Author Topic: Using Arctic Freezer 11 LP with Antec ISK-100 case. Yes, it fits but only just!  (Read 2886 times)

jlac839

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I wanted to build a small but powerful media PC for running Plex, video editing, and transcoding purposes.  Having previously built your design for a Mini-STX PC I came back to TBG to see if any new updates were available for that form-factor.  Although the demise of Mini-STX is disappointing, it led me to your Mini-ITX build using the attractive Antec ISK-110.  I elected to use slightly different components: MB Gigabyte GA-H270N-WIFI (wasn't interested in overclocking this one hence the H270 over the Z270), CPU i5-7500, and 16GB of the Ballistix RAM.  I also use CentOS7 rather than Windows for my tinkering and media builds.  Anyway, the build was a first-time success - I won't belabour the fiddling to get all the bits to fit, your article does a fine job of that.  However, I was disappointed by the constant ramp-up and ramp-down noise of the stock Intel cooler.  It wasn't that the cooler would ramp up and stay up, instead even just using the KDE interface, it would speed up, slow down, click a window, speed up, slow down etc.  Very annoying.  I tried experimenting with BIOS fan settings but couldn't find a setting I liked that properly prevented whiny ramp-up.  Perhaps if I'd stuck with the Pentium CPU it wouldn't have been as bad. 

I resolved to see if I could find a low profile cooler that might work with the ISK-100.  Frankly there aren't many around.  After some research (including a thorough review of your LP cooler article!) I could see that the majority of LP coolers would simply not fit - the ISK-100 is just too tight.  However I found two or three candidates including the Arctic Freezer 11 LP which seemed the best bet to try for ~$20.  Critical dimensions of this cooler are 105mm wide and 52.5mm tall.  You can see the drawing at https://www.arctic.ac/us_en/freezer-11-lp.html#techspecs.  As a comparison, the stock cooler is 90mm wide and 48mm tall.  The small dimensional differences are significant within the ISK-100.

I had to sacrifice the pre-applied MX-4 compound to try different fit options.  The only viable one was to fit the cooler "upside-down" relative to the vertical orientation of the ISK-100 that I wanted to use.  Usually you want heat pipes facing downward relative to a tower case orientation for best cooling performance.  Even in this orientation, fitting the 11LP is a struggle and getting it screwed in to place involves taking care to avoid damaging other components.  One of the pipe terminators hits the USB3 header connector on the GA-H270 and the side of the cooler pushes one of the DIMMs ever so slightly.  Neither issue seems to have caused any functional problems so far.  Having installed the cooler, I reconnected everything and booted up.  At room temp and idle the fan is completely silent (BIOS CPU fan set to "Silent").  The 11LP has an RPM range of 900 - 2000.  Using the KDE interface and running multiple applications and many windows, the fan remained silent - this was a big improvement over stock. Then I ran some Prime95 torture tests using mprime while monitoring CPU temp sensors.  Prime95 quickly gets all four cores of the i5-7500 to 100% and the temp rose rapidly from ~35C at idle to mid-70s and touched 80C.  The cooler fan ramped up quickly and is definitely audible in the quiet room but nowhere near as whiny and annoying as the stock cooler.  I can't claim that my tinkering and testing is either particularly scientific nor comprehensive and I may get into the mood of experimenting some more but I thought it would be interesting to some readers to know that there is at least one option to the stock Intel cooler for the ISK-100 case if you're willing to deal with the fit challenges.  Of course, other MB layouts may work better with the 11LP or may not work at all.  You can find plenty of reviews and info about the 11LP online.







Thanks for a great site.

John
« Last Edit: April 20, 2018, 09:33:14 AM by Ari Altman »

Ari Altman

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Welcome to the TBG Forum, jlack839, and thanks for your input on CPU cooling! If you'd like to submit pictures, please either host them on a third-party image hosting site and link to them here, or send them to theguru@techbuyersguru.com and I'll post them for you.

