When I first received the i30 for review my first thought was that surely Arctic haven't tried to jazz up a product of theirs by adding an "i" to the name? In fact in a bit of a poke in the eye for the late Mr Jobs the "i" here actually informs us that this version of the cooler is the one compatible with Intel coolers. An A30 model is also available with exactly the same specs for AMD CPUs.
Arctic have typically focussed their attention on the budget end of the cooler market. But that's not to say they don't make good coolers. I can't think of anyone who can deny that the almost iconic Freezer 7 was a cooler that punched well above it's weight. In it's time offering pretty much the performance per pound that could be found.
With the Freezer i30 Arctic are upping their came and offering something a bit more stylish. With the blended fairing and the monochromatic colour scheme Arctic are looking to field a cooler that offers great cooling as well as great looks.
|Max. Cooling Capacity||320 Watts|
|Heatpipe||Direct-Touch Ø 8 mm x 4 (double-sided)|
|Heatsink Material||Aluminum fins x 48, thickness: 0.5 mm|
|Fan (mm)||ARCTIC F12 PWM:|
120 mm, 400 – 1,350 RPM (PWM controlled)
|Airflow||74 CFM / 125.7 m³/h|
|Bearing||Fluid Dynamic Bearing|
|Noise Level||0.3 Sone (@1,350 RPM)|
|Current, Voltage||0.22A / 3.5 - 12V|
|Dimensions (Product)||100 (L) x 139 (W) x 161 (H) mm|
|Dimensions (Packaging)||123 (L) x 161 (W) x 187 (H) mm|
|Net Weight||0.9 kg|
|Limited Warranty||6 years|
|Gross Weight||1.4 kg|
|i7 Extreme||2011||i7-3980X, i7-3960X,|
|i7||1156||i7-880, i7-875K, i7-870S, i7-870, i7-860S, i7-860,|
|i7||1155||i7-2700K, i7-2600S, i7-2600K, i7-2600,|
|i5||1156||i5-760, i5-750S, i5-750, i5-680, i5-670, i5-661, i5-660, i5-655K, i5-650, i5-540, i5-530,|
|i5||1155||i5-2500T, i5-2500S, i5-2500K, i5-2500, i5-2405S, i5-2400S, i5-2400, i5-2390T, i5-2320, i5-2310, i5-2300,|
|i3||1156||i3-560, i3-550, i3-540, i3-530,|
|i3||1155||i3-3240T, i3-3240, i3-3225, i3-3220T, i3-3220, i3-2120, i3-2105, i3-2100T, i3-2100,|
|Pentium||1155||G860, G850, G840,|
|Celeron||1155||G540, G530, G440|
Up Close: Packaging and contents
The i30 comes in a predominantly white box (Arctic White I guess). As is usually the case the box gives details of specifications, compatibility and key features.
Inside we find the cooler is protected by two semi rigid formed clear plastic end caps. they're not actually attached onto the cooler and come away really easily so no risk of ripped fingers and blood spurts.
The cooler comes with the fan already pre attached but it's easily removed by unclipping the square cowling section and then undoing the 4 allen bolts holding the fan into the cowling. The fan has small rubber vibration dampening washers fixed to both sides of each screw hole to reduce vibration to the square cowling and to the body of the cooler.
Also included are some diagram rich instructions and all the fixing screws, thermal paste and brackets you'll need for your Intel installation.
Up Close: The cooler
The i30 is by no means massive, yet somehow it has an ability to feel much bigger than it is. Perhaps it's the square outer cowling that adds in that air of chunkiness. Maybe it's the other way round, I don't know, because at 161mm in height it is actually quite a decent size and just feels not quite as big as it is. I'll make my mind up in a minute, but it's fair enough to say there's something of an optical illusion about it's size I can't quite put my finger on. The white, 9 bladed fan mounted inside the angled lines of the black outer cowling give a monochromatic contemporary feel to the i30. The cowling should also serve to focus the airflow better and reduce the amount of "bleed" around the edges of the cooler. I guess testing will tell us if this is the case.
