Review of the liquid cooling system ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 280: efficiency and no RGB!

От Yraa #4G, #5G, #ability, #access, #active, #ahead, #air, #AMD, #announcement, #app, #Approximate, #ARC, #ARCTIC, #ASRock, #attractive, #ATX, #automatic, #backlight, #Ban, #Band, #Base, #based, #Bee, #BIOS, #bit, #board, #box, #Bright, #bring, #build, #built, #called, #card, #cards, #case, #cat, #cell, #CES, #characteristics, #charge, #Charged, #check, #China, #choice, #class, #classic, #clock, #closed, #Coming, #company, #Comparison, #complete, #configuration, #connect, #connection, #cons, #consumes, #Control, #Cool, #cooler, #coolers, #Cooling, #Core, #Cores, #Coupon, #created, #date, #day, #deal, #decent, #Deco, #DERE, #design, #detail, #details, #development, #Digital, #disable, #display, #distance, #drive, #dual, #dynamic, #Ear, #ease, #Edition, #efficiency, #ELE, #electric, #Elf, #engine, #enter, #entire, #EVE, #Excellent, #expected, #Express, #face, #fast, #features, #filling, #formula, #Founders, #Free, #Freezer, #Full, #fully, #function, #future, #game, #games, #GeForce, #Gen, #GENE, #GHz, #glass, #good, #GTH, #hard, #heat, #Heat transfer, #high, #Hot, #ideal, #III, #image, #Impeller, #impresses, #improved, #installed, #Intel, #Intel Core, #Intel X299, #interface, #IOS, #king, #Lake, #large, #latest, #LCD, #lead, #Leader, #leaders, #LED, #level, #life, #light, #lighting, #lights, #limit, #line, #Liquid, #list, #lit, #long, #longer, #main, #man, #market, #Mate, #Max, #measure, #measuring, #mens, #metal, #micro, #Microsoft, #Microsoft Windows, #mini, #minutes, #mode, #model, #models, #modes, #Monitor, #monitoring, #month, #months, #morning, #Motherboard, #Moto, #move, #NEC, #NEX, #Noise, #Note, #Nova, #number, #NVIDIA, #operating, #opinion, #OPPO, #option, #order, #Overclocking, #Pass, #pay, #PCs, #Perfect, #Performa, #performance, #Phanteks, #photo, #place, #platform, #play, #Polyethylene, #power, #preparing, #present, #Presented, #price, #Prime95, #PRO, #processor, #processors, #product, #products, #Propylene glycol, #Protected, #pulse, #Pulse-width modulation, #pump, #QR code, #quality, #quiet, #RAID, #RAM, #rate, #rated, #rating, #read, #receive, #received, #record, #Red, #Refrigerant, #release, #released, #relevant, #representative, #resistance, #Results, #review, #RGB, #rice, #ring, #rock, #roll, #RTX, #run, #Russia, #Sale, #Samsung, #screw, #sells, #series, #set, #Shine, #shot, #significantly, #silicone, #SIM, #size, #small, #SoC, #socket, #Socket AM4, #Socket TR4, #software, #sound, #Sound level meter, #source, #Space, #special, #specifications, #speed, #ssd, #stabilization, #stand, #start, #starting, #Static pressure, #Stator, #steel, #strong, #study, #Super, #support, #Surface, #system, #Tab, #tag, #Talk, #talking, #technology, #temperature, #temperatures, #test, #tested, #testing, #Thermal conductivity, #Thermal paste, #Thermaltake, #thermometer, #thin, #time, #Titan, #Titanium, #Top, #turn, #Unexpected, #UNIVERSAL, #update, #updated, #URL, #useless, #version, #video, #View, #Volta, #water, #Water block, #watts, #ways, #Western Digital, #white, #Wind, #window, #windows, #Windows 10, #word, #words, #work, #year, #Years, #Zalman


The way in which cooling systems for central processors have been developing in general over the past two or three years is hardly pleasing to connoisseurs of efficient cooling and low noise levels. The reason for this is simple — engineering thought for some reason left this sector, and marketing thought was aimed solely at making cooling systems shine brighter with various types of fan and pump lights. As a result, today a more or less decent level of efficiency by the standards of liquid cooling systems (LCS) can only be obtained from options with radiators measuring 280 × 140 mm or 360 × 120 mm. All other models either lose out to the best air coolers, or reach the same efficiency at the cost of a high noise level.

However, in recent months, positive changes can be observed aimed precisely at increasing the efficiency of the LSS. For example, the well-known German company be quiet! is now preparing an updated series of its liquid cooling systems, and the Swiss ARCTIC, which is even more common in Russia, has already released the Liquid Freezer II series, which includes four models with radiators ranging in size from 120 to 360 mm.

