Posted by Rob Jiang on Aug 25, 2011

Review – Thermaltake Frio CPU Cooler

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Product Information

MSRP: $64.99
Heatsink Dimension: 139(L) x 98(W) x 165(H) mm Heatsink Material: Aluminum Fins,  Aluminum & Copper Base
Fan Dimension: 120(L) x 120(H) x 25(W) mm Fan Speed: 1,200 ~ 2,500 RPM
Noise Level: 20 ~ 43 dBA  Max. Air Flow: 101.6 CFM

Want to be the laughing stock at the next LAN party? Simple, all you have to do is keep your stock CPU cooler. Since the birth of DIY computing’s popularity, the CPU cooler revolution followed shortly after. Originally stock coolers were the only option available, but in this modern era where there are literally thousands of coolers to choose from, selecting your perfect cooler is a pretty significant decision in the grand scheme of the computer building process. Today, GamerFront is here to review the Thermaltake Frio CPU Cooler.

First Impressions

After opening the packing for the CPU cooler, the box itself contained the cooler comprised of both the radiator and a removable fan unit, equipment and accessories to install the cooler, and lastly thermal compound branded by Thermaltake. The contents are pretty standard for PC coolers; however, the inclusion of the thermal paste provided a very handy convenience. For me personally, I actually ran out of my own thermal paste when installing the cooler, so I was very happy that Thermaltake included it for no additional cost. Of course, this is a characteristic of Thermaltake products in general. Just from a quick glance at the number of screws and such that was provided, I could tell that this would not be an easy cooler installation.

The Frio one of the largest air cooler I have ever seen. Compared to the Big Typhoon or the Venus12, the Frio takes up quite a bit of more volume. The trademark red coloring along with the transparent blue fans make for a very attractive unit, though finding parts to match these colors may have a few obstacles.

Installing the Cooler

I will preface this section with the notion that aftermarket CPU cooling devices are not a walk in the park to install. I have installed self-contained liquid coolers, liquid coolers, and countless aftermarket air coolers. The general consensus says that they probably require, single-handedly, the most time in the process of building a computer. The main reason is that these units, unlike stock coolers, are created so that they can be pretty universal for all processors in its respective era, thus many of the parts are not specifically tailored. For example, the Frio itself works for three different sockets. In my case, I installed the unit on a Core i7 socket 1156.

Installing the cooler requires a bit of pre-planning. From experience, I have learned to install the cooler before actually setting down the motherboard in the case. The Frio is a one of those incidences where you actually need to mount a bracket behind the motherboard in order for the pins to latch on properly from the top. One of the most dangerous things you can do to your PC is to improperly mount the cooler. As a forewarning for your next project, be sure to read the instruction thoroughly. The Frio’s instructions require a bit of deciphering in what order the screws and bolts go, which actually matter a great deal.

After mounting the back brackets, the cooler was ready to be installed from the top. The mounting of the bracket became a much longer project than I had imagined. The install is very easily done with the help of someone else; however, it can be very hard to do by yourself alone. The rest of the project was pretty straight forward.

The thermal paste that came with the Frio did not seem like a very high quality paste. Granted, the paste was free and an added bonus; however, I would love to see them partner up with Artic Silver or some other paste company to make something a bit more well designed. The consistency was thick and the compound was very sticky. Spreading the paste all over the CPU chip was nearly impossible as the stickiness would just get the compound stuck on whatever you were using to spread it, in my case I was using the tip of the paste syringe. I eventually just resorted to putting a decent sized blob in the center of the chip. Clearly, the compound was not of the same quality as something you could buy from a paste-specific company.

There was a brief moment of panic after mounting the motherboard. Looking straight down at the cooler, in the very corner sat my motherboard’s 8 pin connector. Just imagining needing to remove the cooler just to connect that pin started to make my head hurt; however, luckily for me, I remembered that the fan unit was easily removable. After a matter of just pulling the latches and lifting the fans from the metal radiator, I was able to easily attach the motherboard pin from the power supply.

CPU Temperatures

Just briefly, the CPU temperatures that I gathered for comparison were compared with an H70 liquid cooler from Corsair, the Intel stock cooler for the Core i7, and the Frio itself. The Frio posted respectable results with a 26°C idle temperature and a 48°C load temperature. Compare that to the stock Intel cooler’s 41°C idle temperature and 74°C load temperature. Unfortunately, the H70 blew both of the two coolers out of the water with a 22°C idle temperature and a 38°C load temperature.

The tested used a Core i7 2600K Sandy Bridge, GTX580 Graphics Card, 8GB of Corsair Dominator Memory, a Kingston 128 GB SSD, and all of these parts enclosed in an Antec Lanboy Air.


With price considered, the Frio represents one of the best coolers you can buy for the price. There are better coolers in the market, but those would cost much more in comparison. I was particularly happy with Thermaltake’s characteristic “thinking ahead” mentality for all of their products. They not only provided thermal paste, but made the fan unit on the cooler very conveniently removable. At the end of the day, functionality and cooling is what matters, and the Frio does a great job at its main occupation. The Frio will provide a huge increase in performance compared to a stock cooler. Overall the Frio is a great purchase for your new PC.

The Good

  • Provides thermal paste
  • Easily manageable
  • Powerful cooling
  • Relatively inexpensive

The Bad

  • Takes some time to install (just as any other cooler)
  • Instructions can be difficult to understand
  • Provided thermal paste was not very good

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