Date: September 14, 2011
Author(s): Ryan Perry
All CPU coolers promise effective CPU cooling, but how each one manages their goal can vary wildly. One may be super-quiet but be the size of a car, while another may be modest-sized but sound like a jet engine. The Frio OCK and Jing from Thermaltake aren’t so extreme, but make a perfect case for noise vs. size vs. cooling performance.
Oh, the carefree days of youth; sitting around in my pj’s, eating cereal and watching Sesame Street. One of my favorite bits from the show was with Grover when he would run close to the camera, then away to demonstrate near and far. My mother said I would go off my nut and laugh the entire time it was on. The same thing happens today when my son watches it, so being entertained by simple things apparently runs in the family.
Today we have a new lesson about opposites that Grover could only dream of as we look at two of the newest CPU coolers from Thermaltake, the Jing and Frio OCK. The first has been designed to be as quiet as possible while the other is intended to be used for balls-out overclocking, so it should be fun to see how each compares to the other as well as the coolers already in our database.
Side by side they’re both fairly large tower coolers with the Frio OCK being the heaviest. Compatible with the newest sockets from both camps starting at AMD AM2 and Intel LGA775, both feature dual fans and the heatpipes along with the copper blocks have been nickel-plated. That’s about as far as the similarities go, so let’s split them up and see what each brings to the table.
If you’re the kind of person that gets hung up on looks, the Jing may not be for you unless you’re going for a green color scheme. For those who don’t care, the cooler stands 162mm high and weighs 920 grams with both fans installed. The fans push a combined 42 cubic feet (of air) per minute (CFM) while running at the maximum speed of 1,300 revolutions per minute (RPM) and only creating a whisper quiet 16 A-weighted decibels (dBA).
With the fans and shroud removed the overall shape of the Jing can be viewed. In all there are 40 aluminum fins that are soldered onto both ends of the heatpipes.
The 5 U-shaped heatpipes run from the top of the cooler, through the fins and down into the block. Each heatpipe is 6mm in diameter and staggered in an alternating fashion to ensure each receives its share of air.
The contact area of the block has a mirror finish and is perfectly flat on both axes when checked with a straight edge. There are no machine marks visible and the finish made for a pesky shot since I doubt any of you want to see my ugly mug reflected back at 1am.
Airflow comes courtesy of two 120mm fans that are held onto the shroud by plastic tabs in each corner. Lifting up on the tab releases the fan resulting in the fastest and easiest removal I have yet to see. The 7 green blades feature a wide, deep scoop to help push and pull more air through the fins as they spin between 800 and 1,200 RPM.
To help keep system noise to an absolute minimum, each fan comes with a built in controller that employs a simple knob to increase or decrease the fan speed.
Next up is the Frio OCK. This cooler is a monster and despite a little bit of “Engrish” on the packaging (“Designed for Over-clocker King”) along with a funky red and blue colour scheme, it promises to be exactly what any overclocker will need. With both fans installed the Frio OCK is shorter than the Jing at just over 158mm but lumbers in at 1,093 grams. Both fans combined can move a staggering 121 CFM at a maximum of 2,100 RPM while generating 48 dBA.
The fans and shroud come off in one piece by pulling out on the black tabs on each side and lifting up. It doesn’t come off or go on quite as smooth as I would like, and I ended up bending a few of the fins slightly no matter how careful I was. Even using these gigantic hands of mine to pull out on the tabs and spread the fans apart made for some cringe-worthy moments.
Once the fans and shroud are off we can see just why this cooler is so big. The two separate banks of 42 aluminum fins are soldered onto opposite ends of the heatpipes leaving the dead spot directly behind the motor of the front fan wide open. The Frio adds an additional 6mm heatpipe to bring the total to 6 and each one runs down through the fins and into the block.
While not polished to a mirror shine, the contact area of the block on the Frio OCK is very well machined and semi-reflective. Again, it is perfectly flat on both axes with no high or low spots.
If this is a lesson about opposites, let’s check out the fans on the Frio OCK. They measure 120mm and start off just shy of where the fans on the Jing finish by spinning between between 1,200 and 2,100 RPM. Each one is held on by two screws on the bottom corners and can be controlled as well, but this time there is a single control knob so both will spin at the same speed.
Both the Jing and Frio OCK mount using the same method and the same hardware. All mounting hardware comes in a little black box and almost all pieces are separated into their own foam compartment. In addition to the hardware, Thermaltake has included its own thermal interface material (TIM) in a small, red syringe.
