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Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cooling
Written by David Ramsey   
Tuesday, 12 April 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
Antec Kühler H2O 920 Liquid Cooler
Closer Look: Antec Kuhler H2O
Antec Kuhler Detailed Features
ChillControl V Software
Heatsink Test Methodology
Testing and Results
Liquid Cooler Final Thoughts
Antec Khler H2O Conclusion

Antec Kühler H2O 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 920 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 920 was excellent, exceeding that of every other cooler I've tested. This level of performance does come with a rather high level of noise, although judicious use of the custom fan control settings can keep the noise in check for all but the most extreme situations.

The stock fans appear to be standard 4-pin PWM units. It's not clear if they can be replaced with other PWM fans; I suspect the cooler's software is calibrated only for the included fans. Also, higher-performance fans might draw more current than the pump's fan controller can provide.

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's adjustable-color backlit logo on the pump adds a nice bit of visual interest.

The value part of the equation is where the Kühler H2O 920 comes up short, because as of February 2012 it costs $97.99 (Newegg). Despite its amazing performance, its high price means that the Antec 920 simply isn't a very good value relative to other, less expensive coolers that perform very nearly as well. But as I discussed above, "value" isn't necessarily a determining factor in this part of the market. If you want the very best, this is it... at least until the next great cooler comes along.

Pros: Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award

+ Best performing cooler I've ever tested
+ Integrated fan speed controller and PWM fans
+ User-controllable colored logo light
+ ChillControl software allows user to customize the performance profile
+ Maintenance-free liquid-cooling system

Cons:

- Very expensive product
- Loud at full fan speed
- Control software restricted to Windows environments only

Ratings:

  • Performance: 10.0
  • Appearance: 8.25
  • Construction: 9.25
  • Functionality: 9.25
  • Value: 7.50

Final Score: 8.85 out of 10.

Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award.

Is the Antec Kühler H2O 920 on your shopping list? We invite you to comment below or start a discussion in our Forum.


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Comments 

 
# RE: Antec Kühler H2O 920 Liquid CoolerDoug 2011-04-12 00:12
Yep, since late 2008 I've been keeping up on coolers, since I built my i7 920 3.8OC in August of 2008. Although the V6 and V8 both are impressive coolers, the liquid offerings have not really impressed me because of cost and cooling performance--and you still have the noise of a fan.

A good case point is my current cooler, which is the old Cogage True Spirit 39 dollar wonder. I did put a Gentle Typhoon 1800rpm fan on it and also installed a backplate, bringing the grand total to about 65USD. I would have bought a Megalhelems probably, but back then I thought I was going to use the push pin mount system.

The thing is, with my current rig running the Gigabyte UD5 ver. 2 and my Bloomfield 920, I get a max temp running Prime 95 in heat mode of 75C at a 3.8Ghz OC. This is with a 21C ambient. And, more to the point, 75C is well within tolerance for a Bloomfield 920. You could run it 24-7 like that and never have wear from heat.

But more applicable is when I run Crysis 2 at maximum settings for two hours and never break 60C.

So the conclusion is why buy high when you can cool low for half the price? I love the V6, but just can;t justify replacing my old Cogage since it cools so well anyway.
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# RE: RE: Antec Kühler H2O 920 Liquid CoolerShakey 2011-04-12 02:21
Although I agree with you, you're slightly missing the point (as do a lot of people when they look at these all-in water units).

Because of the ridiculous amounts of heat generated by modern chips, the coolers required have become seriously massive, most of them to the point they either need substantial backplates to prevent motherboards from warping, hanging over RAM slots which limits RAM use or simply just being too big to fit into a case.

Nobody ever said these all-in water units were as good as a proper custom loop, but they're not supposed to be. They're intended to compete with top-end air coolers without having the ridiculous mass to contend with, and in that regard I think they've been very successful.

I never used one on the Bloomfield builds I did because either I was pushing for some serious clocks (and therefore needed cooling performance beyond what these units can do), or was on a tight budget, so I fully appreciate the price point for these units always leaves a big "do I or not" question.

