ARCTIC Freezer 13 Pro CO Heatsink Review

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Today, I will be taking a look at my second cooler from ARCTIC. This one is named the Freezer 13 Pro CO and it looks to be a higher performance offering than the last cooler I reviewed from ARCTIC, the Freezer 13. I found the Freezer 13 to be a mediocre cooler as far as overclocking is concerned. While it was able to cool my test system at 4 GHz, it was marginal at best for cooling my test system at that overclock. Today we will see if this offering can improve on that performance.

ARCTIC started out by selling affordable, decent performing and quiet heatsinks. Since their inception, they have steadily branched out from cooling products to other computer-related equipment such as gaming headsets, mice and keyboards and finally into other non-computer products such as toys and entertainment gear.

Features and Specifications

(Courtesy of ARCTIC)

  • Continuous Operation – “CO” stands for Continuous Operation and this feature is brought by the dual ball bearing used in the fan, which reduces rotational friction, i.e. is significantly less sensitive to dust and high temperature and hence is up to 5 times more durable than a generic or modified bearings.
  • The fiber-glass reinforced retention module included offers long-lasting support for the CPU cooler’s weight throughout its lifetime.
  • Superior Cooling Performance – Utilizing a 120 mm PWM fan spinning up to 1,350 RPM, the Freezer 13 PRO CO brings maximum cooling capacity of 300 Watts to ensure your CPU stays cool at all times. In addition, four double-sided 8 mm copper heatpipes and a 47-fin heatsink, dissipate heat produced by the CPU efficiently.
  • Enhanced VR and Northbridge Components Cooling – Employing Cross Blow technology, an additional 50 mm radial PWM fan is installed at the base of the cooler to ventilate the components surrounding the CPU, e.g. voltage regulators, and thus lowering their temperature.
  • Quick Installation – The unique mounting system does not require disassembly of the motherboard, making the installation quick and easy, at the same time guaranteeing excellent stability and full transport proofness. Pre-applied ARCTIC MX-4 thermal compound facilitates the whole installation process further
ARCTIC Freezer Pro 13 CO Specifications
Max. Cooling Capacity 300 watts
Heatpipe 4 – 8 mm heatpipes
Heatsink Material Aluminum fins x 47; thickness: 0.5 mm
Fan (mm) 120 mm x 1; 50 mm x 1
Bearing Dual Ball Bearing
Noise Level 0.3 Sones (22.5 dBA)
Current, Voltage 0.22A ; 2.8 – 12V
Dimensions (Product) 134 (L) x 96 (W) x 159 (H) mm
Dimensions (Packaging) 137 (L) x 99 (W) x 173 (H) mm
Limited Warranty 6 years
Rated Fan Speed 300 – 1,350 RPM, (PWM)
Product Net Weight 0.893 kg
Gross Weight 1.6 kg

Comparing these specifications to the earlier Freezer 13, we see some changes between the products. Instead of using a 92 mm fan, ARCTIC upgraded this model to a 120 mm fan and expanded the size of the fin stack to match the fan size. That gives us a larger fan that can move more air quietly through the fins stack and also gives more square inches of surface area to dissipate heat. They are also claiming a 300 watt heat dissipation value with the Pro CO as compared to 200 watts with the Freezer 13. They have also upgraded the heatpipes from 6 mm to 8 mm on the Pro CO, which in theory should help in moving the heat to the fins stack too. They did keep with using a fan that is built into the shroud, just like the earlier version though, which precludes using another brand of fan with this heatsink. I would much rather a separate fan and shroud for more versatility. And as with the Freezer 13, this heatsink is also asymmetrical in design, which precludes easily setting up a second “pull” fan on the back side of the heatsink. This heatsink, with one exception, looks to be just a bit larger version of the Freezer 13.

Packaging

Like the Freezer 13, this heatsink comes packaged in much the same form fitting clear plastic packaging. It doesn’t look to be as protective as a proper box, but again this heatsink came through shipping with no damage, just like the Freezer 13. The back side and the bottom have marketing information and specifications printed on the interior packaging that the heatsink sits in. I would guess right offhand that this kind of packaging saves ARCTIC some money, which they can then pass along with better pricing for their product.

Front.

Front.

Back.

Back.

Left.

Left.

Right.