As you can see, each cooler is intended for very different users, but we’ll install both into our test system to see just how different they really are.
Since both coolers use the same mounting method and hardware, the Jing has been chosen to show just how the installation goes. Its outward footprint is smaller and should allow for a better view of the mounting system once assembled. The Jing should have the fans removed prior to installation and the Frio OCK should have the entire fan assembly removed so that the mounting screws can be accessed.
Starting with AMD systems, the stock motherboard mounts will need to be removed. Next, the plastic back plate is placed on the back side of the motherboard with the AMD lettering facing away. Four bolts thread through each hole in the back plate and through the mounting points in the motherboard. A black plastic spacer is threaded over each bolt followed by an AMD mounting bar on each end and then everything is capped off with a metal nut to hold it all in place.
The rest of the hardware goes onto the cooler itself in the form of a T-bar on each side that are secured using two screws for each.
When securing the T-bars to the Jing I ran into my first snag. “One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just doesn’t belong.” Fine, I’ll set aside the Sesame Street references for a moment. Instead of four screws of the same size, one was much too small and clearly not intended for the Jing. It’s a good thing the Frio OCK was around so I could steal a screw from its box of bits and pieces.
With some TIM applied to the CPU, it’s time to mount the cooler. The spring-loaded screws on each of the T-bars thread into the mounting bars but it’s important to start one side just enough to make the screw catch before moving onto the other. Doing so will prevent excess force from being exerted onto one edge of the CPU and the pins in the socket. After that it’s just a matter of tightening each one evenly and connecting the fans.
Both coolers mount onto Intel systems in much the same way. This time the back plate sits with the Intel lettering facing away, the bolts thread through each corner, the plastic spacers thread over them, the Intel mounting bars go on and then everything is held in place with the metal nuts.
Thinking back to a conversation I had with our SSD guru, Robert Tanner, I decided to be cautious when installing the cooler in our test system because of a row of capacitors that run down the right side of the CPU socket on the back of the motherboard. This is a layout that many, if not all ASUS P67 and Z68 boards have, and Robert found out the hard way that some back plates can crush the capacitors. As you can see he was right on the money as the Jing and Frio back plates are identical and would end up with the same problem – so what’s a guy to do?
Ghetto mod! A simple box cutter was used to shave away the lip of the back plate that would come into contact with the capacitors. It took about 10 minutes to allow for enough clearance but could have been done in less than 2 minutes if done with a rotary tool.
Moving on, the T-bars are also used in Intel systems and are secured to the cooler the same way as mentioned earlier. Once some TIM is applied to the CPU the screws on each T-bar are threaded through the mounting bars and tightened evenly.
Our test chassis just happens to be another Thermaltake product so I don’t expect there to be any issues there, but always do your homework before buying any components to ensure compatibility. Here’s a quick shot of the Jing installed…
…and finally the Frio OCK, which takes up just about all of the available space provided.
Oh, but wait. The Frio OCK is so large that it blocks off access to the first DIMM slot, meaning memory will need to be installed here before the fan assembly is slid into place. Anything other than standard height memory won’t work.
Another problem came about due to the passive cooler that wraps around to the back of our test GPU. It adds to the thickness and caused clearance issues with the side of the Frio OCK. Those who run GPUs with non-reference back plates or exotic cooling may run into the same problem depending on the location of the top PCIe slot.
Stock CPU settings were obtained by setting the AI Tweaker option within the BIOS to Auto. and the maximum stable overclock frequency of 3.85GHz was obtained after setting the base clock to 107 and the multiplier to 36. Our locked CPU was able to do this on stock voltage so the vcore was raised to 1.25V to generate additional heat.
All of our testing is performed in a near steady 20°C ambient environment with readings taken before and after with a standard room thermometer. AIDA64 Extreme Engineer is used for monitoring and recording all system temperatures throughout the testing process. All fans are run at 100% during testing and all coolers have any pre-applied thermal interface material replaced with Zalman’s ZM-STG1 Super Thermal Grease due its ease of application that virtually eliminates the possibility of skewed temperatures due to poor surface contact.
Windows is allowed to sit idle for 10 minutes after startup to ensure all services are loaded before recording the idle CPU temperature. CPU load temperatures are generated by performing a 20 minute run of OCCT LINPACK using 90% of the available memory.
