I think this is the right section to put this. One of the primary concerns with HTPC's is noise level vs. performance. I thought that this might be of interest to those of you wanting to build a high end Gaming HTPC.
Thermaltake Water 2.0 Extreme CPU cooler review
The subject of this review is the Thermaltake Water 2.0 Extreme All in One liquid CPU cooler. First a little background on this cooler. This is Thermaltakes latest addition to their cooler line up. Thermaltake has been around for quite a while now and has released several renditions of the All in One cooler, so you might ask what makes this one special? This one is their first 240mm or dual 120mm cooler. Previous ones had only a single 120mm radiator for cooling. The added surface area of the 240mm radiator is intended to provide exceptional cooling for gamers and enthusiasts alike.
The Water 2.0 came in an attractive, full color box with a cardboard cradle inside specifically designed to hold the cooler snuggly during shipment. There was adequate protection on all sides to prevent any damage during shipping from all but the worst handling.
Inside the box, the Water 2.0 Extreme comes with the radiator, pump, and block all attached and sealed. It also comes with two white 120mm fans capable of between 1200 and 2000 RPM’s, and a disk containing the included software for monitoring and setting custom fan profiles. We’ll talk more about this later. Additionally, the box contained all the necessary hardware for mounting the cooler to virtually any current CPU socket style. Note that there is some assembly required prior to installation.
There are several features of the Water 2.0 which make it stand out from other All-in-One liquid coolers. One such feature is the soft flexible low evaporation rubber tubing. I found this to be a nice feature allowing for much easier manipulation of the cpu block during mounting than it would have been with rigid tubing. Additionally, it helps to prevent loss of coolant over time eliminating the need to refill coolant in the future.
Another feature is the 240mm radiator with two PWM controlled fans. This radiator doubles the cooling surface of other traditional All-in-One liquid coolers, and the PWM fans can be controlled by the included software discussed below.
[Dashboard images borrowed from Buckeye’s review at Xtreme Systems.]
In my opinion, the main feature that sets this cooler apart from its competition is the included Fan Control Software. The software has three different settings; Silent, Extreme, and Custom. Silent sets the fan speed to minimum which is 1200 rpms and renders the cooler virtually silent at the sacrifice of some cooling performance. Extreme sets the fan speed to 2000 rpms for maximum cooling performance at the sacrifice of a few decibels. I don’t have a decibel meter so I can’t tell you exactly what the difference in volume was, but it was noticeable; however it was not distracting. Custom allows you to set your own fan speed profile based on the temperature of the coolant. You do this by selecting “Custom” from the rotary dial at the top right corner of the window, and then selecting the “Fan Control” tab at the bottom center of the window. Once in the “Fan Control” screen, you pick the “Fan Ramp Start Temp” and the “Full Fan Speed Temp”. The pump speed seems to be automatic and independent from the profiles. You can also set notifications from the fan control window. You can choose to have the software alert you based off of liquid temperature and fan speed. This is a really nice feature in my opinion. I have previously had other All-in-One coolers fail on me and they did not have an alarm of any kind so I didn’t notice until the cpu temps were out of control and the PC shut off on me. The software also has a “Graphs” tab which provides you with liquid temperature and fan speed graphs
Below are the product specifications from Thermaltake
Core i7/Core i5/Corei3
AM3+ / AM3
Phenom II/Athlon II/
AM2+ / AM2
Material: Copper (Base)
Rated Voltage: 12 VDC
Rated Current: 220 mA
Noise Level：27.36 dBA (Max)
Rated Voltage：DC 12.0V
Max. Air Flow: 81.32CFM
Rated Current: 0.5A
Length : 326mm
I found the installation of the Water 2.0 to honestly be quite cumbersome, that is until I realized neglected to use the retention ring. There are four different plastic back plates for mounting the cpu depending on your motherboard socket type; then there’s the mounting ring. This mounting bracket is notched so that you slide it over the pump/block and then turn it so it aligns with the notches on the pump/block, then attach the retention ring to lock it in place. The CPU block is made from high grade copper, and is equipped with a high reliability low profile pump for excellent liquid circulation and cooling performance. The cooler comes with thermal compound already applied so you don’t have to necessarily provide your own, however many enthusiasts will apply their favorite thermal compound regardless. Mounting the radiator was fairly straight forward in my CoolerMaster Storm Trooper once I removed the top mounted 200mm fan. The cooler comes with four screws and washers for mounting the radiator. I would have liked to have seen eight screws and washers since there are eight mounting holes. Nevertheless, the radiator felt secure when mounted with just four screws.
(Case) CoolerMaster Storm Trooper
(Motherboard) EVGA E758 X58 SLI
(CPU) Intel Core i7 920 @ 3.8ghz
(RAM) 3x2gb OCZ Platinum DDR3 1866
(PSU) Kingwin 730w PSU
(GPU) EVGA GTX580
(Sound Card) Creative Labs Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium
(HDD) 2x Kingston 30gb V-Series SSDs (Raid 0)
In order to adequately test the cooler, I installed it and let it run for a few days to allow the TIM to cure, and then allowed it to run for about an hour at each setting in order to get a good baseline idle temp prior to running Intel Burn Test for 20 rounds.
Idle temp between 40c and 42c on all cores
Max Load temp running IBT for 20 rounds was 74c to 77c on all cores
Idle temp between 40c and 42c on all cores
Max Load temp running IBT for 20 rounds was 68c to 72c on all cores
Custom (For Custom, I set the Fan ramp start speed to 35c and the Full fan speed to 45c)
Idle temp between 43c and 44c on all cores ( The increased idle temp is likely do to the ambient temps of my office rising)
Max Load temp running IBT for 20 rounds was 71c to 76c on all cores
As you can see, I noticed an average reduction in temperature of around 4c -6c between Extreme and either Custom or Silent. I probably would have noticed temps closer to that of extreme if I had set the fan profile more aggressively in the Custom setting.
The Thermaltake Water 2.0 Extreme is a solidly constructed and competent cooler with some really cool features. I really like the flexible rubber tubing and the GUI operated fan control. Thermaltake indeed has taken many of the inadequacies of previous coolers and improved upon them. I have absolutely no concerns about reliability, and if something ever did fail, I know that Thermaltake would make it right within the specified warranty period. The cooling performance comfortably rests near the top of a short list of other high end coolers. In order to get any substantial improvement in cooling performance, you would need to go to a complete custom Water Cooling setup or other exotic cooling method. Although the Water 2.0 Extreme provides considerable cooling performance, and some very innovative features, I think Thermaltake will still have trouble selling these at the listed MSRP of $129.99. A more competitive price would be around the $100-$110 mark.