[nextpage title=”Introduction”]

The Thermaltake Frio is a CPU cooler with a tower design, five heatpipes, and that can be used with one or two 120 mm fans. Let’s analyse and test it.

The Frio box is cardboard, big and with no transparent windows. You can check it in Figure 1. By the way, "Frio" means "cold" in Latin, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Thermaltake FrioFigure 1: Packaging

In Figure 2, you can see the box contents: the cooler with one fan installed, a second fan, manual, installation hardware, and a small tube of thermal compound.

Thermaltake FrioFigure 2: Box contents

In Figure 3, you can see the Frio.

Thermaltake FrioFigure 3: The Frio

In the next pages, you will see this cooler in detail.

[nextpage title=”The Frio”]

In Figure 4, you see the front of the cooler, where you can see the 120 mm fan with white blades and black frame.

Thermaltake FrioFigure 4: Front view

In Figure 5, you see the cooler from the side. Note the five 8 mm heatpipes.

Thermaltake FrioFigure 5: Side view

In Figure 6, you see the rear side of the cooler. Here, there is a frame where you can install the second fan. Note that the fins are not plain: they are slightly folded at the center, in order to increase the turbulence of the airflow, helping the heat transfer.

Thermaltake FrioFigure 6: Rear view

In Figure 7, you see the top of the cooler. There is a decorative acrylic cap as a top panel.

Thermaltake FrioFigure 7: Top view

[nextpage title=”The Frio (Cont’d)”]In Figure 8, you see the additional fan that comes with the product, which is identical to the one that comes attached to the heatsink. This fan isn’t compatible with PWM speed control (as it has a three-pin connector), but it has a small potentiometer where you can set the fan speed.

Thermaltake FrioFigure 8: Fan

The fans are attached to the plastic frames using rubber holders. In Figure 9, you can see the Frio with both fans installed.

Thermaltake FrioFigure 9: Second fan installed

In Figure 10, you can see the base of the cooler and the thermal compound tube. Note that the base is nickel-plated and has a mirror-like looks.

Thermaltake FrioFigure 10: Base

[nextpage title=”Installation”]

In Figure 11, you can see the backplate and the clips for socket LGA1156. The clips for sockets 775 and 1366 are pretty much the same, using different set of holes depending on the socket type. There is also a set of backplate and clips that fit AMD sockets AM2, AM2+, and AM3.

Thermaltake FrioFigure 11: Backplate and clips

In Figure 12, you can see the base of the cooler with the socket LGA1156 clips in place and rubber washers applied. You just need to put the cooler on the CPU, put the backplate behind the motherboard, and fasten four nuts on the solder side of the motherboard in order to hold the cooler.

Thermaltake FrioFigure 12: Clips installed

In Figure 13, you can see the cooler installed in our case.

Thermaltake FrioFigure 13: Installed in our case

[nextpage title=”How We Tested”]

We tested the cooler with a Core i7-860 CPU (quad-core, 2.8 GHz), which is a socket LGA1156 processor with a 95 W TDP (Thermal Design Power). In order to get higher thermal dissipation, we overclocked it to 3.3 GHz (150 MHz base clock and 22x multiplier), keeping the standard core voltage (Vcore), which was the maximum stable overclock we could make with the stock cooler. Keep in mind that we could have raised the CPU clock more, but to include the stock cooler in our comparison, we needed to use this moderate overclock.

We measured noise and temperature with the CPU idle and under full load. In order to get 100% CPU usage in all threads, we ran Prime 95 25.11 (in this version, the software uses all available threads) with the "In-place Large FFTs" option.

We compared the tested cooler to the Intel stock cooler with a copper base (included with the CPU), as well as with other coolers. Note that in the past, we tested coolers with a socket LGA775 CPU, and we retested some "old" coolers with this new methodology. This means you can find different values in older reviews than the values you will read in the next page.

Room temperature measurements were taken with a digital thermometer. The core temperature was read with the SpeedFan program (available from the CPU thermal sensors), using an arithmetic average of the core temperature readings. During
the tests, the left panel of the case was open.

The sound pressure level (SPL) was measured with a digital noise meter, with its sensor placed 4" (10 cm) from the fan. We turned off the case and video board cooler fans so they wouldn’t interfere with the results. This measurement is only for comparison purposes because a precise SPL measurement needs to be made inside an acoustically insulated room with no other noise sources, which is not the case here.

Hardware Configuration

Operating System Configuration

  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit

Software Used

Error Margin

We adopted a 2 °C error margin, meaning temperature differences below 2 °C are considered irrelevant.

[nextpage title=”Our Tests”]

The table below presents the results of our measurements. We repeated the same test on all coolers listed below. Each measurement was taken with the CPU at idle and at full load. In the models with a fan supporting PWM, the motherboard controlled the fan speed according to core load and temperature. On coolers with an integrated fan controller, we set the fan at the minumum speed on the idle test and at full speed on the full load test.


Idle Processor

Processor at Full Load

Cooler Room Temp. Noise Speed Core Temp. Noise Speed Core Temp.
Intel stock (socket LGA1156) 14 °C 44 dBA 1700 rpm 46 °C 54 dBA 2500 rpm 90 °C
Cooler Master Hyper TX3 G1 14 °C 47 dBA 2050 rpm 33 °C 56 dBA 2900 rpm 62 °C
Zalman CNPS10X Extreme 14 °C 45 dBA 1400 rpm 27 °C 53 dBA 1950 rpm 51 °C
Thermaltake Silent 1156 14 °C 44 dBA 1200 rpm 38 °C 49 dBA 1750 rpm 69 °C
Noctua NH-D14 14 °C 49 dBA 1250 rpm 27 °C 49 dBA 1250 rpm 53 °C
Zalman CNPS10X Performa 14 °C 46 dBA 1500 rpm 28 °C 52 dBA 1950 rpm 54 °C
Prolimatech Megahalems 14 °C 40 dBA 750 rpm 27 °C 60 dBA 2550 rpm 50 °C
Thermaltake Frio 14 °C 46 dBA 1450 rpm 27 °C 60 dBA 2500 rpm 50 °C

In the graph below, at full load you can see how many degrees Celsius hotter the CPU core is than the air outside the case. The lower this difference, the better is the performance of the cooler.

Thermaltake Frio

[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]

The main features of the Thermaltake Frio CPU cooler include:

  • Application: Socket LGA775, 1156, 1366, AM3, AM2+, and AM2 processors
  • Fins: Aluminum
  • Base: Copper
  • Heat-pipes: Five 8 mm copper heat-pipes
  • Fans: two, 120 mm
  • Nominal fan speed: 2,500 rpm
  • Fan air flow: 101.6 cfm
  • Maximum power consumption: 6 W
  • Nominal noise level: 43 dBA
  • Weight: 2,3 lbs (1,042 g)
  • More information: https://www.thermaltakeusa.com
  • Average price in the US*: USD 55.00

* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.

[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]

Thermaltake did a great job with the Frio. It reaches the same cooling performance of the most efficient cooler we tested so far, which means it is a true high-end air cooler. As expected on 
a top-performance cooler, its weak point is its noise level, but you can use the included potentiometers to slow down the fans, reducing noise.

The good point is that Frio is not too expensive. Its price tag is compatible with most similar-designed coolers.

With its excellent cooling performance and good cost/benefit ratio, Thermaltake Frio receives the Hardware Secrets Golden Award.