German company Arctic has been a mainstay in the PC cooling space ever since its founding in 2001. Today the company is known for its Freezer Air & Liquid CPU Coolers, MX thermal pastes, fans, as well as custom Accelero GPU coolers.
It’s been a couple of years since Arctic impressed us with its budget-priced Freezer 34 Esports Duo air cooler. Unlike the entry-level Duo, Arctic’s Liquid Freezer II 360 AIO is the company’s top-performing and most expensive cooler, at $140 USD. Can it handle the heat of Intel’s Core i9-13900K and earn a spot on our best AIO Coolers list? We’ll put it through testing and find out. But first, here are the cooler’s specifications, direct from Arctic.
|Cooler||Arctic Liquid Freezer II 360 A-RGB|
|Radiator Dimensions||398(L) x 38(W) x 120(H) mm|
|Socket Compatibility||Intel 1700, 1200, 115X, 2011-3*, 2066* *Square ILM|
|AMD AM5, AM4, AM3(+)|
|Max TDP (Our Testing)||~290W|
Packing and Included Contents
Arctic’s Liquid Freezer II 360 comes in a fairly large box, with plastic and cardboard used for protection of the contents.
Included with the package are the following:
- 360mm Radiator
- CPU Block with VRM fan
- Three 120mm fans, pre-installed
- Mounts for all modern CPU sockets (including AM5 & LGA1700)
- A small tube of thermal paste
Installing the Liquid Freezer II 360 was fairly simple. To begin, you attach the studs to the CPU backplate and secure them using the O rings. After pressing the backplate to the motherboard, you need to screw in the standoffs. Next, apply the included thermal paste from the syringe to your CPU, then mount the CPU block and secure it with the included thumbscrews.
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Features of the Liquid Freezer II 360
(Optional) RGB Controller with software support
Arctic’s Liquid Freezer II A-RGB is available in two versions: one which comes with their ARGB controller (which raises the price by $10 USD), and one that does not. If software ARGB support is important to you, make sure to select the model which includes the ARGB Controller. The sample sent to us was of the latter, as such we didn’t test the software. If you’d like more information on the software used to control the ARGB Controller, please see the manual for the ARGB controller on Arctic’s website.
Unique CPU block with VRM fan and silent pump
Arctic’s Liquid Freezer II incorporates a small fan atop the CPU block, which helps dissipate heat and cool the VRMs surrounding the CPU. As the CPU block does not interfere with RAM slots, there is full RAM compatibility when using this cooler.
The majority of Liquid Coolers on the market today are based around Asetek designs, but the Liquid Freezer II features a pump which was designed in-house by Arctic, with the goal of quieter operation and higher efficiency. Like its fans, the water pump is PWM-controlled and will adjust its speeds. This decreases power consumption and leads to lower noise levels in lighter workloads.
Thick, Premium-class radiator
The radiator included with the Liquid Freezer II has high fin density and is extremely thick–1.5 inches or 38mm to be precise. This is good for cooling by allowing for a larger amount of liquid to be used in the circuit while also increasing the overall cooling surface area. But it also means you’ll need a case with more clearance, about 2.5 inches when you add the fans.
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Arctic P12 fans
There’s more to a cooler than just the heatsink and radiator. The bundled fans have a significant impact on both cooling and noise levels. Included with the Liquid Freezer II are three 120mm P Series fans, preinstalled to the radiator for convenience. These fans were designed with an emphasis of focused airflow and high static pressure, to ensure efficient cooling even with air resistance. And as we’ll soon see in testing, clearly that design works.
|Dimensions||120 x 120 x 15 mm|
|Fan Speed||200-1800 RPM|
|Air Flow||Up to 48.8 CFM|
|Air Pressure||1.85 mm H20|
|Bearing Type||Fluid Dynamic Bearing|
While it was fairly easy with previous generations of CPUs for coolers to keep the flagship i9 processor well under TJ max (the maximum temperature a CPU can sustain without throttling) in tough workloads, this is no longer realistically possible with the Core i9-13900K without extreme cooling (or enabling power limits). While in the past a CPU hitting its peak temperature was cause for concern, enthusiasts are going to have to learn to accept high temperatures as “normal” while running demanding workloads with Raptor Lake and Ryzen 7000 CPUs.
