Chilling the CPU – Artic Cooling Freezer64 Pro
This post has been overdue since Christmas of 2007. Since I have some free time I thought I would complete it. Last Christmas I ordered an Arctic Cooling Freezer64 Pro heatsink-fan (HSF) for my main PC. This replaced the original Masscool unit that I got with the OEM AMD Athlon64 3500+ CPU. My reason for upgrading to the Freezer64 Pro was due to inadequate cooling being provided by the Masscool unit. Additionally, the old HSF did not securely clamp onto the motherboard. Do you see that lever? Well, for the the life of me I could not get it to snap in securely and I was not about to force it and damage the CPU. My make-shift solution was to jam a metal plate between the fan frame and heatsink fins which kept the lever pushed down.
I was not comfortable with this make-shift setup from the day that I did it because the last thing I wanted was for the CPU to overheat and die. I knew that the temperature protection mechanism built into the motherboard would automatically take measures to prevent this, but I could not live with a potential hard shutdown during some CPU-intensive task. Anyway, ambient temperatures got very high in the summer which made it easier for the CPU to hit 40°C.
For this upgrade I had to completely remove the motherboard from the case. Talk about being on pins and needles! After initially installing the Freezer64 Pro my PC failed to boot up. Yikes! I thought I had shorted something! It turned out to be that the fan RPM setting threshold was higher than the Freezer64 Pro’s stock RPM setting, so I let the PC cool down for an hour then quickly booted into the system BIOS and lowered the threshold. It worked! Upon logging into Windows XP I launched the Asus PC Probe application and watched the temperatures. The CPU temperature had dropped by 5°C on idle, which was disappointing to say the least considering all the great reviews this HSF had gathered. However, I realized that, living in a hot tropical climate, air cooling was probably going to not be as effective as other solutions.
The silver lining came after long hours of gameplay and idle activity. Surprisingly, the Freezer64 Pro kept the CPU at a much lower temperature for these lengths of time compared to the old Masscool unit. Yay! It’s working! I am quite comfortable with how the Freezer64 Pro performs on my system. Its design allows for air to flow over the heatsink fins and exit into a nearby exhaust current generated by my rear case fans.
My next upgrade will probably be a new PSU since the current Antec Smart Power SL400 400W PSU is showing its age and unreliability. I’m looking into a PC Power & Cooling Silencer 610W PSU, which should do just fine and come in useful for future upgrades. I would really like to add a PCI exhaust cooling unit next to my ATI Radeon X800XL to pull some heat from this area. We’ll see…