The Arctic Liquid Freezer II is giving me chills
You’re probably familiar with Arctic as the maker of great thermal compounds used the world over a decade. You might not know, however, that they make an array of coolers for CPUs and GPUs. I admit, I wasn’t aware of this until I was asked to take a look at the Arctic Liquid Freezer II. I’ve used a handful of AIOs over the years, but find that I generally fall back to a good air cooler.
Setting up to test the Arctic Liquid Freezer II
|MB||ASUS Crosshair VI Hero|
|CPU||AMD Ryzen 1800x|
|Ram||32GB Balistix Elite (3200MHz)|
|SSD||512GB ADATA SX7000|
|GPU||Gigabyte Radeon Vega 56|
|Case||Fractal Design Meshify C|
|Fans||BeQuiet Silent Wing 3, 3x 140mm intake, 1x 120mm exhaust|
I tested a Ryzen7 1800x. This is an 8 core 16 thread CPU with a 95w TDP based on AMD’s first generation Zen architecture on stock clocks. The testing environment was well controlled, with an ambient temperature of 23.33° Celsius (or 74° in Freedom Units) and humidity kept between 35% and 38%.
A Fractal Design Meshify C case (1.434 ft³ volume) housed all the parts. Two 140mm fans were mounted as intake, while one 120mm fan was mounted as exhaust. All fans are BeQuiet Silent Wing 3s. We can’t simply combine their total CFM though. In an ideal world, they would move 2.825 ft³ of air a second. Since we have more intake than output, we will only measure the exhaust. For purposes of this test, we will ignore any excess air that might seep from joints and crevices. So for a very unscientific number, the air in the case is replaced just shy of once per second.
It’s important to remember that any thermal mass, be it metal like a tower cooler or metal as a liquid (such as an AIO) will “heat soak” because heat “stacks,” meaning that heat will add to heat. “Heat soaked” means that eventually the thermal mass will gain more heat in a given time frame than it can release in that same time frame. Using an appropriately sized cooler, you will eventually hit equilibrium, thereby maintaining a specific temperature.
The methodology was to allow OCCT to run until the temperature stopped climbing, effectively hitting that equilibrium. Since I found that took 20 – 25 minutes consistently, I opted to run for 30-minute intervals with a system reboot after each test. In addition, I cleaned the thermal paste off and reapplied it after every 3 tests and between cooler swaps, for a total of nine runs each.
Arctic Liquid Freezer II Specs
|VRM Fan||40 mm, 1000–3000 RPM (Controlled by PWM)|
|Pump||800–2000 RPM (Controlled by PWM)|
|Power Consumption||1.0 W–2.7 W (Pump and VRM Fan)|
|Cold Plate||Copper, Micro Skived Fin|
|Tube Length||450 mm|
|Tube Diameter||Outer: 12.4 mm, Inner: 6.0 mm|
|Dimensions (w/o tubes)||98 mm x 78 mm x 53 mm|
Fan x 2
|Fan Speed||200–1800 RPM (Controlled via PWM)|
|Airflow||2.2 mm H2O|
|Static Pressure||0.08 A / 12 V DC|
|Bearing||Fluid Dynamic Bearing|
|Noise Level||0.3 Sone|
|Dimensions||120 mm x 120 mm x 25 mm|
|Socket Compatibility||Intel® 115X, 2011-3*, 2066 * (*Square ILM)|
|Thermal Compound||MX-4 (0.8 g)|
|Total Weight||1191 g (2 Fans, Radiator, Pump, Tubes)|
|Dimensions||277 mm x 120 mm x 38 mm|
Arctic has a couple of flavors in this line-up featuring 120, 240, 280 and 360 variants. I had the opportunity to checkout the 240 version, which supports two 120mm included fans. These are set to exhaust by default, but you can reorient them to be the source of intake.
It offers an “all-new, in-house” developed PWM controlled pump with a VRM cooling fan. The pump and fans are all controlled via PWM. This means that the pump can slow down during idle, instead of always being at full bore. While on, the fan speeds change depending on load. The cold plate is a copper micro-skived fin design. So if you’re not happy with the included MX-4 thermal paste, you could use a “liquid metal” TIM without the worry of corrosion. Honestly though, you’ll do just fine with the MX-4 paste. The Liquid Freezer II has a bit of heft to it, measuring out at 277 mm x 120 mm x 38 mm and weighing in at 1191 grams.
Arctic’s Liquid Freezer II fits in well with the look of the Meshify C case, in spite of being a bit big and blocky. Likewise, square angles comprise their radiator. They didn’t go trying to round out the radiator frame/reservoir. The tubing appears to be black and silver nylon sheathing over rubber tubing, which adds some subtle texture to the overall look.
Where things get weird is in the pump/plate. For example, a lot more angles and flash are added to the design. It reminds me of a gaming mouse or one of those “gamer” routers. However, it does feature a small fan for moving air around the VRMS. This can often be a point of “dead air” that would otherwise just sit there. While I say that the block is “weird,” I won’t say that I don’t like it. It doesn’t quite resonate with the rest of the aesthetics, but it also isn’t a loud in-your-face design.
I wanted to run the Arctic Liquid Freezer II against the BeQuiet Dark Rock Pro 3. While the latter is a tower style air cooler, it boasts a 250w TDP. It is without a doubt the best air cooler I’ve been able to get my hands on, even beating out some AIOs such as the NZXT Kraken x62.
Over nine separate runs, the Dark Rock still maintained an average of 60° Celsius, reaching equilibrium after about 5 minutes in each test. The Arctic Liquid Freezer II maintained 54° Celsius but didn’t reach equilibrium until nearly 15 minutes later. In effect, that’s a 6° Celsius difference
Running OCCT, of course, is synthetic in that it puts 100% load on your CPU for a given time frame. I would wager that most users won’t tax their systems that hard for that long very often.
The Arctic Liquid Freezer II is a fair bit louder than my BeQuiet Dark Rock Pro 3, though I wouldn’t say it was uncomfortably loud. But if you work with headphones on, you wouldn’t notice, anyway. Sound is a hard thing to quantify without lots of specialized equipment. Moreover, what is “acceptable” is very subjective. I can say that the noise while under load was not much louder than my typing on a mechanical keyboard to write this review.
Final Thoughts on the Arctic Liquid Freezer II
If I were to do it over, I would get this all situated on an open air test bench. That would eliminate any airflow concerns, although I am confident in this round of testing. It would have also made it easier for the swapping of coolers and application of the TIM.
All things considered, the Arctic Liquid Freezer II is a great buy with an MSRP of $75.99. It looks pretty good; it’s not too loud, and most importantly, it cools great. I had already been a long-time user of Arctics thermal compounds. Now, when looking for an AIO for a system, I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up one of the Liquid Freezer II coolers.