AMD Wraith Stealth is (maybe) Shit.Arctic freezer III is (definitely) the GOAT.Also, Y'all Ded.

Just that.

If you are thinking, "I won't need to buy a cooler cuz I'll have the Wraith Stealth that comes with my CPU"; maybe think again10. If it came with a Ryzen 3 you should be okay, but if you have something bigger, perhaps not.

I mean this thing..

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I don't need a top-of-the-range CPU, but sometimes I do need to push my CPU7. I have a Ryzen 5600X, which came with aforementioned Wraith Stealth cooler. I thought, "that will do until I can research & acquire a better cooler, then sell it". I should have instead searched for a comparable CPU that came without a cooler. Sorry mother earth, for my foolishness. Now AMD thinks CPU+Shit Cooler is good retail. My bad.

Of course, you can't buy a new 5600X without the wraith cooler. Bummer if that's the CPU you want, which I did.

The Wraith works, so long as you don't push the CPU with anything intensive. Top-tier gaming is fine, as it's mostly a GPU thing; my eldest completed LTOUP1 with no issues and my amateurish jaunts in Red Dead Redemption II and Microsoft Flight Simulator have been smooth sailing/riding/flying.

However, encoding video was a no-no. After a few seconds with ffmpeg+libx265 our CPU went 85-90-94-shutdown. This is obviously bad news for any attached spinning rust. I didn't even bother with (the now ironically named) Prime95; I already knew the result: 95C = total shutdown; same as that dodgy FG installer I tried twice.

Then I got myself an Arctic Liquid Freezer III AOI (All-In-One) Cooler. (insert dreamy underwater music)

I like liquid cooling. It takes me back to the days of pushing Pentium III chips to 1K. I will add, I do not like air cooling. It's ugly, bulky and pricey, for what you get. A decent air cooler takes up all your case (hiding your beautiful build, for those that don't have it hidden) and bends your motherboard out of shape. In 2024 there's no excuse. My God some of those air coolers are ugly!

Modern All-In-One liquid coolers are sleek and beautiful and highly effective. The Wraith Stealth1, on the other hand, should probably never have gotten as far as production. We would be better served if AMD left cooling solutions to the experts.

AMD would argue that "most users" aren't encoding video or whatever other CPU-intensive shit folk get up to. Of course, they may be right. Me, I like to know that whatever task I throw at my system it will simply get on with it. I like space; which always translates to headroom, in any arena.

As for cooling, here are the numbers..

With the Wraith Stealth my CPU idled at 54-56C (diode temperature, in degrees Centigrade (C)) and pushing it hard (a simple ffmpeg x265 transcode) resulted in total shutdown every time (in other words >95C. Usually in under 10 seconds.

Switching to the LF3 my CPU now idles at 34-35C (CPU Package; usually my highest figure). Stressing the CPU (to 100% in CPU-Z), I can hit 52C. These are crazy numbers for any CPU, let alone Ryzen 5.

Ambient temperature is 18C; just where I like it. Case closed.

I mean "case closed" figuratively as well as physically. I thought these Ryzen chips were supposed to run hot? Well, not with modern AIO, that's for sure.

It's been a while since I built a PC. What with the disaster then the pandemic and dem pandemic prices, I struggled along with a business-class ThinkTower thing + laptops + Android devices.. In that time AIO coolers have clearly come a long way.

Also, I used a better thermal paste this time: Arctic MX-6 (Thermal conductivity: 7.5W/mk).

The old stuff:
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  Model: VK-881
  Thermal Conductivity: >1.96 W/m-K
  Thermal Resistance: <0.225° C-in²/W

Yes, it was shit paste. Perhaps I should have cracked open my new tube of MX-44 to do some comparisons before the full upgrade. Maybe the Wraith Stealth isn't as shit as I thought. Now all I can say is that shit paste + stock heatsink = trouble, whereas excellent paste + awesome AIO = bliss. And it is..

The three case fans in my Fractal Pop Mini are barely moving (4-500 rpm on the BIOS detected curves, CPU fans run at around 800rpm) so it's lovely and quiet (and I'm fussy about noise). Even at 100% CPU the case fans run just as slow and the CPU fans barely hit 1K, and are still damn quiet. The noisiest thing in the build is a hard drive (EXOS X16, which fortunately is only used for "storage" and DEFINITELY not for seeding torrents).

This setup has ultra-positive air-pressure (UPAP) with a roughly 4:1 ratio. It's an airy case designed to offer lots of free exhaust, so the fan setup makes the most of this attribute.

One single 120mm (Fractal Design case standard Aspect 12 RGB) exhaust at the back is on its own fan header; in case I ever feel the need to mess with that, which seems unlikely, given these numbers. This fan directs the airflow generally, allowing the individual fans and massive exhaust space to do their thing. The proof is in the pudding. My jaw actually dropped.

