CoolIT Freezone CPU Cooler review
Considering how expensive PC components can be and their general distaste for drowning, it isn’t hard to see why watercooling is still a niche practice. But US manufacturer CoolIT Systems has followed up on such products as its USB Beverage Chiller with the Freezone CPU Cooler. Coming fully assembled and fully sealed, it goes some way to eliminate the major fear of having liquids inside your PC. In fact, so powerful is the technology on hand to do the actual cooling, the liquid in question is primarily anti-freeze.
Unlike most similar products, the Freezone doesn’t use a radiator. Instead, it uses its proprietary Chiller module. In short, heat is drawn away from the CPU by the solid copper Fluid Heat Exchanger (FHE) and dissipated into the coolant to head back into the Chiller module. Here, a current is sent through six thermoelectric coolers (TECs, or peltiers), which draw the heat out of the back of the unit via the exhaust fan, refrigerating the coolant in the process.
You’ll need the motherboard out of the case to install the CPU block itself. Attaching the FHE to the CPU depends on your motherboard type, and included in the box are different standoffs and retention frames: one set for Socket 939 AMD systems, and others for Intel Sockets 478 and 775. Other blocks are also apparently planned, although it’s worth noting that there’s currently no option to add GPU or chipset cooling modules to the kit.
We found it best to initially hold the pieces where they will finally rest, preventing the pipes from becoming twisted. Once you’ve moved the cooling unit aside, the pipes will constantly try to pull the FHE out of place, so you’ll need to keep one hand on it at all times. With the other, you’ll need to position the appropriate retention bars in the grooves and screw them into the standoffs, alternating them so as to keep the pressure even as you tighten.
The Chiller module then flips over into the rear of the case, and the pump is connected to the motherboard’s CPU fan header. It’s worth checking that your fan grille won’t prevent a screwdriver from reaching inside to the new holes – ours did, leaving us to install the plate directly onto the Chiller module first, before embarking on the case installation proper. We removed the rear exhaust fan and, as our chassis had holes only for a 120mm fan, we used the provided 92mm adaptor plate.
It’s all controlled by the Thermal Control Module: a small additional circuit board with an adhesive backing so you can mount it somewhere convenient. Its main feature is an adjustable potentiometer with which, using the tool provided, you can fully adjust the function of the Freezone.
To test it, we used SpeedFan (www.almico.com) for taking temperature readings, although as thermal diodes aren’t strictly accurate when it comes to a true temperature, we paid more attention to the temperature difference, rather than the actual numbers themselves. We took measurements while idle, and also after a period of torture testing with Prime95 (www.mersenne.org, which pushes the CPU to full load.
Using the default balanced mode, the Freezone doesn’t aggressively try to chill your CPU, merely doing enough to maintain a reasonable heat level compared to the ambient temperature. With our 3.2GHz Intel Pentium D 840, we saw no real difference in temperature between it and the stock cooler. However, the noise level was significantly lower, and even when we ran the torture test it happily rose to cope while remaining quieter than the stock cooler.