I do agree with you that the Cogage True Spirit is a little gem!
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# RE: RE: RE: Antec Kühler H2O 920 Liquid CoolerComputer Ed 2011-04-12 04:29
I have to agree a big advantage that these units provide, well at least the 620 provides is that it is not obstructive when working in the case on the system. There are also two other advantages however.

The first is that in the case like the 620 the cooling is one with one less fan, there by less noise. What I mean by this is the fan used by these types of coolers replaces the existing exhaust fan on the case. The typcial cooler system introduced another fan to the system and often two to achieve the same level of cooling, thus more noise.

The second advanatge is the reduction of overall internal PC temperature. Normal air cooling solutions take the CPU heat and then blow it back into the case. These liquid cooling solutions take the heat and move it outside the case, reducing overall internal temperature. It might only be 2c or 3 c but every little bit helps.

While there are some great standard air coolers I have been sold on the self contained liquid coolers from day one of the H50 and Coolit ECO. Sure you can cool for less money but then again you can drive a Festiva for less than any other car model.
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# Nice reviewPtah 2011-04-12 07:02
All in all a very fair review. I think the only selling point (from my perspective as a buyer) would be the software. It doesn't outperform the H20 60 when you put a second fan on it.

Have you considered including the coolermaster 212 plus with your benchmarks? The 2600k has a mockery of a stock cooler so many people consider the $30 212 the minimum solution. It would be interesting to see how much more cooling you get for spending more money.
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# RE: Antec Kühler H2O 920 Liquid CoolerAntec Jessie 2011-04-12 10:54
Just a heads up - you certainly can replace the fans with any PWM fan of your choosing.
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# RE: RE: Antec Kühler H2O 920 Liquid CoolerOlin Coles 2011-04-12 11:15
Thank you, Jessie. It's always nice the have the manufacturer lend advice and guidance! I think that most enthusiasts know they can change the fans out, but expect the manufacturer to give them the best option right out of the box.
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# RE: RE: RE: Antec Kühler H2O 920 Liquid CoolerStupido 2011-04-12 13:58
yes, true... but would be interesting in you can buy such cooler without fans on a bit reduced price. this will give the costumer a chance to customize on fan :)
this is just my 2 (euro) cents... ;)
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: Antec Kühler H2O 920 Liquid CoolerAntec Jessie 2011-04-14 09:39
Interesting take but we feel that most users would find that this would be the equivalent of selling a car without the tires.
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# RE: Replacement FansTravis 2012-12-14 22:59
Figured this was worth a shot seeing as the post is a bit old.

I have actually replaced the fans on my 920 with the same Delta fans as in this review. While the fans run the software does not display any data for them. Since it is not communicating with the fans, it can not follow the settings I have for the rpm changes. Frankly, the only way I know they are even running is if I have it on the Extreme setting and can hear the air movement. I have tried uninstalling and re-installing all software related to the 920 and it is the same. Any ideas concerning the issue? Anything would be appreciated.

Travis
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# Not exactly correct.Olle P 2011-04-13 01:48
"Larger hoses can flow more water, assuming the pump can handle the extra load."

Larger diameter hose will lessen the load on the pump, resulting in higher flow.
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# Neither is your statementOlin Coles 2011-04-13 09:03
Larger diameter hose doesn't automatically result in higher flow. If the pump isn't strained by the current diameter, and it's not rated for higher volume flow, nothing improves. Plus, you'll actually get slower movement with larger hose presuming same pump output.
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# RE: Neither is your statementOlle P 2011-04-13 13:49
"If the pump isn't strained by the current diameter, and it's not rated for higher volume flow, nothing improves."
Every millimetre of hose length does impose *some* flow restriction, no matter what diameter, so increasing the diameter *will* to some degree reduce the restriction and thus increase the flow.

"Plus, you'll actually get slower movement with larger hose..."
So? The flow rate (volume/time) is what matters, not the flow speed through the hose.
On the contrary I'd argue that since larger diameter, same length, hose will hold a larger volume that factor alone is a bonus in terms of increased thermal inertia.
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# Quiet performance?Olle P 2011-04-13 01:57
As noted this cooler is by no means quiet with the fans running at full speed, so it would be very nice to know how well it performs at the "Silent" setting, just as the H70 was also tested with the fans on low speed.
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# RE: Quiet performance?David Ramsey 2011-04-13 07:46
At the "Silent" setting, it was unable to keep the processor cool enough to prevent throttling. The Silent setting would probably be fine for non-overclocked operation, but in that case, the stock cooler would work fine, too.
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# Quiet Vs. 620Farnsworth Worthington 2011-04-13 17:42
How would you compare the noise of the Delta-equipped Antec 620 to the noise of the 920 (using either fan setup)?

