Arctic Freezer 36 review: a chilly air cooler with the hottest price

A cool breeze that's close to free.



Arctic Freezer 36 marks an important milestone for the Swiss-German company. A direct successor to the 35 Series, the air cooler finally relinquishes brand-specific models in favour of a multi-compatible approach. It’s something of an expectation that a device works with Intel and AMD out of the box in 2024, but it’s better late than never.

Instead, your choices are split between five different looks. There’s the original black and silver, a CO version for continuous operation, and ARGB designs in either black or white. I have my hands on the fifth and final variant; a deep black model that does away with copper-coloured pipes for a clean aesthetic from top-to-bottom.

Sticking with the single-tower approach, Freezer 36’s improvements are summed up in two short sayings. Bigger is certainly better, as a slightly taller 159mm helps pack four more aluminium fins, totalling 59. It’ll still fit in all the same PC cases but should run a little cooler. Two are also better than one, with a dual fan approach in a push-pull configuration.

The dual P12 PWM PST fans are high-pressure, with specifications near identical to the cooler’s predecessor. They’re both fluid dynamic bearing and just as zippy between 200RPM and 1,800RPM. This duo is a little more reactive with Zero RPM, as fans kick in doubly quickly after 5% PWM. It’s not something I noticed, as our Intel Core i9-13900K isn’t exactly a light load.

Much like Corsair A115, Arctic tries something different with its mounting mechanism, letting you fix fans without removing the cooler. It’s not quite as versatile as its rival, but the clip-on approach is by far the easiest I’ve come across. It’s not perfect, as you’ll soon find out, but it’s something I’d love to see more of.

Going back to basics, Freezer 36 appears much sleeker than most of Arctic’s air cooler line-up. It drops all the angles, swirls, and sheaths that give its brethren the gamer look for something cleaner. I get that it’s difficult to stand out with a professional style if everyone’s doing it, but it fits into PC builds much easier. Not everything needs to be a statement piece.

At its MSRP, Arctic positions Freezer 36 as a Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo rival. It’s budget, but by no means cheap. You pay a small premium for ARGB lighting and another for a white finish, which isn’t too surprising given how difficult the colour is to get uniform. All are within the realms we’d expect, even bordering on surprisingly affordable.

MSRPLaunch discount
Arctic Freezer 36£21.99£16.93
Arctic Freezer 36 CO£23.99£18.47
Arctic Freezer 36 (Black)£23.99£18.47
Arctic Freezer 36 ARGB (Black)£28.99£22.32
Arctic Freezer 36 ARGB (White)£29.99£23.09

Celebrating the brand’s 23rd anniversary, however, the entire range gets a hefty day-one discount. It doesn’t quite reach the savings we see with Liquid Freezer III, but 23% off all Freezer 36s is nothing to scoff at. Arctic says the promotion will last three months until June 5, 2024. You’d be hard-pressed to find another quality air cooler below £19. Arctic even chucks in a six-year warranty just in case anything goes wrong.


Much like its predecessor, Arctic Freezer 36 does away with a physical manual. Instead, there’s a QR code on the box, and scanning it provides you with instructions if you need a step-by-step. It’s pretty simple, and I appreciate the green approach.

Arctic Freezer 36 Intel CPU plate.

Arctic doubles down on its proprietary brackets, which we first saw on Liquid Freezer III 420 ARGB. It’s unusual having to remove the default retention bracket surrounding your CPU, but there’s a star-shaped Allen key in the box to make it easy. You just need to choose between the Intel LGA1700 frame and dual AM4/5 mounting clips. Unfortunately, older CPUs like LGA1200 and 115X aren’t supported here. The brand hopes to shave a couple of degrees for your troubles, as each provides more even coverage between the contact point and cold plate.

Rather than pre-applying the thermal paste, there’s a 0.8g tube of Arctic MX-6 in the box. It’s a little extra hassle, but you know you’re getting an industry-leading conductor rather than just anything. Exercise a bit of caution when preparing it, though. The cold plate on the cooler is noticeably small, and any excess will bleed out the sides. This won’t harm your temperature or hardware, but it can look a bit ugly and isn’t easy to wipe away. Fortunately, the fans cover most of it anyway.

Once the thermal paste is in place, you need to line up the screws without any fans attached. Since it’s a single tower, both screws are easy to reach with any length screwdriver. Remember to make sure the Arctic logo is facing the right way before tightening. I’ve made that mistake one too many times in the past.

Arctic Freezer 36 fan clips.

Assembling the fans is the final step, using Arctic Freezer 36’s new clip-on system. Simply line up the heads of the pre-applied screws with the corner slots on the cooler and put some pressure until you hear a click. Make sure the wires point downwards for neater routing.

The whole process was so easy, it earned an audible “wow” from me when I first put it together. You no longer need to remove the cooler from the CPU to alternate or replace fans. Simply pop them on or off whenever you fancy. They also do a good job of holding the blowers in place without any extra vibration. I couldn’t help but wonder why I hadn’t seen something like this before. Then, it hit me.