Modern AMD & Intel CPUs are designed to run fairly hot without any problems– up to 95 degrees Celsius for AMD Ryzen 7000 CPUs, and up to 100 degrees C for Intel’s Core i9-13900K. Similar behavior has been standard in laptops for years due to cooling limitations in cramped chassis.
Additionally, Intel’s i9-13900K specifically supports Adaptive Boost Technology (ABT), which allows the CPU to dynamically boost to higher all-core frequencies based on available thermal headroom and electrical conditions. This allows multi-core loads to operate at up to 5.5Ghz if the necessary amount of thermal dissipation is there. This feature works in a way that actively seeks high temperatures: If the chip sees that it is running underneath the 100-degree C threshold, it will increase its performance and power consumption until it reaches the safe 100C limit, thus sustaining higher clocks (and providing better performance) for longer periods.
The increased cooling challenges posed by Raptor Lake mean that we’ve had to change some of the ways we test coolers. Some coolers were able to pass Cinebench R23 multicore testing with Intel’s 12th Gen i9-12900K when power limits were removed (although only the strongest models were able to pass that test).
Since the Raptor Lake 13900K actively adjusts in a way that seeks its top safe temperature, we’ll compare performance instead by looking at total benchmark scores and clock speeds maintained.
I’ll be testing Intel’s i9-13900K CPU using Asus’ TUF Gaming Z690 Gaming Plus WIFI motherboard and Cooler Master’s HAF 700 Berserker computer case, with case fans limited to 35% speeds. The motherboard’s default fan curve is used for the CPU Cooler’s fans.
In addition to testing Cinebench without power limits enforced, we’ll also be showing results when the CPU’s power consumption is limited to a more reasonable 200W. We’ll also show results at 125W for those who prefer whisper-quiet cooling, at the cost of some performance. For both of these results, we’ll show traditional delta over ambient temperature results.
We’ll also provide noise level measurements recorded using a PSPL25 Sound Meter for all three power levels tested, to compare how much noise each cooler makes in different scenarios. We expect most coolers to run effectively silently at 125W. You’ll notice that our noise level graphs start at 36 dBA. That is the noise floor in our testing environment; anything lower can’t be measured over general background noise. Keep in mind that noise measurements are logarithmic, meaning the differences between the noise levels of the coolers will be more substantial to the human ear than these charts suggest.
LGA1700 Socket Bending
Please note there are many factors other than the CPU cooler that can influence your cooling performance, including the case you use and the fans installed in it. A system’s motherboard can also influence this, especially if the socket suffers from bending, which results in poor cooler contact with the CPU.
In order to prevent bending from impacting our cooling results, we’ve installed Thermalright’s LGA 1700 contact frame into our testing rig. If your motherboard is affected by bending, your thermal results will be worse than those shown below. Not all motherboards are affected equally by this issue. I tested Raptor Lake CPUs in two motherboards. And while one of them showed significant thermal improvements after installing Thermalright’s LGA1700 contact frame, the other motherboard showed no difference in temperatures whatsoever! Check out our review of this contact frame for more information.
|Comparison Air Coolers Tested||Cougar Forza 50|
|Iceberg Thermal IceSLEET G6 Stealth|
|SilverStone Hydrogon D120 ARGB|
|Thermalright Assassin X 120 R SE|
|Comparison AIO Coolers Tested||DeepCool LT720|
|Enermax AquaFusion ADV 360|
|Fractal Celsius+ S36 Prisma|
|MSI MAG CoreLiquid P360|
|SilverStone VIDA 240 Slim|
|Motherboard||Asus TUF Gaming Z690 Plus Wifi DDR5|
|GPU||Intel ARC A770 LE|
|Case||Cooler Master HAF 700 Berserker|
|PSU||Cooler Master XG Plus 850 Platinum PSU|