Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Coelho on September 12, 2012


Introduction

Hardware Secrets Golden Award

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.

Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme
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Figure 1: Package

Figure 2 shows the contents of the box: the radiator-block set, fans, manuals, CD with control software, and installation hardware.

Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme
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Figure 2: Accessories

This water cooler is discussed in detail in the following pages.

The Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme

The sealed radiator-block system is shown in Figure 3. The radiator has room for two 120 mm side-by-side fans.

Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme
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Figure 3: Sealed system

Figures 4 and 5 reveal the radiator of the WATER2.0 Extreme.

Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme
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Figure 4: Radiator

Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme
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Figure 5: Radiator

The Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme (Cont’d)

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.

Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme
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Figure 6: Block wires

Figure 7 shows the top of the block.

Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme
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Figure 7: Block

The base of the block, which is made of copper, is revealed in Figure 8. The thermal compound comes pre-applied.

Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme
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Figure 8: Base

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.

Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme
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Figure 9: Fans

Installation

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.

Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme
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Figure 10: Backplate

Before installing the WATER2.0 Extreme, you must assemble the frame with screws on the block, as shown in Figures 11 and 12.

Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme
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Figure 11: Frame assembled

Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme
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Figure 12: Frame installed

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.

Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme
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Figure 13: Installation finished

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.

Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme
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Figure 14: Control software screen

How We Tested

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.

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 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.

CoolerRoom Temp.NoiseSpeedCore Temp.Temp. Diff.
Cooler Master Hyper TX318 °C50 dBA2850 rpm69 °C51 °C
Corsair A7023 °C51 dBA2000 rpm66 °C43 °C
Corsair H10026 °C62 dBA2000 rpm64 °C38 °C
EVGA Superclock26 °C57 dBA2550 rpm67 °C41 °C
NZXT HAVIK 14020 °C46 dBA 1250 rpm65 °C45 °C
Thermalright True Spirit 12026 °C42 dBA1500 rpm82 °C56 °C
Zalman CNPS12X26 °C43 dBA1200 rpm71 °C45 °C
Zalman CNPS9900 Max20 °C51 dBA1700 rpm62 °C42 °C
Titan Fenrir Siberia Edition22 °C50 dBA2400 rpm65 °C43 °C
SilenX EFZ-120HA518 °C44 dBA1500 rpm70 °C52 °C
Noctua NH-L1220 °C44 dBA1450 rpm70 °C50 °C
Zalman CNPS8900 Extreme21 °C53 dBA2550 rpm71 °C50 °C
Gamer Storm Assassin15 °C48 dBA1450 rpm58 °C43 °C
Deepcool Gammaxx 40015 °C44 dBA1500 rpm60 °C45 °C
Cooler Master TPC 81223 °C51 dBA2350 rpm66 °C43 °C
Deepcool Gammaxx 30018 °C43 dBA1650 rpm74 °C56 °C
Intel stock cooler18 °C41 dBA2000 rpm97 °C79 °C
Xigmatek Praeton19 °C52 dBA2900 rpm83 °C64 °C
Noctua NH-U12P SE218 °C42 dBA1300 rpm69 °C51 °C
Deepcool Frostwin24 °C46 dBA1650 rpm78 °C54 °C
Thermaltake Frio Advanced13 °C56 dBA2000 rpm62 °C49 °C
Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk Edition9 °C48 dBA2100 rpm53 °C44 °C
Thermaltake Frio Extreme21 °C53 dBA1750 rpm59 °C38 °C
Noctua NH-U9B SE212 °C44 dBA1700 rpm64 °C52 °C
Thermaltake WATER2.0 Pro15 °C54 dBA2000 rpm52 °C37 °C
Deepcool Fiend Shark18 °C45 dBA1500 rpm74 °C56 °C
Arctic Freezer i3013 °C42 dBA1350 rpm63 °C50 °C
Spire TME III8 °C46 dBA1700 rpm70 °C62 °C
Thermaltake WATER2.0 Performer11 °C54 dBA2000 rpm49 °C38 °C
Arctic Alpine 11 PLUS11 °C45 dBA2000 rpm82 °C71 °C
be quiet! Dark Rock 210 °C41 dBA1300 rpm58 °C48 °C
Phanteks PH-TC14CS16 °C47 dBA1300 rpm58 °C42 °C
Phanteks PH-TC14PE16 °C48 dBA1300 rpm57 °C41 °C
SilverStone HE01 (Q)19 °C44 dBA1150 rpm63 °C44 °C
SilverStone HE01 (P)20 °C57 dBA2050 rpm62 °C42 °C
Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme (S)17 °C44 dBA1250 rpm52 °C35 °C
Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme (E)17 °C53 dBA1900 rpm50 °C33 °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.

Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme

In the graph below, you can see how many decibels of noise each cooler makes.

Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme

Main Specifications

The main specifications for the Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme CPU cooler include:

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

Conclusions

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.

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Thermaltake-WATER20-Extreme-CPU-Cooler-Review/1633


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