Arctic’s Liquid Freezer III coolers could void your CPU warranty — require a custom contact frame for Intel chips

Arctic, which makes some of the Best AIOs, just launched the Liquid Freezer III series sporting an improved cooler design over its highly acclaimed Liquid Freezer II series. Arctic’s new AIOs, are the first coolers on the market to ship with a dedicated contact frame for Intel Alder Lake, Raptor Lake, and Raptor Lake Refresh CPUs, that replace the built-in independent loading mechanism (ILM) to improve cold plate contact with the IHS boosting thermal efficiency and performance.

Arctic is also supplying the Liquid Freezer III series with offset brackets specifically for AMD’s AM4 and AM5 platforms. The bracket offsets the cold plate towards the CCDs mounted near the bottom of most Ryzen CPUs to improve contact around that area of the chip boosting cooling performance.

Gamers Nexus‘ review of the Liquid Freezer III series reveals that Arctic is not only supplying its coolers with a dedicated contact frame and offset brackets, but it also requires either of them whether you are using the cooler on an Intel or AMD CPU. This means that Arctic is not supplying any sort of traditional mounting mechanism for LGA 1700 or AM4/AM5 as a backup; customers must use the company’s own custom mounting mechanisms.

This is the first time we’ve seen a cooling manufacturer diving so aggressively into custom mounting mechanisms for its cooling units. But, it has good reasons for sticking strictly with its own mounts. Arctic reports that Intel’s ILM on its LGA1700 and future LGA1851 sockets (i.e. Arrow Lake) put over 40 kg of force on just two points of an Intel CPU when it is fully installed in the socket. Arctic claims that this immense load can deform the CPU leading to “long-term problems”. Further Arctic says that its patent-pending contact frame does not deform the CPU, putting less stress on the CPU and mainboard keeping cooling performance consistent.

According to Arctic, its native AMD offset mounting mechanism offers optimum heat dissipation on AMD Ryzen CPUs by moving the cooler’s contact point 5 mm lower on the IHS, putting the center of the cooling plate right on top of a Ryzen CPU’s CCD(s).

There is merit to Arctic’s claims. We found in our own testing with Thermalright’s LGA1700-BCF Contact Frame that Intel’s ILM on its LGA1700 socket can handicap performance significantly, preventing the CPU cooler from making optimal contact with a CPU’s IHS. We have not tested offset brackets for AMD AM4/AM5 CPUs yet, but Noctua has been providing offset brackets for its own coolers and reports that its brackets can provide a 3C drop in temps alone.

That’s not to say there haven’t been issues with non-standard mounting before. For instance, with custom contact frames, it’s been reported that screwing the frame too tightly can cause system instability and prevent super high CPU/memory overclocks from being stable.

AMD’s offset bracket will not be prone to this, however, this bracket also has one glaring weakness, that being optimal compatibility with Ryzen APUs. AMD does not use a multi-chipset design for its APUs, instead, it uses a monolithic design just like Intel. This means that Arctic’s offset could hinder cooling performance on AMD’s APUs since the monolithic die is installed directly in the middle of the CPU, necessitating a default mounting configuration for optimal thermals.

Warranty Issues

The biggest problem is in regard to the custom contact frame Arctic is providing for Intel LGA1700 users. Intel itself has already warned users that tampering with its ILM in any way could void the warranty of the CPU. This could raise some serious tension between Intel and Arctic if ever an Arctic Liquid Freezer III user has to RMA his/her Intel CPU under warranty.

It will be interesting to see if more cooling manufacturers follow in Arctic’s footsteps. Having custom mounts for Intel CPUs specifically gives Arctic an extra edge that no other cooling manufacturer has right now. But that extra performance edge comes at the risk of the customer’s CPU warranty.

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