All systems received thicker radiators, optimized fans, new hoses and a pump, an improved water block, and even a small fan to cool motherboard VRM circuit elements. In addition, they cannot be called maintenance-free (refilling or replacing the refrigerant is possible), and plus they are connected with just one cable. Already a good bid for leadership in its class, isn’t it?

In today’s article, we will study and test the ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 280 model with a 280mm radiator and two 140mm fans.

In future materials, we will try to check other models of this series, especially since the results of testing the Liquid Freezer II 280 simply oblige us to do this. However, we will not reveal all the «cards» at once.

⇡#Specifications and recommended cost

ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 280
Dimensions (L × W × H), mm 317×138×38
Radiator fin dimensions (L × W × H), mm 317×138×26
Radiator material Aluminum
Number of channels in the radiator, pcs. fourteen
Distance between channels, mm 7.0
Radiator density, FPI 15
Thermal resistance, °C/W n/a
Refrigerant volume, ml n/a
Number of fans 2
Size 140×140×27
Impeller/stator diameter, mm 129/41.5
Number and type of bearing(s) 1, hydrodynamic
Rotation speed, rpm 200–1700
Max Airflow, CFM 2×72.8
Noise level, sone 0.3
Maximum static pressure, mm H2O 2×2.4
Rated/starting voltage, V 12/3.7
Power consumption: declared / measured, W 2×0.96 / 2×1.13
Service life, hours/years N/A
Weight of one fan, g 196
Cable length, mm n/a
Built-in VRM fan ∅40 mm, 1000–3000 rpm, PWM
water pump
Dimensions, mm 98×78×53
Productivity, l/h N/A
Height of water rise, m N/A
Pump rotor speed: declared / measured, rpm 800–2000
Bearing type Ceramic
Bearing service life, hours/years N/A
Rated voltage, V 12.0
Maximum power consumption: declared / measured, W 2.7 / 2.68
Noise level, dBA n/a
Cable length, mm 245
water block
Material and structure Copper, microchannel structure
Platform Compatibility Intel LGA115(x)/2011(v3)/2066
AMD socket AM4
Hose length, mm 420
External/internal diameter of hoses, mm 12.4 / 6.0
refrigerant Non-toxic, anti-corrosion
(propylene glycol)
Maximum TDP level, W N/A
thermal paste ARCTIC MX-4 (8.5 W/m K), 1 g
Backlight Not
Total system weight, g 1 572
Warranty period, years 2
recommended price, Euro 79.99

⇡#Packaging and equipment

The design of the box in which the ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 280 is supplied is typical for the products of the Swiss company — predominantly blue with a white image of the liquid freezer on the front side. Next to it are the product name, warranty period, and the included thermal paste.

On the reverse side, separate photographs describe the main components of the system and their key features.

The ends of the box are reserved for the list of advantages of the system and its technical characteristics with the dimensions of the radiator. The supported processor platforms are listed below.

There are two compartments in the box: a radiator with fans is located in the lower one, and its hoses with a pump are placed in the upper one, plus there is also a small box with accessories.

The latter contains fasteners with a set of screws, a postcard and a coupon with a QR code leading to installation instructions, as well as proprietary ARCTIC MX-4 thermal paste with a thermal conductivity of 8.5 W / m K.

The system is manufactured in China and comes with a two-year warranty. Its recommended cost is 80 euros, and we will find out what it will be in Russia when the system goes on sale. But even if the Liquid Freezer II 280 sells for $100 (about $6.00) in Russia, that’s a very attractive price for a 280mm coolant.

⇡#Design features

The ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 280 is a classic closed-loop liquid cooling system that is fully charged and ready to go. It would seem that we have already tested more than a hundred — and this is not an exaggeration — similar LSS, what else can be invented in this class? However, the new ARCTIC model differs from other such systems … everything! She has a different radiator, hoses, fans, pump and water block, she even has a different connection. Let’s take a look at each of these components of the new LSS in turn.

ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 280 looks massive and solid. A thick radiator, a pair of 140 mm fans and long hoses with an outer diameter of 12.4 mm give the system a serious look, strikingly distinguishing it from classmates.

Despite the fact that the system heatsink is still aluminum, its dimensions have been increased to 317 × 138 × 38 mm, and the thickness of the fins is 26 mm, which is 9-10 mm more than the heatsinks of most other LSSs.

It consists of 14 flat channels spaced 7mm apart. Perforated aluminum corrugated tape is glued between the channels. The density of the radiator is relatively low — only 15 FPI.

