The Bottom Line
Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
In all the time we have been at TweakTown, there has been maybe a half dozen air coolers for CPUs that have been sent over in the past, but as long as we have been in the PC hobby, ARCTIC has been a huge player in aftermarket cooling. In the early days, they were better known for impressive GPU coolers, but the majority of the time, ARCTIC also made quite a few successful CPU coolers as well. While they may have been eclipsed by the bigger players with bigger budgets, even if you were looking for something as simple as thermal paste of stick on heat sinks, it is highly likely you were acquainted with ARCTIC somewhere in your PC history.
The reason we are here now is due to one of their later CPU air coolers that hit the market some time ago now. Based on a single tower design, ARCTIC opts for dual fans to cool it, but there are also updated features that earlier coolers lacked, and a bit of marketing to mix in there as well.
Where many dual fan single-tower designs have been hugely successful in the past, where coolers like the NiC C5 come to mind, ARCTIC decided to brand its cooler for the eSports Community. Other than a splash of color added into the aesthetic department we see very little that would make this cooler any more ready for eSports than any other design on the market. However, we will jump through all of the hoops first and see if there is something we missed before we go on any tangents.
As we bring you the ARCTIC Freezer 33 eSports Edition CPU cooler, we think back to the original Freezer coolers, and we can see how much efforts ARCTIC has put in to this cooler since those days. The cooler you are about to see does have a better presence than the earlier models did, the looks have certainly improved in both the design of the tower, and the pop of color offered from the fans. At first glance, the Freezer 33 eSports Edition cooler is something you would love to have mounted to any system with a red, yellow, green, or white theme, but we would urge you to continue reading to grasp the entire situation before you open your wallet.
While there are three versions of the Freezer 33, we are covering the eSports Edition, not the vanilla Freezer 33 or the other single fan cooled Freezer 33 ONE. With both fans attached to the single tower, it stands 150mm tall, it is 123mm wide, and is 103mm deep from intake to exhaust, weighing in at 805 grams. The base plate of the cooler is made of aluminum, which holds the four 6mm diameter copper heat pipes next to each other across the base, before both are milled to offer a direct touch base on the Freezer 33.
The pipes are then sent through a stack of forty-nine aluminum fins, which have the side bent, touching the next fin, enclosing them for better airflow through the tower. There are color choices for this cooler, but the tower is black. Compatibility is limited to just the newest sockets, and even though we have issue with a 320W TDP rating for this cooler, ARCTIC is making this claim. What we do like, though, is that the cooler is backed by a ten-year warranty, and that is something we do not see much at all.
A pair of BioniX F120 fans are what is cooling the tower, and each has plastic rings inserted into the frame, and is how they can offer four color choices, but you need to be sure to buy the appropriate model, as not all of them come in one box. The cooler specifications do not show anything worthwhile about the fans, so with a bit of digging, we were able to see that the BioniX F120 fans are said to have 67.56 CFM per fan and 2/75 mmH2O.
These fans will spin in a range of 200 to 1800 RPM on a fluid dynamic bearing, using a 3-phase motor. The reason we mention the three-phase motor, is that it can and will throw off the RPM readings in software. We can only assume that if a four-phase motor doubles the RPM, then the three-phase use will adjust RPM by a factor of 1.5 times over the actual speed.
Looking at ARCTIC, we were seeing the $49.99 MSRP of the Freezer 33 eSports Editions, no matter which color you wanted, and we felt that with what we know from testing, it may have been a bit steep. However, as time has gone by, we see two things. Pricing has dropped on some coolers since the release, and the other is that color makes a huge difference in cost. Amazon does have stock of the plain Freezer 33 version or the ONE, but not a single listing for the eSports Edition.
We then moved over to Newegg, where we saw listings for what we are testing. The cooler we have in hand, the red variant, it is not listed at all, but we did find the yellow and green versions. The yellow option will cost you only $47.99, but astonishingly, if you would rather have the green one, be prepared to shell out $73.99 for it. For the purposes of this review, we will have to use the MSRP as our guide as we continue on with the review of this red ARCTIC Freezer 33 eSports Edition CPU cooler.
