In-the-know cooling enthusiast use thick radiators and fan sandwich configurations to boost cooling without altering a case. What happens when a value cooling brand leverages both of these concepts into a 120x240mm, sub-$100, closed-loop kit?
Arctic Cooling has gained a reputation among CPU overclockers as a value brand, often producing slightly less cooling capacity than top “Big Air” models at a substantially lower price. GPU gurus, on the other hand, will recognize Arctic as the brand behind many of the dual-fan and triple-fan graphics cooler designs that are too thick to fit into two slot spaces. Bridging the gap between value priced CPU coolers and oversized GPU coolers is the monstrously thick Liquid Freezer 240 closed-loop liquid CPU cooler.
The Liquid Freezer 240 starts off with a 1.5” thick radiator, which is somewhat of a standard for enthusiast-grade liquid cooling, and sandwiches it between four fans, which is the standard for making under-performing coolers perform. Based on those specifics alone we’d expect the Liquid Freezer 240 to be one of the top performers in the closed-loop class, though at the cost of some fitment issues. Many mainstream gaming cases are now designed with around 2.5” of radiator clearance, and the second layer of fans pushes the Liquid Freezer 240 a little past the 3.5” mark.
The Liquid Freezer 240 uses a mounting ring similar to the classic Asetek design, but adds locking barbs rather than hooked ends on the metal ring’s tabs. The ring is secured to four standoffs, and Arctic includes different standoffs for AMD, Intel LGA 115x (1156/1155/1150/1151), and Intel LGA 2011x (v1 and v3) motherboards.
The base itself appears to be unpolished, lathe turned copper.
The Intel mounting ring is drilled for both LGA 115x and 2011x installations. Builders who are willing to reuse their old LGA 1366 threaded socket support plates may be able to combine it with Arctic’s 115x standoffs by using the mounting ring’s 2011x holes, but package thickness (the thickness of the CPU, LGA, and heat spreader) could still be an issue for that type of unsanctioned installation. Anyone willing to perform an experimental installation should feel free to post their findings in this article’s response thread.
LGA 2011x standoffs are threaded differently on one end, to fit the motherboard’s integrated support mechanism. LGA 115x installations use an Arctic-supplied support plate, which must be mounted behind the board to receive the M3 x 0.50mm standoff ends. AMD installations are similar to those of LGA 2011x, except that they require builders to first unscrew the standard hook brackets from the top of their boards. AMD motherboards with pinned-on brackets aren’t compatible, unless the builder replaces the motherboard’s rear support plate with a nutted or threaded version.
Arctic Cooling recommends an intake orientation for its fans, even when the unit is mounted on the top panel. The firm also lists exhaust orientation as a secondary option. Putting aside any ideas about convection, we should note that our case only has dust filters on its front and bottom panels. A “standardized” test configuration doesn’t allow us to move the front fans, and that means top panel intake fans will create positive pressure that resists additional airflow. The easy solution for us is to test the Liquid Freezer 240 in both intake and exhaust fan configurations, though actual builders may instead choose to front-mount their Liquid Freezer 240 in intake orientation.