Other systems with 280mm radiators tend to be 20 FPI, but here it is 25% lower because the thickness of the fins themselves is significantly increased. And for efficient operation of fans at low speeds, a dense package of ribs is useless.

One of the ends of the radiator is completely blank, but its dimensions are increased — again, in comparison with other maintenance-free liquid cooling systems.

This means that the volume of refrigerant inside the circuit is larger, and therefore, the cooling efficiency, all other things being equal, will be higher.

Two threaded fittings come out of the opposite end of the radiator, on which two hoses are clamped.

The length of the hoses, excluding the fittings themselves, is 420 mm, and their external diameter is 12.4 mm (internal — 6.0 mm). The hoses along the entire length seem to be stitched with a double white thread, which at first we took for a backlight, but in the end it turned out that this was not the case.

Between the synthetic braid of the hoses and the rubber tubes themselves, the cables of two fans pass. We add that the hoses turned out to be strong, but not overly rigid, as is sometimes the case in LSS.

At the other end, the hoses enter the pump block with a water block, where threaded fittings are also installed. The instructions for the system do not directly indicate the possibility of refueling or replacing the refrigerant in the circuit, however, if all the fittings are threaded, then what prevents this from being done?

The pump also looks original. From above it is covered with a plastic casing, in which a small 40 mm fan is installed to cool the elements of the VRM circuits of motherboards. The speed of its rotation is automatically regulated by pulse-width modulation (PWM) in the range from 1000 to 3000 rpm. The speed of the pump rotor is also controlled by PWM, but in the range from 800 to 2000 rpm. It is also indicated that the level of its power consumption (together with the fan) should not exceed 2.7 watts. Our measurements confirmed this value. Unfortunately, nothing is said about the performance of the pump in the specifications.

At its base is a built-in copper water block measuring 44 × 40 mm, the contact surface of which is protected by a film.

By the way, after such films, a thin adhesive layer can sometimes remain on the base, which must be removed with an alcohol-containing liquid.

The quality of processing of the contact surface of the water block deserves a solid «four» on a five-point scale. There is no polishing, but traces from a cutter or grinder are not felt at all.

The only thing known about the internal structure of the water block is that it is microchannel. There are no other details.

The evenness of the surface of the water block is ideal. Together with the high pressing force of the water block to the processor, we managed to get almost perfect prints on the processor of the LGA2066 design.

The Liquid Freezer II 280 is equipped with two 140 x 140 x 27 mm fans. We are talking about the ARCTIC P14 PWM model, designed specifically for high static pressure. To do this, the fans are equipped with a 129 mm impeller with five aggressive large-area blades.

The fans are connected to each other in series using the proprietary ARCTIC PST technology and have PWM support. The speed range of their work lies in the range from 200 to 1700 rpm, and the maximum air flow of one fan is declared at around 72.8 CFM. Noise level — 0.3 sons (approximately 22.5 dBA).

The stator with a diameter of only 41.5 mm does not have any stickers, and the fan model and electrical specifications are stamped directly on the plastic.

The fans were only rated at 0.96W each, which sounded too optimistic for a 140mm 1700rpm fan in our opinion. However, according to the results of our measurements, it turned out quite a bit more — 1.13 watts. That is, in total (the pump and its fan + two fans on the radiator), the system consumes no more than 5 W at the peak — this is an excellent indicator. The starting voltage of the fans is 3.7 V.

The service life of hydrodynamic fan bearings is not specified in the system specifications, but on a separate page for ARCTIC P14 PWM, the manufacturer guarantees their uninterrupted operation for 10 years, which is five times longer than the warranty for the system itself. Of the shortcomings, we note only the absence of any vibration decoupling between the fans and the radiator: there are no silicone corner stickers or rubber washers. Direct contact between plastic and metal. But four such fans can be installed on the radiator at once, although even with a pair of regular “turntables” Liquid Freezer II 280 weighs almost 1.6 kilograms.

⇡ # Compatibility and installation

The Liquid Freezer II 280 waterblock is compatible with Intel LGA115(x)/2011(v3)/2066 processors and AMD Socket AM4 processors. To fix the water block, two pairs of steel plates are used, which are screwed to it with two screws. Here, for example, what the mounting plates for Intel look like.

Further, to press the water block to the processor, either a reinforcing plate on the back of the motherboard or support bushings with double-sided threads is used. Since our test system is based on a processor and a board with LGA2066, the last option is relevant for us.

Another important step before installing the water block is applying a uniform and minimally possible layer of thermal paste. In addition, do not forget to tighten the clamping screws gradually, crosswise, in order to provide the water block with uniform pressure and efficient heat transfer.