Using red, black, and white, ARCTIC makes the packaging stand out if seen on the shelf. The company name and logo are in the top-right corner followed by a look at the cooler inside of the box. There is a notation to the ten-year warranty along with a QR code to take you to the product page, to learn more about the Freezer 33 eSports Edition CPU cooler.
In seven languages, ARCTIC lists features of the cooler. Things such as the best airflow to noise ratio, use of 3-phase motors, range of speed, use of PST, longer life, use of a special thermal coating, offset pipes, anti-vibration measures, better mounting hardware, and inclusion of MX-4 all make the list. The bottom-right corner also shows a QR code to obtain the manual online.
On the back of the box, most of the space is taken up with four images. One explains the bearing and how it is built and works, there is another covering the 3-phase motor, another point to the universal compatibility for mounting, and the last shows off the included fans. Across the bottom are thermal results comparing it to the Freezer 33 Plus and the stock AM4 cooler.
The last panel is used to display not the cooler is to be used in an exploded diagram, while it points to all of the features. The lower section is used for a condensed list of specifications and a list of contents you will find inside.
With the Freezer 33 eSports Edition CPU cooler, the outer packaging is a major component in what keeps the cooler safe in transit. Inside of the box, you will find the fan leads in the lower cardboard tray that rides between the fins and the base, while the hardware box rides above the cooler. However limited the inner packaging is, fresh out of the box, our sample is in perfect shape with no signs of damage.
ARCTIC Freezer 33 eSports Edition CPU Cooler
Staring at the intake of the Freezer 33 eSports Edition shows that the fan covers the majority of the fin stack, and the fan clips are above and below the cooler, not out to the sides where it could short to something close. The pops of bright red in the ring around the blades as well as the tabs on the corners does add a lot to what could have been very plain looking.
The sides of the tower are nearly fully enclosed, but there is a thin gap near the leading edge, and we like that the black carries down the pipes and even onto the base. If you look closely, you will also notice that the fans are spaced differently, with thicker spacers on the rear fan than on the front fan. The offsets along with the closed sides should help with the efficiency of this cooler compared to open style coolers in our charts.
The back of the cooler is nearly identical to the front view, but this time the fan is showing the frame and the BioniX F120 name on the hub. Dropping to the bottom of the cooler, we see that the pipes are bent differently, so that they can be offset inside of the tower for better heat transfer.
Again, things look very similar from this side to the other side, so we want to bring up the fan clips again. The clips go into holes at the top and bottom of the cooler, but the front fan clips are different from the rear clips. Since the fans use different spacing, the fan clips will not work if the fans are accidentally reversed during installation.
From the top, the cooler keeps that same red on black theme going on, Between the fan sandwich is the tower, which we can see has flat edged fins at the front and the back, but we do like the vent louvers near the back to help direct airflow, and we appreciate that not a single pipe lines up behind another.
Usually, we just mention that the fans have a 4-pin PWM connection to power them, but in this instance, there is an added bonus. Rather than giving out a Y-Splitter cable, both fans have a male 4-pin PWM fan tail connected, so that either fan can power the other, or even possibly addition chassis fans.
Moving in much closer to the bottom of the cooler, we can see the angles and bends needed of the heat pipes as they leave the aluminum base, to make it into the fins, offset as they are two images ago. The same "special coating" used on the fins is also what covers the pipes as well as the chunk of aluminum used to mount the cooler with additional hardware attached.
We do prefer the pipes to touch rather than having a strip of aluminum between each one, as it allows for more of the pipes to contact the CPU. Once the pipes are set into the base of the cooler, both are machined in an arching pattern, which leaves a very uneven surface.
Accessories and Documentation
If you want to install this cooler on an LGA115X motherboard, you will want to use the plastic backplate provided for you. AMD and Intel installation both require the top brackets on either side, with multiple holes at the ends to accommodate both makers.
