On this occasion we are going to analyze the Arctic Liquid Freezer II 280 A-RGB , one of the few that we had left to try from this prestigious brand to complete, not only the different radiator formats, but also its variants: normal, RGB and A -RGB on its powerful fans. We will also analyze the 280mm format, which is usually the one that gives the best results in temperatures, price and compatibility with the chassis .
If to this we add a thickness of 38 mm to increase the exchange area, a high-performance pump and the characteristic fan for VRM, we will have the perfect system. In addition to fans with LEDs , we have the entire cable circuit perfectly routed and almost invisible to show off in our glass chassis. We will also look at the Arctic MX-5 Thermal Compound in conjunction with this RL.
We thank Arctic for their confidence in us by providing these products for analysis.
Arctic Liquid Freezer II 280 A-RGB technical characteristics
This Arctic Liquid Freezer II 280 A-RGB will arrive in a striking rigid cardboard box whose main face shows us the system in operation and with the RGB fans making this characteristic clear. In the rest of the faces we will have information related to the system and its identifiers.
As always, Arctic uses a different storage system from other brands, simpler for the user without sacrificing high protection. And it is that we will have the system completely armed and with cables connected , together with a box with the socket installation accessories and cardboard and plastic protections.
The bundle will have the following elements:
- Arctic Freezer II 280 A-RGBCooling System
- 2x Pre-installed Arctic P 140mm A-RGB Fans
- Backplate for Intel platform
- Brackets for Intel and AMD sockets
- Mounting bolts
- MX-5 Thermal PasteSyringe
- User instruction manual and QR code for Online support
For some time now, the manufacturer has been using a syringe to supply the MX-5 thermal compound in the cooling system, instead of the envelope that was used for the MX-4. In addition, to improve its application, it allows to make several more assemblies. To this we add the presence of two Arctic MX-5 in their 5g and 8g versions that we can purchase individually on Amazon, for example.
Design and features
We only needed to analyze this Arctic Liquid Freezer II 280 A-RGB , a system that for construction and characteristics purposes will be practically the same as its Normal and RGB brothers. The best of all is that all of them will be of the highest quality in the finishes and use of components, and once again it will be demonstrated in this variant. We especially like that it already comes with fans installed and connected, since we only have to apply the thermal paste and place it in the socket.
Arctic continues to adjust its quality / price ratio more and more to be possibly the best in the market, since in the price history of this system we are finding the most price when we touch the barrier of 100 euros. In addition to A-RGB, it offers us a thicker radiator than usual, high quality fans, its own pump design and a fan built into the head to cool the VRM. We will see all of this during the review, but they are very interesting aspects within the AIO RL sector without a screen.
38mm and 280mm radiator – the best choice
This Arctic Liquid Freezer II 280 A-RGB will come using an entirely aluminum built radiator and in a 280mm format . Once, we took the opportunity to mention that it seems to us the most versatile of all, since it is compatible with almost any ATX chassis worth its salt and its wide exchange area allows it to dissipate almost as much heat as the 360 mm version.
And in this case, this feature will be further increased by offering a thickness of no less than 38 mm , while the usual thing will be to find thickness of 27 mm, that is, 11 mm more. This means larger ducts, greater flow of water inside and, therefore, greater exchange capacity with the corrugated fin system that joins each duct.
This format has 14 conduits placed longitudinally in the radiator, distributed in equal parts for water inlet and outlet. The return chambers at both ends will remain protected by the thick metal frame, thus generating highly resistant square corners. The block will be entirely painted in black, something already common in all manufacturers.
The only small problem that we will have with this greater thickness of the radiator will be its compatibility with chassis that are too compact . And it is that radiator + fans will form a total thickness of 65 mm , while maintaining more averages of width and standard height. We must make sure that our chassis supports this thickness, either on the front or on the top without interfering with the rest of the hardware.
Having said that, we arrive at the intake area for the pipes , using pressure unions with metal sleeves that will prevent accidental disconnection. These will be quite wide to ensure the rigidity of the hoses both at one end and the other, although we pay for it with less mobility of the circuit . But in this Arctic Liquid Freezer II 280 A-RGB we have a fairly high length of 450 mm ensuring support for any size of chassis.
