Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
Typically, when we see a new AIO pop up, we sit back and think of where that industry has gone over the past few years, and sit here disappointed in the performance in most offerings available to us. While many companies offer fancy bits and bobs to help to soften the blow of the cost involved, and the big boys in the game have gone to software to try to sweeten the deal. However, no matter how good they look, when you get handily beat by a $50 air cooler, we feel it might be time to rethink your approach to what is needed in this market.
Out of virtually nowhere, ARCTIC steps in with hands waving, saying hey gang, look at us, we have something cool you will appreciate! Pun intended! IF you recall, ARCTIC was part of this game, years ago, with a mainstream manufactured AIO, and while plain visually, ARCTIC sent all of these AIOs with fans on both sides of the radiator to help bolster performance.
With the new version of an AIO, from ARCTIC, much of the everyday aesthetics are gone from the head unit, replaced today with something much more aggressive and somewhat funny-looking, going with fans on one side of the radiator this time, as well as adding more delicate touches here and there to the rest of the assembly.
The reason we say it is somewhat funny looking comes down to one of those, once seen, can never be unseen, moments in life. When showing our own Shannon Robb the head unit, it came with an offhanded comment that it looked like a one-eyed Darth Vader. With a bit more conversation and photoshop skills, borrowing an image from forevergeek.com, Shannon came up with a picture of where the conversation ended, something to do with one-eyed minions, then back to Vader, and a compromise between them was made. We are not sorry in the least for showing you this!
With that out of the way, while we had our laugh, ARCTIC is dead serious about this release. The Liquid Freezer II series, of which we have the 280mm version of it, is one of two or three AIOs featuring VRM cooling in some form, and while we do not feel they are needed, we are always up to be proved wrong. To be honest, before any of the testing information is presented, we do think that many might pass this on by, based solely on appearance, but rest assured, once you have all of the facts in hand, you will undoubtedly be looking at ARCTIC in a new light!
Within the chart borrowed from ARCTIC, we find that they want to discuss the pump and cold plate components, or what we will commonly refer to as the head unit. The small, transparent yet blue-tinted, nine blades and hub fan is only there to cool the VRM of the motherboard. This 40mm VRM fan is PWM controlled with its rated speed to be somewhere in the range of 1000 to 3000 RPM. However, it does not show up in any software for confirmation. The pump inside of the head unit is also PWM controlled, and the 800 to 2000 RPM range will show in monitoring software. Power consumption will be in the range of 1.0 W to 2.7 W, including all electrical bits, but varies based on motherboard control settings for the fan headers.
The Micro Skived Fin copper cold plate takes all of the heat from the CPU, and with the flow of the pump, it sends it to the radiator via 450mm of tube. The tube is 12.4mm outer diameter and 6mm diameter inside, as well as being sleeved in a gray braid with a white twist added. Dimensionally, the head unit, thinking of it installed on a motherboard, sits 98mm tall, 78mm wide, but stands just 53mm tall, not including the fittings.
The fans come next, where we are told that the pair of fans shipped with the Liquid Freezer II 280 are the ARCTIC P-14, 140mm fans. The speed of these fans range from 200 RPM at the lowest, and 1700 RPM at the fastest, yet are designed to use PWM for control of speed. At top speed, the fans will deliver 72.8 CFM of airflow and 2.4 mmH2O, each! Of course, they are 12V fans, and we see that they spin on a fluid dynamic bearing, but that 0.3 Sone noise level needs converting, which is roughly 23.5 dB(A). Since they are PWM fans, the 4-pin connector is obvious, but we also see that the fans are shown to be 27mm thick.
In a section marked general, we finally see the compatibility, four socket types for Intel, but only AM4 for AMD. There is a packet of included thermal paste, MX-4, with slightly less than a gram supplied. All told, the entire AIO weighs in at 1572 grams, and the last two things we read are about the radiator. The first part tells us the aluminum makeup of it, and the second thing is that the radiator is 317mm long, 138mm wide, but is 38mm thick!
To make things even more attractive, ARCTIC is not looking to price their units anywhere near what Corsair and NZXT get for their latest 280mm AIOs; in fact, they are reasonably priced, in our opinion. You can get a 120mm version for just $69.99, the 240mm version for $84.99, the 360mm version for $118.99, and the one we have is still less than $100. As we look now, at Amazon for the pricing with ARCTIC listed as the seller, we see a $94.99 price point for the Liquid Freezer II 280 from ARCTIC!