Thanks to several companies like Thermaltake water-cooling has gone mainstream. Units are cheaper, easier to use and more importantly more reliable, making it much easier for the average consumer to buy and install a cpu liquid cooling unit.
Being the major geek I am, you'd think that I'd have had some experience in the water-cooling arena in the past. Sadly this couldn't be further from the truth. So when Thermaltake introduced their WATER2.0 line of liquid cooling solutions and offered me the chance to review two of their newest units, the all-new WATER2.0 Performer and WATER2.0 Pro, I jumped at the chance.
Introducing the WATER2.0 Performer and WATER2.0 Pro
The Water "2.0" name denotes the progression and improvements that Thermaltake has made in the performance of the company's liquid cooling segment as well as the new approach which WATER2.0 solutions are taking. While traditional D.I.Y. (do-it-yourself) liquid cooling kits offer expandability, essentially the ability to cool both the CPU and GPU, the new mainstream 2.0 kits remove that option. The benefit of openly expandable kits is often the same thing that complicates installation and filling these coolers introduces a risk of mixing water and electronics. With the WATER2.0 kits Thermaltake specifically addresses these concerns by having a closed-loop design, meaning all the fluids that are required for maximum performance are pre-filled and sealed inside so the users do not need to handle any type of liquid during installation or operation.
For the mainstream consumer it breaks down to being what you lose in expandability you gain in reliability and ease of use. You don't have to worry about water leaks when adding in extra water-blocks or concerning yourself with routing extra tubing. You have a single block that fits on your CPU and one set of tubes running to your radiator. This makes for a really easy to use user friendly setup that just about anyone with a dab of tech know-how can install.
Thermaltake Water2.0 Pro and Water2.0 Performer Specifications
120 x 120 x 25mm
120 x 120 x 25mm
Max. Air Flow
150 x 120 x 48.8mm
151 x 120 x 27mm
Cooling Surface Area
Universal compatibility for all new processors and current model sockets including: Intel: LGA 2011, 1366, 1155, 1156, 775 and AMD: FM1, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2
How We Tested
Being that the Thermaltake Water 2.0 Pro and Thermaltake Water 2.0 Performer are meant for mainstream users we wanted to test both coolers on our everyday machine which we felt would best represent a mainstream build. This happens to be a bit older build but one that has ran tried and true for us for quite some time. The box is equipped with a Socket 775 Intel Pentium E5200 dual core cpu that we've overclocked to a nice stable 3.1Ghz and baseline cooling tests are done with an Artic Freezer Pro 7. Using this build we tested temps at both stock and overclocked speeds, running everyday applications like Photoshop, Microsoft Office, WMP, and a few games. For stress testing we pushed the CPU to 100% usage running Prime 95.
Processor: Intel Pentium E5200 Wolfdale 2.5GHz
Settings: Overclocked to 3.1Ghz Vcore 1.40v
Motherboard: ASUS PQ5 SE Plus
ASUS Fan controls set to silent for slowest speeds
Memory: 4 GBs DDR2 1066Mhz
Hard disk: Western Digital 160 GB SATA
Video card: EVGA 9600 GSO
Power supply: Cooler Master Extreme 500W
Case: Enermax Pandora 185 with zero case fans
Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit SP1
PhotoShop, FireFox, MS Office 2010, Windows Media Player
Games -Wolfenstein, Painkiller
Prime95 blended stress test
Both units come with all the accessories needed to make them work with just about any newer socket and cpu. The instructions are fairly straight forward and easy to follow making for a hassle free install. The only areas we really had issues with were:
A) Having to remove the motherboard to install a back-plate
B) The back=plate grommets moving around
C) Poor marking on the plastic components
If this was a new build installing the back-plate wouldn't be any issue so we can skip that. The grommets and the poor markings, however were a bit of a setback. The marking on the plastic components was very hard to read. So at first we weren't sure if we had them in right. After grabbing a flash light for better vision we got things figured.
The major concern though was the fact that there isn't anything to hold the grommets in place. So when you are trying to line-up the mounting screws they tend to pop out the back of the mounting plate. This causes them to not be able to be tightened. Since I wasn't sure if it was easier to install everything outside the case or wait until the motherboard was mounted we ran into a few snags. We mounted the back-plat and remounted the motherboard, which was a mistake.
(Note: Install everything outside the case first it makes things a ton easier!)
Thermaltake Water2.0 Pro and Water2.0 Performer Performance
For all three coolers we used the slowest possible fan speeds to try to keep noise levels down. Even at the highest temps fan speeds never reached much higher than 1200rpms. So we had some room headroom even at the top end of the spectrum. Results varied a bit with temps sometimes sliding higher and lower but these were generally the highest recorded results.
As you can see both coolers performed exceptionally well with the Water2.0 Pro edging out the Water2.0 Performer as should be expected. In my opinion it says a lot that they showed the rather significant differences they did over the Arctic Freezer 7 Pro, which is a great cooler in its own right. I had expected them to perform well but the differences were amazing.
Being new to liquid cooling it was really an eye opener to see the performance differences. Not only in extreme end of the test pushing the CPU to it's make but with the standard everyday cooling situations. It was also interested to see the faster cool down times and hearing the overall sound level differences. We didn't have the ability to test the sound levels, which would have been nice, but I will say the it was a significant change.
Overall I'd really have to say that I was pretty impressed with the performance of both coolers. Being that it was a smaller unit and a bit cheaper I was slight more impressed with the Water 2.0 Performer than I was with the Water 2.0 Pro. The Performer gave us great cooling, a bit more flexibility with our case selection and in my mind a bit more band for our buck.
A few areas of concern!
The minor details we had with installation aside we had no other performance related concerns. There were a few other installation concerns that we thought we should address though.
The biggest concern we had came with the overall size of the coolers. Our Enermax Pandora 185 is an ATX mid tower with the ability to accept 120mm case fans. However, when we noticed the additional height of the radiators we thought that might pose a bit of a problem. As it was the fans fit just fine but we noticed there was going to be very little room, if any, between the bottom of our Coolermaster power supply and the top of the radiator. Luckily we made the tight fit work, we aren't sure how that will affect the cooling of the PSU but at least we got the coolers in.
(Note: This is another area you'll want to double check, measure to make sure you have clearance!)
Our second concerns was that our case has a tool-less design, with a pci-slot latch. We weren't sure how that would come into play with the fit or the need to add or change cards. Luckily while the latch is closed it's out of the way but once the fans and the coolers are mounted it is impossible to add or remove cards. (This could be a headache down the road!)
We've also noticed that the overall size of the Thermaltake Water 2.0 Pro takes up a lot of space inside our case. Air flow and access is a bit restricted to other components like our GPU and memory slots. We haven't noticed any issues, again though someone installing either of these units needs to be aware of the space requirements!
For more details on the Thermaltake "Water 2.0 Series" please checkout the Thermaltake product pages:
Water 2.0 Extreme
Water 2.0 Pro
Water 2.0 Performer (Note yet released)
If you'd like to buy either unit you can do so now at Newegg -
Thermaltake WATER2.0 Pro All In One Liquid CPU Cooler |
Thermaltake WATER2.0 Performer All In One Liquid CPU Cooler