|Antec Kühler H2O 620 Liquid Cooling System|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cooling|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Thursday, 10 February 2011|
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Liquid Cooler Final Thoughts
After Corsair's H50 hit the market, its success led to many other companies offering their own variations on the theme, if by "variations" you mean "label". Even Corsair's own H70, with its double-thickness radiator, is simply a version of Asetek's LC570 OEM cooler.
Antec's Kühler H2O 620 is (so far) unique: it's not listed as an OEM product by Asetek and Asetek posts no specifications on it, instead merely providing a link to Antec's product page. And as is depressingly standard in this market segment, technical information like pump flow rate and fan airflow are missing, so while I think the thicker hoses mean more water flow, I don't know if that's the case.
But what I do know are the performance figures I got in my testing, which place the Kühler solidly in the lead of all other all-in-one water coolers that I've tested. Frankly its performance is almost unbelievably good: its stock-fan performance is 7.2 degrees cooler than Corsair H50, whose radiator appears to be identical. With the high-speed Delta fan on both coolers, the performance gap widens to 9.4 degrees. I can't come up with any explanation other than increased flow rate, but in the end that's really irrelevant, as the performance speaks for itself. Its only competitor in the all-in-one water cooling market is the Corsair H70, which achieves similar stock-fan performance with its thicker radiator and dual fans. However, the H70 is both noisier and significantly more expensive than Antec's Kühler.
In previous reviews I've noted how rapidly the CPU cooler market was advancing, with new designs and new performance benchmarks appearing so frequently that it was hard to keep up. We seem to be approaching an asymptote, though: the size of air coolers is reaching the constraints imposed by standard computer cases, and performance is leveling off. Since any retail CPU is shipped with a perfectly good CPU cooler in the box, you might think that the only reason to purchase an aftermarket cooler is performance. While this is certainly the primary consideration, there are others, such as acoustics (how loud the cooler is) and aesthetics (for windowed cases). Also, bear in mind that not every cooler works in every situation: top-performing air coolers tend to be both large and expensive, and are overkill for all but the hottest, most overclocked systems. There's room in the market for many different types of coolers, and the best solution for you is probably not the best solution for me.
Priced to compete with high-end air coolers, the Kühler offers similar performance and a lower noise level. It's the first compact liquid cooler I've tested that can honestly be considered as competition for the likes of the Cooler Master V6 GT, Prolimatech Megahalems, and Thermalright Venomous X.
Antec Kühler Conclusion
Please remember that these test results reflect our experience with each cooler on a specific motherboard, with a specific processor, BIOS revision, BCLK and voltage settings, and test programs. The results of this test cannot be directly compared to other tests since many factors will have changed.
Installing the Kühler is easier than most other compact liquid coolers due to the flexibility and length of its soft rubber hoses. The "universal" Intel backplate (on AMD systems, the stock motherboard backplate is used) keeps the parts count (and price) down, and while I prefer the more robust mounting system design of Asetek's original systems, the current mounting system certainly doesn't seem to affect the performance.
The performance of the Antec Kühler H20 620 was excellent, exceeding that of every other water cooler I've tested and encroaching on the performance range of the very best air coolers. The stock fan is quiet at full speed and very quiet at low speed. I tried replacing it with an 88CFM fan, which generated more perceived air flow and certainly more noise, but actually slightly less performance. It's not clear if just any 3-pin fan will work with Antec's unique fan speed control system, and it would be nice to see some information from Antec on this.
The construction quality of the Kühler was similar to that of other Asetek-sourced water coolers, which is to say that everything fit and worked correctly and the swivel mountings for the hoses pivoted freely. Antec silk-screens their logo on the pump housing and puts an "Antec" sticker on the fan's hub, but that's it as far as decoration goes. I'd like to see a little more effort expended on aesthetics.
But I'm not going to get hung up on the Kühler's minimalist aesthetic. The Antec Kühler H2O 620 is the best-performing water cooler I've tested, and that's why it gets a Golden Tachometer award. As of March 2011, the Antec Kühler 620 is available at Amazon for $81.
+ Priced at the bottom of the range for coolers of this type
- Pump mounting system seems insubstantial
Final Score: 9.25 out of 10.
Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.
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