The SilverStone Permafrost PF120, PF240, and PF360 ARGB AIO Coolers Reviewby E. Fylladitakis on June 17, 2020 10:00 AM EST
SilverStone is a well-known name amongst advanced users and enthusiasts. The company earned its reputation from its first PSUs and original case designs, and soon diversified towards cooling related products. Their products usually are designed to be cost-effective, with a focus on practicality and quality instead of extravagant aesthetics. That tactic served SilverStone very well in the past, some of their CPU tower coolers have become very good values for the price.
Given SilverStone's success with air coolers, today we are switching tracks to liquid coolers and taking a look at SilverStone’s latest all-in-one (AIO) “Permafrost” cooler series. With multiple models covering the most popular cooler sizes, SilverStone is looking to tap into what has continued to be a popular market for alternative high-performance coolers. And with the inclusion of Addressable RGB (ARGB) lighting, SilverStone is perhaps bowing to a bit to market pressures as well by including RGB lighting in their new AIO coolers.
Altogether, SilverStone has released three Permafrost ARGB AIO coolers: the PF120, PF240, and PF360. As their names suggest, they are designed with radiators that use one, two, or three 120 mm cooling fans respectively. And for today's review, we're going to be looking at all three models.
|SilverStone Permafrost Coolers|
|Size||360mm x 120mm||240mm x 120mm||120mm x 120mm|
|Fan Noise (Rated)||7.4 - 35.6 dBA|
As mentioned previously, all three coolers also incorporate RGB lighting. With RGB being the latest industry trend and considering the significant market slice that it currently holds, it seems that SilverStone could not afford to not have RGB-related products available. Thankfully, however, unlike so many vendors, SilverStone isn't treating the inclusion of RGB lighting at a justification for charging high prices. So while these new coolers aren't budget products by any means, their retail price is not forbidding, making them an enticing option for enthusiasts that wish to combine aesthetics and performance while on a budget.
Packaging & Bundle
SilverStone supplies their new Permafrost series coolers in sturdy cardboard boxes that, along with the internal custom inserts, provide excellent shipping protection. The artwork on the packaging is simplistic, focused on pictures of the coolers themselves – still, that is more than enough for catching the eyes of shop shelf browsers.
All three coolers share the exact same bundle, with the sole exception being the number of fans and their wiring. Inside the box, we found the necessary mounting hardware, a small syringe with thermal paste, the necessary power and LED wiring, and an ARGB lighting controller.
Meanwhile the ARGB LEDs of all three coolers are compatible with most motherboards featuring controllable RGB lighting. On compatible systems, the LED wiring of the AIO cooler can be attached directly to the motherboard, which directly controls the RGB lighting of the cooler via the software each motherboard manufacturer provides.
And while SilverStone does include a stand-alone ARGB controller as well, it's really meant to be used as a fallback option – to manually setup lighting effects with systems that do not have a compatible motherboard. It features several pre-programmed RGB lighting effects, as well as speed and brightness options, but it certainly is not convenient to open up the case each time one wants to change any lighting setting. These coolers are definitely meant to be used with compatible motherboards, where the control is performed via software.
Depending on the version of the SilverStone PF ARGB cooler, you will receive one, two, or three 120 mm fans for their radiator. SilverStone supplies their APA1225H12 fans, which are identical to the Air Blazer 120 fan that the company markets as a stand-alone item. These fans feature a Hydro bearing engine for low noise and anti-vibration mounting pads. The nine narrow fins suggest that the fan is designed for high flow and low pressure, which should be fine considering the relatively thin radiators.
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drexnx - Wednesday, June 17, 2020 - linkwish we'd get a teardown of the pumpblock, seems like after many years of asetek stagnation we're finally seeing performance move forward again in AIOs
warrenk81 - Wednesday, June 17, 2020 - linkpage 2 typo: "The bottom of the main block assembly reveals a sizable, square cooper block."
eastcoast_pete - Wednesday, June 17, 2020 - linkMaybe my information is outdated, but isn't there a small, but significant difference in the overall shape (slightly concave vs. slightly convex) of AMD's vs. Intel's heat spreaders that can really affect cooling performance? I may have missed it, but are the copper blocks "fitted" to the respective CPU type? If not, some of that cooling potential is likely being wasted.
Also, with current "enthusiast" kind Intel CPUs reaching over 250 W TDP at peak use, any chance of showing results with a steady 250 or 200 W load?
PeachNCream - Wednesday, June 17, 2020 - linkI'm seeing a drop down menu option to select various wattage from 60W up 340W including the 200W and 250W options you would like.
eastcoast_pete - Wednesday, June 17, 2020 - linkYeah, I should have been clearer; that comment/request was in regard to the last graph, which doesn't have the drop-down selection, and is for 100W only.
Interestingly, no response by anyone yet on the question about the shape of the copper block; I didn't think it'd matter, until I read some tests that showed a pretty significant difference depending on how true the heatsink matches the heat spreader's shape
p1esk - Wednesday, June 17, 2020 - link"the contact plate is not large enough to cover Ryzen Threadripper processors"
Arbie - Wednesday, June 17, 2020 - linkFor those interested, the Noctua NH-D15 is close to the Fractal Design S36 here, except that there's no data on Noctua above 38 dBA:
Beaver M. - Saturday, June 20, 2020 - linkAnd thats with 2 fans.
Plus you always have the option to sound-insulate your case, which helps a lot on air coolers, while the pumps of AIOs are pretty impossible to get silent due to their vibration.
edwardav54 - Wednesday, June 17, 2020 - linkNo RGB please.
AdditionalPylons - Thursday, June 18, 2020 - linkIf my colleague working with permafrost research would be into stationary PCs I'd buy this for him at once. =)
That said, I may consider this in a mITX build for myself at some point.
(I've only had one AIO - an Asetek for LGA775, years ago. Wasn't bothered with the relatively minor pump noise. Have since used Noctua air coolers and been happy with that.)