Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Coelho on September 12, 2012
Let’s test the Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme, a sealed liquid cooling system with a 240 mm radiator, two 120 mm fans, and USB interface. Check it out!
The WATER2.0 Extreme is the top notch member of the WATER2.0 family, which also includes the WATER2.0 Pro and the WATER2.0 Performer, which we’ve already tested. The block and fans seem to be the same on the three water coolers, but the radiator of the Extreme is 240 mm long, supporting two side-by-side 120 mm fans.
Like its brothers, the WATER2.0 Extreme is made by Asetek.
A unique feature of the WATER2.0 Extreme is the USB interface. The block should be connected to a free USB header on the motherboard, and an application controls the pump and fan speeds, in manual or automatic modes.
Figure 1 shows the enormous box of the WATER2.0 Extreme.
Figure 2 shows the contents of the box: the radiator-block set, fans, manuals, CD with control software, and installation hardware.
This water cooler is discussed in detail in the following pages.
The sealed radiator-block system is shown in Figure 3. The radiator has room for two 120 mm side-by-side fans.
Figures 4 and 5 reveal the radiator of the WATER2.0 Extreme.
In Figure 6, you can see the cables that come attached to the block. There is one connector that goes on the motherboard CPU fan header, two male connectors where you must plug in the fans, and one USB connector that you must plug in on a free USB header of your motherboard.
Figure 7 shows the top of the block.
The base of the block, which is made of copper, is revealed in Figure 8. The thermal compound comes pre-applied.
Figure 9 illustrates the two 120 mm fans that come with the WATER2.0 Extreme. The fans have four pin connectors, which means they are compatible with PWM speed control.
In Figure 10, you can see the backplate for use on Intel CPUs. You must insert the four nuts into the backplate before attaching it to the solder side of the motherboard.
Before installing the WATER2.0 Extreme, you must assemble the frame with screws on the block, as shown in Figures 11 and 12.
The last step is to install the system inside the computer, attaching the block on the CPU and the radiator on the top panel of your case.
Figure 14 shows the main screen of the control software. You can choose one of three operation modes: Extreme, Silent or Custom. We repeated our tests on both Extreme and Silent modes.
We tested the cooler with a Core i5-2500K CPU (quad-core, 3.3 GHz), which is a socket LGA1155 processor with a 95 W TDP (Thermal Design Power). In order to get higher thermal dissipation, we overclocked it to 4.0 GHz (100 MHz base clock and x40 multiplier), with 1.3 V core voltage (Vcore). This CPU was able to reach 4.8 GHz with its default core voltage, but at this setting, the processor enters thermal throttling when using mainstream coolers, reducing the clock and thus the thermal dissipation. This could interfere with the temperature readings, so we chose to maintain a moderate overclocking.
We measured noise and temperature with the CPU under full load. In order to get 100% CPU usage in all cores, 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 other coolers we already tested, and to the stock cooler that comes with the Core i5-2500K CPU. Note that the results cannot be compared to measures taken on a different hardware configuration, so 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 on the next page. Every cooler was tested with the thermal compound that comes with 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 panels of the computer case were closed. The front and rear case fans were spinning at minimum speed in order to simulate the “normal” cooler use on a well-ventilated case. We assume that is the common setup used by a cooling enthusiast or overclocker.
The sound pressure level (SPL) was measured with a digital noise meter, with its sensor placed near the top opening of the case. 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 is not the case here.
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 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 full speed.