Every dust filter is intake; 2 x 120mm (240mm Arctic radiator) at the top plus two more 120mm Fractal case fans at the front. Arctic radiator fans switched around to intake, pulling on the radiator (as they look to be designed that way).

I'll likely pull the plug on the LED as soon as I've finished copying old hard drives (there's plenty space in there to just throw them on the floor of the case); meanwhile the light is handy3..

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The Fractal Design Pop Mini is a nice case, with a couple of places you could add extra 3.5" drives if you don't mind drilling a hole or two. That's in addition to the existing 2 x 3.5" bays + 4 x 2.5" drives2. At any rate 4 x 16TB or 4 x 18TB (3.5") is doable in this case. Or 2 x 5.25" (hell yeah!) + 2 x 3.5" drives. Or whatever combination plus the 4 x 2.5" drives.

5v aRGB connectors are totally the wrong shape for chaining and fitting into fan spaces. But this isn't Arctic or Fractal Design's fault. Backwards-thinking motherboard manufacturers, I guess.

By The Way, if you "LONG-PRESS" the Fractal Design RGB button, you can cycle through the various modes; pulsing and what-not. Crucially, one of them is "OFF". Thank you. NOW PUT IT IN THE FUCKING MANUAL!


1. Now that I've removed the Wraith, it's given me the opportunity to take a closer look. First thing I notice; the cold plate is rough; like it was cut with a disk, leaving circular grooves in its face. The Arctic cold plate is Copper polished like glass. Of course the thermal paste should fill any irregularities some, but why are there irregularities to begin with?

2. That is, if 2.5" SSDs ever get reasonably prices or 2.5" HDs get decent capacity. Everything just stops at 5TB. Is that really the limit?

3. Note: the green LED on the motherboard and GPU are indicating the temperature; green being "cool". The CPU temp gauge is achieved without Armory Crate being installed. I simply run the Aura Service and load the Aura app at startup (in ProgData startup, where it works as intended but doesn't open a program instance - suits me!).

I don't see any other use for the RGB. One could even plug all the LEDs into the motherboard control and have the entire box as a temperature gauge. Hmm.

The GPU temp gauge is courtesy of Palit's "ThunderMaster"6 software, which sadly needs to be running to do its thing, at least on my GPU.

4. I should add; I bought my GPU; the first thing I bought; second hand. Once I had the new box setup and started looking at temperatures and such, I noticed it ran hot. Very hot; which would explain why the fan kept jumping to full pelt whenever I pushed it. It idled around 56C and under load went up to almost 90C, with the hotspot hitting 105C. When Thundermaster was running, a dialog would pop up to tell my my GPU was dangerously hot; never a good sign. Although it's good to know this card can handle torture just fine.

I opened it up and found the original thermal pad had disintegrated and squeezed itself out the sides of the GPU chip. Aha!

Finally I could put my surplus MX-4 to use5! Five minutes later my GPU is idling in the 40s and under 100% load hits 71C, with the hotspot maxing-out at 83C. Twenty Two degrees difference! The fan is also much quieter under load, rarely exceeding a 50% duty cycle.

As a bonus, it's brought down the temperature of the M.2 SSD sitting directly above it. Win-win!

5. Yes, I bought this before I realised the AIO came with a small tube of MX-6. Well of course; it's Arctic innit.

6. While other OEM GPU utilities may look prettier, or offer fancier OC scanning; none of them can setup your GPU RGB as a temperature gauge.

7. Because for some reason8 I need to re-encode video.

8. YOU FUCKWIT! Yeah, you wanted to play with ffe, mess around with ffmpeg settings, all good; FOR SCIENCE!, but how oh fucking how did you come to the conclusion that your wank-food was fit for DISTRIBUTION??? YOU are the reason this planet will die and all its inhabitants will burn *just* after I am gone. You (fuckwit) and those like-you-which-sadly-is-most. DAMN! She was lovely while she lasted9

9. Planet Earth, I mean. FUCK ME, you should have seen her in the Seventies; just clinging to the last of the beautiful; keeping most everything pretty while yup; just as the scientists were telling us; about to fall into the human-created abyss.. Och well. I got a swimming pool. The grandkids can enjoy it because I invested well and can afford the anti-UV shielding for the Summer House. You however, will burn. SPF-required is called 'staying indoors'; soreeeee.

10. Ooooh. Still here are ye? Think yer special do ya? Okay.

Le Raison De'etre. Erm. Answer No. 10. So to speak(11) is that there is a sacred Math involving the number of spaces in your brain reserved for now thinking, and most of them are filled with penis and SUV and Bank-Balance-Derivatives.

I do not deny this is fun and pleasurable, however; I assert that while top-seven material through-and-through they are, nothing compares to our home, which is literally dying under your feet.

Our mother does such a tremendous job, just like our own mother did, of hiding the true cost, the true pain, the truth, in fact; of all that has so far been; but still we must grow up and face what actually is; act now or have no home: death for our children, a barren planet that could have been Eden. A rock in space where once was promised a home for all eternity.

