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This article will dig in depth as to whether closed loop water-coolers are worth the added cost compared to air coolers and we'll also review the Antec Kuhler H2O 920.

This is Antec's solution for everyone who want's the performance of water-cooling with a much lower price, essentially no maintenance and no complicated reservoirs and pumps which are often intimidating enough to put off people wanting to jump the air cooled ship.

The catch? Well, you're not going to be getting quite the same level of cooling performance as a water cooling system with an external reservoir and higher surface area radiators.

However, closed loop water-cooling kits such as the H2O 920 are less than half the price of 'proper' water-cooling and it'd be a stretch to think you'd get the same temperatures.   

"no maintenance and no complicated reservoirs and pumps"
Performance is more comparable to the best air coolers, we're talking about twin tower, twin fan behemoths here, so it's still strikingly good cooling considering the size of the unit.

The 920 features two fans in a push pull configuration with a thick radiator sandwiched between them ensuring the water gets cooled before cycling around to your CPU once again.

These 120mm fans on the Kuhler 920 are extremely quiet. The ChillControl software included allows you to monitor the liquid temperature as well as control the cooler's fans. In silent mode they are just that, only the faintest whisper is audible even when I put my ear 30cm away from the fans. Note that all the benchmarks on this page were with the Kuhler set to silent. There's also an 'Extreme' mode which puts the fan RPM to their max and makes sure the water pump is going as fast as possible, this is LOUD! It's louder than my games and can be heard outside the room with the door shut. Fortunately there's no need to ever use anything but 'Silent' mode.
Figure 1
"Performance is more comparable to the best air coolers"
Figure 2
The Antec Kuhler H2O 920 keeps the 2500K at cool temperatures no matter how far I pushed it, in no way was my overclocking limited by the CPU temperature, just by the silicone itself. 
Modern processors run so cool, even with their stock coolers, this means that there's very little point in investing in a water-cooler (or a high end air cooler) unless you're going to overclock.

There's little difference between air and water cooling at stock clocks as you can see in Figure 1, air and water have the same idle temps and double the price of the Antec H2O doesn't seem worth it at all. Even at full load with all 4 cores working to their absolute maximum,  the water cooler was less than 4˚C cooler.
"there's very little point in investing in a water-cooler unless you're going to overclock."
Figure 3
Even when I'm comparing the overclocked 2500K running on both the Gelid GX-7 and the H2O 920 there isn't enough benefit for me to spend the extra £35 on the water-cooler. Just a couple degrees separate the two coolers in Figure 3. I suspect that if you're using hotter running processors such as an i7 3960X or an FX-8350 you'd benefit more from the water-cooling, so I decided to bump up my voltages in Figure 4 to make the CPU run much hotter.
"if you're using hotter running processors such as an i7 3960X or an FX-8350 you'd benefit more from the water-cooling"
Figure 4
As you can see, pumping up the volts from 1.3v to 1.385v has increased the full load temperatures and the difference between the air and water coolers is much more apparent. A 6˚C cooler processor with the water-cooler is a lot when it comes to fine tuning your overclock, far more substantial than the 1-2˚C seen with the lower voltages and we start to see an advantage which could actually mean better overclocking if you're limited by the heat your CPU's producing.

So the price may be a little high at around £70, but with hotter and more overclocked CPUs you could see the impressive thermal dissipation of the Antec Kuhler H2O 920 as a much needed upgrade to air coolers, they provide better cooling, more space for RAM heatsinks as well as an increasing margin of performance as you overclock.
"A 6˚C cooler processor with the water-cooler is a lot when it comes to fine tuning your overclock"

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15/10/2013 12:00:39 pm

Love this Weebly site, I had no idea I could make a free blog so easily, thanks!

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