I build a fair amount computers, and a give each one a healthy over-clock. Therefore, I look for coolers that are easy to install while performing well in order to keep the CPU temperatures as cool as possible for maximum longevity. I previously used a lot of the larger metal conduction heat sinks, and had great results with many of them in terms of CPU temperature. However, for aesthetic and noise purposes I have been swayed into using the Antec Kuhler 620 h2O (the smaller version of this unit). I have been so pleased with that unit, that I desperately wanted to get my hands on this "upgraded" version. It's not perfect, but it is excellent none-the-less, and will likely appeal to the majority of computer enthusiasts.
Out of the Box:
One of the first things you'll notice when un-boxing the Antec Kuhler H20 920 is that the unit is relatively light-weight despite it's size. The look of the unit is fairly standard and if you are familiar with the Antec 620, you'll find that this unit looks very similar with most of the differences only emerging when you compare the thickness of the head unit and the radiator. This is, once again, a unit manufactured by the company, Asetek (The group that previously constructed the Corsair H0 and H70). The tubing on the 920 is slightly thicker, but remains very flexible. Asetek, the manufacturer of the unit, says that this Antec model uses the latest(3rd-generation) copper cold plate (head unit) and less flow restrictive tubing. This unit is fairly similar still to the Corsair H70, with the exception of the Antec unit having a spiffy RGB (user color-controlled) logo- which really does look cool by the way (if you are into that); as well the Antec unit blowing it's warm exhaust outside of the case (my preference) rather than inside, ala the Corsair H70.
Ease of Installation:
While the box says "quick installation" this will take a seasoned PC builder about 15 minutes to install. Though it is certainly not a difficult task for a complete novice, either. In summary, you install a backplate, a front bracket and finally push the unit down and turn to lock it in place. After the radiator is mounted and the unit secured, you plug the fan, usb and pump into the motherboard. All-in-all, a fairly simple process.
Keep in mind, cooling numbers of my machine and yours will certainly vary due to differences in ambient temperature, cases, fans etc.. Therefore, rather than only giving you my current temperatures with this unit I will provide the approximate difference from the previous well-performing Antec Kuhler 620 and Intel stock cooler and let you decide its efficacy. My testing is by no means scientific, as I didn't know the ambient temperature of the room at the time of each test. So consider these numbers mere estimates.
Intel Stock Cooler
Idle: 42 c Full Sustained Load: 79
Antec Kuhler 620 H20
Idle: 38c Full Sustained Load: 56c
Antec Kuhler 920 H2O
Idle: 34c Full Sustained Load: 51c
The Antec Kulher 920 H20 is VERY quiet when the system is not under extended load- which is common for most everyday applications. The sound level changes drastically,however, when the system is under a full-extended load. The unit becomes quite noisy and is reminiscent of a forest gnome running his/her small weed-wacker inside your pc. If you favor performance over sound level, this is all well and good. However, if you want a quiet pc, you will have to tame the fans on the unit either by replacing them with a more noise-conscious substitutes or by limiting the speed (and performance) of the fans using the included software. I should mention that the only way I could get the fans to ramp up that high on their own was by running torture tests such as PRIME95 for over ten minutes. During gaming sessions the fans remained quite reasonable and discrete.
I build computers fairly frequently and really like this unit in comparison to some other cooling setups I have used in various systems. This unit performs very well, installs easily, and offers impressive value. The unit also has fans which regulates its speed by the motherboard and will make adjustments as needed, a welcome feature. While it's not going to replace a true custom water cooling setup, it holds its own against everything in its price range while being mostly quiet and easy to work with. If you aren't planning on doing a major overclock, you still might want to check out the small H20620, as it's tough to beat in terms of value. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment and I will do my best to answer ASAP.
-Cool Monitoring Software
-Great Cooling Performance
-3 year warranty
-Estimated 50,000 hour pump lifespan
- A lot of competition at this price point (though this is definitely a top-contender)
- Noisy at higher fan levels
CPU: Sandy Bridge Core i5 2500k, Overclocked to 4.4ghz
Motherboard: Asus Sabertooth P67
Hard Disks: Corsair F60 SSD (boot device), WD-Velociraptor 150gb , WD Blue 1TB
GPU: 2 x SLI -MSI N560GTX-TI Twin Frozr II/OC GeForce GTX 560 Ti (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card
MEMORY: G-Skillz 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory (overclocked)
PSU: Antec True Power 750W Modular Power Supply
CASE: Silverstone Raven-02EW