Arctic Liquid Freezer II Cooler Review: New Best CPU Thermals on AMD Ryzen

by birtanpublished on September 15, 2020

Today's review has been the most requested review from our commentators for about six months now and it's not even a piece of silicon the Arctic liquid freezer 2 series has gotten heavy community interest because of high reported performance in the

Enthusiast forum user base we wanted to look at it with our new tested methodology that we started developing back when this thing came out in the last half of 2019 to see how the liquid freezer performs against incumbents

Including the NZXT kraken X 62 the Noctua NHD 15 and a growing list of others the liquid freezer is the biggest marketing point currently wedged in between being a gimmick and being a useful feature is its included vrm fan

On the cold plate housing our review includes benchmarks of vrm thermal performance with and without this fan tested an a/b fashion and also tests surface level nnessee pukekura thermals on the 39 50 X and 30 100x at 120 watts

And at 200 watts and noise tests and time to max temperature we'll be looking at all that and more in today's review of the Arctic liquid freezer 2 before that this video is brought to you by Squarespace Squarespace is what we've

Been using for years to manage our own gamers Nexus store and we've been incredibly happy with the choice Squarespace makes ecommerce easy for those interested in starting stores but it also has powerful tools to build all

Types of websites photo galleries for photographers resume and portfolio sites and small business sites are all easily done through Squarespace having built a lot of client websites the old way before running GM full-time we can

Easily recommend Squarespace as a powerful fast solution go to squarespace.com slash gamers Nexus to get 10% off your first purchase with Squarespace as with most liquid coolers there's a

Lot of different radiator sizes for this but we have the 280 that we're reviewing today we've done dozens of liquid cooler reviews over the past three years or so and then we've just booted up our new test bench that includes air cooler

Reviews and critically our new test bench we started working on the methodology back when we knew this was coming out but wasn't yet out and because of that knowledge we were able to bacon the vrm thermal tests early so

We've been slowly collecting this information and we can finally look at whether this included 40-millimeter vrm fan on the top of the pump housing actually does anything or or if it's a complete

As opposed to being only partially a gimmick for reasons that we'll discuss later the pump is part of the block on this one it's actually you can see the round part back here is where the impeller is located we're going to do a

Separate teardown video of this cooler so if you want to see how its assembled and how it works check back for the teardown we're waiting for a couple more to come in that way we can tear one down that we didn't do a week of testing on

And other than that the vrm fan plugs in separately down here you cannot control it through bios but it's also fairly quiet so I mean you can't hear it over the rest of the system noise is really what the important thing is but that

Connects at the bottom you can disconnect it if you wanted to we did a B test where that was connected or disconnected other key features for this one primarily come down to just the fact that they've shoved the cables inside of

The cable or the tubes leaving which is something that fractal did a couple of years ago on it's subpar Celsius series and now we're seeing carried forward here with the arctic cooler no fancy RGB LEDs to speak of but that also benefits

The price the reason this one's so interesting to a lot of people is because reportedly and you'll see this today it's a very good performer but also it's $95 for the two 80ml version at that point you're competing with the

EVGA CLC 280 which was the previous best value to ADC I'll see you can get it was close to the 120 mark for a while anyway it might be like 112 now and something like an NZXT kraken series X 50 X 60 3 or X 62 you're spending 150 160 for

Basically a bunch of LEDs because otherwise the thermal performance 1 to 80 to the next especially if they're all ace attack it's not all that different so the Delta and price alone is massive and the next big question

Outside of throwing performance which we're going to look at today will be on endurance which we can't obviously test with in a review cycle so that's gonna be something we'll have to revisit if something goes wrong in the future we

Can speak to the modern ASA tech coolers as lasting generally a very long time so the NZXT units we've had probably about eight or so X 61 and X 62 s in deployment since they came out those have a warranty of six years and extreme

Permeation is expect to typically set in around the six year mark at which point you could maybe refill it if you had to but depending on the climate you're in and the use case and how intensive it is you might have

Extreme permeation at this point this one we don't know where that's going to hit but if it follows the design philosophy of most coolers then it should be around the same period but it's got a much shorter warrantee yet I

Think two years depending on the region you're in couple of things before we get into the thermal numbers first of all we revised that testing methodology we have a video and an article linked in the description below it's the same content

Pick whichever one you prefer and read up on that to understand how we do this test and we're not gonna recap it every time it takes too long secondly when we do noise normalize testing there was some misunderstanding about this and to

