Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro HSF

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NOISE RECORDINGS

Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro:

MP3: Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro - 7V / <17 dBA@1m

MP3: Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro - 9V / 20 dBA@1m

MP3: Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro - 10V / 28 dBA@1m

MP3: Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro - 12V / 33~37 dBA@1m

Recordings of Comparable HSF:

MP3: Arctic Cooling Freezer 4 (original version) - 7V - 20 dBA@1m

MP3: Arctic Cooling Super Silent 4 Ultra TC, 22 dBA@1m

MP3: Nexus 120mm fan - 12V - 41 CFM - 22.5 dBA@1m

MP3: Nexus 120mm fan - 8.8V - 35 CFM- 19 dBA@1m

HOW TO LISTEN & COMPARE

These recordings were made with a high resolution studio quality digital recording system. The microphone was 3" from the edge of the fan frame at a 45° angle, facing the intake side of the fan to avoid direct wind noise. The ambient noise during all recordings was 18 dBA or lower. It is best to download the sound files to your computer before listening.

To set the volume to a realistic level (similar to the original), try playing this Nexus 92mm case fan @ 5V (17 dBA@1m) recording and set the volume so that it is barely audible. Then don't reset the volume and play the other sound files. Of course, all tone controls and other effects should be turned off or set to neutral. For full details on how to calibrate your sound system playback level to get the most valid listening comparison, please see the yellow text box entitled Listen to the Fans on page four of the article SPCR's Test / Sound Lab: A Short Tour.

FINAL CONCLUSIONS

Straight out of the box, the Freezer 7 Pro has the kind of cooling performance that will make it a darling with overclockers. It can take on the highest performance heatsinks head on without hesitation. At its suggested price of US$34, we know of nothing that can compete for cooling performance. Rave reviews and market success with overclockers and gamers is virtually guaranteed. The same can probably be said of the forthcoming Freezer 64 Pro, unless the fan is substantially changed.

Given that the product comes without any fan speed reduction device, it is clear that Arctic Cooling expects performance-oriented buyers. It's not that AC doesn't make fan speed controllers; many of their HSF come with multi-speed switches or thermal sensors to control fan speed. Perhaps their attitude is that if you've chosen a socket 775 platform, you already know you need all the cooling help you can get, and a little noise probably won't bother you as long as that hot CPU is kept cool.

Compared to the original Freezer, the new model is larger, quieter, and its fan is more securely mounted. The fan is also uniquely soft-mounted to reduce vibration-induced noise. These are all improvements over the original model.

But, the Freezer 7 Pro is not for everybody. At normal (12V) speed, the fan is too loud for a quiet computer. Dropping the fan speed requires another device like the Zalman Fanmate, not a big expense, but something to consider. At lower speeds, the fan is much better behaved, but the cooling performance also falls off fairly quickly. The usable fan voltage range is just 12~9V, which seems quite narrow. In that range, the fan drops from 34~37 dBA@1m down to just 20 dBA, while its cooling performance also drops from only 18°C rise over ambient to 32°C. Because of its high impedance fins, the Freezer 7 Pro does not downscale gracefully like the best of the low airflow optimized heatsinks. Anyone expecting the same stellar cooling performance at lower fan speeds and noise will be a bit disappointed.

This is not to say the Freezer 7 Pro cannot be used successfully to make a quiet Prescott system. It can be done with good case / system configuration to ensure a cooler ambient for the reduced thermal headroom at lower fan speed.

Overall, the Freezer 7 Pro is an impressive HSF with just a couple of faults, at least for us: The high level and odd surging turbulence noise at full speed (which might be specific to our sample?) and the rapid drop in performance at lower fan speed. Arctic Cooling could make a very attractive quiet variant by simply removing a few fins to reduce the airflow impedance and adding some kind of speed control for the fan.

Pros

* Superb cooling straight out of the box
* Easy to install
* Soft-mounted fan
* Very quiet at low speeds
* Long Warranty
Cons

* Too noisy at full speed
* Variable turbulence noise at full speed
* Doesn't cool that well with low airflow
* No fan speed controller

Much thanks to Arctic Cooling for the Freezer 7 Pro sample.

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