by William Kelley on June 23, 2010 in Cooling
When Thermaltake first unveiled its FRIO CPU cooler, the company promised that it would be one of the best-performing models it’s ever released. Now that we’ve had the opportunity to put our sample through our usual battery of tests, we can attest to that claim being true. To top it off, the FRIO even includes a fan speed control and reasonable price.
With CPU heat thresholds and power consumption staying nearly constant as of late, it is no surprise that the venerable heat sink has not changed much over the last few years. End user’s currently have a wide variety to choose from in numerous styles and formats. Whether it is the tried and true air cooler you are after or one of the ever growing in popularity water-based models, there is surely something for everyone’s taste and needs.
Having been around since the very beginning of the PC, Themaltake’s constantly evolving lines of merchandise contains something for everyone. It’s strived to offer a wide variety of functional yet exciting products to choose from, and from the mundane power supply to the ever eccentric enthusiast chassis, the company has strived to listen to what the end user wants and then integrate such desires into new releases.
While it can be argued that we are getting more of the same old design in most new releases, I still find that manufacturers are tweaking and fine-tuning for new CPU releases and also for the obvious thermal heat load increases. As has been proven in the past, heat sinks are not created equal, and I have personally tested parts that are nearly identical on paper yet perform very differently in the real world. For me, innovation can never take a nap, as when that occurs, we will truly have market stagnation.
Today, we’re taking a look at Thermaltake’s latest high-end heatsink offering, the FRIO. With the capability to swallow up over 220W of thermal power, this latest release sports five large heat pipes in a tower design. Dual 120mm fans are included, and it also has built in speed controlling dials. All in all, this looks to be a great package with huge potential. For you curious about socket support, don’t worry, all current sockets are taken care of.
I’d say it is time to tear the box open, strap it down to our test bed and see just how well it copes with our red hot i5-750.
Once out of the well-packaged Styrofoam protector, the FRIO represents itself well. Far from gaudy as Thermaltake’s products have the tendency to be, I find it well designed and tasteful. I also am very appreciative of the “compact” design. For such a large cooler, the company has built it with a small overall footprint which will make those of us that have tall memory modules happy when it comes time for installation. This is welcome news in my book as I have had a lot of trouble with many other new releases fitting inside our test PC, especially Noctua’s NH-D14!
The structure itself is comprised of tightly packed fins. Again, to me this is a bonus as it saves space as well as keeps things simple. The fans are also mounted in a shroud which will direct the airflow far more accurately than designs that simply clip the fans to the fins. Rubber mounts assure a tight fit and help isolate any noise due to vibration.
The 8mm heat pipes are arranged in a staggered pattern and use the more conventional method of heat transfer by way of the CPU contact plate instead of direct die contact. The surface finish on the heat plate is exceptionally smooth, though, and should allow for ultimate in heat transfer. We can also see here another example of how Thermaltake kept everything compact as to minimize the overall height. This will help those of you who have tight height constraints, as the 165mm spec should work for the majority of current chassis on the market.
All current sockets are covered as far as hardware is concerned. Bracketry for AMD’s AM2/AM3 as well as Intel’s S775, S1156 and S1336 are included. The three way Intel back plate is a nice design and does away with the need for a separate piece for each socket. To me this is not only a cost savings but also stops waste as most of us just do not need the ability for multiple socket installation anyways.
Both fans are able to be controlled by small rheostats attached to each individual fan. With a quick twist you go from the silence of 1200RPM to the roar of the full tilt 2500RPM. There is a slight inconvenience factor in that you will need to remove the side panel to access these dials, but this will be of little concern to most as many will find the setting they prefer soon enough and not need constant access.
Overall, Thermaltake seems to have done its homework on the FRIO, and it’s good to see, as there’s a lot of competition out there. With our look complete, we can now take a look at both installation and performance.