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Maximum PC Staff

Dec 02, 2010

Thermaltake Frio

At A Glance

Freeze

Performance/price firmly in midpoint between two excellent coolers; good looks.

Thaw

ITS VERY LOUD; no PWM on the fans.

WE'RE SORRY, WE CAN'T QUITE HEAR YOU

The Thermaltake Frio is a hefty cooler in the dual-fan skyscraper tradition. With both fans attached, it’s a staggering 4.75x5.37x6.5 inches and clocks in at two pounds, 10.6 ounces. It’s not the biggest we’ve ever tested— Noctua’s NH-D14 and Scythe’s Mugen 2 share that dubious distinction—but it’s among the heaviest. Its plastic fan mounts and trim add unnecessary weight, though most of the heft comes from the five meaty heat pipes and stack of heat-dissipating fins.


Those red plastic things are just for show, but the Frio has substance.

The two 1,200–2,500rpm 12cm fans that ship with the Frio attach to its preinstalled plastic casing via rubber mounting posts, which add bulk but are easier to use than wire clips. Unlike most skyscraper coolers, which screw down from the top (and thus require removing the fans to get to the mounting screws), the Frio’s mounting system uses screw-on nuts that mount behind the motherboard backplate, so you can leave the fans on during installation. This does mean you have to have hands on both sides of the motherboard during install so the cooler doesn’t fall off, but that’s what motherboard tray cutouts are for, right?

With our test bed’s CPU overclocked to 3.2GHz and running Intel’s Lynnfield-torturing internal thermal core test at 100 percent, the Thermaltake Frio dropped our long-suffering CPU’s core temp to 63 C—about midway between the performance of the Cooler Master Hyper 212+ and Prolimatech’s Armageddon in their respective two-fan modes. This seems fitting, since the Frio’s $60 price point is smack dab between the $30 Hyper 212+ and the $90 you’ll pay for the Armageddon and two 14cm fans.

Unfortunately, the Frio’s best temperatures were obtained with both fans’ variable-speed controls set to the highest setting, a ridiculously loud 2,500rpm. Temperatures at a more tolerable-sounding medium speed were 2 C higher. Given the 3-pin connectors and manual-only fan-speed controllers, switching between bearable noise and maximum cooling is a tedious proposition.

Its position between the cheap-and-awesome Hyper 212+ and expensive-and-awesome Armageddon makes the Frio a solid buy, but PWM fans—or just quieter ones—would make it a much better deal.

THE VERDICT

Thermaltake Frio

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