Right.

Top.

Top.

Bottom.

Bottom.

First Look and Installation

After removing the heatsink and mounting hardware from the packaging, we are looking at an enlarged version of the Freezer 13, with one big difference. The Freezer 13 Pro CO has an auxiliary 50 mm exposed blade fan mounted right on top of the base of this heatsink. Its purpose isn’t to help blow air through the fins, but rather move the air around the socket area and across the heatsinks mounted on the VRMs around the socket. You can feel some slight air movement off of the VRM fan, but I really don’t know that it helps cool significantly around the socket area. Still it is a novel idea that addresses a problem with tower-style heatsinks. Both fans are fed from a common wire and the cooling fan on the heatsink body has a plug that you can disconnect from the the wiring harness for fan/shroud removal.  The wiring for the VRM cooling fan is permanently mounted to the fan and the fan isn’t removable. Like the Freezer 13, the Freezer 13 Pro CO comes with a pre-applied application of their ARCTIC MX-4, which is a very good thermal compound. But you are on your own after the first removal of the heatsink from your processor, since they don’t include any extra thermal compound with the heatsink. I didn’t include the original run with the MX-4 thermal compound for my testing results below, but I did see around 0.5 °C lower temps with the MX-4 compound over the MX-2 I test with.

Packaging opened.

Packaging opened

Heatsink and hardware removed from packaging.

Heatsink and hardware removed from packaging

Base with MX-4 application.

Base with MX-4 application

Top view.

Top view

Intake side of heatsink.

Intake side of heatsink

Exhaust side of heatsink.

Exhaust side of heatsink

The instructions included with the Freezer 13 Pro CO are much the same as were included with the Freezer 13. They are plenty good enough to explain how to mount your heatsink to your system for both Intel and AMD platforms.

Intel mounting.

Intel mounting

AMD mounting.

AMD mounting

The base finish on the Freezer 13 Pro CO isn’t shiny, but is done decently. The base is very slightly bowed across the short axis of the base and is flat across the long axis, which is opposite of Thermalright’s way of bowing their base finish. I really don’t think the direction of the bow makes a difference in mounting or heat removal, but I have seen that a slightly bowed base that point loads at the center of the IHS helps heat transfer. The base finish shows slight machining marks but is in no way crudely done.

Side view of base that shows VRM fan well.

Side view of base that shows VRM fan well

Base with thermal compound removed.

Base with thermal compound removed

Very slightly bowed across the heatpipes.

Very slightly bowed across the heatpipes

Flat running with the heatpipes.

Flat running with the heatpipes

Mounting the Freezer 13 Pro CO to an Intel system is simplicity itself. All you have to do is to set the retention module in place on the motherboard and install the push pin latching system into the appropriate holes to lock the retention module to the motherboard. Once the retention module is in place, you apply your thermal paste to the IHS of the processor and line up the retention bracket on the heatsink with the mounting holes on the RM, then install and tighten down two screws to properly mount and tension the heatsink. You can orient the heatsink to blow air to either the back side of the case or the top of the case with the Intel mounting system. You do not have to remove the motherboard from the case to install this heatsink in your system either. This is a big plus for some people, who don’t want to go through the hassle of removing and reinstalling the motherboard.

Mounted on LGA775.

Mounted on LGA775

LGA775 side view. Note generous ram clearance.

LGA775 side view - Note generous RAM clearance

Mounted in LGA1366 test system.

Mounted in LGA1366 test system

Plenty of clearance on back side in test system too.

Plenty of clearance on back side in test system too

On AMD systems though, this heatsink has the very same problem as its older brother. The mounting system for AMD utilizes the stock AMD retention mount and as a result of the rectangular bolt pattern AMD uses, the heatsink only mounts in one direction. On my AM2 mounting test board, that orients the heatsink to where it blows air towards the top of the case. Unless your case has a top blowhole on the upper back side of it, that makes for less than optimal cooling. I really wish that ARCTIC would take the time to come up with a better AMD mounting system with more versatility. After all plenty of competitors have come up with working solutions to this problem on AMD systems.

AMD mount. Note up & down orientation only.

AMD mount - Note up & down orientation only

AMD side view. Note heatsink overhangs the first two ram slots.

