Arctic Liquid Freezer III AIO Review: To put it bluntly, the Liquid Freezer III is unimpressive

This isn’t the successor we were hoping for.

Arctic Liquid Freezer III 240 & 280 & 360
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

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Thermal results without power limits

Without power limits enforced on Intel’s i7-13700K, the CPU will hit its peak temperature and thermally throttle with even the strongest of air coolers. When the CPU reaches its peak temperature, I’ve measured the CPU package power to determine the maximum wattage cooled to best compare their performance. The results below do not include the best liquid coolers on the market, which are able to keep the CPU under TJ Max (100C). 

Disappointingly, all models of the Liquid Freezer III failed our testing with power limits removed, and caused minor thermal throttling of the CPU. If you look at their performance by total watts cooled, as shown in the chart below, you can see that the thermal performance of the two larger Liquid Freezers’ is similar to DeepCool’s AK620 air cooler.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

On the other hand, compared to other AIOs, the Liquid Freezers do well in total noise levels – amongst the quietest in our charts. While normally I would be impressed by this, air coolers that offer similar thermal performance also offer similar noise levels. For example, DeepCool’s AK620 Digital has a maximum noise level of 43.4 dBA – compared to the 44.2 dBA recorded for the 280mm Liquid Freezer III and the 42.4 dBA for the 360mm version.

Thermal results with noise normalized to 38.2 dBA

Finding the right balance between fan noise levels and cooling performance is important. While running fans at full speed can improve cooling capacity to some extent, the benefits are limited and many users prefer a quiet system. With this noise-normalized test, I’ve set noise levels to 38.2 dBA. This level of noise is a low volume level, but slightly audible to most people.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Given how respected previous-generation Arctic AIOs are, I was hoping that the Liquid Freezer III would perform well when noise normalized, and that its previous lackluster results were simply a result of lower noise levels. But as our testing shows, that’s not the case.

When set to a low noise level of 38.2 dBA, the performance of the Liquid Freezer III is underwhelming. Iceberg Thermal’s recently released IceFLOE AIOs provide far superior performance in this test, and they’re priced similarly. The 240mm version of the Arctic cooler failed this test entirely, as it suffered from pump whine which caused the noise level to reach 39.6 dBA, even with fans set to run quietly.

175W Cinebench results

Most coolers on the market can keep Intel’s i7-13700K under its peak temperature if the power consumption is limited, so for this test, we’ll be looking at the CPU’s actual temperature.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

With a steady 175W load run on the CPU, the temperature averaged 55C over the ambient room temperature of 23 degrees C for the two larger Arctic coolers. This would be impressive for an air cooler, but for an AIO, it is rather lackluster. The results for all three Liquid Freezer coolers are among the worst I’ve seen for air coolers tested on this system.

That said, I generally consider noise levels more important here. Compared to other AIOs, the 360mm Liquid Freezer III does fairly well here – beaten only by Enermax LiqMaxFlo. If thermal performance was better than air coolers, this would be impressive. However, both thermal results and noise levels are similar to mid-range air coolers like DeepCool’s AK620.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

125W Cinebench results

The lowest power limit I test with Raptor Lake CPUs is 125W. This is a high enough limit to allow the CPU to maintain its base clock speeds even in the most intensive tests, and most coolers should be capable of keeping the CPU below TJ Max (the max temperature before throttling) – even low-end coolers. The thermal performance of the Liquid Freezers in this scenario was middle of the road for liquid coolers, averaging 62C in an ambient temperature of 23C.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

However, thermals do not matter in this scenario. Even Intel’s stock cooler can handle a load like this with ease. Noise levels, rather than CPU temperature, are the most important factor here. These reached 38.2 dBA for the 360mm model and 38.9 for the 280mm variant. These are relatively good noise levels for the two larger models, but I had expected even quieter noise levels.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Conclusion

After installing and testing models in three different sizes, I can’t recommend Arctic’s Liquid Freezer III AIOs, for a few different reasons.

  • They fail maximum strength thermal tests
  • The require the use of a warranty-voiding contact frame
  • The deliver mediocre noise normalized performance
  • Better options exist for the same price
  • They don’t impress under the heat of Intel’s i7-13700K, performing similar to air coolers

In this price range, I’d recommend either Iceberg Thermal’s IceFLOE Oasis or Enermax’ LiqMaxflo AIOs instead, both of which offer superior thermal performance at similar noise levels.

With these unflattering results, I know a lot of you will be thinking about other reviews that have painted a rosier picture of these coolers. How is it that other, well-respected reviewers show Arctic’s latest to be performing fairly well, when our results are unflattering?

That comes down to testing methodology. You might see other reviews testing with older platforms, like Ryzen 3000. But I only test with the latest generations of CPUs for Tom’s Hardware cooling reviews, because older CPUs have lesser thermal density, making them generally easier to cool.

Albert Thomas
Freelancer, CPU Cooling Reviewer

Albert Thomas is a contributor for Tom’s Hardware, primarily covering CPU cooling reviews.