Antec Kühler H2O 920 CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Coelho on June 21, 2011
Today we are testing the Antec Kühler H2O 920 CPU liquid cooling system, which is a sealed system with two 120 mm fans and USB control. Check it out!
The H2O 920 seems to be very similar to the Corsair H70 cooler, which we already reviewed. Actually, it is made by the same manufacturer of the H70 (Asetek), but the H2O 920 is a different product, mainly because of its USB interface, which we will explain later in this review.The Kühler H2O 920 comes in a big cardboard box, as you can see in Figure 1.
Figure 2 shows what the box contains: the preassembled block/pump/radiator set, fans, manual, installation hardware, and a CD with the product driver and application.
Figures 3 and 4 reveal the radiator, which has the purpose of transferring the heat from the coolant liquid to the air passing through it. The hoses that connect the radiator to the block are very flexible, allowing easy installation.
Figures 5 and 6 present the block, which performs the task of transferring the heat from the CPU to the circulating liquid. The pump is integrated in the block. The copper base comes with pre-applied thermal compound.
Figure 7 shows the cables that come off the block. The left one must be connected to the motherboard in order to power up the product. The middle ones are for connecting the fans, and the right connector goes on a USB header of the motherboard.
The 120 mm fans are shown in Figure 8. They have four pin connectors, which means they are compatible with PWM speed control.
Figure 9 shows the backplate and frame used to install the H2O 920 on Intel CPUs. For AMD processors, there is another set of accessories, very similar to this one.
Figure 10 illustrates the frame installed on our motherboard.
Figure 11 reveals the H2O 920 block installed on our motherboard.
In Figure 12, you can see the watercooler ready to use, with the radiator installed at the back panel of the case. The fans are mounted according to the product manual, blowing the air from inside the case to the outside.
Turning the computer on, we notice that the Antec logo at the block glows, as you can see in Figure 13.
The main highlight in the Kühler H2O 920 is that it can be controlled and monitored by an application software, using a USB port. After installing the driver and the application, we get the screen seen in Figure 14. This main screen shows the current temperature of the coolant liquid, noise level (estimated), and both fan and pump rpm. The application is very intuitive and effective to use.
A second screen shows graphs for fan speed and liquid temperature. The other two screens allow you to choose program options. You can even set the color of the light on the block logo, changing the red, green and blue values. In addition, the temperatures for the automatic fan control can be set as you wish, which allow you to easily balance performance and noise level.
At any time, you can also move the “dial” at the upper right corner, choosing an automatic mode of a “full throttle” mode, where the fans spin in maximum rpm. For the full load test, we set the system at full speed.
We tested the cooler with a Core i7-860 CPU (quad-core, 2.8 GHz), which is a socket LGA1156 processor with a 95 W TDP (Thermal Design Power). In order to get higher thermal dissipation, we overclocked it to 3.3 GHz (150 MHz base clock and 22x multiplier), keeping the standard core voltage (Vcore), which was the maximum stable overclock we could make with the stock cooler. Keep in mind that we could have raised the CPU clock more, but to include the stock cooler in our comparison, we needed to use this moderate overclock.
We measured noise and temperature with the CPU idle and under full load. In order to get 100% CPU usage in all threads, we ran Prime 95 25.11 with the "In-place Large FFTs" option. (In this version, the software uses all available threads.)
We compared the tested cooler to the Intel stock cooler with a copper base (included with the CPU), as well as with other coolers. Note that in the past, we tested coolers with a socket LGA775 CPU, and we retested some "old" coolers with this new methodology. This means you can find different values in older reviews than the values you will read in the next page. Every cooler was tested with the thermal compound that accompanies it.
Room temperature measurements were taken with a digital thermometer. The core temperature was read with the SpeedFan program (available from the CPU thermal sensors), using an arithmetic average of the core temperature readings. During the tests, the left panel of the case was open.
Operating System Configuration
We adopted a 2 °C error margin, meaning temperature differences below 2 °C are considered irrelevant.
The table below presents the results of our measurements. We repeated the same test on all coolers listed below. Each measurement was taken with the CPU at idle and at full load. In the models with a fan supporting PWM, the motherboard controlled the fan speed according to core load and temperature. On coolers with an integrated fan controller, the fan was set at the minimum speed on the idle test and at full speed on the full load test.