Just we've been trying to make sure it's really clear noise normalized testing is a term you'll hear a lot with us we've been using it for years now what that means is we set the product as it is to the same noise level as every other

Product so we set them all to some fixed the noise level that we've chosen at a 20 inch distance but we don't change the fans so normalizing for noise does not mean normalizing for fans we use the fans as they are mounted on the device

And we set the same noise level so want to make sure that's very clear let's get it straight into the thermal results and we'll start talking more about the build quality the user installation all that stuff towards the end our next chart

Will be the vrm fan performance but we'll start with the one that everyone is used to for this one we're using a 200 watt workload with the AMD r9 39 50 X which is more useful for stressing the differences in the high-end coolers this

Test is equalized it's a 35 DBA in order to level the playing field so that coolers can't just brute force their way to the top like the EVGA CLC 360 would do with its 60 DB a baseline for noise at 100% speed the

Liquid freezer 2 ends up as the top performer on the bench when noise normalized it's a 35 DBA across the board the Arctic liquid freezer results were benched six times each with and without the vrm fan and with two sets of

Remounts plus additional tests of three to six times each for the 3800 acts and for the 100% results later the deviation runs around across the board was under one degree so consistency was good the 52 degree load results has the liquid

Freezer to about two degrees cooler than the sixty-two at the same noise level it's out doing the X 72 and the CLC 360 which both struggle particularly at these lower noise levels because they have too

Many fans at too small of a size and so they lose pressure which they need to push air through the radiator effectively the nhd 15 is outdone by about 6 degrees celsius by the arctic liquid freezer 2 which is enough to

Allow some potential for additional overclocking Headroom at the ninety five dollar price the Arctic to 80 ml solution is kicking everyone's ass especially the NZXT crack in X 62 or X 63 basically the same thing which aren't

Anywhere close in pricing the X 63 is newer it's about ten dollars cheaper at $150 but that's still massively hiked over the Arctic solution and if you're going only for function and for cooling outside of reliability which is yet

Untested the Arctic is doing better the coarser a500 air cooler it gets buried even deeper than it was that launched the NHD 15 or the assassin three still have all of their same uses they always have mostly related to those discussed

In the air versus liquid content like reliability and overall simplicity other CLC's will mostly come down to LEDs or warranties the liquid freezer again isn't yet tried for reliability and that's a huge component of coolers that

We have no way of accelerating for a review so we'll just have to see how it does over time the next test will be for the vrm fan for this we're going to start with an overlay demonstrating the linear feet per minute flow often called

FP m or LP M as measured with a hot wire anemometer at the edge of the chassis for the cooler the measurement is taken at an angle toward the vrm heat sink and the chassis here is defined as the pump block housing typically so that'd be

Where the cold plate is we measured out a few points and under a few conditions for this image the vrm fan was enabled and the radiator fans were disabled as was room AC the FP m baseline was zero meaning that air was almost literally

Not moving in the room we like to simulate a tomb where we work north of the socket aligned with the top center of the cooler and the center of the fan opening in the housing the FP I measured between 190 and 212 four linear feet per

Minute flow if fluctuates as usual with fine air movement but that's about the range we got the northwest corner of the cooler measured at the top left screw of the mounts measured at about 197 F p.m. toward the

Vrm the upper left side measured at 4:22 F p.m. as we seemed to find the exact angle at which the air exits the chassis the fastest and hits the V R M and then the mid left side fell to about 96 F p.m. as we were approaching the edge of

The chassis opening and getting into the area where it would no longer cool the next measurement is at 100% fan speed with the radiator mounted approximately one centimeter away from the edge of the board this is a similar distance to what

You'd find in a lot of cases with fans blowing toward the motherboard in this instance in this configuration linear feet per minute flow is about 266 to 275 with the radiator fans blowing and the vrm fan off and measured on the other

Side of that solid vrm heatsink block F p.m. predictably drops down to 64 to 66 this is obviously still plenty high on the other side of the heatsink the side towards the fans it's actually above 400 F p.m. so it's not like all of the

Cooling for the V R M has vanished that said if you front mount your radiator having the vrm fan on the block could be somewhat beneficial in scenarios where an overly hot configuration is used where you have no fans at all in the top

Or the rear of the case then it would help but most people should have at least one in one of those positions before moving to the VR M thermal chart a few important points that we need to go over first