The components used for testing are:
Techgage Test System
Intel Core i5-2400 – Quad-Core (3.10GHz)
Asus P8P67 WS Revolution – P67-based
Corsair Dominator 1x2GB DDR3-1600 7-8-7-20-2T
AMD Radeon 5450
Kingston/Intel SSDNow M Series 80GB SATA II SSD
Corsair HX650 650W
Thermaltake Armor A90 Mid-Tower
NZXT HAVIK 140
Thermaltake Frio OCK
Zalman CNPS7X LED
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
And the results!
I have to say that I’m surprised most with the results turned in by the Jing. For a cooler designed to be silent, it’s extremely capable, although mileage will vary depending on the level of overclocking being done.
The Jing performed so well that it beat the more expensive and much noisier Corsair H70 liquid cooler and laid waste to the other low noise cooler, the Zalman CNPS7X. To be fair to the Zalman cooler though, it’s in a much different class of silent coolers, so performance is expected to be less.
For fun I decided to run the fans at the minimum speed and perform the overclocked tests again only to find that there was no change as full load temperatures remained at 43 degrees. This could be because even though the fans are rated to run at a minimum 800 RPM, the front fan pulling air into the cooler would not spin below 1,100 RPM while the rear fan spun just shy of the minimum speed.
The Frio OCK turned in some impressive numbers as well, beating the Jing by 4 degrees and nearly matching the Corsair H80 but making considerably more noise in the process. While the H80 remained almost silent during our previous testing, the Frio OCK sounded like a hair dryer and easily drowned out all other noises in the office.
With the fans run at the minimum speed, which turned out to be 1,300 RPM, the CPU temperature rose 2 degees under full load while overclocked. With the fans dialed down, sound levels also drop close to the level of the Jing at full speed, so users should be able to adjust the speed of the fans so the noise level is acceptable without resulting in greatly diminished performance.
If both coolers seem like viable options it’s time to consider what’s most important and then make a choice.
I was thrilled when Thermaltake said it would be sending two coolers for us to test, knowing full well what each is intended for. This gave us a chance to show each side of the cooling story and allow readers the opportunity to decide what’s most important to them.
If space allows, the Jing would be a welcome addition to any system running a medium-high overclock. Our test system is a little light when it comes to generating enough heat to make coolers cry uncle, however we do see a good degree of scaling based on the capabilities of the coolers themselves. As mentioned before, mileage will vary depending on the amount of overclocking being done but turning in numbers as it did, the Jing should be able to keep higher overclocked CPUs well within the thermal specifications.
I’m a reviewer but first and foremost I’m a consumer. Finding only three screws with which to mount the T-bars onto the cooler really upsets me considering if I were to buy one and found this same problem it would mean either contacting Thermaltake and waiting for a simple screw to be sent out or heading back to the store for an exchange. Toys like this should be ready to play with right out of the box and this calls quality control into question.
The Frio OCK is the biggest and meanest boy in Thermaltake’s bunch of coolers and proves this by besting all of the air coolers that we have tested to date as well as several liquid coolers but while making considerably more noise. This may not be an issue for some but for me it was excessive. Luckily, cooling performance isn’t impacted much when the fans are run at the minimum speed, which keeps sound levels well in check.
Possibly the biggest limiting factor with the Frio OCK will be clearance. Simply put, it’s big. Really, really big. So big that it blocks off a DIMM slot, limiting the type of memory that can be used and will get into a scuffling match with GPUs that have back plates. It wasn’t an issue with our test system that thankfully has several PCIe slots, but some may not have this luxury.
The Jing retails for ~$65 and the Frio OCK comes in at $71 at the time this review was published and if I had to pick a favorite, it would be the Jing. It cools well, adds almost no additional noise to a system and in my opinion looks great. One would be mighty nice paired up with a GIGABYTE G1 board and wrapped in a BitFenix Colossus Venom.
With all of this said, both coolers will walk away with an Editor’s Choice award although I went back and forth on whether or not to slap one on the Frio OCK simply because of the clearance issues. Regular readers will remember that these same problems are why the NZXT HAVIK 140 failed to win an award, however it also failed to cool as well as the Frio OCK, even with the fans running at the maximum speed.
It will be interesting to see where air cooling goes from here but until next time, today’s episode has been brought to you by the letters T, and G and by the number 2.
Thermaltake Frio OCK & Jing CPU Coolers
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