. This fact matters less when you consider the design of the full heatsink cover fan design ARCTIC opts to use on the Freezer A13 X, which hides away the top entirely. The choice to cover the with the full heatsink cover is a nice touch to the aesthetics of the heatsink, creating a more different and unique look. There are three sintered heatpipes. The design of the Freezer A13 X is unique with its heatsink cover and I appreciate the contrast of the black cover and white fan.

When it comes to measurements, the ARCTIC Freezer A13 X is 109mm in width, 137mm in height, and 86mm in length including the fan. This is significantly smaller compared to medium range coolers. You can reference the size of this heatsink in comparison to a 100mm fan. Despite being such a small cooler, it is still significantly larger than a low-profile cooler. The Arctic Freezer A13 X weighs in at 443g including the fan, which is much lighter in comparison to an average air cooler. For reference, this cooler is nearly half the weight of my current cooler, the Reeven Justice II RC-1207. The reduction in weight is welcomed as it will cause less stress on the motherboard. The only issue with having a lighter weight cooler is that the cooling mass could be reduced, which may negatively affect cooling performance. The trade-off between size and cooling performance should always be considered when looking at CPU coolers. We will look at how the cooler’s size and fan will perform on the next page.

Taking a look at the side of the heatsink, you can see how the side is bent and how the corner is cut as I have previously mentioned. The bends are done to help enclose the airflow. The fins on this cooler are all consistently thin to save on weight while also maximizing surface area. The fins are made out of aluminum likewise to many CPU coolers. The reason behind most fins being made out of aluminum rather than copper is because aluminum is a lighter metal. Although copper has better thermal conductivity, the trade-off between weight and performance is typically not worth it as the gain in weight is much higher than the gain in performance.

Moving on, the material used to build the heatsink is not the only factor in lowering temperatures, but the fan used is another essential aspect of this cooling solution. The ARCTIC Freezer A13 X uses a 100mm fan inspired by their P-series fans. Unfortunately, I was unable to find much information about the 100mm fan used for the Freezer A13 X. I was able to find some information about a 120mm P-series fan, which was the basis of design for the 100mm fan. The maximum rated airflow of the P-series fan I looked at, the P12 PWM, is 56.3 CFM and the maximum rated air pressure is 2.20mmH2O -- do keep in mind these specifications are for the 120mm version, so both figures will be lower in the 100mm version we have today. Note that CFM stands for cubic feet per minute. On paper, the CFM does not sound that great, but let us see how this fan will actually perform in the actual testing performance which will be explored on the next page.

In regards to the noise level, with the use of fluid dynamic bearings or FDB, it is specified as 0.3 sone, or about 22.5 to 24.5dBA at the loudest, which is pretty good. FDB is one of the three main bearing types in most fans today. The other two bearing types are sleeve and double ball bearings. FDB bearing fans are essentially just better versions of sleeve bearing fans, although the difference in the bearing design and how the lubricant fluid is kept intact with the assistance of seals. Regarding RAM clearance, there should be no issues due to the incredibly small design of this CPU cooler. Generally, you will not need to worry about the clearance between the heatsink and the motherboard.

Looking at the base of the ARCTIC Freezer A13 X, the base is primarily copper using a direct touch heatpipe design. The heatpipes of the Freezer A13 X are not electroplated with nickel, potentially allowing them to oxidize over time. I personally would have preferred to have the heatpipes be electroplated with nickel as it will protect against oxidization. Nickel is highly resistant to corrosion, making it perfect for sustaining copper surfaces. I also personally prefer the shiny silver look over the look of copper. The Freezer A13 X comes with pre-applied thermal paste, aiding with the transfer of heat from the CPU to the rest of the cooler. All three continuous heatpipes are soldered to the bottom of the base. The fins are also attached to the heatpipes quite firmly as if they are hugging the pipes like a pillow. With all these in mind, the whole build quality is decent in my opinion.

For the ARCTIC Freezer A13 X, the orientation of the heatpipes is parallel with the fan mounting surface of the heatsink. For this cooler, the heatpipes are offset throughout the radiator fins. The layout of the heatpipes of the Freezer A13 X is used to optimally dissipate heat. Looking at the picture above, you can see how the fan is attached to the heatsink by clips on the left and right sides. The process of removing and reattaching the fan was quite simple, so I have no complaints.

The installation of the ARCTIC Freezer A13 X was incredibly straightforward. The steps were so simple, I do not think an actual manual was necessary. Despite this, there is still a very useful manual to help you out with moving images to help visually show you how to install the cooler. ARCTIC took advantage of the use of the internet rather than having a physical paper manual. The stock AMD backplate is needed to install the mounting bracket for this cooler. Note that this cooler can only be used with AMD’s AM4 socket, but an Intel variant is also available for those with Intel CPUs. You will need to install the included standoffs, then mount the mounting clips onto the standoffs with the included thumb nuts. It is important to note the fan cannot be mounted onto the heatsink until after the heatsink is installed onto the motherboard. All parts used for the installation are made out of metal, meaning the build quality of these parts is strong enough to hold up this cooler.

After installing the backplate and mounting bracket alongside the standoffs and clips, you will be ready to install the heatsink. There is only one way to install this bracket as this cooler is only meant for AM4 CPUs, simplifying the installation process significantly. The fan must be installed after the heatsink in all cases, as the fan will get in the way of screwing the heatsink in if not removed. As stated previously, the cooler does not interfere with any other components due to its small form factor. This will allow for easy upgrades as it will not be in the way in most cases.

Overall, the ARCTIC Freezer A13 X is well-made. Where the heatsink lacked metal thickness of the top fin, the heatsink cover design genearlly compensated. The installation process was as linear as linear can get, making the entire process incredibly simple. I had an excellent experience with the installation. Now we can continue to the part that really matters, the cooling performance. Let us take a look at the results on the next page.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware, Installation
3. Test Results
4. Conclusion