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Arctic Liquid Freezer II 280 AIO Cooler Review: Unique, Affordable Performance

Editor's Choice

Our Verdict

Featuring a thick 38mm radiator, a pair of 140mm P14 fans and a pump unit that houses its own external circulation fan, the Arctic Liquid Freezer II 280 provides excellent cooling, silent running operation and an incredibly appealing $90 price tag.

For

  • Great cooling performance
  • Unique pump and auxiliary fan design
  • Low operational noise levels
  • Attractive price

Against

  • Boxed unit ships with pump and fans managed by single PWM splitter
  • Lack of RGB lighting (for those looking for the option)

Features and Specifications

Arctic recently a new lineup of Liquid Freezer II coolers, including the handsome 280mm Liquid Freezer II 280 that we’re looking at here. For the line, the company has developed its own pump design, choosing not to rely on an OEM (such as Asetek or CoolIt) as a product base to rebrand their solution, as many other companies have done.

Specifications

Thickness1.50" / 38.1mm (2.75" / 69.9mm w/fans)
Width5.50" / 139.7mm
Depth12.5" / 317.5mm
Pump Height1.50" / 38.1mm
Speed ControllerBIOS
Cooling Fans(2) 140 x 25mm
Connectors(2) 4-pin PWM
Weight55.5 oz / 1572g
Intel Sockets2066, 2011x, 115x
AMD SocketsAM4
Warranty2 years

Features

Arctic takes a minimalist approach to in-box accessories with the Liquid Freezer II 280 – even the installation manual is a web-based page launched via QR code presented on a small card. Still, the cooler supports the majority of current Intel desktop CPUs as well as AMD’s AM4 (Threadripper) socket. Artic has taken the approach of appealing to the masses and including the mounting hardware used by most system builders and gaming enthusiasts. A small packet of MX4 thermal compound is also provided to get the installation process moving without delays.

The futuristic design of the Liquid Freezer II 280 pump unit includes an integrated cooling fan to help circulate air in the vicinity of the CPU block, including motherboard PWM heatsinks and memory modules. This fan is powered on when the pump is operational while also sending power up through the inside of one of the graphite and white braided coolant sleeves to manage the PWM 140mm radiator fans via a splitter cable.

The base of the Liquid Freezer II 280 cooling block is made of milled, stain copper. The offset pump impeller is easily evident while auxiliary power cabling to the cooling fan is split and routed beneath the cooling unit to the small, 3-pin fan header. Mounting brackets for the block are secured alongside each side of the copper cold plate with screws via threaded mounts embedded within the housing.

Arctic utilizes a 38mm-thick aluminum radiator for the Liquid Freezer II 280, which provide additional cooling area by increasing the density and total number of fins when compared to most 30mm thick AIO radiators on the market. The pair of fluid dynamic-sleeved P14 fans are rated up to 1700 RPM and 72.8 CFM of airflow at maximum speed, to promote thermal exchange away from the radiator cooling fins.

The Arctic Liquid Freezer II 280 mounts easily in a chassis designed to support 280mm liquid cooling radiators which -- to clarify -- is a different requirement than support for a 240mm AIO liquid cooler. Make sure to double-check your case manual before buying. The auxiliary cooling fan on the CPU pump unit can be oriented in whichever direction you choose, as it’s designed to provide a spread-focus blast of air over the components you wish to benefit.

We chose to orient the fan towards our graphics card backplate in order to supplement cooling of the GPU rather of pointing it towards the motherboard power delivery heatsink. We felt this would be an ideal alternative setup chosen by many power users and gaming system builders.

While the Liquid Freezer II 280’s 140mm fans are factory installed and managed with the same PWM power that controls the pump and auxiliary fan, we opted to disconnect the fans and run them independently for our tests, allowing for independent PWM cooling fan management while the pump remained powered at 100%.

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  • helper800
    This seems like a top contender for the best 280mm AIO. Great job on Arctic's side of things. The only thing left to test is whether or not there will be more or less horror stories with them, as well as, how many are DOA and the longevity of each cooler.
    Reply
  • joeblowsmynose
    I have one of their older 120 models (push pull) on an R7 1700 (non-x, but OCd to 3.8)- cools extremely well and is super quiet - I only hear it when 3D rendering (100% load for more than a few minutes).

    This one in the review looks really nice as well. I wish more manufacturers would stop making their products look like action figure toys.
    Reply
  • CountMike
    I'm using very good CM Nepton 140XL which is doing great job on my 3700x Ryzen but is pushing it's 6th year and time to change the cooler. Good price, easy and simple wiring and that little fan should make it a strong contender i intermediate bracket. Now just to find it in Europe. Is it already for sale in US ?
    Reply
  • joeblowsmynose
    CountMike said:
    I'm using very good CM Nepton 140XL which is doing great job on my 3700x Ryzen but is pushing it's 6th year and time to change the cooler. Good price, easy and simple wiring and that little fan should make it a strong contender i intermediate bracket. Now just to find it in Europe. Is it already for sale in US ?

    Should be available in Europe -- I'm pretty sure Arctic is a European company -- based in Germany maybe?
    Reply
  • soddo
    https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/corsair-h115i-rgb-platinum-cpu-cooling,5908-2.html
    sneaky marketing suggesting that this is good but is performing less then a h100 pro
    Reply
  • joeblowsmynose
    soddo said:
    https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/corsair-h115i-rgb-platinum-cpu-cooling,5908-2.htmlsneaky marketing suggesting that this is good but is performing less then a h100 pro

    Er ... this thing costs less than half the price of a h100 pro ... and cools within 0.1 degree (by the data that you yourself linked) ... not to mention PWMs @ over 50% cooler with this AIO.

    Snarky commenting suggesting that somehow that doesn't make this a superior cooler.
    Reply
  • COLGeek
    I consider the lack of LEDs a major plus! I like what I see here.
    Reply
  • jpe1701
    I looked back to compare this with my EVGA clc280 and something doesn't add up. The clc280 at full fans was only a 37 degree delta t, while this is 56. Was there a hardware change that wasn't mentioned? The hardware and software mentioned in the articles is the same.
    Reply
  • Yandex63
    Just installed this cooler a couple of days ago. Replaced a Corsair
    Hydro Series H100i v2, and couldn't be happier! This cooler is everything the Corsair was not...... FAReasier to install, MUCH quieter, and keeps my Ryzen 2700X 7-10 degrees cooler across the board then the Corsair.
    My advice is to buy one before Arctic realizes how good the product is, and jacks up the price!
    Reply
  • vMax
    admin said:
    System builders with an aversion to RGB lighting who seek a liquid cooler with distinct attitude should put Arctic’s Liquid Freezer II 280 cooler on their short list.

    Arctic Liquid Freezer II 280 AIO Cooler Review: Unique, Affordable Performance : Read more

    I am just waiting for the 360mm one to be available and then I will buy!!!! Looks very good in terms of performance...
    Reply