Processor at Full Load
|Cooler||Room Temp.||Noise||Speed||Core Temp.||Noise||Speed||Core Temp.|
|Intel stock (socket LGA1156)||14 °C||44 dBA||1700 rpm||46 °C||54 dBA||2500 rpm||90 °C|
|Cooler Master Hyper TX3 G1||14 °C||47 dBA||2050 rpm||33 °C||56 dBA||2900 rpm||62 °C|
|Zalman CNPS10X Extreme||14 °C||45 dBA||1400 rpm||27 °C||53 dBA||1950 rpm||51 °C|
|Thermaltake Silent 1156||14 °C||44 dBA||1200 rpm||38 °C||49 dBA||1750 rpm||69 °C|
|Noctua NH-D14||14 °C||49 dBA||1250 rpm||27 °C||49 dBA||1250 rpm||53 °C|
|Zalman CNPS10X Performa||14 °C||46 dBA||1500 rpm||28 °C||52 dBA||1950 rpm||54 °C|
|Prolimatech Megahalems||14 °C||40 dBA||750 rpm||27 °C||60 dBA||2550 rpm||50 °C|
|Thermaltake Frio||14 °C||46 dBA||1450 rpm||27 °C||60 dBA||2500 rpm||50 °C|
|Prolimatech Samuel 17||14 °C||40 dBA||750 rpm||40 °C||60 dBA||2550 rpm||63 °C|
|Zalman CNPS8000A||18 °C||43 dBA||1400 rpm||39 °C||54 dBA||2500 rpm||70 °C|
|Spire TherMax Eclipse II||14 °C||55 dBA||2200 rpm||28 °C||55 dBA||2200 rpm||53 °C|
|Scythe Ninja3||17 °C||39 dBA||700 rpm||32 °C||55 dBA||1800 rpm||57 °C|
|Corsair A50||18 °C||52 dBA||1900 rpm||33 °C||52 dBA||1900 rpm||60 °C|
|Thermaltake Jing||18 °C||44 dBA||850 rpm||34 °C||49 dBA||1300 rpm||60 °C|
|GlacialTech Alaska||18 °C||43 dBA||1150 rpm||36 °C||51 dBA||1600 rpm||60 °C|
|Deepcool Gamer Storm||18 °C||43 dBA||1100 rpm||35 °C||48 dBA||1600 rpm||62 °C|
|Corsair A70||26 °C||56 dBA||1900 rpm||40 °C||56 dBA||1900 rpm||65 °C|
|Deepcool Ice Blade Pro||23 °C||45 dBA||1200 rpm||38 °C||52 dBA||1500 rpm||64 °C|
|AC Freezer 7 Pro Rev. 2||23 °C||47 dBA||1750 rpm||44 °C||51 dBA||2100 rpm||77 °C|
|Corsair H70||27 °C||60 dBA||1900 rpm||37 °C||60 dBA||1900 rpm||61 °C|
|Zalman CNPS9900 Max||27 °C||55 dBA||1600 rpm||38 °C||58 dBA||1750 rpm||63 °C|
|Arctic Cooling Freezer 11 LP||25 °C||45 dBA||1700 rpm||51 °C||49 dBA||1950 rpm||91 °C|
|CoolIT Vantage||26 °C||60 dBA||2500 rpm||37 °C||60 dBA||2500 rpm||62 °C|
|Deepcool Ice Matrix 600||25 °C||46 dBA||1100 rpm||41 °C||53 dBA||1300 rpm||69 °C|
|Titan Hati||26 °C||46 dBA||1500 rpm||40 °C||57 dBA||2450 rpm||68 °C|
|Arctic Cooling Freezer 13||27 °C||49 dBA||1950 rpm||41 °C||53 dBA||2300 rpm||70 °C|
|Noctua NH-C14||26 °C||52 dBA||1300 rpm||37 °C||52 dBA||1300 rpm||61 °C|
|Intel XTS100H||26 °C||49 dBA||1200 rpm||42 °C||64 dBA||2600 rpm||68 °C|
|Zalman CNPS5X SZ||23 °C||52 dBA||2250 rpm||38 °C||57 dBA||2950 rpm||69 °C|
|Thermaltake SlimX3||21 °C||50 dBA||2700 rpm||46 °C||50 dBA||2750 rpm||99 °C|
|Cooler Master Hyper 101||21 °C||50 dBA||2600 rpm||38 °C||57 dBA||3300 rpm||71 °C|
|Antec Kühler H2O 620||19 °C||52 dBA||1400 rpm||34 °C||55 dBA||1400 rpm||58 °C|
|Arctic Cooling Freezer 13 Pro||20 °C||46 dBA||1100 rpm||36 °C||49 dBA||1300 rpm||62 °C|
|GlacialTech Siberia||22 °C||49 dBA||1400 rpm||34 °C||49 dBA||1400 rpm||61 °C|
|Evercool Transformer 3||18 °C||46 dBA||1800 rpm||33 °C||51 dBA||2250 rpm||65 °C|
|Zalman CNPS11X Extreme||20 °C||51 dBA||1850 rpm||34 °C||56 dBA||2050 rpm||61 °C|
|Thermaltake Frio OCK||15 °C||44 dBA||1000 rpm||27 °C||64 dBA||2200 rpm||51 °C|
|Prolimatech Genesis||18 °C||49 dBA||1050 rpm||30 °C||49 dBA||1050 rpm||54 °C|
|Arctic Cooling Freezer XTREME Rev. 2||15 °C||41 dBA||1050 rpm||32 °C||44 dBA||1400 rpm||60 °C|
|NZXT HAVIK 140||16 °C||48 dBA||1250 rpm||29 °C||49 dBA||1250 rpm||55 °C|
|Antec Kühler H2O 920||18 °C||41 dBA||650 rpm||29 °C||64 dBA||2500 rpm||49 °C|
In the graph below, at full load you can see how many degrees Celsius hotter the CPU core is than the air outside the case. The lower this difference, the better is the performance of the cooler.
The main specifications for the Antec Kühler H2O 920 CPU cooler include:
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.
The Antec Kühler H2O 920 is simply stunning. It is smart, beautiful and has an unbelievable cooling performance, beating all its competitors we tested so far.
Even presenting a high noise level when the fans are at maximum speed, the application that comes with this cooler is intuitive. You can easily find your perfect balance between performance and silence, while allowing the cooler to adapt itself to the CPU load. The possibility of setting your own color preference for the illuminated logo is just a welcome bonus.
Considering that the H2O 920 outperformed all the air coolers and watercoolers we tested so far, it couldn′t earn less than the Hardware Secrets Golden Award. Cum lauda.