Antec Kühler H2O 920 CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Otto Coelho on June 21, 2011


Introduction

Hardware Secrets Golden Award

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.

Antec Kühler H2O 920
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Figure 1: Package

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.

Antec Kühler H2O 920
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Figure 2: Accessories

This cooler is discussed in detail in the following pages.

The Antec Kühler H2O 920

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.

Antec Kühler H2O 920
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Figure 3: Radiator

Antec Kühler H2O 920
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Figure 4: Radiator

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.

Antec Kühler H2O 920
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Figure 5: Block

Antec Kühler H2O 920
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Figure 6: Base

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.

Antec Kühler H2O 920
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Figure 7: Connectors

The 120 mm fans are shown in Figure 8. They have four pin connectors, which means they are compatible with PWM speed control.

Antec Kühler H2O 920
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Figure 8: Fans

Installation

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.

Antec Kühler H2O 920
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Figure 9: Backplate and frame

Figure 10 illustrates the frame installed on our motherboard.

Antec Kühler H2O 920
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Figure 10: Holding system installed

Figure 11 reveals the H2O 920 block installed on our motherboard.

Antec Kühler H2O 920
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Figure 11: Block installed

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.

Antec Kühler H2O 920
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Figure 12: Installed in our system

Operation

Turning the computer on, we notice that the Antec logo at the block glows, as you can see in Figure 13.

Antec Kühler H2O 920
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Figure 13: Turned on

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.

Antec Kühler H2O 920
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Figure 14: Control application interface

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.

How We Tested

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.

The sound pressure level (SPL) was measured with a digital noise meter, with its sensor placed 4" (10 cm) from the fan. We turned off the case and video board cooler fans so they wouldn't interfere with the results. This measurement is only for comparison purposes, because a precise SPL measurement needs to be made inside an acoustically insulated room with no other noise sources, which isn't the case here.

Hardware Configuration

Operating System Configuration

Software Used

Error Margin

We adopted a 2 °C error margin, meaning temperature differences below 2 °C are considered irrelevant.

Our Tests

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.

 

Idle Processor

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.

Antec Kühler H2O 920

Main Specifications

The main specifications for the Antec Kühler H2O 920 CPU cooler include:

* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.

Conclusions

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.

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Antec-Kuhler-H2O-920-CPU-Cooler-Review/1314


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