Antec Kuhler H2O 920 Liquid Cooler
Antec has been around for as long as I can remember; my very first custom system I built used an Antec case. Now Antec has thrown their hat into the cooling world and one of their first offerings was the Kuhler H20 620. Now they have released the Kuhler H20 920. The Kuhler H2O 920 has a thicker radiator, dual fans, and is adjusted via software Antec calls Chill Control. Now if the Kuhler H20 920 looks familiar to you’re not crazy. It’s a team effort between Antec and Asetek, just like the H50/H70 was for Corsair and Asetek, but this last year Corsair moved away from Asetek to went to another company called CoolIt Systems for their Hydro series water coolers.
In our previous review of the Antec Kuhler H2O 620 we noted that it was similar Corsair Hydro H50, but way different. The Antec Kuhler H2O 920 and the Corsair Hydro H70 are like this as well. To compare them visually the Kuhler H2O 920 has a thick radiator and low profile pump and cold plate like the H70, but under the hood they are different units. For instance the coolant tubing on the Kuhler H2O 920 is not corrugated like on the Corsair coolers, the non-corrugated tubing is more flexible making it easier to install and position the radiator. The Kuhler H20 920 also has the newest generation pump and cold plate.
To add to the improvements there is a software utility called Chill Control V that allows the end user to adjust the cooler between two preset configurations or set a custom config. The presets are Silent and Extreme, now the Silent mode the fans run at a 600-900 RPM at 15-20 dB. On extreme the fans are run at full throttle at 2400 RPM pushing 110CFM each at an ear splitting 55 dB.
Features of the Kuhler H20 920
- CPU Socket Compatibility: Intel LGA 775/1155/1156/1366, AMD AM2/AM3/AM2+/AM3+
- Included software provides essential tools to control and monitor the KUHLER H2O 920
- Non-corrugated easy-bend tubes for maximum flexibility in radiator positioning
- Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) radiator fans generate the quietest high performance cooling
- Customizable RGB LED creates brilliant illumination
- Cooling Liquid - Safe, environmentally-friendly, anti-corrosive
- AQ3 - Antec Quality 3 year limited warranty on parts and labor
Specifications for the Kuhler H2O 920
- Fan Speed: 700 – 2400 RPM (PWM controlled)
- Radiator Dimensions (HxWxD): 5.6” x 4.7” x 1.9” / 151mm x 120mm x 49mm
- Fan Dimensions: 4.7” x 1.0” / 120mm x 25mm
- Air Flow: 110 CFM
- Noise Level: 46 dB Max
- Cold Plate + Pump Height: 1.1” / 29mm
- Tubing Length: 13.0” / 330mm
- Cooling Liquid: Safe, environmentally-friendly, anti-corrosive
- Net Weight: 1.6lbs / 0.7kg
- CPU Socket Compatibility:
- Intel LGA 775/1155/1156/1366
- AMD AM2/AM3/AM2+/AM3+
Unboxing The Kuhler H2O 920
In Antec style the packing for the Kuhler H2O 920 is a nice blend of marketing and specifications. On the front is a very nice image of the cooler.
The top of the box has a small image of the cooler installed along with a short list of features.
On one end there is a chart that shows how the Kuhler H2O 620 performs against the stock Intel cooler for a Intel Core i7 980X and a “first gen cooler”. The chart shows an over 20*C gain in performance from stock cooling.
On the other end is a listing of the Kuhler H2O 920’s specifications and what is included in the box.
The back of the box has images of different parts of the cooler and short descriptions of each.
Opening the box we can see the unit is held in a formed cardboard tray and has a layer of foam sheet between it and the box side.
With the tray pulled from the box we can see the cooler and all the accessories are cradled nicely for shipping.
All the mounting hardware is packaged nicely in a double bag arrangement. I like this, less likely hood of losing a small part due to a hole in a baggie. Also included is a software disk for the Chill Control V software used to adjust the cooler.
