Anyone who has gone looking for a CPU cooler knows there are a ton of choices on the market. In most instances, you the buyer, have some prerequisites to the purchase of any cooler. Things like noise level, appearance, and fit are top of the list in most instances. On the flip side of things, there are a bunch of guys who don't really care what it looks like, or if it will fit in a case, as likely they are using some sort of test bench. What matters most to these users is performance and if they can set new records with the use of a newly released air cooler.
I know there are plenty of users out there who outright doubt the name Thermaltake, and at first glance will render this cooler a farce based on the name of the manufacturer, and always refer to old issues that this company has long since dealt with. In recent months Thermaltake has dropped quite a few quality products on the market, and just to stay in air cooling terms, the Frio and Jing coolers did very well in both overclocking capabilities and low noise level cooling, respectively. For those naysayers and those who already know that Thermaltake has a good hold in the market with impressive offerings, may just have to pick up their chins from your desk after reading this review.
Today we are going to be looking at the Frio OCK. This isn't just a simple take off of the Frio that Thermaltake already presented to us, but rather a radical redesign with both a new tower design at its core, and a very cool shroud system for the fans. Taking its design cues from the game Star Craft II, this cooler is going to offer not only good to outstanding performance, but it also adds colors and designs not seen in air cooling towers to date. I say we dive right in and get a look at what the OverClock King can do and see if this King is worthy of the name and the throne.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The Frio OCK as I mentioned is said to have taken its styling of the shroud and fans from a video game. That isn't such a bad thing. While the translucent blue inner circle and the surrounding red plastic accents that are on the top of the cooler are what you will most likely be looking at, it took a bit of getting used to, but the design isn't so outlandish to me anymore. The top, sides, front and back of the cooler body is surrounded by a black plastic shroud that clips on to the cooler easily, and supports the pair of fans that accompany the Frio OCK. Internally, the body of the cooler reminds me a lot of the Prolimatech Megahalems design with the separated twin cooling towers. Six 6mm heat pipes get sandwiched between an aluminum plate and a nickel coated copper plate. From there the pipes travel up into one of the two towers containing aluminum fins each. Another thing to consider is that the Frio OCK is no lightweight weighing in at just less than 2.5 pounds (1093 g).
Cooling this pair of towers, Thermaltake pulled no punches. First off, they started with a 9 blade fan made from translucent blue plastic to match the top, but this is no ordinary fan. The fan has the voltage regulator attached that we are used to from Thermaltake, but this time both are wired together in the Frio OCK and use one VR to control the speed of both fans at once. This push/pull setup can run at speeds of 1200 - 2100 RPM, and pack a whopping 121 CFM per fan at full speed. The noise levels indicated, even on the "adjusted" scale, show that this cooler is going to be a loud one. All of this combined makes Thermaltake show off the rating that the Frio OCK will handle 240 Watts worth of heat.
In the last email I had with Thermaltake on this cooler, I was told the cooler has released already and should be filling shelves at your favorite shop. I wasn't however able to locate the cooler through Google or at Newegg.com just yet. In the same email I was able to pin down a price, and I was told that they are setting a MSRP of $74.99 US dollars. This definitely puts the Frio OCK up against all the top end coolers we have tested so far. The asking price is a bit pricey, so I have to assume that Thermaltake knows something about this cooler that I am going to test for myself and see if I can answer if the Frio OCK is in fact worthy of this sort of price point.
The Frio OCK comes in the typical black box we are used to. This time the front has been embellished with a shot of what appears to be the earth, but judging by the colors, it could be anywhere in space. Either way, it makes for a very attractive back drop for the image of the Frio OCK. Other points of interest are the 240W capacity, the pair of 130mm fans, six 6mm heat pipes, and the 4in1 mounting kit.
With a red strip topping this side, the lower field of black holds the three major features that are explained on the back in English. Since Thermaltake is a global company, and being such, they also cover the features in twelve other languages.
On the back there are detailed features that cover the design and build, the cooling, and the hardware included next to a rendering of the cooler in action with arrows denoting air flow. The bottom eight little windows show views of the cooler from different angles including mounted to a board, the base, the wiring, and again the hardware.
The last panel is all black, with a compatibility chart and a specifications chart presented in white. Thermaltake provides plenty of information around the outside for you to decide if the Frio OCK is for you.
As you open the box, you will immediately be greeted by all of the paperwork for instructions and warranty information. Just under the papers you will find the Accessory Package that contains all of your hardware nestled into the top of the foam that surrounds the cooler.
The cooler is secured pretty well, centered in the middle of this foam. When the cooler was shipped to me, essentially it was bubble wrap taped to the box. Coming as far as it did, the box took some damage that we saw in the previous images. At this point the cooler appears to be in good shape. As I get images I will point out anything I do find.
The Thermaltake Frio OCK CPU Cooler
Looking into the mouth of the beast, we see that the 130mm fan covers a vast majority of the aluminum fins. This nine blade fan spins counter clockwise and blows air into the body of the cooler. The fan is surrounded with a black plastic frame that slides over the cooler; more on that in a bit.
The side view shows that the cooler gets flanked on both sides by fans, and the center bit of the shroud is actually a tab to release the whole assembly from the body. Also something worth pointing out, both wires from the fins tie in together for this cooler; no need for two fan headers.
The exhausting side of the cooler also sports a blue fan of nine blades. You can tell by the pitch of the blades on this fan that is will be scooping air from the cooler and blowing it out this side.
I mentioned the cooler took cues from Star Craft Ii, and while I couldn't pin down an actual component of the game it mimics directly, I can see similarities in a few things from the game. The large blue center is mostly covering the top of the fins and allows just the very top of the pipes to show through. The red accents at the four corners offer a bright contrast to the blue and black shroud.