The pipes are made of anti-evaporation rubber, with an internal diameter of 6 mm, and an external diameter of 12.4 mm . This width is due to the fact that we have a strong braided nylon mesh that acts as the main protection of the tires. But it also has another important task, such as routing the power and lighting cables for the fans inside , being completely pre-installed and connected. This will be a great way to eliminate cables in the system, and in fact Arctic was one of the first to opt for this method that has subsequently been copied by more brands.
We turn to see the pumping block of the Arctic Liquid Freezer II 280 A-RGB that for all intents and purposes will be exactly the same in all models of the Liquid Freezer II family. Its original and aggressive design with a spaceship look (to say the least) measures 98 mm long, 78 mm wide and 53 mm high if we count the fixed intakes of the tubes. With fixed we mean that this time they do not allow rotation or change of positioning occurs in most RL.
This block uses this unique design with the aim of implementing a 40mm diameter fan on its upper outer . The idea will be to suck air from above and blow it from the sides to cool the VRM areas of the motherboard , very interesting to improve the temperatures around the socket. The rotation speed of this fan is between 1000 and 3000 RPM , controlled by a PWM signal. For this A-RGB version it would have made more sense than ever to provide it with lighting, thus reinforcing its presence on the board. It is the only one but that we can put it, although it has nothing to do with performance.
The most important element of the block will be the pump , an element designed and built by the brand itself so as not to depend on other manufacturers such as Asetek. Its operation is based on taking the fluid from the inlet just above it, and sending it under pressure against the cold plate of copper with a polished surface. In this way it passes through an area of small and dense fins, later ascending through the fluid outlet. It specifies a regime of between 800 and 2000 RPM thanks to the PWM control , with an average consumption of 2.7W .
Only two cables will come out of this block, our choice remains to remove them from above, to the side or downwards. One of them will be the PWM connection for the pump , and the other a 5VDG header for the lighting . The fans and lighting will be managed through the pump’s own electronics.
We left the pumping block behind to focus on the fans equipped on the Arctic Liquid Freezer II 280 A-RGB. More specifically, it will be two 140 mm Arctic P14 PWM A-RGB units with a thickness of 27 mm. In their favor we can say that they enjoy a high quality of manufacture, with an extremely robust plastic frame, anti-vibration rubber feet and, if that were not enough, they are already pre-installed.
Each of these fans features a 4-pin PWM connection and a 5VDG header for their on-board lighting . Both elements already connected at the factory and perfectly routed on the side of the radiator to offer the best possible aesthetics. The propeller system with outer stabilizing ring is translucent to extend the A-RGB lighting integrated in the axis of rotation over its area. This system does not have its own customization software, but it is compatible with board lighting technologies such as Asus AURA Sync, Gigabyte RGB Fusion, MSI Mystic Light, and ASRock Polychrome RGB.
Among its characteristics and benefits, we have a speed between 200 and 1900 RPM under PWM control , generating only 26 dBA of noise . Its hydraulic bearing system ensures a very quiet and durable set, as shown by its 6-year warranty. The air flow they develop will be 68.9 CFM and the static pressure 2 mmH2O.
The time has come to assemble the Arctic Liquid Freezer II 280 A-RGB , whose system will be of its own construction and compatible with the following sockets:
- For Intel we have compatibility with the following sockets: LGA 1200, 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156, 2011-v3 and 2066
- And in the case of AMD the following: AM3 + and AM4
For now nothing is mentioned regarding the LGA 1700 sockets from Intel or AM5 from AMD , the first to be released imminently, but surely we will have individual installation kits to validate the entire series.
This system is a little more complex than, for example, Asetek’s, and more similar to what we see in the brand’s air sinks, but it is still quite resounding with 4 anchor points . The only small downside to the classics is that it will not come with a paper manual, but we must access its website through a QR. The explanation and procedure is explained quite well by means of animations.
We will necessarily have to place two plates as support for the socket and another two in the pumping block itself, all with Philips head screws . First of all, we will place the MX-5 thermal paste on the CPU and we will tighten the screws to the maximum without fear of tightening too much as we have a limit of travel. The orientation of the block should be such that the VRM fan points towards the two zones, that is, upwards.
Thermal paste Arctic MX-5
During this analysis and in the 240 RGB we had the opportunity to test the Arctic MX-5 thermal paste , which obviously comes to replace the MX-4. For this, each system will count a small portion of 1 g through a syringe, but if we want a larger quantity, the brand has syringes of 5 and 8 g like these that we see in the image and more variants of 2, 20 and up to 50 g .
