Before I start writing the article and later do the tests I believe I should say a few words and pay some attention to the whole Antec KÜHLER H₂O series. The premade all-in-one water cooling series was presented back in 2011 and features, for now, only 3 models:
- Antec KÜHLER H₂O 620, which I’ve already tested a few months ago offering very nice cooling performance and made as single 151 mm (H) x 120 mm (W) x 27 mm (D) radiator meant to work with only one 120mm fan.
- Antec KÜHLER H₂O 920, which I am going to review and test now and expect to have some nice cooling performance featuring a single 151 mm (H) x 120 mm (W) x 49 mm (D) radiator meant for two 120mm fans
- Antec KÜHLER H₂O 1220 which is actually a double-radiator model with dimensions of 273 x 120 x 27 mm, made to provide outstanding performance and meant to operate with two 120mm fans.
Apart from that, at Computex 2013 the guys from Antec announced that by the end of this year they are planning to expand the series with 3 new models called Kühler H2O 650, Kühler H2O 950 and Kühler H2O 1250, featuring really innovative design and probably really serious performance.
So far so good, but after all this article is actually for the Antec KÜHLER H₂O 920, so let’s check what this model has to offer to the regular customers or enthusiasts.
KÜHLER H₂O 920 was provided to me directly from Antec and arrived in the pretty standard for the KÜHLER H₂O series carton box painted in black/grey/yellow colour scheme with a big picture of the product itself and some technical details on the front side of the package.
Of course, all of the additional technical details, some smaller pictures and detailed explanations related to the technologies used for the creation of this product are described on all of the sides of the package. And believe me, there is plenty of information.
After some time spent checking out the box, I finally opened it and this is what I found inside:
The water cooler and all of the additional accessories are carefully packed in nylon bags and secured in a carton bed. On top of the parts there is a foam sheet protecting the AIO water cooling system, a warranty card, an installation manual and a disk with the drivers and ChillControl VI software included in the package. The last thing is very interesting but I will speak about it a bit later.
As I said, nylon bags, parts, carton bed …. After I took them all out of the carton bed for taking a picture they looked like this:
The standard package offers:
- Intel mounting kit featuring entirely painted in black front and back brackets and 4 long push and screw bolts with plastic cover for installing on Intel systems
- AMD mounting kit featuring entirely painted in black front and back brackets and 4 long push and screw bolts with plastic cover for installing on AMD systems
- Two 120 x 25mm fans operating in 700 – 2400 revolutions per minute range for push-pull setup
- A metal ring, whose purpose to be honest I couldn’t find, but I believe it should secure the cooling plate to the front bracket
- 8 painted in black bolts and washers for installing the fans to the radiator and installing the radiator to the case
- 4 plastic sets for installing on the front plates and holding the push and screw bolts
- 2 x rubber dumpers for sticking the backplate to the motherboard
- A warranty card
- An installation manual
- A DVD/CD with the drivers and the software.
I believe it is about time to check out the structure of the cooler and all of the additional accessories.
After I took all of the parts out of the carton bed this is the thing which made me smile most. At first sight KÜHLER H₂O 920 looks very similar to KÜHLER H₂O 620 but believe me they are very, very different.
In fact, KÜHLER H₂O 920 offers a pretty standard structure for an all-in-one water cooling system featuring a cooling radiator, a cooling plate together with the pump attached to it, tubes, cooling fans and the mounting kit, which I am going to describe one by one in this article.
KÜHLER H₂O 920 features a single slot radiator with dimensions of 151 mm (H) x 120 mm (W) x 49 mm (D) entirely painted in black matte made to be used with up to two 120 x 25mm fans in push-pull setup which can be installed on both sides of the radiator with the 8 long bolts and washers. The radiator itself can be mounted, using the same bolts for the back fan, on the back or top of every middle or full ATX modern case, which has a 120mm case fan slot. And here is the moment which I should point out as important. When both fans and the radiator are assembled the overall thickness reaches up to 90mm so when installed on the back of the case it will definitely cover the VRM heat-sink and the space will be very limited. The VRM heat-sink cooling too.