Laying the Frio OCK down to get a look at the business end, you can see six 6mm diameter copper heat pipes that have been nickel plated to fight oxidation. Same is to be said for the bottom half of the base, it is also copper plated with nickel. The top half of the base that sandwiches the pies is made from aluminum, and this is where the hardware is mounted.
The base is flat when a razor is held against it, there is a bit of deflection near the corners, but that isn't in contact with the processor. The copper is milled in a circular pattern and even after the plating is done, this pattern is still very visible.
The shorter side panels of the shroud can be gently pulled away from the cooler body and it allows the whole shroud, fans and all to be removed for cleaning, or easier access for mounting the Frio OCK.
With the shroud removed the pair of 45 fin towers is obvious. Also obvious is the damage the cooler sustained in shipping. Not only is the cooler bent a bit and leans left in this image, but it took a good enough jolt to actually send the whole right side fin arrangement down. I mentioned this to Thermaltake, but I have heard nothing about a replacement, so the testing goes on as is.
Looking at the body from the side, the mounting clips for the fan shroud is most noticeable. The fin edges are bent over and interlocked for additional support on the outside edge.
The clip uses a hole that accepts a pin from the shroud of the same shape. These clips are held into place simply by screwing it to the side between a couple of fins and a pair in through the top. Also note, the impact that bent the cooler also distorted the bent edges at the top. I really hope this shipping mishap doesn't hurt the performance of the cooler.
Looks very much like a Megahalems at this point, doesn't it? The main differences I see visually are that there is a rounded center where it is separated, and the replacement of the "Tranfomer-like" design for a Tt logo.
Accessories and Documentation
The Accessory box we saw earlier in this review is where all of the mounting hardware is located. This kit is handy to keep all of your parts in one place for resale or a swap from AMD to Intel; you always know where the extra parts are. Inside the lid there is a complete parts checklist. The universal back plate sits on top of a clear plastic top for the kit.
I left the lid on to show you that it not only is a place to lock in the back plate for shipping or storage, it acts to secure all the components in their own little cubby holes. The walls are made of high density foam that allows for easy extraction of the hardware, as well as a padded safe place to store the extras while in use.
The paper work is a three piece ensemble that consists of instruction for Intel, one for AMD, and the yellow warranty information. Both of the instruction sheets are well written and offer very good reference drawings to help explain what the test is trying to tell. There should be no reason to have any issues installing the cooler with these instructions, unless the cooler doesn't fit on the board, but that is a whole other topic.
Test System &Testing Results
Test System & Test Results
TweakTown uses a different method for testing CPU heatsinks which allows for an even playing field across all product tests. We feel that by using the same ambient temperature and strict lab-like testing procedures we are able to accurately compare one product to another. More information on our testing procedure can be found in the T.E.C.C. article here.
With a low starting voltage of 7 volts for this pair of fans it was no issue to get them running for the idle testing at 7.5 volts. At idle the Frio OCK receives a third place finish in efficiency at this level.
Once the fans were let loose at 12 volts, things changed dramatically. Not only am I testing a visually damaged cooler, but even with that said, the Frio OCK still took top honors in air cooling! In this testing it beat out the Megahalems that it mimics by over four degrees out of the box. While it didn't waste the competition at the top of the charts, I say for a "broken" cooler doing this well, I can only imagine one in pristine condition may perform even better than these results.
The whole reason that the Frio OCK can outperform most of the competition is due to the pair of fans that they strapped onto this beast. Even at idle testing I had a good inclination that this cooler should be able to handle the competition at load, but at what cost? I mean at 58 dB at idle there aren't too many coolers I have tested that are louder than this.
Here is what it takes for Thermaltake to smash the competition, that's right, 76 dB of noise pollution. For those who want to use this for everyday computing and gaming, this may be a big issue to overcome. For the avid overclocker out there in search or records, you are used to the sound of a Delta fan by now, so this level will come as no surprise.
So let's start with all the major points of the Frio OCK. It is a loud cooler by average standards with the fans running at full speed, but this noise level produced the best load level efficiency of any air cooler I have tested out of the box or modified for testing. The Frio OCK is very easy to use, install, and maintain with the removable shroud and easy to use hardware with great instructions for a guide. Simplified wiring and the handy tool kit are also appreciated in this packaging. On top of this you also receive a unique looking cooler that at this time can rightfully label itself as the King.
Even at the low end of the spectrum, the Frio OCK is a bit loud for my taste, but I have been spoiled by water cooling. With the fans below 9 volts, any GPU cooler today is going to be a bit louder than this while gaming. For those in the quest to use this product as it is designed, to take overclocking to a cooler level, Thermaltake fully delivers this with the OverClock King. My one and only gripe about the cooler is that it was shipped to me improperly, and as a result, the Frio OCK took on some damage that very well may have affected its performance in our testing. All the same, I brought it all to you so you at least could get a grasp of the potential of the Frio OCK. Sort of a shame, even though the cooler took a big hit in transit, it was still designed well enough to take on all comers, even in a weakened state. Lastly, don't let the weight of this cooler scare you, the mounting is more than secure enough not to cause any damage to the motherboard from use.
The pricing that Thermaltake has suggested, a $74.99 MSRP to be exact, is well worth every penny. While there are coolers in the same bracket that can do the job of cooling 200 watts of heat from a CPU with less noise, none of the coolers I have tested come out of the box and handle our test rig with such ease. The cooler isn't grossly oversized and should fit most motherboards. I was able to even mount it to the DFI m-ATX board I use in case reviews and space is very limited between the CPU phase cooling and the Northbridge cooling. If you are on the quest for the most from any CPU, and noise isn't an issue, keep your eyes peeled for the Thermaltake Frio OCK to hit the shelves in stores very soon.