|Cooler||Room Temp.||Noise||Speed||Core Temp.||Temp. Diff.|
|Cooler Master Hyper TX3||18 °C||50 dBA||2850 rpm||69 °C||51 °C|
|Corsair A70||23 °C||51 dBA||2000 rpm||66 °C||43 °C|
|Corsair H100||26 °C||62 dBA||2000 rpm||64 °C||38 °C|
|EVGA Superclock||26 °C||57 dBA||2550 rpm||67 °C||41 °C|
|NZXT HAVIK 140||20 °C||46 dBA||1250 rpm||65 °C||45 °C|
|Thermalright True Spirit 120||26 °C||42 dBA||1500 rpm||82 °C||56 °C|
|Zalman CNPS12X||26 °C||43 dBA||1200 rpm||71 °C||45 °C|
|Zalman CNPS9900 Max||20 °C||51 dBA||1700 rpm||62 °C||42 °C|
|Titan Fenrir Siberia Edition||22 °C||50 dBA||2400 rpm||65 °C||43 °C|
|SilenX EFZ-120HA5||18 °C||44 dBA||1500 rpm||70 °C||52 °C|
|Noctua NH-L12||20 °C||44 dBA||1450 rpm||70 °C||50 °C|
|Zalman CNPS8900 Extreme||21 °C||53 dBA||2550 rpm||71 °C||50 °C|
|Gamer Storm Assassin||15 °C||48 dBA||1450 rpm||58 °C||43 °C|
|Deepcool Gammaxx 400||15 °C||44 dBA||1500 rpm||60 °C||45 °C|
|Cooler Master TPC 812||23 °C||51 dBA||2350 rpm||66 °C||43 °C|
|Deepcool Gammaxx 300||18 °C||43 dBA||1650 rpm||74 °C||56 °C|
|Intel stock cooler||18 °C||41 dBA||2000 rpm||97 °C||79 °C|
|Xigmatek Praeton||19 °C||52 dBA||2900 rpm||83 °C||64 °C|
|Noctua NH-U12P SE2||18 °C||42 dBA||1300 rpm||69 °C||51 °C|
|Deepcool Frostwin||24 °C||46 dBA||1650 rpm||78 °C||54 °C|
|Thermaltake Frio Advanced||13 °C||56 dBA||2000 rpm||62 °C||49 °C|
|Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk Edition||9 °C||48 dBA||2100 rpm||53 °C||44 °C|
|Thermaltake Frio Extreme||21 °C||53 dBA||1750 rpm||59 °C||38 °C|
|Noctua NH-U9B SE2||12 °C||44 dBA||1700 rpm||64 °C||52 °C|
|Thermaltake WATER2.0 Pro||15 °C||54 dBA||2000 rpm||52 °C||37 °C|
|Deepcool Fiend Shark||18 °C||45 dBA||1500 rpm||74 °C||56 °C|
|Arctic Freezer i30||13 °C||42 dBA||1350 rpm||63 °C||50 °C|
|Spire TME III||8 °C||46 dBA||1700 rpm||70 °C||62 °C|
|Thermaltake WATER2.0 Performer||11 °C||54 dBA||2000 rpm||49 °C||38 °C|
|Arctic Alpine 11 PLUS||11 °C||45 dBA||2000 rpm||82 °C||71 °C|
|be quiet! Dark Rock 2||10 °C||41 dBA||1300 rpm||58 °C||48 °C|
|Phanteks PH-TC14CS||16 °C||47 dBA||1300 rpm||58 °C||42 °C|
|Phanteks PH-TC14PE||16 °C||48 dBA||1300 rpm||57 °C||41 °C|
|SilverStone HE01 (Q)||19 °C||44 dBA||1150 rpm||63 °C||44 °C|
|SilverStone HE01 (P)||20 °C||57 dBA||2050 rpm||62 °C||42 °C|
|Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme (S)||17 °C||44 dBA||1250 rpm||52 °C||35 °C|
|Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme (E)||17 °C||53 dBA||1900 rpm||50 °C||33 °C|
In the graph below, 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.
In the graph below, you can see how many decibels of noise each cooler makes.
The main specifications for the Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme CPU cooler include:
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.
After the excellent cooling performance shown by the WATER2.0 Pro, we were expecting that the WATER2.0 Extreme would barely reach the same performance level. But, even in “Silent” mode, it outperformed our former champion by two degrees Celsius. In “Extreme” mode, it kept our CPU four degrees Celsius colder than the WATER2.0 Pro, establishing a new mark to be beaten.
The Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme is amazing. It has an outstanding cooling performance even in “Silent” mode (when it is really silent). It is relatively easy to install and uses less internal space in the case than typical high-end air coolers. Its only drawback is the price tag. But if you are looking for the best, you will need to pay for it.