The rest of the hardware you are given comes in small plastic bags which are all individually labeled. There is a bag for screws that go into LGA2100 and 2066 socket mounting mechanisms, a packet of MX-4 and the screws to mount the top brackets, AM4 screws used with the factory backplate, and a set to use with the provided backplate for LGA115X.
The box does not include any sort of paper manual to install the cooler. You will either need a QR code app for your phone to go directly to the manual, or if you have another PC around, you can also obtain it from the link provided. We went online to have a look, and all of the instructions are straight forward with good images to go along with it. That combined with the simple nature of the hardware allowed us to install the cooler in just a couple of minutes.
Installation and Finished Product
As the instructions show us to, we first installed the brackets to both sides of the base on the cooler. Each bracket requires a single screw to secure it, but be mindful to ensure the bends near the end of the brackets goes away from the cooler so that the mounting holes align properly.
The next thing to do would be to install the backplate. It is designed to go only one way, with the ARCTIC name at the top, and the hole at the bottom for the socket screw. The threaded inserts are long enough, that when pressed onto the motherboard, they should protrude through the other side by a millimeter or two.
After applying the paste to the CPU HIS, set the cooler in place, and drop the screws through the top bracket, and secure them to the backplate. As with any cooler, apply pressure evenly as you set the screws, and when they run out of threads, mounting of the cooler is complete. Reinstall the fans on the appropriate sides of the cooler, plug them in, and you are good to go.
If we were to go back to air cooling on our daily drive, we would prefer a single-tower design such as this. It is designed not to encroach on anything surrounding the CPU, and while you do have to consider overall height, 150mm of cooler will fit in many cases out there.
It doesn't matter if you need to populate the closest slot to the CPU or all of them. ARCTIC made sure that not only the tower of the cooler cleared the memory, but even with the fan and spacers used to help with airflow, the fan slid in behind them without any fuss.
Even though ARCTIC opted to use a pair of fans on the Freezer 33 eSports Edition cooler, it has no bearing on access to important things that need done after the cooler is installed. There is clear access for the 8-pin CPU connection, and even room to connect the fan if you forgot to do it ahead of putting the motherboard into the case.
The Freezer 33 eSports Edition is a spectacular edition to the test bench setup. Just the right amount of red to carry the theme from the chassis, motherboard, and RAM across more of the build. While we do still have the results to go over, based on looks alone, the Freezer 33 eSports Edition CPU cooler could be the perfect aesthetic addition to any white, yellow, green, or red themed system.
Test System Setup, Thermal Tests, and Noise Results
Chad's CPU Cooler Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Maximus VIII HERO (Intel Z170) - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- CPU: Intel Core i7 6700K - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Memory: Patriot Viper 4 3000MHz 4X4GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Graphics Card: MSI GeForce GTX 1060 6GB OC - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Storage: Corsair Neutron XTi 480GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Case: INWIN D-Frame - Read our review
- Power Supply: Thermaltake Toughpower DPS 1050W - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64-bit - Buy from Amazon
- Software: RealTemp 3.70, AIDA64 Engineer 5.75.3900, and CPU-z 1.77.0 x64
To see our testing methodology and to find out what goes into making our charts, please refer to our CPU Cooler Testing and Methodology article (October 2016) for more information.
Roughly nine degrees from the top of the chart does not bode so well for ARCTIC at this point. While far away from the throttle point, we know of seven or eight coolers in the chart that do better with similar cost involved. So, even though 59.75-degrees is not that bad in the large picture, you can have better efficiency with many other choices.
With the stock results what they were, we did not have high hopes for its ability to cool the CPU with the overclock applied, and it seems we were not wrong. 77.25-degrees is lackluster performance in our opinion, as again, it is still handily beat by roughly seven degrees by the Scythe Mugen 5.
Allowing the fans to climb way up into the obnoxious amount of noise level, it did not seem to pay off big enough for the effort. While this does show that ARCTIC set the PWM fan curve well, it also shows that the best results we could get were still way behind the comparable coolers in the chart.
