|Antec Kühler H2O 920 Liquid Cooler|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cooling|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Tuesday, 12 April 2011|
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ChillControl V Software
The Antec Kühler H2O 920 is the first CPU cooler I've seen that comes with its own driver and software. Granted, the Coolit Systems Vantage A.L.C. cooler had a degree of software control built into its pump unit, but the Kühler 920 has real, Windows-installable software for controlling it. While it adds a nice degree of versatility and control, it does mean that you can't effectively use this cooler on anything except a Windows system. The software is simple and intuitive to use, for the most part, which is good since Antec includes no documentation whatsoever on it. Clicking the question mark button at the top right of the window takes you to online documentation, but at the time of this review it was "Under Construction."
The ChillControl V software has a simple interface with four primary displays: Dashboard, Graphs, Fan Control, and Settings. The Dashboard section gives an overview of the system's status, showing liquid temperature (which is not the same as CPU temperature), fan RPM and sound level, and pump RPM. At the upper right of the ChillControl window is a three-position switch with settings for "Extreme", "Silent", and "Custom" performance modes. In "Silent" mode, the fans are run at minimal RPM and the cooler is almost silent.
In "Extreme" mode, the fans run at full speed, all the time, even if the system is just idling. While this is the setting I used for testing the cooler, you'd never select it in real-world use, unless you were deaf. To say it's loud is an understatement.
Fortunately, ChillControl V has a "Fan Control" section where you can define the (liquid) temperatures at which the fans begin to ramp up from idle, and at which they will run at full speed. These settings are used when the mode switch at the upper right is set to "Custom". In this section you can also configure alerts for high liquid temperature or fan failure. While the Kühler 920 doesn't have an audible alarm, it will display pop-up alerts when these parameters are exceeded.
After experimenting with the fan control settings, I found a good compromise in setting the fans to begin to ramp up at 35 degrees Celsius and reach full speed at 40 degrees Celsius (again, these are temperatures of the coolant, not the CPU). In the image above you can see how the fan speed and coolant temperature graphs reacted to a load situation that subsequently dropped to idle.
The last part of the ChillControl V software is the Settings section. You can select how the temperature is displayed, configure logging, and most importantly control the color of the light in the "Antec" logo on the pump unit. With fine-grained control of red, blue, and green LED elements, you can set any one of 65,536 different colors! Hopefully a future software update will allow you to configure the light to pulse, strobe, and cycle through colors.
In the next section, I'll put the Kühler 920 to the test.