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[nextpage title=”Introduction”]Let’s test the Frio Extreme, a huge CPU cooler from Thermaltake. It has two twin heatsinks, six heatpipes, and two 140 mm fans.

We have already tested three members of this family of CPU coolers: the Frio, the Frio OCK, and the Frio Advanced. The first two are excellent coolers, but we were very disappointed with the Frio Advanced. The Frio Extreme that we are testing now seems to be the most aggressive family member.

Figure 1 shows the box of the Frio Extreme in a black background with red and blue details.

Thermaltake Frio ExtremeFigure 1: Package

Figure 2 shows the contents of the box: heatsink, fans, a small tube of thermal compound, manuals, and installation hardware. It’s nice to see that the metallic parts come in a box, well-fitted in foam niches.

Thermaltake Frio ExtremeFigure 2: Accessories

Figure 3 displays the heatsink of the Frio Extreme.

Thermaltake Frio ExtremeFigure 3: The Frio Extreme

This cooler is discussed in detail in the following pages.

[nextpage title=”The Frio Extreme”]

Figure 4 illustrates the front of the heatsink. The six heatpipes are distributed side-by-side in the large heatsink.

Thermaltake Frio ExtremeFigure 4: Front view

Figure 5 reveals the side of the cooler. Here you can see the two independent heatsinks with asymmetrical fins.

Thermaltake Frio ExtremeFigure 5: Side view

In Figure 6, you can see the top of the cooler. The fins are almost rectangular, and the tips of the heatpipes are exposed.

Thermaltake Frio ExtremeFigure 6: Top view

Figure 7 shows the way the heatpipes are distributed in the base.

Thermaltake Frio ExtremeFigure 7: Heatpipes

[nextpage title=”The Frio Extreme (Cont’d)”]

Figure 8 illustrates the base of the cooler. The heatpipes don’t touch the CPU directly; there is a nickel-plated copper plate at the base. The base surface is so perfectly mirrored that you can actually shave using it.

Thermaltake Frio ExtremeFigure 8: Base

Figure 9 reveals the 140 mm fans that come with the Frio Extreme. They both support PWM speed control.

Thermaltake Frio ExtremeFigure 9: Fans

Figure 10 shows the Frio Extreme with the fans in place.

Thermaltake Frio ExtremeFigure 10: Fans installed

In Figure 11, you see the fan controller that comes with the Frio Extreme. It can be switched to the automatic (PWM controlled) mode, or to a manual mode, where you set the speed of the fans using the knob.

Thermaltake Frio ExtremeFigure 11: Fan controller

[nextpage title=”Installation”]

A very interesting feature on the Frio Extreme is that it comes with two sets of clips for use in AMD processors. This means that, regardless of the orientation of the CPU socket on your motherboard, you can rotate the cooler by 90 degrees to fit the orientation you want.

Thermaltake Frio ExtremeFigure 12: AMD clips

The installation system of the Frio Extreme is the same as the one that is used on the Frio Advanced. Put the backplate on the solder side of the motherboard and insert four screws that emerge on the component side. Then position the four plastic spacers, the metal bars, and the nuts that hold everything in place.

Thermaltake Frio ExtremeFigure 13: Metal bars

Put the cooler in, holding it with a transversal bar. Notice that the first fan advanced over all of our memory modules, which means the Frio Extreme will have compatibility issues with memories with heatsinks taller than 1.5” (40 mm) on most systems.

Thermaltake Frio ExtremeFigure 14: Heatsink installed

The last step is to install the second fan, as shown in Figure 13.

Thermaltake Frio ExtremeFigure 15: Installation finished

[nextp
age title=”How We Tested”]

We tested the cooler with a Core i5-2500K CPU (quad-core, 3.3 GHz), which is a socket LGA1155 processor with a 95 W TDP (Thermal Design Power). In order to get higher thermal dissipation, we overclocked it to 4.0 GHz (100 MHz base clock and x40 multiplier), with 1.3 V core voltage (Vcore). This CPU was able to reach 4.8 GHz with its default core voltage, but at this setting, the processor enters thermal throttling when using mainstream coolers, reducing the clock and thus the thermal dissipation. This could interfere with the temperature readings, so we chose to maintain a moderate overclocking.

