CPU air-coolers are relatively cheap compared to other computer system components. With the top air-coolers selling in the $45 to $75 price range it is easy to forget that many buyers are really looking for that killer $15 cooler, or at least a $15 cooler that does its job without bringing too much attention to itself with overheating or a loud fan.

In the Intel cooling arena finding a good cheap cooler is particularly difficult, because the stock Intel cooler - included at no cost in Intel Retail CPU packages - is today both a very good performer and very quiet. This makes competing in the value segment particularly difficult for companies aiming at the Socket 775 market.

One company that targets this value market segment is Arctic Cooling. Arctic Cooling is a privately owned company founded in 2001. Headquarters are located in Switzerland, with offices in Hong Kong and the USA, while production is in China. The company specializes in producing thermal cooling solutions for CPUs, GPUs (video chips), and PC cases.

In the few years since its inception, the Arctic Cooling family of coolers has earned a solid reputation for good value in the cooler market. Reputation is one thing and performance is often quite another, so it is time to give that reputation a test in the harsh reality of our cooler test bed. The questions we aim to answer are:

  1. Does the entry Alpine 7 outperform the stock Intel cooler? This is another way of asking whether anyone should bother with the Alpine 7; if the cooler does not outperform the stock Intel unit there is no real reason to buy it.
  2. Are noise levels well controlled at both stock and overclocked settings?
  3. Does the price increase of the Freezer 7 Pro buy equivalent performance improvements? I.e., is it worth the extra cost to buy the Freezer 7 Pro over the Alpine 7?
  4. How do performance and noise levels compare to the best coolers tested at AnandTech?

To provide answers, we dropped the Alpine Cooler pair into our new cooling test bed.

The Arctic Coolers
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  • spidey81 - Tuesday, January 29, 2008 - link

    I was looking into the Freezer 64 Pro for an AM2/AM2+ build and was wondering if anyone knew if the performance for the AMD version performed similarly. I noticed the specs seem to be slightly different as the 64 Pro fan maxes out at only 2200 rpm pushing 40 cfm where the 7 Pro maxes out at 2500 rpm pushing 45 cfm. They appear to be of the same design varied only by the mounting hardware. Any input would be greatly appreciated. Reply
  • Martimus - Tuesday, January 29, 2008 - link

    I have a Freezer 64 Pro. It dropped the temps on my CPU by 10C instantly from a Zalman 7000. It now runs 20C cooler after the Thermal compound cured. It is definitely a nice heatsink, although it is difficult to attach unless you remove the MB from the case. Reply
  • mixim - Tuesday, January 29, 2008 - link

    The design is exactly the same, only the fan circuits differ to reduce the max fan rpm, this because AMD has put out low-watt CPU's for a couple of years now , when the Intel version should still be able to cope with Pentium 5/D's and so on...

    The lower maximum RPM will help with the fans longevity, but actually in my C2D system it has never went up to full speed anyway...
    Reply
  • dlock13 - Tuesday, January 29, 2008 - link

    I cannot find the Freezer 7 anywhere under $25. I can't find it anywhere under $30. I checked Newegg and their price is $32.

    I am really in need of a new heatsink, and this is just perfect.
    Reply
  • Spanki - Wednesday, January 30, 2008 - link

    It's $24.99 here: http://www.svc.com/acfzp7.html">http://www.svc.com/acfzp7.html

    or.. you can save some bucks and get the Cooler Master Hyper Tx 2 (same or better performance than the Freezer Pro 7 - slightly larger, quieter, slower spinning fan) for $9.99 at the same place: http://www.svc.com/rr-pch-s9u1-gp.html">http://www.svc.com/rr-pch-s9u1-gp.html

    Reply
  • BladeVenom - Tuesday, January 29, 2008 - link

    Newegg has it on sale for $21.99 quite often. It can also usually be found for $21.86 on sale at eWiz. Reply
  • 75below0 - Tuesday, January 29, 2008 - link

    I understand there's a new test bed and temp utility, but +7C for the Ultima 90 w/SFLex under load compared to last review seems inordinately steep...
    Anyone have any comparisons of CoreTemp vs. NVIDIA Monitor and/or Intel TAT (Thermal Analysis Tool) ?
    Reply
  • whatthehey - Tuesday, January 29, 2008 - link

    The motherboard and BIOS change among other things so the fan speeds may not ramp up as soon but when they ramp up they might do so to a larger amount. Look at the Intel stock cooler which drops from 56C to 50C with the new testbed. They covered a lot of the changes here:

    http://www.anandtech.com/casecoolingpsus/showdoc.a...">http://www.anandtech.com/casecoolingpsus/showdoc.a...

    If you look at the results you'll see that TAT and CoreTemp both register higher than the old EVGA board by several C. Meanwhile the Ultra 120 X goes from 36C to 42C idle and 47C to 59C load. Obviously there are lots of variables. I'm not sure what margin of error is with CoreTemp and such either but it may be several C.

    The important thing IMO is to look at noise levels and max OC along with temps. Nothing exists in a vaccuum so don't focus on one metric.
    Reply
  • phaxmohdem - Tuesday, January 29, 2008 - link

    I just ordered the Freezer 7 yesterday night... before this article came out. I feel WAY better now about my decision... though it is going onto a Pentium-D which may insult it :P Reply
  • RamarC - Tuesday, January 29, 2008 - link

    freezer 7 pros are great for pentium Ds. i've got a 3.4ghz pd945 that it keeps in the mid 50s. warm? yes, but quiet since the mobo only asks the freezer to spin at 500rpm.

    i can't believe it took anandtech this long to review the freezer pro 7 considering mine is pushing 2 years old now.
    Reply

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