It's interesting, because I can't imagine replacing a (pair of) 2400rpm fan(s) with something else and expecting increased airflow while getting much less noise, and yet it seems like Antec would have had to unintentionally design their 620 better than they expected for it to perform better than the flagship with only a simple fan swap. That could be the exact situation here though, is what the testing shows.
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# RE: Quiet Vs. 620David Ramsey 2011-04-13 18:00
Although I have no way to accurately measure the sound of the fans, I'd say the sound of the 920's fans at full speed and sound of the Delta fan are in the same ball park. And while the 620 did outperform the 920 when the Delta fan was used, it definitely did not outperform the 920 in other situations-- temperatures with the 920 were significantly lower than those with the 620 in normal use, and the 620 had to spin its single fan more loudly to reach the performance of the 920's dual fans. There's also the fact that dual-thickness radiators simply don't perform well with single fans, which I mentioned in the review. Although our tests can't cover ever situation, I can say that at all but extreme settings, the 920 performance is better than the performance of the 620, with less noise.
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# RE: RE: Quiet Vs. 620Farnsworth Worthington 2011-04-13 20:30
Thank you for the excellent (as expected) response.
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# RE: Antec Kühler H2O 920 Liquid CoolerRobert17 2011-04-15 05:48
Nice review David. I've got an H50 I installed a year ago, shortly after they came out, and follow this line of CPU coolers out of developmental curiosity. Air coolers are fine, and like several commentors has added, the bigger they are the more cumbersome they are as well as more case heat and constriction when working within and around the box.

Olin is correct: the larger diameter hose will permit more fluid flow, but that is entirely up to the pump. I guess the secrecy act needs a full frontal assault by a U.N. committee to let us know what we're dealing with here.

A little hint on mounting of the radiator. I ran a thin metal pin (a straigtened paper clip actually) through the case mounting hole, fan mounting hole and into the radiator screw hole to align, making it much easier to line up and secure a screw through the case, fan and to the radiator. Saves a lot of headaches even when almost blindly mounting anything. (There are tapered pinning tools used in construction designed specifically for this same scenario, just bigger joins.)
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# RE: RE: Antec Kühler H2O 920 Liquid CoolerDavid Ramsey 2011-04-15 07:38
Nice tip on mounting, Robert.

Determining the inner hose diameter and pump flow rate isn't hard, but it's destructive to the coolers...
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# Optimising the fan settings.Olle P 2011-04-15 07:50
Here?s how I?d optimise the settings to prevent throttling with an overclocked CPU while keeping the noise level down:
1. Find out at what temperature the CPU throttles. One way is to run the cooler at ?Silent? and use a third prty program to read the CPU temperature when the CPU throttles (Tt).
2. Set the cooler to ?Extreme?, and calculate the difference in temperature between the liquid and the CPU (deltaT) when the CPU is working att full load without throttling.
3. Close the program keeping the CPU busy. Enter the cooler Settings panel. For the Full fan speed temp I chose
Tt ? deltaT- 5 degrees
to keep some margin.
For the Ramp start temp I chose 25 degrees, to keep the fan working in the lower register longer without having to actually go to full speed.
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# Corsair brackets!Bunzing 2011-04-19 03:59
I think it looks really weird when actual parts are the same of that of a different company... Or are they the same bussiness?
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# RE: Corsair brackets!Olin Coles 2011-04-19 07:44
As mentioned in the article, Asetek builds this cooler for finished-goods companies like Corsair and Antec.
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# MrWilbur 2012-12-18 18:44
ChillControl V gives the option to save data to a log file at pre-selected intervals but provides no means to view the logs or to delete them. I have found the log file locations and have to delete them, after viewing them with Notepad, using Windows Explorer. Perhaps Antec could add this functionality to their Program.
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