CPU air-coolers are relatively cheap compared to other computer system components. With the top air-coolers selling in the $45 to $75 price range it is easy to forget that many buyers are really looking for that killer $15 cooler, or at least a $15 cooler that does its job without bringing too much attention to itself with overheating or a loud fan.

In the Intel cooling arena finding a good cheap cooler is particularly difficult, because the stock Intel cooler - included at no cost in Intel Retail CPU packages - is today both a very good performer and very quiet. This makes competing in the value segment particularly difficult for companies aiming at the Socket 775 market.

One company that targets this value market segment is Arctic Cooling. Arctic Cooling is a privately owned company founded in 2001. Headquarters are located in Switzerland, with offices in Hong Kong and the USA, while production is in China. The company specializes in producing thermal cooling solutions for CPUs, GPUs (video chips), and PC cases.

In the few years since its inception, the Arctic Cooling family of coolers has earned a solid reputation for good value in the cooler market. Reputation is one thing and performance is often quite another, so it is time to give that reputation a test in the harsh reality of our cooler test bed. The questions we aim to answer are:

  1. Does the entry Alpine 7 outperform the stock Intel cooler? This is another way of asking whether anyone should bother with the Alpine 7; if the cooler does not outperform the stock Intel unit there is no real reason to buy it.
  2. Are noise levels well controlled at both stock and overclocked settings?
  3. Does the price increase of the Freezer 7 Pro buy equivalent performance improvements? I.e., is it worth the extra cost to buy the Freezer 7 Pro over the Alpine 7?
  4. How do performance and noise levels compare to the best coolers tested at AnandTech?

To provide answers, we dropped the Alpine Cooler pair into our new cooling test bed.

The Arctic Coolers
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  • yacoub - Wednesday, January 30, 2008 - link

    It's a shame it took this long for you guys to review the Arctic Freezer 7 Pro, which is a staple of the cheap-but-effective heatsink setups for overclockers. Glad to see it performed rather well. =)
  • Archon29 - Wednesday, January 30, 2008 - link

    I just built a new PC with 2 front intake fans, one rear exhaust fan, and the Arctic Freezer 7 Pro. My E4500 hits 40c at idle, 59c at load, and 63c with a 600 Mhz overclock. Not sure if my CPU reports the temp high (I've heard of this), I got a dud with the Freezer 7, or I applied my thermal paste wrong, but it sucks seeing other people get these kinds of results. I'm almost tempted to see what I would get with the stock fan but that would be a lot of trouble.
  • orenlevy - Wednesday, January 30, 2008 - link

    is closed by dust.
    the alpine 7 resist and keep working long after many other stop dissapating heat.
    i will be glad that when you benching somthing you will chek it for the long run. as im living in israel (dusty) i have lot of experience. oren
  • swaaye - Wednesday, January 30, 2008 - link

    I had a Freezer 64 Pro on an Opteron Dual Core about 2 years ago. It was pretty good and cheap, but the fan gets loud when it's at full speed. When I got my Core 2 Duo, I switched to Scythe Ninja Plus because it cools a lot better while being basically silent and only a bit more expensive.

    I'm all about effective + quiet these days and I wouldn't go back to that Freezer unless it was a CPU that didn't need much cooling power.
  • 9nails - Wednesday, January 30, 2008 - link

    I've had a Freezer-7 on a Core 2 Duo 3.0 Ghz E6850. I bought it based on good feedback at NewEgg in November. I wanted a cooler that was quiet, better at cooling than stock, and one that could extend the life of my CPU. I'm glad to say that the Freezer-7 has met all my expectations. It's been rock solid and something which I could easily recommend.
  • limo wreck - Tuesday, January 29, 2008 - link

    What did you use to control the speed of the fan during the tests? Asus' QFan? Speedfan?

    Would you know what the speed was during idle and under load? The reason I ask is because I have an AC Freezer 7 Pro and although it is somewhat quiet, I definitely wouldn't call it "near silent" like you did in the article.
  • gorobei - Tuesday, January 29, 2008 - link

    while the fan may not be equivalent to the AC, the design is roughly the same. Given the new testbed and temp monitor, the hyperTX2 should be worth a second look.
  • poohbear - Tuesday, January 29, 2008 - link

    gotta give credit to arctic cooling. Their vga coolers are top notch: reasonably priced (compared to the $50 option from Thermalright and zalman) and virtually silent. seems they replicated this for their cpu coolers. hope to see more products from these guys in the future.
  • Etern205 - Tuesday, January 29, 2008 - link

    Is there by any chance in a future article that you guys do a test to see how well are the new Intel stock coolers?

    And excellent review.
  • Etern205 - Tuesday, January 29, 2008 - link

    I mean the stock cooler for the Extreme edition cpus.

    Like this one

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