But still, as your children cough and die and the planet withers around you, you will scroll facebook idling your SUV in my street13.

11. If you didn't get the reference then you fail on "Essential Scottish Poetry 101". Sooreee2.

13. Yes, that WAS MY BASEBALL BAT. So sue me. By the time we get this into court WE ARE ALL FUCKING DEAD. *YAWN*. Yes, sorry, latest episode of Corrie coming right up, or whatever...

The definitive guide to HiFi, no shit.

You actually hear HiFi buffs speaking about "the Holy Grail" when referring to HiFi components. This slip should not be overlooked.

What you don't so much hear is that your Holy Grail and mine might be completely different things. And yours might even be *gasp*: something cheap. The implication that you are a lesser being because of this is erm, implicit.

It's like some top chef dismissing a commoner's palette. But remove the bottle of hooch and a pack of smokes-per-day and most anyone's palette could be that. But yours isn't, is the implication. I 100% understand this snobbery and to some extent concur.

But you likely aren't abusing your ears, are you? SO now this subjective shit exposes itself as exactly that. Not shit, but subjective. We all hear different. HiFi reviews don't come with this caveat. Why is that?

I totally get that for you; Mr. Reviewer; spending £2000 on a set of interconnecting cables DID IT for you. Possibility noted. But I am far more excited by the possibility that Eine Klein Nachtmusik on a £99 amp did it for someone else. Because that could mean a lot more someone else's getting their music on for way less bucks. Or even £30. Let me tell you a story..

When the first true digital amps were released, sample units hit all the main HiFi magazines. The first and arguably most important (at the time) reviewer, simply didn't believe what he was listening to. So, scared of being ostracized, not trusting his senses, he put the device on the shelf and let it fall through the cracks.

A couple of months later, when a rival magazine published a glowing review of this 30-buck giant-killer amp, our past-his-shelf-life reviewer published his own review, basically echoing the sentiments of the first; that some crazy cheap Chinese plastic amp could go toe-to-toe with amps costing fifty times the price. And win.

This is like Star Trek replicators for £99.99 at Argos; the entire economic equation changes overnight. Along with Argos dumping 99% of the rest of their catalogue. Oh wait..

So while that isn't happening ("Bar of gold please, replicator"), other tech is. And some of it knocks old tech for shit. Get comfy with gestalt shifts or die. Especially as a reviewer, ffs.

It's easy to romanticize about the experiences you younger generations never will. But regardless of the snobbery, I applaud the HiFi "industry" for fostering the idea that there is "something better", if only you search (and spend) for it.

I'm here to tell you that while all that is true, the Holy Grail may be something much more humble. Another story..

One night drunk I penned a preset with Equalizer APO (an equalizer app for Windows), in an attempt to compensate for my old Maplin powered speakers deficiencies in their current corner position (I aim to replace them as soon as I find something superior with all the features I need to justify an upgrade). The trick is to play tracks that you KNOW. If those tracks also happen to be classic HiFi test tracks, even better.

I came across this preset a couple days later and clicked it. FUCK YEAH! I had Stevie Wonder on at the time, "Superstition" (I'd been teaching my youngest about funk and the possibilities of the Clavinet, after he discovered it on our family keyboard).

The track was bouncing. My body was jumping around. All my favourite parts were right there. It was clicking. It was singing. It was funky as fuck. No more than some FINELY TUNED EQ HDMI-out to a set of Maplin powered speakers. My living room HiFi would struggle to produce this much raw musical enchantment, and for way more bucks (yes, I have a "HiFi"). The moral..


Our musical tastes, as well as our sonic preferences, are formed in our youth. If you first tasted strawberries, first saw a naked breast, opened your first letter, whatever while listening to some old sonorous radio furniture, or maybe some tinny cheap clock radio, or awesome HiFi THAT will colour your preference for audio.

No HiFi reviewer can rewrite your childhood; he (it's always a he, women have better things to do) can only advise on the facts as he sees them; which is to say, coloured. Considering all the aforementioned factors and many more, basically; no one hears music quite like you.

So you are back to "trying shit out" and "how much money do you have?". Damn.

Okay, I can maybe offer you one soupçon of advice..


Buying a complete HiFi someone else designed is an instant fail. Speakers are all different. Amps are all different. Sources are all different. No way can some all-in-one system ever completely satisfy; you will always be left wanting. If this is a state you enjoy; fair enough. But for the rest of us there is fortunately (or perhaps, unfortunately) these days a vast array of choices.

If only HiFi shops let us take equipment home to test it out, the whole HiFi buying experience could be fairly painless. My advice: aim for "transparent" and "faithful reproduction". Then you can simply use use EQ to sort out any recording issues!

If you start young you might even find your holy grail.

Good luck!


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