The pump/cold plate of the unit comes wrapped in plastic.
Looking closer at the Kuhler H2O 920
The Kuhler H2O 920 is a nice unit. The hoses are 13 inches, and the pump power wire and USB cable is 12" long. So mounting the radiator and still reaching the CPU socket should not be an issue with most cases. Some small cases there could be an issue with the hoses being too long, same for really huge cases and the hoses being too short to mount the radiator in the top of the case. Mounting to the rear 120mm fan port, the 13” tube length should be just right.
There are two power leads and a USB cable coming from the pump housing. One power lead is for connecting to the motherboard. The other is for connecting the fans to. This means that the Kuhler H2O 920 will only take 1 motherboard fan header. The USB cable connects to an open USB header on the motherboard as well. This is how the Chill Control V software will communicate with the cooler.
The Kuhler H2O 920 has a nice low profile pump and cold plate housing. The housing is only 1.1” or 28mm tall.
To aid in installing the kit the tubing is connected to the pump with 90 degree swivel fitting. Now unlike the Kuhler H20 620 we recently looked at, on the Kuhler H2O 920 the Antec logo is back lit with a color adjustable RGB LED. This is adjusted in the Chill Control V software.
The Antec Kuhler H2O 920 also has soft flexible rubber tubing, rather than stiff corrugated tubing. The soft rubber tubing is very flexible, and can have a rather tight bend radius. Corrugated tubing is very stiff in comparison, so the flexibility will make it much easier to install.
The unit comes with thermal paste pre-applied to the base of the cold plate.
With the stock paste out of the way we can see the cold plate for the Kuhler H2O 920 has a nice finish to it.
Like with the Corsair H70 the Kuhler H2O 920 has a thick single 120mm radiator. The radiator is 2” or 50mm thick. When paired with the included fans the mounting thickness is 4” or 100mm. I set the 920 and 620 radiators side by side so you can get a goo feel for how much thicker the 920’s radiator is compared to its little sibling the 620.
The fans that come with the Kuhler H2O 690 have an operating range of 700 to 2400 RPM, and push 110 CFM at full speed. This is different from the fan that was included with the Kuhler H2O 620. It was a 120mm 7 blade fan that ran a 2000 RPM and pushed 81.3 CFM.
Installing the Kuhler H2O 920
The Kuhler H2O 920 comes with everything needed to mount the kit into your system. There are a couple of changes from what come with the Corsair/Asetek kits.
Color coding, it always make things easier. The adaptors that mount into the upper ring that clamps the pump to the CPU are now color coded; blue for Intel 1155/1156/1366, green for AMD and Intel 775. In the Corsair/Asetek kits in the past you had to look at the hole pattern in the adaptors to figure which was which; two holes Intel 1155/1156/1366, singe hole AMD and Intel 775.
First you have to pick the appropriate parts for your socket, and assemble the top and bottom rings.
You then push the adaptors into the top ring.
And the backing plate barrel nuts into the appropriate hole for the socket.
Then you loosely mount the top ring and backing plate to the mother board.
Here is where it gets interesting. Putting the kit into the system can be tricky. You have to slip the pump through the locking ring, twist is slightly to be under the locking tabs and then tighten the mounting ring, all while keeping the radiator from flopping around or falling into the case onto the motherboard. It can be done but if you have another set of hands to hold the radiator it speeds the whole process up tremendously. Once the pump is mounted and tight, then you can mount the radiator to the back of the case. If you try and mount the radiator then the pump you may not be able to reach two of the mounting screws, this is very much a definite the mounting screws are blocked if you have a second fan on the radiator. Some kits have you install the rear fan as an intake, some as an exhaust. Antec falls in with the exhaust crowed.