This is all relative so our measurement points aren't designed to test a motherboard but rather to test the cooling capabilities of the CPU cooler on top of it we're taking vrm measurements at points that will work

Best for testing cooler impact since we don't care about the comparative erm performance from one board to the next and we're not looking to see if the V RM is any good second we'll show the numbers with the radiator mounted on the

Side of the bench that's how we tested all the liquid cooler so far as it's more similar to a top mounted radiator in a case this means that there's always airflow over the vrm heatsink and all of the CLC tests whereas testing it on the

Table away from the vrm would paint a picture of Arctic CRM fan having a higher relative impact since you'd be taking away all other cooling otherwise we have those numbers too but let's focus on the 39:50 xoc numbers with the

Radiator fan 35 DBA once again and with the Arctic vrm fan at 100% the test is also tough to standardize since every motherboard will have different heat sinks and positioning so although you can mostly

Extrapolate out a hierarchy it's not perfectly comparable to every configuration and again please also remember that case configuration is the single most impacting so the vrm thermal performance outside of the actual vrm

Design and cooling solution what we're saying is that this test will create an objective hierarchy but that in all reality a couple degrees here and there in a controlled test for this won't really matter that much when considering

The VM is unlikely to melt itself in the majority of instances anyway here's the chart the Arctic liquid freezers vrm fan is both a gimmick and not a gimmick it's Schrodinger's vrm vent it's not a gimmick because it actually works the

Top result is with the vrm fan on measuring at thirty four point seven thirty eight point three and twenty eight point four degrees over ambient for our three measurement points remember these are averages of averages

So you're talking probably a couple thousand cells of data at that point the liquid freezer with the vrm fan off loses a few ranks consistent across all twelve the total test passes for this one chart and we have about twenty four

Test passes for the other three configurations we ran as well the results increases in temperature from twenty eight point four four vrm to two thirty two point six a change of about five degrees celsius and from thirty

Eight point three to about forty two point six on vrm one so yes it actually works and is therefore not a complete gimmick at the same time it's not really relevant it doesn't hurt to be cooler of course but this one feature shouldn't be

The tipping point between you buying the product and not if it's between this cooler and another cooler and you mostly have your heart set on the other one for visual compatibility or warranty reasons then don't let the vrm fan alone sway

The decision if your board is going to run so hot that you need an extra five degree reduction it's probably time to find another board or a case solution altogether that said this does reduce temperature and it does work and in

Cases that are really hot and closed off with something like a thirty nine fifty X or a higher power consumption chip with overclocking and with a VR M which is under cooled and overheated this would be a value-add we just don't think

That's a very likely or common scenario for people spending that kind of money on a 3950 axe and while it gets praised for doing a good job in chart-topping we don't think it should be the deciding factor in the purchase since again an

Extra couple degrees if it's already that hot you're in trouble anyway and it's time to find more than just that solution the next chart is quick this is our time to study state at a noise normalized 35 DBA or the time at which

We reach equilibrium on the thirty nine fifty acts liquid coolers take longer to reach equilibrium than air coolers as a result of their water capacity that soaks rapid heat change is better big air coolers have well marked advantages

Mostly the install and forget benefit but also reach steady state in a quicker time about 90 seconds for these ones with the thermal load that we're testing with liquid coolers afford longer periods of low thermals for bursty

Workloads and can be helpful if you're trying to help control or soak fan speed changes with any kind of fan curve that's discussed in the previous video but the Arctic cooler is the new item for this chart we found that liquid

Freezer to 280 mil CLC reaching steady-state and approximately 311 seconds or about 5.2 minutes that's a longer period than the kraken x 62 and the 260 second interval or 4.3 minutes which is one of our bench stoppers

Currently the x 72 and the CLC 360 do poorly here overall mostly because the noise requirement is low enough that while the fans are small and in this instance plentiful they struggle to reach that static pressure requirement

To compete with the 280 C LCS the CLC 360 takes the longest to reach steady state here and it's not just because it has more liquid in the tank it's because it's burning in this test it becomes a matter of the liquid temperature running

Higher on average than the kraken or the Arctic series by a couple degrees that's why there's an asterisk next to that one the data isn't directly comparable our next chart continues with the 39 50 X 200 watt load but allows all of the

Coolers to run at 100% fan speed during the test this doesn't really move the needle that much for Arctic which seems to top out and its efficiency at around 1200 rpm rather than the maximum is 1600 rpm the results were plus or minus one