The 4x8mm heat pipes are arranged into slightly staggered lines essentially split into two sets in their respective sides of the body of 48x0.5mm Aluminium finned cooler stack.
Although the majority of the fins are quite sharp ( I cut my thumb knuckle while handling the cooler during photography), the sides of the fins are squared down giving a smooth look and feel to the sides. Again, this should prove to give a more focused airflow through the cooler.
The contact plate is of the direct contact type with all four copper pipes having a large surface area contact with the hot side of your CPU. Unusually for a cooler the i30 actually comes with the lock down plate part of the mounting mechanism already welded to the body of the cooler. Producing different coolers for both AMD and Intel enables this approach and should hopefully give a more stable and efficient mount onto the CPU.
With the integrated lock down bracket (see previous page) I was hopeful that fitting of the i30 would be a simple if not enjoyable affair. Unfortunately it turned out to be anything but. The iinstructions are clear enough, and although not actually complicated the installation is more than a bit fiddly. This "fiddlyness" is best exemplified by the need to secure 4 plastic spacers over the 4 motherboard holes for the mounting screws to pass through and engage with the back plate (again secured with a sticky pad). You're provided with 4 sticky paper washer type things and are then faced with the "game" of getting these stuck perfectly over the holes. failure to get it spot on first time means unsticking, re sighting and having another go. It took me a good 20 mins to accomplish this simple task and win the game. Also, for what is a relatively small cooler by modern standards it does cause RAM encroachment issues with the Mushkin set used in the test. Those familiar with the Muskins will know that they don't exactly have massive heat sinks on them, but even so the first slot was obscured.
As this cooler isn't compatible with our standard 1366 test rig we've moved it onto the MSI Z77A-GD55 coupled with an i5 2500K. As a result we will not be able to make direct comparisons with the other coolers previously tested here at OC3D towers. As usual though we put the chip and the cooler through their paces with a good old stress test and as per previous testing selected a range of overclocks and voltages. All tests were done with an ambient room temp of 17 degrees C
At stock settings of 3.3GHz with 1.3volts the i30 was keep the 2500K at a max average of 26.25 giving a Delta T of 26.25
Pushing things up a bit we rested for a while at an overclock of 4.3GHz, this time with 1.4volts to help keep things stable. At this level the i30 was able to keep things happy at with a max average temp of 56.75 and a delta T of 39.25
Finally we took the 2500K up to 4.6GHz and 1.45 volts. At this level the i30 kept the chip at a max average of 57.75 and a Delta T of 41.75
The i30 is well made and put together, and although not actually oozing quality certainly won't fall apart in a hurry. The use of a plastic cowling to house the 120mm fan lifts the appearance of the i30 over those coolers that simply have the fans attached directly to the front of the fin stack. it could also be argued that the cowling also acts as a duct, channeling air in a more focused way over the fins.
In use the i30 is relatively quiet, with the single 120mm fan hardly audible over the general hum of the room. Arctics decision to use a moulded plastic cowling to house the fan, although attractive, does lead to some potential RAM encroachment issues, and not only with RAM sporting tall heat sinks.
So it's not bad to look at and not too loud in use then. Shame it's such a pig to fit really. I'm not going to rant but suffice to say that there is considerable room for improvement here with fitting being unnecessarily fiddly.
When we look at performance the first thing to remember here is that the 2500K is a much cooler chip than the toasty old i7 950 used as our standard test chip. As such all the temps seen bear little comparison to those seen on the usual graphs. Also, without comparison temps it's hard to say exactly how well the i30 stacks up against the opposition. That said it was clearly able to keep things cool even at 4.6GHz. It's very likely that the i30 is able to keep things cool a little above this, but unfortunately that's where my 2500K became unstable.
In summary then. Decent looks and build, a pig to fit but performs where it counts. It does seem a little strange this cooler does not support the 1366 socket at all though, it even surprised us and we would not normally have agreed to review it where our normal testing platform is obviously a 1366 i7 950!
As we have no real basis for comparison, but based on experience and with a price of just £22.99 I think it's fair to award a provisional silver to the i30.
Thanks to Arctic for the i30 on test today, you can discuss your thoughts in the OC3D Forums.