AMD side view - Note heatsink overhangs the first two RAM slots

Test Setup

Normally I list the fans I used for testing in this area, but since ARCTIC went and integrated their fan into the shroud, there is no easy way to test with different fans. Therefore I will only be testing this heatsink with its stock fan. I will be comparing the performance of this heatsink to its predecessor, the OEM 980X heatsink and some other “value oriented” heatsinks though.

The testbed system is configured as follows:

  • Case – In Win Dragon Rider. The 220 mm side door fan has been shifted downward to give clearance for tall heatsinks. No other alterations have been made to this case.
  • Motherboard – Asus P6T
  • Processor – Intel Core i7 930, overclocked to 4005 MHz @ 1.304 V under Prime95 load.
  • RAM – Corsair XMS3 DDR3-1600
  • Video Card – EVGA GeForce GTX550 Ti
  • Power Supply – HEC Cougar series S700
  • Hard Drive – Western Digital Caviar 250 GB SATA hard drive
  • Optical Drive – Lite On DVD-RW drive
  • OS – Windows Vista Ultimate 64 Service Pack 2
  • ARCTIC MX-2 thermal paste was used for testing as I have found it to give consistent results with no appreciable break in and it applies and cleans up easily.
  • All testing was done with the side door fastened to the case.

Getting the performance data for this review was when I had the first of my hardware casualties. The old 7900GTX died after making my first test run with MX-2 thermal paste applied after getting the performance of the heatsink out of the box with the pre-applied MX-4. The P6T also started acting up, but I was able to finish testing this heatsink with it by persevering until I got runs in that kept a stable vcore during the tests.

Test Methodology

The testing methodology used is the same as I used with my previous reviews:

All energy saving features of the motherboard and processor were turned off to keep it from down clocking the processor speed and vcore. All fan control functions were turned off in bios to keep the fans at maximum speed. For processor temperature monitoring purposes, I am using Real Temp 3.60, with logging enabled at 2 second intervals. For room temperature monitoring, I am using a Fluke Model 52-2 and using a “K” type thermocouple that is inserted into the case front where the front intake fan is mounted. The Fluke records the maximum, minimum and average temps during the run at 1 second intervals.

Temperatures in my computer room were maintained as close as possible to around an 18 °C average during the run, as measured at the lower front intake fan by the Fluke. At the end of the test run, I logged the maximum, minimum and average temperature. The maximum and minimum temps in the charts are given as recorded by Real Temp, but the average temperatures have been adjusted to a constant 18 °C as derived from the Fluke average temps.

For loading the CPU, I used Prime95 version 25.8 using in-place large FFT’s and ran it for 30 minutes to stabilize temps. After 30 minutes, I would exit Prime95 and let the CPU idle for at least 10 minutes. The highest recorded temperature from the hottest core for each run was then recorded off of the Real Temp log, the lowest temperature on any core was recorded and the average temperature on the hottest core was calculated during the load portion of each run and adjusted to a constant 18 °C.

Each fan configuration was tested with three remounts of the heatsink, and the lowest average temperature run recorded, to minimize any problems between mount to mount installations.

The Results

First up are the results I got with this heatsink as compared to the Freezer 13 and my OEM 980X heatsink:

As you can see here, the Freezer 13 Pro CO easily bests its older brother, but the 980X heatsink still beats this heatsink in outright performance. The Freezer 13 Pro heatsink does get within a half of a degree of the 980X heatsink and it does so quietly. The same cannot be said of the 980X heatsink as it has a whiny high speed 92 mm fan that also has resonance issues with the heatsink at full speed.

Next up is a chart comparing the Freezer 13 Pro CO to several other value oriented heatsinks that are available for $40 or less:

As you can see here, it is a middle of the pack performer. If you are shopping by a price/performance parameter there is nothing outstanding to recommend the Freezer 13 Pro CO over rivals such as the Transformer 4, HR-02 Macho, original True Spirit or True Spirit 140.

Finally, we have a chart showing the performance of this heatsink against the other heatsinks I have tested with this platform setup:

The performance of this heatsink comes in on the lower portion of my performance comparison versus other heatsinks I have reviewed.

