We all know that water-cooling delivers more cooling power to the CPU than air-cooling does, but even water-cooling has an Achilles’ heel. It can’t achieve temperatures below the ambient room temperature. The Coolit Freezone gets around this limitation by using six thermoelectric coolers (TEC), aka Peltier coolers, to chill the water to below room temps. It’s a fantastic idea, and it seems like the best CPU cooler ever made, on paper. In practice, however, it’s not quite as awesome as we expected.
The factory-sealed unit is similar to Cooler Master’s Aquagate Mini. It features a water block that connects to a combination TEC/reservoir/pump. TEC’s have a hot side and a cold side. The cold side of the TEC chills the water, and a 9.2cm fan keeps the hot side cool and serves as the unit’s mounting point. The unit attaches to either a 12cm or 9.2cm fan mount—it’s not compatible with cases that have only 8cm mounts. Motherboard removal is required for LGA775 CPUs, but not for AMD boards (as long as the AMD backplate stays put once you remove the retention bracket). The full-color instructions are exceptional and easy to follow.
During testing, the Freezone delivered the lowest temps we’ve ever achieved, albeit with considerable noise from the unit’s 9.2cm fan. Its idle temp of 21 C exactly matched the ambient temperature of the Lab, and its load temp shot up to 36 C. Its full-load temp and overclocking performance (235MHz) are on par with that achieved by Swiftech’s Apex Ultra (reviewed April 2006)—the current king of our water-cooling benchmarks.
But here’s the rub: A temperature delta of 15 C is good, but not impressive (the Apex Ultra boasted a 7 C delta). And what’s more, the unit is loud at full-tilt, pumping out 37dBA. You can set it to “quiet” mode, but then temps skyrocket, reaching 57 C under full load. Coolit recommends you set the fan speed somewhere between the two extremes, which we did, but the fan was always audible. It also consumes around 70W of power.
The Freezone is an intriguing product and it works as advertised, but as a CPU-only cooler it’s very expensive at $400, a bit noisy, and a smidge underwhelming.
Month Reviewed: June 2006