Antec’s Chill Control V Software
Once you have your cooler installed you install the Chill Control V Software. This gives you the ability to tweak the Kuhler H2O 920’s settings to behave the way you want it to. The Main screen is the Dashboard. This screen shows you what the cooler is doing at that time, as well as Min, Max, and Average values for Pump Speed, Fan Speed, Liquid Temperature, and Sound Level. In the upper right there is what looks like an adjusting knob. This is what switches the performance profiles. There are two preset profiles, and one custom profile the end user can adjust. The sound level meter is not an exact reading, it is similar to software that reads voltages.
The Silent profile runs the Kulher H2O 920 fans at a very quiet 600-900 RPM. In this mode the Kuhler H2O 920 is the quietest of these style self-contained kits.
Extreme mode however is another story. This profile runs the unit full tilt. Everything at 100% and I will say it is the noisiest cooler I have ever had on the test bench. I’m talking out of the room and down the hall loud. The range of noise from 920’s fans is very interesting to say the least.
Next tab is the Graphs tab. It shows in graph form the Liquid Temperature and Fan Speed.
Third tab is the Fan Control tab. In this tab you can set how you want the fans to behave. The settings are based off of the liquid temperature. You have two settings available to adjust. The first is the ramp up temp, this the point the fans start to spool up to full speed. The next setting is point at which the fans will go full tilt. This cannot be set any higher than 50*C, and a 10 degree separation is the minimum.
The last tab is the Settings tab. Here you adjust the LED color for the logo on the pump housing, or disable it completely. Here you also set start up options, if you want the temps to be shown in Fahrenheit rather than Celsius, and also the skin.
The software comes with two skins. The default skin is Night, the second skin is Ocean, nice for those who are a fan of the color blue.
Legit Reviews Intel Core i7-930 Test System
Here are the parts that make up the Legit Reviews Core i7-930 test system:
|Intel Test Platform|
|Processor||Intel Core i7 930||Click Here|
|Motherboard||Intel DX58SO||Click Here|
|Memory||Kingston DDR3 3GB 1333MHz ValueRAM||Click Here|
|Video Card||EVGA GTS450||Click Here|
|Hard Drive||Western Digital 250gb SATA||Click Here|
|Power Supply||NZXT HALE90 750W||Click Here|
|Chassis||Cooler Master HAF 912||Click Here|
|Operating System||Windows 7 Professional (64bit)||Click Here|
To test the coolers the system will be left idle at the desktop for 30 minutes and the temperature will be recorded. Then it will run at full load with Prime95 Blended test for 30 minutes and the temperature will be recorded. There will be 3 levels tested with our Core i7-930 clocked at a stock 2.8 GHz, a mild OC of 3.5 GHz and a high OC of 4.0 GHz. All temps will be recorded with CoreTemp, and the temp reading from all 4 cores will be averaged. The thermal paste used on all coolers will be Gelid GC Extreme.
- Antec Kuhler H2O 620
- Arctic Cooling Freezer 13 Pro
- CoolIT Eco 240
- CoolIT Vantage ALC
- Corsair H70
- Corsair A50
- Deepcool Killer Whale Premium
- GlacialTech Alaska
- Intel retail box Cooler
- Noctua NH-C14
- Prolimatech Super Mega
- Zalman CNPS9900 MAX
The Temperature Testing Results
Since the Custom setting can vary from user to user I will stick to the two presets, Silent and Extreme.
With the system running at stock settings the Kuhler H2O 920 in silent comes in at the back of the pack at 63.25*C, 16.25 degrees cooler than the stock Intel HSF. It is also 9.25 degrees warmer than the Prolimatech Super Mega. When I cranked up the Kuhler H20 920 to the extreme stetting the performance jumped was alot to say the least. Running in the Extreme setting the 920 came in at 54* C, better than any self contained kit tested so far. The down side, the fans are a far bit noisy. More on this in the next section.
With the system bumped up to 3.5Ghz the Kuhler 920 in "Silent" mode is still in the back of the pack, but coming in at 68.25*C its 8 degrees behind the super mega. Moving up to the "Extreme" mode again we have a large jump in performance. Coming in at 60*C the Kuhler 920 comes in at the top of the list of all the self contained kits, beating the Corsair H70 by 2.5 degrees.
