Thermaltake Frio Extreme

Thermaltake has been around for many years making a range of CPU coolers, cases, fans, and power supplies. Their current line of CPU coolers is the Frio series. We first looked at the first Frio back in 2010 and then the updated Frio OCK here in the last week. Now we are taking a look at the largest cooler in the Frio series and the biggest I have ever seen from Thermaltake, the Frio Extreme.

Thermaltake Frio Extreme

The Frio Extreme is a massive cooler. It has the twin tower design and comes with two 140mm fans. The Frio Extreme stands 160mm tall, 148.2mm deep, and 151mm wide, weighing in at a hefty 1230g or 2.7 pounds. Next to the Frio Extreme in the above image is a standard 12oz soda can.

Thermaltake Frio Extreme 140mm fan

The 140mm fans included with the Frio Extreme run 1,200 to 1,800 RPM at 19 to 39dBA, pushing a max air flow of 106.2 CFM. To help control the fans Thermaltake has included a fan controller pod. The pod will allow either PWM control of both fans or user set VR control. Switching between modes can be done without any disassembly, just a flick of a switch and turn of a knob.

What is also new to the Frio Extreme is the industry first 10 year warranty that covers the entire unit. This may sound insane for a CPU cooler, but I have been running the Noctua NH-U12P HSF for over 4 years now on 5 different systems. People are keeping their CPU coolers longer these days, so it is nice to see companies offer longer warranties. Thermaltake appears to be hoping for the same kind of mileage with the Frio Extreme, as one would hope/expect from a CPU air cooler that has an MSRP of $95.

Features of the Thermaltake Frio Extreme

  • The Combination of VR and PWM Fan Control
  • Universal Socket Compatibility & Accessory Package
  • Specifications of the Thermaltake Frio Extreme

  • Heatsink Dimension 148.2(D) x 151(W) x 160(H) mm
  • Heatsink Material Aluminum Fins Aluminum & Copper Base
  • Heatpipe 6mm (x6)
  • Fan Dimension 140(L) x 140(H) x 25(W) mm
  • Fan Speed 1,200 ~ 1,800 RPM
  • Noise Level 19 ~ 39 dBA
  • Max. Air Flow 106.2 CFM
  • Max. Air Pressure 2.34 mmH2O
  •  Power Connector 4 Pin
  • Rated Voltage 12 V
  • Started Voltage 6 V
  • Rated Current 0.5 A
  • Power Input 7.2 W
  • MTBF 50,000 Hrs @ 40*c
  • Weight 1230 g
  • Thermaltake Frio Extreme

    Unboxing the Frio Extreme

    Thermaltake Frio Extreme Front of the box

    The front of the box has an image of the Frio Extreme front and center.

    Thermaltake Frio Extreme box right

    On the right are images of the features.

    Thermaltake Frio Extreme box left

    On the left are some features listed in various languages.

    Thermaltake Frio Extreme box back

    On the back are detailed specifications and features.

    Thermaltake Frio Extreme box open

    Upon opening the box the instructions are right on top, and the cooler and fans are cradled in foam.

    Thermaltake Frio Extreme packing

    Pulling one of the foam caps off reveals the fans are in one pocket, and the Frio Extreme is in another. The accessories box is stashed between the towers of the cooler.

    Thermaltake Frio Extreme accessories box

    The accessories come nicely packed in the accessories box.

    Looking Closer at the Frio Extreme

    Thermaltake Frio Extreme cooler body

    The Frio Extreme is a twin tower cooler. It stands 160mm tall, 148.2mm deep, and 151mm wide and weighs in at a hefty 1230g or 2.7 pounds. The heatpipes and base are nickel plated copper, the cooling fins are aluminum. There are six 6mm heatpipes.

    Thermaltake Frio Extreme cooling fins

    There are two fin profiles that give the Frio Extreme a nice visual look. In the 4 corners of each tower are holes for the fan clips.

    Thermaltake Frio Extreme cooling end

    Looking from the end the fins are laid out in the same position on both fin stacks. So, the Frio Extreme has nice aesthetic features; let's hope it performs as well as it looks.

    Thermaltake Frio Extreme cooling side

    Looking from front the fins are nice and straight. The aluminum fins feel thin, but I never felt like I was going to bend one while handling the cooler.