Degree as usual but our average ended up at fifty point nine degrees over ambient that's not really much of a change and it not enough of a change to justify the extra noise from the fans so there's

Room to reduce the noise level if you buy this without much loss in overall performance at these 16 10 rpm the arctic cooler ran at 40 2.5 DBA at the normal 20 inch distance this puts it about equal in thermal performance to

The NZXT krakix 62 and X 72 which run at 51 or 53 DB a dependent or a perceived at noise increase to the human ear between the arctic cooler and the Kraken series of about 2x again that's perceived noise loudness to the human

Ear not acoustic power those are different scales either way Arctic solution is significantly quieter at the same performance the EVGA CLC 360 shows that we're not limited by our testbench there

Is room to improve still but it also shows that jet engine levels of noise are needed to drive the temperature down further on a large radiator a 360 in step moving briefly to the 3800 X we have to issue a reminder that this CPU

Is tested with completely different voltages and overclocked settings not to mention the fact that it's physically different and dies but also physically different as a CPU this would be the same if we test it with a different 3950

X2 the IHS is different the silicon adhesive different everything is different so these are not directly comparable to the 3950 X results it's just a lower power task to show you another look at things the 3800 X was

Intended to be our standardized platform before we got to these high-end coolers the charts level off a bit with the big air coolers here and the liquid coolers as discussed in two of the recent cooler videos we did the reason they level off

Just to quickly recap is because the heat load isn't enough and the gap between the coolers begins to shrink these a larger coolers do better at showing their differences once there's a higher heat load that can stress the

Smaller coolers beyond what they're really capable of this is why the Nhu 14s does so well relative to the larger air coolers in this specific test for the arctic freezer at 35 DBA we see a 51 degrees low temperature putting the

Cooler just below the crackin X 62 while remaining significantly cheaper idle temperatures also plot the lowest for Arctic not that this is particularly useful and that's partly because of the vrm fan slightly reducing the heat in

The area of the socket which does end up affecting the CPU temperature as well for tests which leave the frequency to auto but control the voltage we instead report on frequency rather than the thermal outcome know that the best

Frequency doesn't mean it's the coolest it becomes a touchy or subject since frequency jumps around to begin with and because a better cooler means precision boost to will kick in for a higher frequency automatically which creates

More heat so it's not as reliable or simple of a metric but as long as you've got the error baked and it's okay for Auto frequency and normalized to 35 DBA the liquid fries are to chart tops with the 3800 X at forty to fifty three point

Five megahertz all court average this is followed closely by the big air coolers that HD 15 the dark rock for the deep cool assassin three at all are all with in error and test variants as is the corsair 8500 gaining an extra fifty

Megahertz over a high-end cooler or high-end air cooler at least is about the difference that you can expect if you're not planning to overclock the X 60 to would be in here as well with the Arctic cooler it's not like that's going

To equate an FPS advantage that's noticeable to the human eye it will increase it a bit and it might help render times extremely marginally we're talking seconds on the hour maybe half a minute on the hour it's not worth

Stressing about but it's another small benefit of having a better cooler our next test is for the levelness of the cold plate surface measured with special precision instruments that we've used for testing with most recently the

Corsair a 500 to show its biggest pitfalls it helped illustrate where the a500 went wrong and in that instance it was the levelness of the cold lake causing large gaps that required more Tim to fill than was reasonable for $100

Product this shows the delta and height measured in microns from a calibrated zero point the a 500s box plot shows the largest range illustrating the chaotic levelness that hurts performance so much while the

Deep cool assassin 3 and original wraith coolers have some of the best service level 'no stick liquid freezer to average about 8 to 10 microns of depth from the known zero point with minimums and maximums at two microns and 48

Microns respectively the liquid freezer 2 has a couple deep points in the cold plate but is overall closer to smooth than unlevel our last point is on installation and mount hardware coolers typically differentiate

Themselves by falling into one of two categories for ease of installation you can either install it literally single-handedly like you can with asia tech coolers or you need three hands a forehead and some tape to install it

Liquid coolers typically fall onto the easier camp and that's often because the mass of the cooler against the socket isn't as stressful for the board so less meticulous fine-tuned mounting hardware is required than with a massive heavy

Cooler it's easier to see a couple of threaded screw caps onto a backplate to hold it all in place and then drop the cooler down and install some more cap screws the liquid freezer too is not one of those it's not the easiest Weaver

Twist it's not terrible but basically you'll want to install this flat on the table so if you can if you don't need to install the radiator into the case first ideally what you do is you see the m4 if you're doing AMD or Intel same thing but