These syringes are presented in small flexible cardboard boxes indicating the capacity and a description of the compound. They will be available both in a version with a spatula (only in 2, 4 and 8 g) to apply the paste and another with only the compound. The higher capacity version has a side indicator of the available capacity, and in all cases they will be closed with a screw cap . We recommend keeping the application tip clean before placing this cap, as after drying it tends to be quite hard.
If we compare it with the MX-4 compound, the new Arctic MX-5 is noticeably more liquid , which makes it a bit difficult to control in its application, but facilitates its expansion. Its viscosity drops from 870 poise to 550 poise , generating a thinner layer between cold plate and die to improve the passage of heat. The resistivity drops to 1.9 × 10 13 Ω · cm compared to 3.8 × 10 13 Ω · cm in the previous version, ensuring less resistance to the passage of heat between both surfaces.
These new figures leave us with a more liquid compound by changing its base composition, while maintaining its non-conductive capacity for electricity . It will be easier to apply and will better fill the imperfections that exist on the surface of the components, thus improving the effective contact area.
Test of performance
After seeing the construction and characteristics of the Arctic Liquid Freezer II 280 A-RGB , it is time to test it on our test bench under the same conditions as other systems. The components that we will use will be the following:
|AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
|Base plate :
|Asus Crosshair VIII Hero
|G.Skill Trident-Z Royal 16GB @ 3600 MHz
|Arctic Liquid Freezer II 280 A-RGB
|Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti
|Cooler Master V850 Gold
The performance of this 280mm version is spectacular, and we get an average temperature almost the same as in the 420mm system. In this way it is shown once again that this type of heatsinks work wonderfully, and therefore they are the most recommended.
Comparison of Arctic AM-5 vs Thermaltake TG-30
We took advantage of this analysis to compare Arctic’s MX-5 thermal paste with the TG-30 that we currently have in the shop.
|34 o C
|50 o C
|66 o C
|34 o C
|51 o C
|66 o C
The performance is very similar, and we barely have a 1 o C difference in the average temperature, so we can practically say that they are the same.
Final words and conclusion about the Arctic Liquid Freezer II 280 A-RGB
The conclusion we reached with this liquid cooling system does not vary one iota with respect to the other previously tested models. It only allows us to reinforce and improve our opinion about it, as one of the best in quality / price that we currently find.
This A-RGB variant will be perfect for those looking for a more attractive cooling system for their gaming setup . And although this is more than fulfilled, it still does not include its own management software . On the other hand, we really like its presentation, without cables in between being perfectly routed and with pre-installed fans.
Another aspect to value very positively is to have a 38 mm thick radiator that increases its thermal performance compared to the competition, and on a 280 mm format suitable for both high-end or top-of-the-range processors . This system can do it all, with a very quiet and robust in-house pump and fans .
We recommend our guide to the best heatsinks on the market
Part of the blame will be the Arctic MX-5 thermal paste , which is already included with the RL in a 1g syringe. More liquid to create a thinner layer between die and cold plate, and with lower resistivity to increase heat conduction. Of the best in performance / price with a price of only 5.65 euros for the 4g syringe that will be perfect for a standard user.
As always, we ended the analysis by talking about the price, and we found this Arctic Liquid Freezer II 280 A-RGB for only 100 euros , the same price as the 280 RGB version. A figure typical of an entry-level system, but with qualities and performance typical of the high-end. If we do not care about extras such as an LCD or RGB screen more advanced than this and if pure performance with good aesthetics for your gaming setup, this system will be what you are looking for.
|PERFORMANCE SUITABLE FOR TOP OF THE RANGE CPU
|EVEN WITHOUT OWN MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE
|RADIATOR IN 280 MM AND 38 MM THICKNESS FORMAT
|RGB IN THE BLOCK WOULD MORE IMPROVE YOUR AESTHETICS
|ADDITIONAL FAN FOR PLATE VRM
|ALREADY MOUNTED FANS AND ROUTED CABLES
|LONG AND REINFORCED TUBES
The professional review team awards it the platinum medal and recommended product:
ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 280 A-RGB – All-in-One Liquid Heatsink for CPU with A-RGB, Intel and AMD Compatible, PWM Controlled Efficient Pump, Fan Speed: 200-1900 RPM – Black
Last updated on 2021-10-18
Arctic Liquid Freezer II 280 A-RGB
DESIGN – 89%
COMPONENTS – 90% COOLING – 97% COMPATIBILITY – 86% PRICE – 92% 91 %