Overclocking and Performance Scaling

With outstanding performance at stock speed, we pushed the Arctic Cooling HSFs in our performance scaling tests to see if these air-coolers deliver similarly impressive performance when overclocking. As cooling solutions do a better job of keeping the CPU at a lower temperature, it is reasonable to expect the overclocking capabilities of the CPU will increase as cooler performance increases. In each test of a cooler, we measure the highest stable overclock of a standard X6800 processor under the following conditions:

CPU Multiplier: 11x (Stock 11x)
CPU Strap: 266 (stock) or 333 (overclocked)
CPU voltage: 1.5875V at Max overclock
NB Voltage: 1.70V
FSB Voltage: 1.40V
SB Voltage: 1.20V

Memory is set to Auto timings on the P35. This removes memory as any kind of impediment to the maximum stable overclock. As FSB is raised the linked memory speed increases in proportion. For this reason, we maintain memory speed as close as possible to CPU strap settings to prevent memory becoming an issue in CPU testing. This means 3.33GHz uses a 333 strap and runs 10x333, 3.73 uses a 333 strap and runs 11x339, and 3.90 GHz is a 333 strap and 354x11. The stock speed test is a 266 strap and 11x266. We may move in the future to a 3.0GHz stock speed with a 333 strap and 9x333 settings for complete consistency, but since we are not measuring raw computer performance in our cooling benchmarking this becomes a moot point. We use the same processor in all cooling tests to ensure comparable results.

Stable Overclock (MHz)

The Alpine 7 is rated at 90 watts heat dissipation, which means it should overclock a little better than the stock Intel cooler. That is exactly what we found in the overclocking tests, with a top overclock of 3.78GHz compared to the Intel top overclock of 3.73GHz.

The Freezer 7 Pro is rated at 130 watts dissipation and it lives up to that level of performance, topping out at 3.85GHz. This does not challenge our top coolers, which can dissipate more than 150W - or even 165W in the case of the Thermalright Ultra 120 eXtreme. Nonetheless, it is very competent performance for a cooler selling for less than $25. Many other coolers we have tested that sell for much more than these two coolers do not perform as well in overclocking.

Those who expected the Alpine 7 family or Freezer 7 Pro might give our top performing coolers a run for the top will likely be disappointed. However, they shouldn't be disappointed with either cooler's overclocking performance. It is very clear Arctic Cooling knows how to design and rate their coolers for performance. Both the Alpine 7 and the Freezer 7 Pro are fairly rated and outstanding performers in their respective price classes.

Performance Scaling

Performance scaling charts for the Arctic Cooling pair use a scale with zero on the bottom and 75C on the top. Keep in mind that the lower line is the best performance in this presentation of the data - lower temperatures represent better performance.

The Alpine 7 performance scaling at idle is impressive. It significantly outperforms the Intel retail cooler, which would be the closest competitor. Surprisingly it also outperforms most of the mid-range coolers we have tested to the point where it tops out at 3.78GHz. The Freezer 7 Pro is even better, with scaling close to the top guns to its max speed of 3.85GHz.

Comparing cooling efficiency of the Arctic Coolers under load conditions to the retail HSF and other recently retested CPU coolers doesn't change the picture much. Load testing can be very revealing of a cooler's efficiency. A basically flat line, particularly form 3.73GHz upward, indicates the cooler is still in its best cooling range. A rapidly rising line indicates a cooler is nearing the end of its ability to cool efficiently. Lines that parallel the best coolers over a range of values show the coolers provide similar cooling performance.

Under load test conditions, the limited performance of both these coolers is more noticeable. Top coolers we have tested exhibit a shallower slope, where the Alpine 7 and Freezer 7 Pro both have very steep curves in load performance scaling. Results at 2.93GHz and 3.33GHz are among the best test results so far, but the Alpine 7 drops rapidly into the entry/mid performance levels at 3.73GHz and its top of 3.78GHz. Keep in mind that this is a very low-priced cooler and you can get more excited about load scaling, because performance is still significantly better than the stock cooler.

The Freezer 7 Pro fares better under load, as might be expected of a small heatpipe tower. Load performance matches the top tier until around 3.5Ghz. Load scaling then drops into the mid-range area from 3.73GHz to the top for this cooler of 3.85GHz. This is still excellent performance for a cooler in this price range.

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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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