Cooling plate together with the pump and the tubes
Antec KÜHLER H₂O 920 offers a perfectly milled copper contact surface with the water pump attached to it and secured with a lot of bolts to secure the water circulation inside the system. According to Antec, the liquid inside the system is safe, environmentally-friendly and anti-corrosive. I hope I won’t have to test this. Again, all of the parts are covered with plastic cover with maximum height of 29mm and here is something which appealed to me very much. On the top side of the plastic cover there is a small transparent cut with shape of the Antec logo which according to the official technical details glow in different colours with RGB LEDs, which can be controlled from the software. I will definitely check this out a bit later.
The connection between the radiator and the cooling plate together with the pump is done by two very flexible tubes with length of 330mm painted in black. Even though they are a bit long their flexibility is meant to provide nice and smooth installation inside the case.
Maybe you’ve already noticed from the pictures above but there are exactly 3 entirely painted in black cables coming out of the cooling plate…
Actually those 3 cables are the thing which makes the magic for the entire water cooling system and they are:
- 3-pin cable for powering and regulating the whole system which should be connected with the 3-pin CPU fan header on the motherboard
- 4-pin PWM cable with 2 x 4-pin PWM connectors for powering and regulating both of the fans directly from the cooling plate
- a USB cable for connecting the AIO with a USB header on the motherboard and later controlling the cooling system via the software included in the package
And since I’ve mentioned the fans, let’s check what they have to offer …
Antec KÜHLER H₂O 920 is supplied with two 120 mm x 25 mm PWM powered and regulated fans entirely painted in black offering a plastic square frames and a propeller with 9 very sharp angled blades meant to operate at 700 – 2400 revolutions per minute range, providing maximum airflow level of 110.0 CFM each at maximum noise level of 43 dBA. Very impressive and I hope they will be enough for cooling the liquid inside the radiator to a normal temperature.
Installation of the fans on the radiator is done by 8 painted in black bolts and washers. In fact four of these bolts are meant to be used to attach the radiator to the case. And this is what both of the fans look like installed on the radiator:
And this is how both of the fans are connected to the 4-pin PWM cable with 2 x 4-pin PWM connectors:
So far so good. Everything is assembled and ready to be installed inside my case for doing the tests but to do this I should pay some attention to the mounting kit, too.
According to the official technical details at the Antec web page, KÜHLER H₂O 920 is supplied with all of the parts needed so this system can work with:
- Intel LGA 1150 /2011/ 1155 / 1156 / 1366
- AMD AM2/ AM3/ AM2+/ AM3+ / FM1 / FM2
Of course, for doing the tests I will need the AMD brackets and these are the parts needed so the AIO can be installed on the motherboard:
Now let’s assemble the mounting kit.
First thing to use is the plastic backplate in which there are four holes on each corner, which should hold 4 metal nuts like on the picture above.
Next thing to install are the adhesive rubber dumpers, which should be put to the backplate so it can be attached to the back side of the motherboard:
And the full mounting kit requires the front bracket, which should be prepared with adding these plastic clips, which are meant to hold the 4 long push and screw bolts with plastic cover in their places.
And this is what the fully assembled mounting kit looks like:
I believe I am done describing the water cooling system and all of its parts and now I should do some dirty work with installing the cooler inside the case and doing the tests but before I start I want to describe the system I am going to use..
CPU: AMD Vishera FX-8350
- At standard frequency 4.020 MHz (at 1.344V)
- At low overclock frequency of 4.220 MHz at 1.38V)
- At medium overclock frequency of 4.420 MHz (at 1.404V)
- At high overclock frequency of 4.720 GHz (at 1.440V)
Motherboard: GigaByte 990FXA-UD3
Video card: Sapphire 5830 Extreme 1GB DDR5 256bit
Memory: 2 x 4GB Geil Black Dragon 1866 MHz
Hard drive: Kingston SSD SV100S264G
Case: SilverStone Raven RV-03
Power supply: Antec HCP-750W
Cooler: Antec KÜHLER H₂O 920
Thermal paste: The thermal compound preinstalled on the cooling plate
To do the tests I am going to use the two standard 120 x 25mm fans from the package working at 700 – 2400 revolutions per minute range, providing maximum airflow level of 110.0 CFM each at maximum noise level of 43 dBA.
The tests were conducted in a closed system with:
- 2 x 180mm fans on the bottom panel putting fresh air inside the case and spinning at about 1200 rpm
- 120mm fan behind the motherboard and spinning at about 1000 rpm.
- Room temperature of about 20 degrees.
