The installation of the Frio Extreme is fairly complex and requires a significant amount of time. Although the cooler could be installed with the motherboard still inside the case, granted that the motherboard’s tray has an opening over the CPU area, we highly recommend removing the motherboard from the case if you are not highly experienced with the installation of similar products. To begin with, the user needs to install the fan wire retention clips on the cooler’s fins.
The installation on an AM3 socket is being described in this review. Intel CPU users will have to follow a similar procedure but use the Intel mounting parts instead. To begin with, the stock retention bracket and backplate need to be removed from the motherboard. Once the stock backplate is removed, the user needs to replace it with the supplied backplate and hexagonal screws.
Moving to the top of the motherboard, the backplate is being secured onto the motherboard by screwing black plastic spacers onto the hexagonal screws. The two-stage retention mechanism will allow the easy removal and reinstallation of the cooler from now on, a feature especially convenient for those who frequently change their processors.
Once the spacers are tightened, the user can select either the short or long retention brackets, which are screwed onto the spacers by using metallic thumbscrews. The short/long brackets control the orientation of the cooler; with the short brackets the Frio will be facing sideways, with the long it will be facing upwards. The metallic thumbscrews can be tightened with a Philips screwdriver if deemed necessary but be careful regarding the amount of force used since the threads will not take too much.
Once the retention brackets are in place, the user needs to apply a thin layer of thermal grease on the CPU and then place the cooler on the socket, tightening it in place with the supplied retention bracket. You might need a long shank Philips screwdriver to conveniently perform this procedure.
Finally, the fans need to be secured with the wire clips. Only once the installation is complete you will be able to fully appreciate the monstrous size of the Frio Extreme. The humongous cooler overwhelms everything at the top half of the motherboard, which would make working around the CPU socket area (for example, if trying to reach the fan power or the CPU 12V cable connectors) very, very difficult. Clearly, the cooler is not designed to fit inside small cases and it would block two of the RAM slots on some motherboards. Since Intel dictates a larger clearance between the CPU and the RAM slots, this may be a problem only for AMD users with middle-range motherboards.