As modern processors have reached higher clock speeds, higher levels of performance, and generated ever-increasing levels of heat, an interesting and arguably separate area of engineering has evolved alongside the CPU – thermal management. Early processors or course needed only a finned heat sink slapped on to run just fine, no fuss no muss, and no fan! As things warmed up, sinks got bigger, advanced materials and designs were needed, airflow was scrutinized, and fans became larger and louder.

The processor wars of recent years pushed thermal limits even further. When AMD began to draw even with Intel through use of innovative chip architecture, Intel responded by cranking up the clocks, leading eventually to the molten Prescott core P4, which history may eventually prove to be the hottest running CPU ever. When the baseline thermal needs of a stock CPU were added to the mad desires of the overclocking community (you know who you are), the efficacy of air cooling soon fell short.

Water blocks were created with recirculation pumps and radiators, but as those radiators were themselves air-cooled, even that solution was limited by the ambient temperature in which they were operated. The hard core began to dabble in thermoelectric cooling, in which the Peltier effect is used to create a cold plate that is capable of lowering CPU temperatures much further than water (bonus points to anyone correctly guessing the year in which Jean Peltier first observed the effect). The downside to this solution is of course, condensation – and there is nothing like a TEC block sweating profusely into the innards of one’s computer to create unwanted anxiety.

Wait a minute! What if you used the TEC process from a “peltier” type cooler in combination with a traditional water block! That way, you could cool below ambient temps without the condensation, while using recirculating fluid without the need for a large radiator and bulky coolant reservoir!

Well, please join me for another “wish I thought of that sooner” moment ... the technique described above is exactly what we see executed to near perfection by the subject of today’s review, the FreeZone by Cool IT.

A glance over the Freezone’s packaging is definitely exciting! The unit is completely cool looking, with an awesome feature set. The Freezone is preassembled, and pre-filled with coolant, eliminating the possibility of installation errors leading to leaks. Per the packaging, the unit offers universal fitment to standard PC cases, and when installed, is completely self-contained, using neither drive bays nor expansion slots. A thermal control circuit monitors temperatures, and adjusts TEC output and fan speed according to load, and the large 92mm fan used promises quieter operation than a stock cooler, but with much greater performance.

So, with its ease of installation, superior performance, and low noise, the Freezone is clearly the perfect cooling solution for anyone, right?

Well, yes. . .and no. Read on!




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