With the system overclocked to 4.0Ghz the Kuhler H2O 920 in "Silent" mode again in the back of the pack, coming in at 77.5*C 5 degrees behind the Corsair H70, and 7.25 degrees behind the Prolimatech Super Mega. Switching up to the "Extreme" settings the Kuhler H20 920 comes in at the head of the line at 67*C, 3.25*C better than the Prolimatech Super Mega
How quiet is Silent, how extreme is Extreme.
The Kuhler H2O 920 took me by surprise when I fired up the "Extreme" setting for the first time. In the "Silent" mode the cooler is very quiet, I couldn't make out the 920's fans over my Scythe case fans I use in the test system. When I set it to "Extreme" all I could think was WTF. It is by far the loudest set of fans I have used so far. I could literally hear the system roughly 35 feet from my workbench.
Since I wasn't entirely sure how loud the system was getting with the "Extreme" setting I borrowed a sound level meter and made a short video. I start out with the system off, boot up into "Silent" mode, sign in, then switch over to the "Extreme" mode.
When I boot up the system the sound level come in at 61-64dB depending on whether or not the hard drive was being accessed.
I then switched over to the "extreme" mode, and the sound level jumped to 72dB. We asked Antec what the dB rating for the fans was and they told us the sound level is 46db max. I don't doubt that rating one bit.
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
Antec and Asetek have come to the table with a nice solid built self-contained water cooling kit. The Antec Kuhler H2O 920 CPU liquid cooler is the quietest of all the kits we have tested in 'silent' mode and the loudest we have heard when run in' extreme' mode. Either way, quiet or loud, the performance was very nice. With an MSRP of $119.95 and 3 year warranty the 920 is currently available for pre-order at Antec's online shop and through major retailers and e-tailers. It will be ready to actually purchase at the end of April.
Of the self contained kits we have tested the Corsair Hydro H70 is what we would consider the Antec Kuhler H2O 920 water coolers closest competition. The Corsair Hydro H70 is the second generation self-contained water cooling kit that was designed in part by Asetek. The Antec Kuhler H2O 920 is the third generation self-contained water cooling kit that was also just happens to designed by Asetek. Due to the fact that Asetek helped design both CPU coolers it makes sense that their newer product cools better than the previous model. The Antec Kuhler H2O 920 on the extreme setting out performed the Corsair Hydro H70 at every clock frequency that we ran the Intel Core i7 LGA1366 processor at. In the silent mode the Antec Kuhler H2O 920 ran slightly warmer than the Corsair Hydro H70, but it was significantly quieter. We found that either fan mode the Antec Kuhler H2O 920 was at minimum 16 degrees Celcius better than the retail box Intel CPU HSF. Even at 4GHz the Antec Kuhler H2O 920 in silent mode was still 2 degrees Celcius cooler than the stock Intel HSF at the stock 2.8Ghz! Swapping the fans around from exhaust to intake to match the way Corsair Hydro H70 had its fans installed and I would bet the gap would close up slightly between the Corsair Hydro H70 and the Antec Kuhler H2O 920 in silent mode.
The only issue I can find with the Kuhler H2O 920 is that in the Extreme mode the noise from the fans is ear splitting loud to me. The upside to this is the Chill Control V software allows you to find that sweet spot for performance/noise that fits your taste.
Currently the Kuhler H2O 920 can be picked up from Antec's web shop for $119.95 plus shipping on pre-order. With the current Japan relief effort that Antec is doing that price drops to $107.99 with free shipping. For that price you get a solid all-around performer that comes with a 3 year warranty.
Legit Bottom Line: The Antec Kuhler H2O 920 is a solid performing water cooler that out does all the coolers we have tested so far at 4GHz, but can get noisy doing so. Even in it's silent mode it performs with minimal noise. It also has a 3 year warranty, the most of all the currently available water kits.