Both of the 180mm fans were connected together to the chassis 2 connector and were rotating at maximum speed.
I will install Antec KÜHLER H₂O 920 and do stress tests at standard frequency of 4.020 GHz (at 1.344V), at low overclock frequency of 4.220 GHz (at 1.38V), at medium overclock frequency of 4.420 GHz (at 1.404V) and at high overclock frequency of 4.720 GHz (at 1.440V) using just the standard fans provided with the AIO system rotating at maximum speed and later automatically regulated from the software.
Since the case is made with 90 degrees rotated motherboard I had to install the radiator on the top panel so it can follow the natural airflow inside the case.
First things to do is to install the mounting kit on the motherboard and prepare it so the cooling plate with the pump and the radiator can be installed.
Next thing to do is to install the radiator on the top panel of the case:
And this is what the cooler looks like after I was done installing it. It looks really nice but still I believe there are a bit too many cables inside. Maybe you’ve probably noticed but I removed the RAM heat-sinks so they don’t get in my way while installing and later testing.
Earlier I mentioned that Antec KÜHLER H₂O 920 arrived with a DVD/CD featuring drivers and software to control the pump, the fans and the RGB LEDs. The software is actually called ChillControl VI and I should point out it is important to install the software on the machine before installing the water cooling system and of course don’t forget to connect the USB cable to any of the USB headers on the motherboard. If this cable is not connected then the AIO fans are rotating at maximum speed and are a bit noisy.
The software actually provides some very basic features such as:
- First panel: Liquid temperature, fan speed and pump speed monitor and a switch for Extreme, Silent and Custom made mode. Of course, when it is set to Extreme mode, the fans are rotating at maximum speed and the pump is increasing its speed as well. When it is set to Silent mode, the software controls the fan and pump speed automatically.
- Second panel: Fans speed and Liquid temperature monitor, which allows you to observe their values for some period of time
- Third panel: Here you can make some fine adjustments for the Extreme, Silent and Custom profiles, how the fans should operate
- Fourth panel: At the fourth panel there are all of the features related to the RGB LEDs.
- Fifth panel: The last panel includes some basic options like choosing the language, the theme of the software and setting notifications
And this is what the transparent cut with the shape of Antec logo on the plastic cover of the cooling block looks like:
Before I continue with the tests I should point out that when the USB cable is connected with the motherboard, the AIO is operating in Silence mode. When it is not the AIO is working at maximum speed.
Now let’s check out the test results:
All of the test results have been summed up in the following charts:
And the liquid temperature inside the AIO system:
And the fan speed during the tests:
After I am done testing I believe I should share my conclusions:
1. Antec KÜHLER H₂O 920 performance:
After a few hours of reviewing, installing, fighting with the software (I made the mistake to install the software after I connected the USB header and the software wasn’t detecting the AIO driver) and testing the pre-made all-in-one water cooling system all I can say is great job Antec with KÜHLER H₂O 920!
The product itself offered very nice and very serious performance at all of the tests done when working at Silent and Extreme modes and it handled keeping even this power hungry beast called AMD FX-8350 at very decent temperatures with full load. To be honest, I tried to overclock the processor a bit further and do tests at 4.9GHz, but the VRM heat-sink was too hot since the radiator of the AIO is too big and covers the VRM radiator, which I was not able to keep cool enough, and the processor was crashing at the tests. After all 4.7GHz is one really good overclock frequency, which definitely makes the processor heat up a lot.
After I am done testing, I am 100% sure that this water cooling system can handle keeping cool every processor on the market working at default, overclocked or extremely overclocked frequencies and it can grant a nice and smooth operation while working at Silent mode and very serious performance when working at Extreme mode. Apart from that, when I was testing the AIO at maximum speed the fans were very loud but when the software was regulating the fans the whole cooler was pretty quiet.
2. Antec KÜHLER H₂O 920 appearance:
What can I say… Antec KÜHLER H₂O 920 is one really good looking and very stylish product entirely painted in black, which makes it stay neutral to the colour scheme of every modern case or modding project. The cooler itself looks really massive, which made me feel comfortable and safe while using this product. Apart from that the logo with the option to work with different colour looks very well especially if all of the parts inside the machine are black.
Official price (MSRP) for Antec KÜHLER H₂O 920 : unknown
Official warranty: 36 months
I thank Antec for the sample.