    Thermaltake Frio Extreme base top

    The top of the cooler base has a channel with notches in it. This is for the cross bar that holds the cooler down. The cross bar has tabs that line up with the notches. This helps keep the cooler centered on the socket and prevents it from being able to move.

    Thermaltake Frio Extreme base finish

    The base of the Frio Extreme is flat and polished to a mirror finish.

    Thermaltake Frio Extreme fan

    The Fans included with the Frio Extreme are 140mm with transparent blue fan blades. They operate at 1,200 to 1,800 RPM at 19 to 39dBA, pushing a max air flow of 106.2 CFM.

    Thermaltake Frio Extreme fan controller

    To control the fans Thermaltake provides a fan controller that allows a little flexibility for the end user. The fan controller can be powered from one fan header on the motherboard and with the selector switch the end user can choose to run PWM or regulate the voltage themselves with the VR control knob.

    Thermaltake Frio Extreme controller port

    The controller is also ID10T error proof when it comes to hooking up the cables. One end has standard 4 pin PWM connectors for the fan; the other end has a non-standard 4 pin fan connection. To further help the ends are labeled “Fan” and “M/B”.

    Thermaltake Frio Extreme power cable

    The included power cable has a standard 4 pin fan connector (left) for connecting to the motherboard, and the non-standard connector (right) for the controller.

    Installing the Frio Extreme

    Thermaltake Frio Extreme accessories

    Thermaltake includes all that is needed to mount the Frio Extreme to all Intel LGA sockets as well as AMD 2/3 and FM1 sockets. Also included is a tube of thermal paste, a power cable, fan controller, and fan clips for mounting two fans.

    Thermaltake Frio Extreme LGA2011 mount

    I will be installing the cooler on our Intel LGA2011 test system. First, you install the mounting studs and mounting bars.

    Thermaltake Frio Extreme top cross bar

    Then with the cooler in place install the top cross bar.

    Thermaltake Frio Extreme main body installed

    With just the Frio Extreme’s main body installed it looks promising. The cooling fins give ample headroom for medium height RAM, and only cover part of the first RAM slot front and rear.

    Thermaltake Frio Extreme the fans installed

    With the fans installed, on the other hand, there is no room. The front fan is sitting directly on top of my RAM to get it as low on the cooler as I can. Even then the top of the fan is higher than the top of the cooler. The center fan clears things nicely. The way the Frio Extreme is made for systems other than LGA2011 the front fan could be moved to the back side if you have the room between the cooler and case. Then, depending where the RAM slots fall, you may not have any RAM clearance issues.

    Thermaltake Frio Extreme Fully installed

    Fully installed and ready to go. I promise; there is a full ATX motherboard under there.

    Legit Reviews Intel Core i7-3960X Test System

    Legit Reviews Intel Core i7 3960X Test System

    System specs

    Here is a short list of the parts that make up the Legit Reviews Core i7-930 test system:


    Intel Test Platform
    Component Brand/Model Pricing
    Processor Intel Core i7 3960X Click Here
    Motherboard Intel DX79SI
    Memory Corsair Vengeance LP 16GB DDR3 1600MHz Click Here
    Video Card MSI N560GTX-Ti Twin Frozr II/OC Click Here
    Hard Drive Corsair Force GT 90GB SSD Click Here
    Power Supply NZXT HALE90 750W Click Here
    Chassis Thermaltake Chaser Mk-1 Click Here
    Operating System Windows 7 Professional (64bit) Click Here

    Test System Detail

    Legit Reviews Intel Core i7 3960X Test System CPUz

    The CPU we are using is the Intel Core i7-3960X LGA2011 processor. We will test with two configurations: Stock and Overclocked. Both will have Hyper Threading and Turbo modes enabled. For the backbone of the system we have the Intel DX79SI motherboard. We have also outfitted it with a 16GB (4x4gb) kit of Corsair Vengeance LP DDR3 1600MHz RAM. Drivers used for the motherboard are as follows:

    Motherboard Drivers:


    Legit Reviews Intel Core i7 3960X Test System GPUz

    The video card we are using is an MSI N560GTX-Ti Twin Frozr II/OC and is running ForceWare 290.53.

    Legit Reviews Intel Core i7 3960X Test System SSD

    For the main drive we have a 90GB Corsair Force GT SATA3 SSD running firmware 1.3.3.