Pay attention to how the water block is oriented on the processor. The fact is that under the small radiator there are two air ducts that direct the air flow to the elements of the power circuit of the motherboard. In our case, the air flow goes up and down, and it is the top flow that cools the VRM circuit.

As for the heatsink itself with fans, to place it in the system unit case, there must be a seat for two adjacent 140mm fans — and even more, because the heatsink is longer than a pair of such fans. At the same time, the length of the hoses is enough to install the radiator not only on the upper wall of the case, but also on the front. In our case, we used the first placement option.

The air flow of the fans was directed to blow out of the case, and its inflow was provided by three 140 mm fans on the front wall. We add that the system has no backlight at all and nowhere.

⇡#2. Test configuration, tools and testing methodology

Evaluation of the effectiveness of ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 280 and its competitor was carried out in a closed case of the system unit of the following configuration:

  • Motherboard: ASRock X299 OC Formula (Intel X299 Express, LGA2066, BIOS P1.60 as of 11/01/2018);
  • Processor: Intel Core i9-7900X 3.3-4.5GHz (Skylake-X, 14++nm, U0, 10×1024KB L2, 13.75MB L3, TDP 140W);
  • thermal interface: ARCTIC MX-4 (8.5 W/(m K);
  • RAM: DDR4 4×4GB Corsair Vengeance LPX 2800MHz (CMK16GX4M4A2800C16) (XMP 2800MHz/16-18-18-36_2T/1.2V or 3000MHz/16-18-18-36_2T/1.35V) ;
  • Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Founders Edition 8GB/256bit, 1515-1800(1965)/14000MHz;
  • drives:
    • for system and benchmarks: Intel SSD 730 480 GB (SATA III, BIOS vL2010400);
    • for games and benchmarks: Western Digital VelociRaptor 300 GB (SATA II, 10000 rpm, 16 MB, NCQ);
    • archive: Samsung Ecogreen F4 HD204UI 2 TB (SATA II, 5400 rpm, 32 MB, NCQ);
  • case: Thermaltake Core X71 (six 140mm be quiet! Silent Wings 3 PWM [BL067]990 rpm, three — for blowing, three — for blowing out);
  • control and monitoring panel: Zalman ZM-MFC3;
  • PSU: Corsair AX1500i Digital ATX (1.5kW, 80 Plus Titanium), 140mm fan.

To evaluate the efficiency of cooling systems, a ten-core processor at BCLK equal to 100 MHz, with a fixed value of 43 multiplier and the stabilization of the Load-Line Calibration function set to the first level was overclocked to the frequency 4.3 GHz with increasing voltage in the BIOS of the motherboard to 1.071-1.072 V.

The VCCIO voltage was set to 1.100 V, and VCCSA to 1.075 V. In turn, the voltage of the RAM modules was fixed at around 1.33 V, and its frequency was 3.2 GHz with timings of 16-18-18-39 CR2. In addition to the above, several more changes were made to the BIOS of the motherboard related to overclocking the processor and RAM.

Testing was conducted on Microsoft Windows 10 Pro version 1903 (18362.388). Software used for the test:

  • Prime95 29.4 build 8 — to create a load on the processor (Small FFTs mode, two consecutive cycles of 14-15 minutes each);
  • HWiNFO64 6.12-3930 — for temperature monitoring and visual control of all system parameters.

A full snapshot of the display during one of the test cycles is as follows.

The load on the processor was created by two consecutive cycles of Prime95. It took 14-15 minutes to stabilize the processor temperature between cycles. The final result, which you will see in the diagram, is the maximum temperature of the hottest of the ten cores of the CPU at peak load and in idle mode. In addition, a separate table will show the temperatures of all processor cores, their average values ​​and the temperature delta between the cores. The temperature in the room was controlled by an electronic thermometer installed next to the system unit with a measurement accuracy of 0.1 °C and with the possibility of hourly monitoring of changes in the temperature in the room over the past 6 hours. During this test, the temperature fluctuated in the range 24.7–25.2 °C

The noise level of the cooling systems was measured with an OCTAVA-110A electronic sound level meter in the period from zero to three in the morning in a completely enclosed room with an area of ​​about 20 m2 with glass panes. The noise level was measured outside the case of the system unit, when the only source of noise in the room was the cooler/LCD itself and its fan(s). The sound level meter, fixed on a tripod, was always located strictly at one point at a distance of exactly 150 mm from the fan rotor. The cooling systems were placed at the very corner of the table on a foamed polyethylene substrate. The lower measurement limit of the sound level meter is 22.0 dBA, and the subjectively comfortable (please do not confuse it with low!) noise level of cooling systems when measured from such a distance is about 36 dBA. For a conditionally low noise level, we take a value of 33 dBA.