Now, a few thoughts on your journey:
(1) as  you noticed, the STX build was pulled from the buyer's guide in place of the Antec ISK110. The ISK110 has been around a long, long time, and for much of that time it had four antiquated USB 2.0 ports in front, which no ITX motherboards support today (they only support two). And in the intervening time, the STX standard showed up. Well, the problem with STX is that it appears to have been a one-off effort in mid-2016, with the launch of a number of products like cases and motherboards, and then nothing. I suspect we'll never see another new STX motherboard, which is why I pulled the guide, and luckily, Antec finally launched a USB 3.0 version of the ISK110, which had long been the best ITX case on the market. So it was an obvious fit for the guide. Honestly, while it's bigger than an STX build, it's certainly small enough to fit just about anywhere, and it looks great, as you found.

(2) Coolers are tricky when you're talking about serious height limitations (generally based on Intel's 47mm-tall stock cooler). The reason the guide never recommended one is that despite testing about half a dozen ultra-short coolers, I never found one that actually performed better AND quieter than the stock Intel cooler. The very popular Noctua NH-L9i is quieter, but it doesn't perform better, and at $40 I thought it was a bit expensive for a small build. SilverStone has several low-profile coolers that I've tested, and in fact I use the SilverStone NT08 in my own personal ISK110, but honestly, it's too loud. Cryorig has its C7 at 47mm, but I haven't personally tested it (I've tested a number of other Cryorig coolers, but haven't tried this one yet). I'm a little concerned about clearance with this cooler, so I can't personally recommend it having not tested it. The Arctic 11LP cooler you have is technically a bit big for the ISK110, as you found, so it's not on my recommended list for this build either. I'm actually quite familiar with the bad USB3.0 header placement on many Gigabyte ITX boards, including the H270N, which is why I've stopped recommending them in TBG's guides. It's newest Z370 boards avoid this problem, after years of users complaining about it!

Note that SilverStone is actually sending me its brand-new 47mm cooler, the AR11, which is designed specifically as a direct replacement for the Intel cooler, but performs at a much higher level. Keep a lookout for a review of that cooler coming soon. We may finally have a winner when it comes to the perfect ultra-low-profile cooler!

P.S. You know what, all this just made me realize that I ought to finally test the Cryorig C7. I'm going to drop my rep there a line to see if I can get one to use in a shootout with the SilverStone AR11!
« Last Edit: April 20, 2018, 08:22:33 AM by Ari Altman »

jlac839

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Thanks for your feedback Ari.

I looked at the Cryorig C7 as an option but came to the same conclusion about possible clearance issues - particularly with the under MB mounting possibly causing interference with the drive bay.  The gap between the top of my drives and the MB looks to be too small.  Without CAD drawings of the case and cooler it's impossible to perform a proper tolerance stack-up analysis leaving real-world testing as the only method.  While ~$30 for the C7 isn't as bad as the Noctua, it was still more than I wanted to pay to play.

The 11LP uses a clever pushpin mounting system which did not cause any more interference into the drive bay than the stock cooler so that was a plus.

The AR11 you mentioned looks very interesting.  Again, I'd be suspicious about drive bay clearances but it does appear from the website that they include low profile mounting screws.  With the ISK-100, underside MB access is pretty straightforward (even if one does have to temporarily un-mount the drive carrier bracket).  I'm keen to see your review!

Thanks,

John

Ari Altman

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Thanks for your feedback Ari.

I looked at the Cryorig C7 as an option but came to the same conclusion about possible clearance issues - particularly with the under MB mounting possibly causing interference with the drive bay.  The gap between the top of my drives and the MB looks to be too small.  Without CAD drawings of the case and cooler it's impossible to perform a proper tolerance stack-up analysis leaving real-world testing as the only method.  While ~$30 for the C7 isn't as bad as the Noctua, it was still more than I wanted to pay to play.

The 11LP uses a clever pushpin mounting system which did not cause any more interference into the drive bay than the stock cooler so that was a plus.

The AR11 you mentioned looks very interesting.  Again, I'd be suspicious about drive bay clearances but it does appear from the website that they include low profile mounting screws.  With the ISK-100, underside MB access is pretty straightforward (even if one does have to temporarily un-mount the drive carrier bracket).  I'm keen to see your review!

Thanks,

John

Good point about Cryorig's bulky underside bracket - there's always something with ITX builds, isn't there?!? I've just e-mailed Cryorig, Noctua, Scythe, and Reeven to see if they'd like to go in on the next roundup, which will also include the SilverStone NT08 and AR11. Stay tuned!

And I've added the photos to your first post!