    Testing Procedure

    Intel settings
    click for larger image

    To test the coolers the system will be left idle at the desktop for 30 minutes and the temperature will be recorded. Then it will run at full load with Prime95 Blended test for 30 minutes and the temperature will be recorded. There will be 2 levels tested with our Core i7-3960X clocked at stock settings with Turbo and Hyper Threading on, and a high OC of 4.5 GHz also with Hyper Threading and Turbo enabled. All temps will be recorded with CoreTemp, and the temp reading from all 6 cores will be averaged. The thermal paste used on all coolers will be Gelid GC Extreme.

    Coolers Tested

    Temperature Testing Results

    Thermaltake Frio Extreme stock temp results

    With the system running at stock settings the Frio Extreme is doing very well. Coming in at 51.83*C, it almost tied with the Noctua NH-D14 with only a half degree difference in load temps. With the fans on low the temp dropped back to 53*C. The fans on low were nice and quiet and running very close to the Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 on low, only lagging behind by 1.2 degrees.

    Thermaltake Frio Extreme oc temp results

    With the system overclocked to 4.5GHz the Frio Extreme come in at 68.5*C about 1 degree behind the Noctua NH-D14, and 3.5 degrees behind the Noctua NH-D14 SE2011. With the fans on low the Frio Extreme came in at 69.5*C, a half degree ahead of the NH-D14 SE2011.

    Final Thoughts on the Frio Extreme

    Thermaltake Frio Extreme

    Thermaltake was aiming at the enthusiasts with the Frio Extreme HSF. It is safe to say that Thermaltake hit their mark as the Frio Extreme is a solid performer. When you factor in the CPU cooling performance with the insane 10-year product warranty, it makes the Thermaltake Frio Extreme stand out from the crowd as an attractive CPU cooler for enthusiasts.

    Thermaltake Frio Extreme

    Like the Noctua NH-D14 and the Phanteks PH-TC14PE the Thermaltake Frio Extreme is just a physically massive cooler. Once you get up to this size of a cooler, you'll find that they cover almost the entire upper half of a motherboard. End users need to pay attention to detail when picking components like this as they have a tendency to interfere with DRAM with tall heat spreaders.

    Performance of the Thermaltake Frio Extreme is nice. It performs like a high-end air cooler should. With the LGA2011 system running at stock settings the Frio Extreme pretty much tied with the original configuration Noctua NH-D14, which runs $89.21. It was slightly behind the NH-D14 SE2011 ($88.06); which has the same base cooler as the NH-D14, but with updated fans. The Frio comes in right at $99.99 shipped, $10 more than either version of the NH-D14. With the Intel LGA2011 system overclocked and the Thermaltake Frio Extreme set on low we found it was slightly ahead of the NH-D14 SE2011.

    Thermaltake Frio Extreme

    A big plus the Frio Extreme has going for it is the color of the fans Thermaltake paired up with the Frio Extreme. They are not some weird skin tone like the Noctuas. That right there will pull in some users in favor of the Frio Extreme over the NH-D14 because some people just do not like the skin tone color scheme. I don't run windows on my cases so it doesn't bother me one bit one way or the other. The Thermaltake fans at full speed are louder than the Noctuas', but they perform similarly on the low fan speed setting. Some users may not be bothered by this; there are some that want the system as quiet as they can get it. Thermaltake was considerate and included a fan controller. The controller is great as its selectable mode for either PWM or VR is nice. It lets the user to set the speed they can live with and forget it, or let the system control it, or even switch between them. On low speed the Thermaltake 140mm fans are nice and quiet, but on high they are loud enough that you will notice them.

    The other big plus for the Frio Extreme is Thermaltake has given it a 10 year warranty. The first cooler to have such a long warranty period, and I thought the 6 year from Noctua was long. I have had my Noctua NH-U12P for 4 years, and have had it on several systems with no sign of not being able to do the job. Thermaltake could be looking for the same longevity with the Frio Extreme.

    The Frio Extreme is the largest cooler I have seen come from the folks at Thermaltake; they aimed at high-end users with this one. Currently I was able to find the Thermaltake Frio Extreme for $99.99 with free shipping. That is around $10 more than the Noctua NH-D14 and the cooling performance is similar. So it boils down to color preference, sound level preference and, most, importantly whether or not you have a case you can shoe horn either one of them into.

    Legit Bottom Line: Thermaltake has solid performing cooler with the Frio Extreme, but its physical size is massive with a price to match.