Thermaltake NiC C5 & FrioOCK

Thermaltake has been in the aftermarket cooler business since day one and although the company is probably best known for its eye-catching designs, it has recently begun placing more emphasis on performance -- something we're happy about after being disappointed in the $80 Frio Advanced.

Thermaltake NiC C5

Earlier this year Thermaltake unveiled its NiC (non-interference cooler) series consisting of the F3, F4, C4, and C5. All of the company's new models should be fully compatible with RAM of all kinds, which is obviously ideal for power users who fill their DIMM slots with taller high-end modules.

The NiC lineup supports TDPs of 160w, 180w, 200w and 230w respectively, with each power rating corresponding to the models in order of mention above. Heat is conducted from the CPU onto the cooler through a thick nickel-coated copper base and then onto the aluminum fins with three to five 6mm U-shaped heat-pipes. The NiC range provides a variety of options ranging from a single fan to dual fans with a shroud. The one we received -- Thermaltake's flagship NiC C5 -- has the latter configuration.

With a TDP rating of 230w the C5 is designed to tackle today's fastest processors, measuring 160H x 140W x 50D mm with 0.4mm-thick curved aluminum fins that purportedly reduce backpressure and maximize airflow. Heat is extracted from the copper base via five 6mm heatpipes that stretch up from the bottom through the fins which, again, are cooled by a pair of 120mm fans. The blowers are arranged in a push/pull configuration and run between 1000 and 2000 RPM -- adjustable with a fan controller.

When operating at full speed, they move 99.1 CFM and generate 39.9dBA of noise. The fans use a 3-pin connector rather than a 4-pin and we couldn't control their speed from the motherboard, forcing us to use the fan controller.

Tipping the scales at 811g, the NiC C5 is heavy, though it is by no means the heaviest cooler in our roundup. Additionally, at only $55, it's a far cry from the most expensive and could prove to be a fantastic value.

Thermaltake FrioOCK

Thermaltake's Frio brand is home to some of the company's most extreme air-cooled solutions, such as last year's Frio Extreme with a TDP of 250W -- the highest of any Thermaltake cooler. As mentioned, we've previously tested the Frio Advanced, but its subpar performance made it hard to recommend.

This time we'll be looking at the FrioOCK, which was surprisingly released way back in February 2011, well before the LGA2011 platform had seen the light of day. Thermaltake has nonetheless kept this cooler alive with continual updates.

As a result, the FrioOCK supports every desktop platform released since the Pentium 4 and Athlon 64. So why has Thermaltake kept the FrioOCK alive? For a company that churns through CPU cooler models on a monthly basis we wanted to see what was so special about the FrioOCK.

The cooler measures 158.4H x 143W x 136.8D mm, weighs a whopping 1093g and boasts 130mm fans that move 121 CFM of air and generate an ear bleeding 48dBA of noise when cranked to their maximum speed of 2100 RPM.

Like most of the coolers we've looked at so far, the FrioOCK's base is constructed of copper and connects to an array of fins with a series of 6mm heatpipes -- six of them.

Priced almost 30% higher than the NiC C5, the $70 FrioOCK sits among the most expensive coolers we're testing.