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

We compared the tested cooler to other coolers we already tested, and to the stock cooler that comes with the Core i5-2500K CPU. Note that the results cannot be compared to measures taken on a different hardware configuration, so 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 on the next page. Every cooler was tested with the thermal compound that comes with it.

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 panels of the computer case were closed. The front and rear case fans were spinning at minimum speed in order to simulate the “normal” cooler use on a well-ventilated case. We assume that is the common setup used by a cooling enthusiast or overclocker.

The sound pressure level (SPL) was measured with a digital noise meter, with its sensor placed near the top opening of the case. 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 SP1

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 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, the fan was set at the full speed.

Cooler Room Temp. Noise Speed Core Temp. Temp. Diff.
Cooler Master Hyper TX3 18 °C 50 dBA 2850 rpm 69 °C 51 °C
Corsair A70 23 °C 51 dBA 2000 rpm 66 °C 43 °C
Corsair H100 26 °C 62 dBA 2000 rpm 64 °C 38 °C
EVGA Superclock 26 °C 57 dBA 2550 rpm 67 °C 41 °C
NZXT HAVIK 140 20 °C 46 dBA 1250 rpm 65 °C 45 °C
Thermalright True Spirit 120 26 °C 42 dBA 1500 rpm 82 °C 56 °C
Zalman CNPS12X 26 °C 43 dBA 1200 rpm 71 °C 45 °C
Zalman CNPS9900 Max 20 °C 51 dBA 1700 rpm 62 °C 42 °C
Titan Fenrir Siberia Edition 22 °C 50 dBA 2400 rpm 65 °C 43 °C
SilenX EFZ-120HA5 18 °C 44 dBA 1500 rpm 70 °C 52 °C
Noctua NH-L12 20 °C 44 dBA 1450 rpm 70 °C 50 °C
Zalman CNPS8900 Extreme 21 °C 53 dBA 2550 rpm 71 °C 50 °C
Gamer Storm Assassin 15 °C 48 dBA 1450 rpm 58 °C 43 °C
Deepcool Gammaxx 400 15 °C 44 dBA 1500 rpm 60 °C 45 °C
Cooler Master TPC 812 23 °C 51 dBA 2350 rpm 66 °C 43 °C
Deepcool Gammaxx 300 18 °C 43 dBA 1650 rpm 74 °C 56 °C
Intel stock cooler 18 °C 41 dBA 2000 rpm 97 °C 79 °C
Xigmatek Praeton 19 °C 52 dBA 2900 rpm 83 °C 64 °C
Noctua NH-U12P SE2 18 °C 42 dBA 1300 rpm 69 °C 51 °C
Deepcool Frostwin 24 °C 46 dBA 1650 rpm 78 °C 54 °C
Thermaltake Frio Advanced 13 °C 56 dBA 2000 rpm 62 °C 49 °C
Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk Edition 9 °C 48 dBA 2100 rpm 53 °C 44 °C
Thermaltake Frio Extreme 21 °C 53 dBA 1750 rpm 59 °C 38 °C

In the graph below, 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 Extreme

In the graph below, you can see how many decibels of noise each cooler makes.

Thermaltake Frio Extreme

[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]

The main specifications for the Thermaltake Frio Extreme CPU cooler include:

  • Application: Sockets 775, 1155, 1156, 1366, 2011, AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, and FM1 processors
  • Heatsink dimensions: 5.8 x 5.9 x 6.3 inches (148.2 x 151 x 160 mm) (W x L x H)
  • Fins: Aluminum
  • Base: Nickel-plated copper
  • Heat-pipes: Six 6-mm copper heatpipes
  • Fan: Two, 140 mm
  • Nominal fan speed: 1,800 rpm
  • Fan air flow: 106.2 cfm
  • Maximum power consumption: 7.2 W
  • Nominal noise level: 39 dBA
  • Weight: 2.71 lb (1.23 kg)
  • More information: https://www.thermaltakeusa.com
  • MSRP in the U.S.: USD 100.00

[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]

After the deception regarding the performance of the Frio Advanced, we were skeptical about the Frio Extreme, even when considering the huge heatsink and the two powerful 140 mm fans. However, the results of the tests on the Frio Extreme left us astonished.

It not only beat by three degrees Celsius the best air cooler that we have tested so far; it also reached the same level of performance as the best liquid cooler that we have tested, being quieter than both.

The Thermaltake Frio Extreme is the best CPU cooler we’ve seen to date. Period.