Thermaltake Frio Extreme CPU Cooler Review

Author: Roger Cantwell
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/Reviews/tt_frio_extreme/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

Anyone who has ever went to the effort of overclocking their system is probably at least aware of Thermaltake, the company that brought us the Level 10 series of cases. Thermaltake's Level 10 GT Snow Edition would be an excellent example of their craftsmanship and dedication to creating a truly unique item, and their efforts extend into capable cooling solutions as well, including of course CPU coolers.

No surprise then that Thermaltake has added a new CPU cooler to their already impressive lineup, the Frio Extreme, priced roughly around $99. However this is not your ordinary cooler, as the Frio Extreme looks to pack a punch when it comes to cooling performance. Thermaltake has given it a maximum TDP rating of 250W, which is suited to handling what is already required by Intel's Core i7 3960X processor.

In today's review we get the chance to put the Thermaltake Frio Extreme to the test and see if it can withstand the heat. But before we get around to that let's do an inspection of the box and then familiarize ourselves with this new cooler.

The Frio Extreme is packaged in a blue on black box with just a hint of red splashed on it. The front of the box gives us a nice angled view of the cooler itself and a brief description on some of the included features like the dual 140x140mm fans, 6 heatpipes each measuring 6mm, and support for Intel's CPU socket LGA2011. The full list of specifications and features for the Frio Extreme can be found at the back. On the right hand side of the box you can view detailed photos of the features that have gone into the cooler, while the left hand side lists the cooler's specifications in multiple languages.

Specifications & CPU Compatability:

Model
P/N: CLP0587
Heatsink Dimension
148.2(L) x 151(W) x 160(H) mm
Heatsink Material
Aluminum Fins
Aluminum & Copper Base
Heatpipe
6mm (x6)
Fan Dimension
140(L) x 140(H) x 25(W) mm
Fan Speed              
1,200 ~ 1,800 RPM
Noise Level
19 ~ 39 dBA
Max. Air Flow
106.2 CFM
Max. Air Pressure
2.34 mmH2O
Power Connector
4 Pin
Rated Voltage
12 V
Started Voltage
6 V
Rated Current
0.5 A
Power Input
7.2 W
MTBF
50,000 HRs @ 40
Weight
1230 g

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Processor Support:

Intel:

AMD:

When Thermaltake packaged the Frio Extreme, they certainly kept in consideration the importance of keeping components in one piece during transport. Upon opening the box you will find two highly detailed instruction sheets, one for Intel the other for AMD as well, as Thermaltake's warranty card. And in case I forgot to mention it, the Frio Extreme has a ten year warranty!

With the instructions and warranty card out of the way, we can finally remove the cooler from the box. As you can see, the cooler is well protected from damage thanks to the foam cradle surrounding it. Every item in the package is tucked inside this foam, right down to the package of accessories. Now that we have everything unpacked we can begin a closer inspection of the included items. First we have the two 140x140mm fans and their retention clips. Don't let the look of the clips fool you, they work extremely well given their design. They are also very easy to use, unlike some other retention clips I have worked with. Next up is the accessory package; inside this box you will find everything needed to mount the Frio Extreme onto all of today's newest sockets, and to make things even easier for you Thermaltake has included a combo backplate that works with both Intel and AMD setups.

The cable laying next to the backplate in the photo may look like an extension cable for the fans, when in fact it connects a variable speed control to the CPU fan header pin on the motherboard, thus giving you the ability to control the fans' RPM via a fan controller. The controller has a dial on it where you can crank the fans up to their maximum rotational speed or dial them down to their lowest setting. Regardless of which extreme you go, you will most likely not hear these fans as their minimum and maximum noise rating is between 19~39dBA.

Next is a closer look at the fans and fan controller. Thermaltake included a matched set of 140x140x25mm PWM capable fans for the Frio Extreme. Thermaltake went one step further by including a separate fan controller for motherboards without multiple 4 pin fan headers, which in my case proved extremely useful. The fans can run anywhere from ~1200-1800 RPM based on the controller's setting. With a minimum noise level of 19dBA when set at their lowest setting of 1200rpm and a maximum of 39dBA when cranked up to their maximum speed of 1800rpm, they should still prove to be fairly quiet.

Moving on to the installation of the fans. Recall earlier our comments about how the retention clips look and feel flimsy, but don't let that fool you as they are in fact extremely effective at their job. The fan installation was tool free and relatively painless unlike some of the other coolers available today.

Now for a closer examination of the cooler itself.

Thermaltake's Frio Extreme utilizes a dual tower design, supporting up to 250W TDP. Measuring an impressive 148x151x160mm, calling the Frio Extreme large would be understatement. The cooler also packs a total of six U-shaped heatpipes measuring 6mm each that have been manufactured from copper to help speed up conductivity. Of course the standard stacked fin assembly applies to the dual towers, with the fins measuring 0.4mm in thickness and offering a larger surface area for increased heat dissipation.

The base is also manufactured from copper to increase it's ability to transfer heat from the CPU faster. The base has been polished to a mirror finish, as seen in the photo below.

The ThermalTake Frio Extreme CPU cooler will be benchmarked by running our test system for 30 minutes using Prime95's small FFT for the CPU. The last stage will be a 30 minute cool-down period for the idle temperatures. The highest load temperatures are recorded using HW Monitor. All fans will be running at 100% rotation speed throughout testing.

Test Setup:

Comparison Coolers:

It's clear Thermaltake put a lot of thought into the Frio Extreme, and this can be seen when looking at the overall design of the cooler. Going all out and utilizing the dual tower design then expanding the surface area of the fins to help increase heat dissipation was a smart move. Taking it a step further, Thermaltake paired the cooler with twin 140mm fans capable of pushing up to 106.2 CFM with a maximum air pressure of 2.34 mmH2O.

The included fan controller was an added bonus, especially if your motherboard is equipped with a single 4-pin header, giving the end user a more flexible approach to fan control. This helps insure that both fans are operating at peak performance; without this added feature, one fan would be limited to leveraging the motherboard BIOS settings via a 3-pin header.

Performance wise I fully expected the Frio Extreme to steal the show, but as you could see from the results on the previous page it just wasn't the case. In the chipset category the Frio Extreme went toe-to-toe with its competitors with a mere 3 degrees Celsius separating it from the top spot. In the CPU portion of testing, the Frio Extreme placed 3rd with 10 degrees Celsius between it and the Cooler Master TPC-812. With Thermaltake's Frio Extreme being among the top of the line coolers I was surprised by this. We do however need to keep the plus~minus variable in mind when taking the results into consideration.

Placing third doesn't mean the Frio Extreme lacks the cooling performance required for overclocking. Thermaltake's Frio Extreme simply faced some tough competition with the likes of Noctua and Cooler Master.

Overall, the Frio Extreme is another fine example of a high quality product that we have all come to know and expect from the Thermaltake brand.

Pros:

Cons:

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