You see the backplate under the motherboard put it flat on a table and then socket it because you only have four screws for this and we've got footage of struggling to install it on a test bench where the the motherboard is

Suspended and we don't want to lift it off for various reasons what you have to do in that instance where you've got either the motherboards already in a case or it's on a test bench whatever when it's suspended in some

Configuration you can't rest it flat you'll need one hand to hold the plate in place and then you'll need a hand to align the cooler housing and then you need a hand a third one we typically grow them out of our stomach for this

But you might not be able to do that in which case I don't know it sounds you might want to see someone about that that's kind of weird but anyway we use our third hand to install the screw and there's only four screws it's very

Simple they've cut down on mounting hardware as much as possible it cuts down on cost and in theory it's simpler so the only downside is that in the instance where the motherboards already installed then yes it becomes

Inconvenient but you could grab some tape hold it in place for a bit and then you'll be fine it's just it's annoying to do it's not a deal breaker in any way you install a cooler typically once maybe once every couple years and you'll

Never need to worry about it again so there's not a major point other than to say that we'd like to see Arctic consider moving to a system similar to AC tax or some of the other companies where it's a backplate and then

You have a basically a threaded rod that holds it in place and then you sock it the cooler on that and then you put a cap screw on top of it very easy not a big deal kind of a complaint that is going to be

More specific to us because we work on test benches where it's already mounted but it would apply to you too if you had it installed on a case so that's all there is for the installation no huge complaints other than the relative ease

Of it is not as high as we'd like for the fans small note you're gonna be working with these dinky cables that are maybe like two three inches or so so you'll probably want cable extension if you are planning to run to the

Motherboard which is what we do because we like to control things directly through different headers so that we can fine-tune it now if you're ok with it you can connect to this splitter but even this is kind of short and also

You lose some of the control the finer control that you get by going into the motherboard so may need some extension cables it's one of the complaint it's personally speaking I'm always a little split on the suggestion of saying a

Company should include extension cables in the box because if most people don't use them it's wasteful and that's bad and even if you don't care about the waste of it the e-waste of it you shouldn't care about the fact that your

Money's still going into it it's not like it's free but also if it's something most people are gonna buy then it does help to include it and it brings cost down because economies of scale so anyway that's about it for the cooler at

Ninety five dollars the two eighty version of this the one we reviewed today kicks the ass of the other liquid coolers we've tested so far the closest thing to this which is not on this bench but it's on our other one our Intel HD

TT bench would be the EVGA c LC 280 and they're both stripped down for leds youjizz got a bit more technically but who cares they're trying to dumb on that product anyway and they're somewhere in price but the liquid freezer 2 is just

It's a better product it's we were surprised we were surprised to see it do as well as it did not because it should do badly but because at the performance and the price you don't really expect it to

Outperform something like an X 62 in a way that is measurable and repeatable it's a valid result it's not like it's just error or like it's it's lost from runs run variation we ran this thing at least I think it was at least 12 times

For one configuration and I think we ran four configurations so it should be it should have been over for sure over 24 mounts and it might be more like 36 but anyway it was a lot of mounts and remounts for the different

Configurations and the result was reproducible every single time so a very good product price is good we can't speak to the endurance of it that's something we always have to caution with liquid coin products but to be very

Clear the failure rate of liquid coolers overall is extremely low it's just that the ones that fail our catastrophic can get a lot of coverage and you can learn all about that and our liquid vs. air content where we break it down and in a

Real fashion so the only thing you really have to consider is air instead of this because in terms of liquid if you don't care about the looks and you're okay with just blackout and you don't need a bunch of LEDs and an

Infinity mirror then this is the one we would buy for liquid at the price it wins and for air yeah the air coolers are close enough that you can still buy those obviously if you prefer the install and forget or if you're really

Paranoid about failure of a liquid cooler which to again caution people it's not that common but it's common enough that there's a reason to be of you have a critical system then you can consider air or for other reasons that

We've discussed in the air versus liquid video but that's it we'll talk about this more on the teardown and check back for that subscribe as always you can go to store documents access net or patreon.com slash gamers nexus to helps

Out directly with this type of in-depth testing it takes a lot of extra work to do this and if you support us on patreon you'll last also get access to some behind the scenes episodes where we show some of the procedures that are involved

In getting the accuracy of this testing so thanks for watching we'll see you all next time

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