Noise Level Results
The noise level isn't exactly silent when PWM is in control with the processor running at default clocks. We can see that the 32 dB rating on the chart is towards the bottom, so if limited noise is a priority when selecting a cooler, this may not be what you are looking for. Doing the math, as our software read 1700 RPM at this time, we calculated actual speed was around 1300 RPM.
We again did some math to sort out that while the fans are shown to be turning at 2100 RPM, the reality is closer to 1400. Listening for the max output of the fans at this time, we registered 37 dB on the meter. This is not horrible for a result, but again, many coolers can do more with less.
If you are into drowning out the rest of the members in the place where you live, you may want to allow the fans to run at full speed. Reading 2700 RPM with software, the match says they topped out at the 1800 RPM max of the specifications. For the typical user, however, we feel that there is no need for this sort of noise, especially when it doesn't bring the Freezer 33 up to the performance of other, much quieter options.
The Freezer 33 eSports Edition is a far cry from the Freezer series we remember from years ago. ARCTIC has looked at the idea from many angles, and there are a lot of things to appreciate with this design. The cooler looks amazing, and with the red and black theme our test system uses, it fits right in. We like the use of dual fans on a single tower as in most instances, the performance of such designs can compete with the larger tower designs that eat up much more room.
Clearance around the CPU is also a huge factor when looking into a new cooler, and the one we just tested clears everything you may need to access after it is installed. We even like that the fans have spacers on them to ensure the fans have the best chance at cooling the forty-nine fins and the offset heat pipe orientation. On paper, this Freezer 33 eSports Edition, in whichever color you like best, seems like it would handle anything you could throw at it.
On the other side of the coin, there are things that just don't wet well with us. First is the eSports moniker in the name, and aside from color matching a gaming system, the only hint to why it is "eSports" is due to the mounting hardware making it possible to move the PC, without worry of releasing push-pin locks from past designs. Performance is not horrible, but sitting here doing the math, at best, this CPU will pull 150W, and the cooler is said to have a 320W TDP.
If we are much closer to the throttle point at 150W, how is this going to handle a CPU with twice the power draw? Not very well in our minds. Then there is the noise levels to consider, and for the last couple to a few years, the move has been to silence, and with such low thermal efficiency with so much noise, customers will likely pass on this solution. Comparative cost is also another concern, and looking at the charts, we can easily hand you a list of half a dozen coolers that will do better, using a similar amount of room, within $10 of this coolers cost, if you can even find it.
We typically end things with the cost evaluation, but we need to clear the air here before we go too far. We only located the green and yellow models for sale, and at Newegg, they are all with ARCTIC listed as the seller. However, we find the same cooler in two listings, with drastically different prices, and it makes no sense to us. If you are willing to spend $40 to $70 for performance lower than other "not so flashy" options, then so be it.
In the real-world, even at $49.99 straight across the board for all models, we still cannot in good conscience tell you to run out and buy this cooler. It will keep your CPU cool enough not to throttle, and that is the main point with a CPU cooler, but why not buy smart, and get better performance and lower noise for the same or similar amount. Sadly, as good as it looks, the Freezer 33 eSports Edition cooler has been a bit of a letdown for us.
An amazing looking product, the Freezer 33 eSports Edition is dressed to impress. However, that is as far as it goes with a lack of consideration to noise and performance per dollar, and is what keeps this ARCTIC cooler from getting our recommendation.
What's in Chad's PC?
- CPU: Intel Core i7 13700K
- MOTHERBOARD: ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero Eva
- RAM: TEAM DDR5-7200 32GB
- GPU: ASUS GeForce RTX 3090 Eva
- SSD: addlink m.2 2TB
- OS: Windows 11 Pro
- COOLER: Fractal Lumen S36
- PSU: be quiet! Dark Power Pro 1500W
- KEYBOARD: ASUS ROG Strix Scope TKL Electro Punk
- MOUSE: ASUS ROG Strix Impact Electro Punk
- MONITOR: ASUS ROG Swift OLED PG42UQ