Since you need a bit of force to pry apart the fans, the system invites another point of potential failure. One of the clips on our test sample broke after just the second time I removed a fan. I can still attach it using the three remaining clips, but it leaves a small yet obvious gap. I can even see the underlying screw glinting in the light.

At best, this could introduce more noise with a corner free to vibrate against the cooler. At worst, just one more broken clip, and you lose an entire fan. Arctic might be onto something with how simple this system is, but it needs ironing out, whether it’s a material issue or the mechanism itself.


Few jobs are as important as chilling your CPU, but you also want your cooler to operate quietly. After all, you don’t want your team comms drowned out by the sound of an aggressive fan down your microphone.

Putting Arctic Freezer 36 atop an Intel Core i9-13900K alongside Gigabyte GeForce RTX 4070 Ti, Club386 tests coolers by running Cinebench R23. During the benchmark, we record noise, scores, and temperatures at different fan speeds and voltages. Here’s how the air cooler stacks up against the rest:

Noise levels

TypeNoise at
Noise at
Noise at
max RPM
Arctic Freezer 36Air38.539.441.1
Corsair A115Air31.841.148.1
be quiet! Dark Rock EliteAir30.233.741.8
be quiet! Pure Loop 2 280Liquid31.134.846.0
MSI MAG CoreLiquid E360Liquid31.240.252.6
Decibels, lower is better

Arctic Freezer 36 doesn’t reach the same lows as its rivals when spinning at slower speeds. I wouldn’t describe it as particularly loud, however.

It’s a standout when running full pelt, being the most silent cooler we’ve tested. Granted, its max RPM is 1,800RPM rather than be quiet! Dark Rock Elite’s 2,000RPM, but it’s still an impressive feat.

Cinebench scores

Arctic Freezer 3635,70636,15636,39131,98932,15932,488
Corsair A11534,45836,22738,18131,13232,82833,163
be quiet! Dark Rock Elite36,54436,61436,66831,89932,12632,127
be quiet! Pure Loop 2 28036,84637,00136,97432,01032,19032,187
MSI MAG CoreLiquid E36036,73036,83037,29432,08532,28532,266
Multi-core score, higher is better

Cinebench R23’s multi-core stress test is a reliable indicator of just how consistent a cooler is. Freezer 36 doesn’t set any records here, but we wouldn’t expect it to. After all, it’s trying to tame one of the best CPUs from the past generation using nothing but air.

The goal is to hit a score of 38K when running at 253W, with acceptable lows of 32K at 153W. Arctic’s latest ticks all the boxes. As run-of-the-mill as this may seem, remember that its competition here costs over four times the price. Keeping pace in this race goes beyond expectations.


Arctic Freezer 3693.191.088.680.276.373.1
Corsair A11598.995.189.882.471.569.2
be quiet! Dark Rock Elite94.493.091.877.670.867.7
be quiet! Pure Loop 2 28091.889.385.576.765.961.8
MSI MAG CoreLiquid E36087.
Degrees Celsius, lower is better

Air solutions still aren’t well-suited for Core i9-13900K’s eight performance cores at full power, as some cores did hit 100°C. When this happens, it activates our ASRock Z690 Taichi motherboard’s built-in ‘critical temperature’ limit, causing fans to ramp up to 100%, skewing results. Like all other blowers we’ve tested, this was unavoidable.

Still, there’s no denying that Freezer 36 is a performance powerhouse, especially given it’s the most budget on this list. It keeps a formidably cool head in the face of a power-hungry processor, handling 253W better than be quiet! while also running more silently. What more could you want?


Arctic Freezer 36 makes waves in the air cooling market, proving that performance doesn’t need to cost you an arm and a leg. You’ll no longer buy the wrong model for your CPU, as all versions cater to both AMD and Intel, even if it sadly ditches some of the older chips. It’s this innovative bracket that gives the cooler a leg up in the thermals department, and other brands need to take note.

While the clip-on fans aren’t the strongest solution, I don’t want this to be the last I see of it. There’s so much potential in the approach if Arctic refines it. For now, it’s unlikely you’ll suffer the same fate as me since you won’t be pulling the cooler apart half as frequently. More often than not, it’s a set-and-forget job until the time comes to upgrade your CPU. And, when it does, just be careful.

The fact you can get this steadfastly silent blower for under £20 is frankly a miracle. You can find colder or even quieter models out there, but none come close to packing the same value. Arctic Freezer 36 should be at the top of your list on your hunt for a budget air cooler.

Arctic Freezer 36 earns the Club386 Editor's Choice award.

Arctic Freezer 36

Verdict: a budget air cooler that goes toe-to-toe with blowers that are triple the price.


Amazing value
Launch day discount
6-year warranty
Simple installation


Clip mounts need work
Lacks older Intel support

Related Articles

Arctic Freezer 36 marks an important milestone for the Swiss-German company. A direct successor to the 35 Series, the air cooler finally relinquishes brand-specific models in favour of a multi-compatible approach. It’s something of an expectation that a device works with Intel and AMD...Arctic Freezer 36 review: a chilly air cooler with the hottest price