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Arctic states that this liquid cooler is designed for processor heat loads of up to 250W TDP, which seems like a lot for the compact heat exchanger it's equipped with. In any event, Frostytech will stress the Arctic Liquid Freezer 120 self contained CPU water cooling system with a 200W heat load using our Intel LGA2011 synthetic thermal test platform and find out what thermal performance it's really capable of.
The Arctic Liquid Freezer 120 CPU heatsink ships with two 120mm fans mounted on either side of a 49mm thick, 120mm aluminum heat exchanger. This size is ideal for compact computer cases that may only have one free chassis fan mount; the Freezer 240 model is better suited to larger gaming cases. The pump head is integrated into the waterblock and the cold plate is built on the successful foundation of many generations of Asetek micro skived copper base plates. A somewhat short 30cm length of flexible 10.5mm OD rubber tubing connect the two components.
Arctic's Liquid Freezer 120 ships fully assembled, plumbed and filled. The whole system weighs around 942grams and installs onto Intel socket LGA115x/2011(-3) processors and AMD socket AM2/AM3/FM1/FM2 CPUs. The two 120mm PWM fans operate at 1350-500RPM and feature 54mm long Y-splitter power leads, which is kind of nice. Arctic Liquid Freezer 120 CPU cooler retails for $85 USD through Arctic's own store.
Analysis of Heat Exchanger via Thermal Image
With the front-facing fan removed from the Liquid Freezer 120's heat exchanger for imaging clarity, the coolant path can be imaged. It appears as though the 120mm heat exchanger employs a very basic bifurcated coolant path; hot coolant enters at the top, flows through the upper half of the heat exchanger to the opposite side before being redirected and flowing back across the lower portion of the heat exchange.
Since the Arctic Liquid Freezer 120 is intended to be used with two fans running (intake and exhaust), there's no point in measuring the coolant temperature drop. For the curious among you, the drop with only one fan is about 3.7C . The hot-spot at the center of the heat exchanger is the rear fan motor.
Liquid-to-Air Heat Exchanger
Arctic's Liquid Freezer 120 utilizes an aluminum heat exchanger measuring 49mm thick by 120mm wide and 154mm long.
As with all other self-contained CPU liquid coolers, you'll need to install the Liquid Freezer 120 into a PC case with at least one accessible 120mm fan vent. The heat exchanger mounts to the inside of the chassis with four screws passing through the fan vent.
This heat exchanger ships with two 120mm (1350-500RPM) fans attached in a push-pull configuration.
CPU-to-Liquid Heat Exchanger
To reduce the amount of audible pump noise, Arctic have taken the unusual approach of inserting a small die-cut piece of sound absorbing foam in the upper half of the water block head. This is the first time Frostytech has seen noise absorbing material inside a heatsink, kinda clever!
Sitting below the foam is a smallish, ~30mm diameter pump motor. Most of the water block's volume is empty space; this has the benefit of reducing the thermal mass of the block, which helps the coolant more rapidly drop the CPU temperature. Of course, if the coolant stops for any reason the opposite holds equally true - CPU temps will skyrocket! Next to the pump motor is a bleed port which is probably used to syphon off trapped air when the system is first filled with coolant. The port is sealed with a stainless steel screw and rubber washer.
The working side of the Liquid Freezer 120's water block contains a micro-skived copper plate into which coolant flows. Propylene Glycol based coolant is pumped in through a slit along the center-line of the plate, before flowing out through miniature skived copper fins where it picks up the heat. The heated coolant then exits at the sides where it is pumped to the aluminum liquid-to-air heat exchanger.
The screws holding the copper plate on are a little too soft to undo, so we weren't able to remove the plate for a closer look at the skived liquid-to-CPU heat exchanger. Based on previous Asetek water block designs (the OEM here), we'd estimate the finned area is roughly 32mm square.
The Arctic Liquid Freezer 120 is compatible with Intel socket LGA2011(-3)/115x and AMD socket FM2/FM1/AM2/AM3 processors. It does not support LGA775 or LGA1366 processors. The cooler ships with two Asetek-style water block metal mounting brackets that clip in place without the need for tools. The connect via an assortment of screws with the associated rear motherboard bracket. The mounting system is simple, easy to install and uses a minimum of parts. We particularly liked the clip in place water block metal brackets.
This heatsink will be tested on FrostyTech's Intel and AMD version of the Mk.II synthetic thermal temperature test platform, and compared against hundreds of reference Intel and AMD heatsinks. The whole test methodology is outlined in detail here if you'd like to know what equipment is used, and the parameters under which the tests are conducted.
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