We will evaluate the efficiency and noise level of the ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 280 in comparison with the performance of the best representative of air cooling systems for processors — the Phanteks PH-TC14PE supercooler ($74.99), which was equipped with two 140mm Corsair AF140 fans ($19.99) .

Looking ahead, let’s make a small announcement: at the end of September we got the latest version of this supercooler, we have already compared it with the 2011 model, and the results turned out to be, to put it mildly, unexpected.

We add that the speed of rotation of all fans of the cooling systems was adjusted using a special controller with an accuracy of ± 10 rpm in the range from 800 rpm to their maximum in increments of 100 or 200 rpm.

⇡#Test results and their analysis

⇡ # Cooling efficiency

The results of testing the efficiency of cooling systems when overclocking the processor to 4.3 GHz are presented in the diagram and in the table.

As you can see, ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 280 wins a convincing victory over the supercooler, outperforming it at maximum speeds of 9 degrees Celsius at peak load, and at minimum and identical for both cooling systems 800 rpm — 4 degrees Celsius at maximum processor temperature. Moreover, the LSS also works quieter, which we will see from the schedule at the end of the article.

Raising the heat dissipation bar of a ten-core processor even higher, overclocking it to 4.4 GHz at a voltage of 1.118 V.

In this mode of processor operation, the Phanteks PH-TC14PE supercooler coped with its cooling only at the maximum speed of its two Corsair fans, but the LSS is still in the entire speed range of the fans.

Here, the maximum advantage of the new liquid cooling system has already increased to 11 degrees Celsius, and at the same fan speeds it has increased to 6-7 degrees Celsius.

In addition to its convincing victory over the supercooler, ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 280 coped well with CPU cooling at 4.5 GHz at 1.142 V.

At the maximum speed of its two fans, the ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 280 cools the processor, keeping its peak temperature within 90 degrees Celsius.

ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 280 (2 × 1660 about/min)

In addition, the LSS was able to provide the processor with stability even at fan speeds of 1400 and 1200 rpm, but in quiet modes the system could no longer cope with such overclocking of the processor. However, we probably want too much from LSS with a 280mm radiator. Now about the noise level of the system.

⇡ # Noise level

The ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 280 impresses us not only with its high cooling efficiency, but also with its comparatively low noise level. If we draw parallels with the noise level of Corsair fans of the same size, then the ARCTIC fans simply defeated them, operating much quieter. So, at the subjective comfort limit of 36 dBA, the speed of the ARCTIC fans is 1100 rpm, while the Corsair AF140, which has been considered one of the best so far, does not exceed 850 rpm. With the limit of conditional noiselessness of 33 dBA, the situation is the same: 990 rpm versus 730 rpm. In other words, with an already higher level of cooling efficiency at the same fan speed, the Liquid Freezer II 280 still has a margin for increasing the speed by 200-250 rpm without increasing the noise level. Excellent result!

But the pump is not perfectly quiet. To be more precise, the pump itself works comfortably, and its small 40mm fan brings dissonance, which accelerates to 3120 rpm under load and starts buzzing unpleasantly. Here, ARCTIC engineers still need to work, and maybe even abandon this fan altogether, especially since we did not record a decrease in the temperature of the VRM circuit elements in comparison with the indicators when they are blown by the CPU cooler fans. Ideally, you should compare the efficiency of the ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 280 with and without the water block pump fan on, but it is in the same power circuit with the pump motor and fans on the radiator, so it is impossible to disable it separately.


The ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 280 is the next step in the development of ready-to-run and maintenance-free liquid cooling systems. The system received a massive aluminum radiator with thick fins and almost twice the area, on which two 140 mm fans with an aggressively shaped impeller are installed. Thanks to these major innovations, the LSS is confidently ahead of the best air coolers and does it at a lower noise level. In addition, the Liquid Freezer II 280 received a universal water block compatible with all modern platforms (except for AMD Socket TR4), as well as a pump with an additional fan for cooling the elements of the VRM circuits of the motherboard.

Additional advantages of the system are threaded fittings (which means that the coolant circuit can be topped up and the refrigerant changed) and the connection of all components with just one cable with PWM control support. As for the minuses, we will include the unpleasant sound of a small fan at its maximum speed, as well as the lack of vibration decoupling at the points of contact between the fans and the radiator. Nevertheless, for 80 euros, the ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 280 is one of the strongest players in its class, so it deserves our Editors’ Choice award. And without any lighting there.


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