Noise Levels

For many enthusiasts upgrading cooling the goal is maximum stable overclock, and they will live with the inconvenience of a louder system. For other users silence is the most important factor, and these users will forgo maximum overclocking if that increases system noise levels. Those who expect silence to be the domain of high-priced cooling solutions are in for a very pleasant surprise with both these Arctic Cooling solutions. It is unusual to see this much attention paid to noise reduction in value coolers, but the use of elastomeric bushings and low noise bearings show that Arctic Cooling takes noise reduction very seriously. Do these features work?

Level - 6\

Level - 24\

The Arctic 7 (with PWM) and the Freezer 7 Pro turn out to be two of the quietest coolers we have tested so far in our new cooling test bed. All four test results are at the floor of our system noise, and the new test system noise floor is equivalent to a suburban bedroom at night in noise level.

Both Alpine coolers remain silent, even when pushed hard with load testing and overclocking, which increases fan speeds. It is rare to see such low noise levels on any cooling fan, but it is particularly impressive in coolers designed to sell for less than $25.

Neither of these sub-$25 coolers will really challenge the top of our overclocking performance results, but in their effective range - which is wider than you might expect - both coolers are extremely quiet. The frameless fan, low noise bearings, and elastomeric fan mounts are obviously doing their job very well.

Cooling at Stock Speed Overclocking and Performance Scaling
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  • Etern205 - Tuesday, January 29, 2008 - link

    Sorry for the triple post.

    Somehow the link code does not work so...">
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, January 30, 2008 - link

    Great, an LED fan direct from Intel.

    and it still uses push pins, though since it weighs about the same as the previous stock cooler I guess that is expected.
  • sparkuss - Tuesday, January 29, 2008 - link

    Is there any reason you don't include with the new testbed/database your custom water cooling setup that you've been using to chart the X38/X48?

    I realize it may be extreme but it feels missing if only to show what that "next" level of cooling means in relation to the "top rated performers". I guess I'd also be remiss in not asking for at least one of the new Peltier/Water compact combo coolers in the mix just for those reference lines on the graphs.

    If you only want to limit results to "available/ready to buy" I understand.

    I'm still looking at all options for my next "technology-leap" (AMD 4000+ 939) system build and being able to see if investing in the extreme is worth the results would help with some of the choices.

  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, January 30, 2008 - link

    I'd guess Wesley is in a different part of the country/world than Raja or whoever has the extreme cooling setup.
  • mindless1 - Tuesday, January 29, 2008 - link

    Quote:"low noise, longer-life fan bearings and elastomeric fan mounts. This is expensive engineering."

    These aren't really longer-life bearings. Anyone can make a bearing and claim that in an ideal environment it will have really long life. That's shady marketing, the finished fan, as implemented, is not that ideal environment for several reasons such as thrust level, imbalance, ambient temp. Frankly I find the bearing on my Freezer 64 Pro to be below average compared to my major (fan manufacturer not PC parts relabeler) brands. I would rate them as well if not better than many of the crude fans one would find on cheap heatsinks at least, and the fan imbalance being offset by the rubber mounts does help.

    As for the elastomeric fan mounts, no this is not expensive engineering. Maybe a penny a piece, no more expensive than screws to hold a fan on. Perhaps we could say the unique fan frame design cost a slight bit extra though when in volume the cost may be less than you'd think, particularly if not manufactured by a major label. Upon examination of the fan bearing anyone with a trained eye can easily see these are not premium sleeve bearings by any stretch, and they are a lot short on lubricant, you should expect them not to be so quiet within the life of the system. Relube the bearing periodically for best results.

    While my comments seem (are) negative, overall these coolers are a great value, but we do need to be objective in recognizing the cons as well as the pros. I'm not aware of better value for the money so they are still 'sinks to seriously consider except for attempts at extreme overclocking.
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, January 29, 2008 - link

    The Engineering is expensive - not necessarily the parts. What we were trying to say here is that these kinds of solutions are usually reserved for higher-priced coolers, and not often seen on coolers selling for such a low price.

    As for bearing life, most coolers in this price range don't even rate fan bearing life. The expected "life" of the fan on the under $15 Alpine 7 is 400,000 hours and the bearing is a Fluid Dynamic Bearing - like the Scythe Sflex 120mm fan which is $20 for the fan alone. These are both impressive specs for any cooler fan - especially one that sells with the complete cooler for less than $15.
  • mindless1 - Tuesday, January 29, 2008 - link

    The life rating of 400K hours is nonsense.

    Their typical fan sells for $6, and that with a bit of profit built in. Their bearings are not special, just the marketing is.">

    A minimum price is a better proof than an inflated one, as even the generic junk out there selling for $2 is also marked up 250% or more through relabelers.
  • forgotmypassword - Tuesday, January 29, 2008 - link

    Your under load test is WAY TOO GENTLE. Same AC Freezer 7 can hardly keep my E6550 @ 2.8GHz Core Duo under 75C under 100% load... Compare it to your 41C
  • RamarC - Tuesday, January 29, 2008 - link

    if your e6550 is hitting 75c you either don't have the freezer 7 mounted properly or your bios/fan control is configured to allow that level of heat.
  • mindless1 - Tuesday, January 29, 2008 - link

    You have no evidence of that. A higher ambient temp, worse case ventilation, and/or higher vcore can cause this.

    However, some mountings don't seem to put as much pressure on the 'sink, it can be mounted as "properly" as possible and still this (and especially along with a combination of aforementioned factors) could result in that temp.

    The real question is WHY someone would have allowed their CPU to get this hot instead of reducing the o'c or taking whatever other measures are necessary.

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