Arctic Cooling Freezer 4 heatsink/fan

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Test Platform

  • Intel P4-2.8A The Thermal Design Power of this P4-2.8 (533 MHz bus) is 68.4 or 69.7W depending on the version. As the CPU is a demo model without normal markings, it's not clear which version it is, so we'll round the number off to ~69W. The Maximum Power, as calculated by CPUHeat & CPUMSR, is 79W.
  • AOpen AX4GE Max motherboard - Intel 845GE Chipset; built-in VGA. The on-die CPU thermal diode monitoring system reads 2°C too high, so all readings are compensated up by this amount.
  • OCZ DDRAM PC-3700, 512 MB
  • Seagate Barracuda IV 40G 1-platter drive (in Smart Drive from Silicon Acoustics)
  • Seasonic Super Tornado 300 (Rev. A1)
  • Arctic Silver Ceramique Thermal Compound
  • Two-level plywood platform with foam damping feet. Motherboard on top; most other components below. Eases heatsink changes and setup.

Measurement & Analysis Tools

The ambient temperature in the test lab was 21°C. Ambient noise in the lab was ~17 dBA. Maximum load temperatures were recorded ~20 minutes into a CPU stress test with CPUBurn after the core temperature had stabilized.

Because it is difficult to swap the stock fan, we did not follow our standard testing methodology, which calls for the use of a SPCR reference fan so that cooling efficiency of the heatsink can be tested relative to a constant reference airflow. Instead, the stock fan was left on the unit, and both noise and cooling performance were tested at 12V, 9V, 7V, and 5V.


Arctic Cooling Freezer 4 with Stock Fan
Thermal Conditions
Load Temperature
Rise from Ambient
CPUBurn @ 12V
CPUBurn @ 9V
CPUBurn @ 7V
CPUBurn @ 5V

°C Rise from Ambient: Temperature rise above ambient at load
°C/W MP / TDP: Temperature rise per Watt, based on Maximum Power (79W) or Thermal Design Power (69W) rating of CPU
SPL: Sound Pressure Level in dBA/1m measured with high accuracy B & K SLM at 1 meter

At stock voltage, the fan included with the Freezer 4 is not quiet. The fan produces a fairly even hum that's quite noticeable. Luckily, the hum is very directional and is most audible in a 25°~30° cone extending from the hub of the fan. A well damped case should have a significant impact on the noise at 12V. The fan also produces a constant low level buzz that does not change in volume through most of the voltage range. It is most audible in the 7-9V range, but it drops enough in volume at 5V to be considered inaudible inside a computer case.

Both the fan and the heatsink itself tolerate undervolting quite well. 7V probably provides the best compromise between cooling and noise. At this level the pitch of the motor noise has dropped almost out of hearing range. The residual motor noise that it produces at this level would disappear inside any case of decent quality. The heatsink does not struggle much under this reduced airflow; the burn temperature at 7V rose only 4°C compared to the 12V result. At 46°C, there's a bit of headroom for hotter CPUs as well.

For the noise obsessed, a medium-powered system could probably be run safely (but with high temperatures) with the fan at 5V. At this level the Freezer is, for all practical purposes, silent. Our measurement of 17 dBA at this level is more of a guess than a measurement, as the ambient noise was too high to measure it reliably at one meter.

The thermal performance is just shy of SPCR favorites, the Zalman 7000 series and the Thermalright XP series. The comparison to the Zalman 7000 is especially apt, as this heatsink also features a fan that is not easily changeable. Although the Zalman is capable of better cooling at comparable voltages, the Freezer is quieter at these voltage levels.

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