Conclusion

First of all, I would like to thank ARCTIC for sending me this sample to review. The heatsink does bring some nice features to the table. For one, the additional 50 mm fan installed on top of the base is a good, thinking outside the box idea on how to help cool the VRM components around the socket. This can be a problem with tower style heatsinks such as this one. And the Intel mounting system is very clever and easy to deploy, with you literally just removing the stock heatsink and popping the RM on and installing the Freezer 13 Pro. And ARCTIC did improve the performance as compared to the Freezer 13 too, which makes it a more viable choice for cooling a hot running overclocked processor. But they are confusing in that they came out with two different models named essentially the same. And the only difference I can see between the two is the fan’s rotor color and they changed the bearing package on the CO model. Both have the same 6 year warranty, so I see no reason to call the CO model another heatsink model. In my opinion, they would have been better off calling it a “Freezer 13 Pro Revsion 2, instead of adding the “CO” on the end of it and just discontinued the original version. At $25 plus shipping, the Freezer 13 Pro is a decent deal for someone looking for an easy to install cooler for an Intel system. But there is nothing in this heatsink’s performance to justify a price of better than $50 like the Pro CO version sells for.

The Freezer 13 Pro CO’s performance is decent, but I really doubt that it can handle a 300 watt heatload like their advertising states. It does have the advantage of one of the easiest Intel mounting systems to use though. On the AMD side, the mounting system is easy to set up and use, but is limited in the orientation of the heatsink. Also confusing is that ARCTIC also sells a heatsink called the Freezer 13 Pro, which looks to be a direct copy of this heatsink except for the color of the plastic used in the fan rotor. I suspect that the regular Freezer 13 Pro uses a cheaper bearing package than the CO model. The speed specs for the fan are the same and the blade profile looks to be identical as well as all the other specs, so I would hazard a guess that the performance is the same between the two. Looking for both of these heatsinks online, I found the Freezer 13 Pro available for $25.00 plus shipping at Sidewinder Computer Systems, Inc.. Doing a search for the ARCTIC Freezer 13 Pro CO doesn’t turn up much. The only link I found to it was to a store called AirTech IT and they show out of stock for a price of $55.26. At $25.00 this heatsink looks to be a decent bargain for the non-CO version. But there are just too many better choices for cooling at the other price that literally bury this heatsink in performance. So this makes giving a any award to this heatsink a real problem. Since there is no way to properly award this heatsink with a single award, I am going to break it down into three parts.

Part 1 – Freezer 13 Pro and Intel based systems

In this scenario, I can give this heatsink an Overclockers Approved award. Its performance is adequate and the Intel mounting system is very nice and easy to deploy. It also gives excellent clearance to the RAM slots, as well as on the back side of the heatsink.

Part 2 – Freezer 13 Pro CO and Intel based systems

The pricing of this version of the heatsink makes all the difference in the world. At a $56 price point, there are many other better options. The performance is OK, but not compared to other heatsink that sell for much less. So the best award I can give the Freezer Pro CO is an Overclocker Meh award.

Part 3 – Freezer 13 Pro and Freezer 13 Pro CO and AMD based systems

With AMD based systems, I find that the mounting system holds me back from recommending it over other heatsinks in the under $40 pricing range. It will only orient one way and most of the AMD boards seem to have the mounting pattern set so that it only lets you install the heatsink in a north-south arrangement. If you have a case that doesn’t include a top exhaust fan, your cooling ability is then compromised. It’s not like you can’t design a decent AMD mounting system that will let you orient the heatsink either way: Cooler Master managed to do this with the Hyper 212 Plus. And it commonly sells for the same price as the Freezer 13 Pro that Sidewinder Computer has it listed at. So again, I am awarding yet another Overclocker Meh award for the Freezer 13 Pro and Freezer 13 Pro CO for AMD based systems.

To wrap this review up, I also have some other coolers that have been in the test rig, so stay tuned for my next review, coming soon.

– Jim Gautreaux (muddocktor)

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Discussion
  1. Meh. Good word for AC heatsinks.
    OTOH, their F PWM fan did very well on my D14 testbed. Is that the fan they used on their heatsinks?
    The motor and bearing package, as well as the rotor assembly might be the same, but it is integrated into the shroud. And I find that unfortunate, since you can't try different fans on the heatsink itself because of the fan being made into the shroud, unless you want to do some significant mods so that you could mount directly to the heatsink or make your own custom shroud.