Antec describes itself as a “global leader in high-performance computer components and accessories for the gaming, PC upgrade and Do-It-Yourself markets”. Personally I’ve always kind of thought their products were overpriced and bland, so never really been near them – at least until recent times. Antec have popped out of the woodwork, and started acquiring companies, expanding their range, and generally moving away from just cases and power supplies to a variety of accessories and PC componentry that will make you stop and look. Enter the Kühler H₂O 920…….
Literally translating from German, Kühler means Cooler in English – pretty unimaginative right? But without having some massive intro, blurb, or spiel going on any further, the Kühler is the complete opposite. Antec have taken yet another Asetek quality cooling product, branded it, slapped in some goodies, bundled some software and released what is one of the most effective all-in-one CPU water cooling options you can buy.
The cooler itself is a dual thickness radiator for which the supplied fans attach to the front and back to form a push or pull air flow (preference is yours pending how you slap the fans on – just don’t make them go in opposite directions!). Supplied with the boxed unit is a multitude of fittings to ensure the cooler can be fitted to your motherboard and CPU along with the screws, washers and other small parts for everything to fasten securely in to place and allow for solid performance. The unit itself is a mostly straightforward standard cooler kit from Asetek, who produce these all-in-one CPU only kits for a variety of brands (including Intel, Corsair and AMD to name a few), although the Antec version sports much more nifty features.
A low profile head that attaches itself to the CPU contains the pump, which circulates the water through two rubber hoses to the standard dual thickness radiator. On the radiator you would attach two Antec branded 120mm fans, and then it’s a simple case of plugging in the fans to the cabling which comes from the pump head, the USB cable from the same place to a spare motherboard USB header, and then the fan power cable to round it all off to your CPU fan pins on the motherboard. The end result should look a little like this:
A touch of bling on the header of the unit with a glowing Antec logo will go a way to make those modders happy – especially when you come to find that the software allows you to change the colour to whatever you please………..
Antec bundle a simple application that fires up with your PC to control the fan unit. Installing without issue on my PC, the hardware found on the USB needed a little coercing to work out where to get the drivers from, but once done, the software was able to see the new piece of equipment, and the software dashboard reported accordingly. There are three settings on the Kühler control software – Silent, Custom, or Extreme.
Silent is what it is – it drops the fans to minimal rotations, and effectively ensures you have minimal noise pollution. This it did at the expense of cooling, and my RealTemp driven sensors showed the CPU generally idling in the high 30′s (degrees Celsius). At the other end of the equation is the Extreme setting – this crazed maniacal setting removes all inhibitions and sends the fans to a literal vacuum of air through the radiator as it does it’s best attempt to compress it harder than the jet turbine of a Boeing 747! I set my fans up to pull the air in from outside of the case, and while the noise was louder than normal, the result was as expected – temps in the mid 20′s at idle with the 60 odd decibels reported by the software. Based on my hearing, said suggested data was certainly not wrong – the fans are extremely powerful, and a standard by-product is noise.
Last on the three modes is the Custom setting, which as it states takes whatever settings you’d like to use and applies them. I like my CPU to run with temps at around 30-32 degrees Celsius, so I tweaked my settings to finally sit at levels which would achieve this. These included the low temperature kick in for the fans to speed up being at 20 degrees, and the upper end being at 42 degrees. This made the fans run at around 1,500 rpm, which is around halfway on their revolution spread, and the temps hold very well.
Prior to installing the Antec Kühler H₂O 920, I previously had the Corsair H70, which is essentially the same as the Antec model, but without the awesomeness of the features. The Corsair has a higher head to it, and it’s fans are required to be powered off a single motherboard fan plug (Corsair bundles a splitter plug amongst the other things in the box), and the header pump requires a second fan plug. The H70 also has stiff plastic hoses from the radiator to the header, and is an otherwise uncomplicated unit – no bling, no software, no nothing else.
Don’t get me wrong, the Corsair H70 is a very effective unit and under test produced decent results with a simple Intel Burn Test. The CPU never climbed above 67 degrees Celsius on the hottest core, and the screenshot below shows the rough averages over the 10 short cycles.
With the Antec Kühler H₂O 920 in place, the same test under the same conditions was run. I left the Kühler H₂O 920 on my Custom setting I detailed previously, and the results were much better with only a little more fan speed (and decibels) with the hottest core not getting above 57 degrees Celsius.
I’m not a huge overclocker, and nor do I really get too concerned with having the latest PC Upgrade these days (unless it’s a gamebreaker), but the Antec Kühler H₂O 920 is excellent. It does everything you want in a CPU cooler and more, and does it with style. I would recommend it over the Corsair H70, and will remain undecided on whether it is better than Corsair’s latest version, the H80. Small things such as rubberised pipes for the cooler, a pretty glowing light, and software that connects via a USB header cable all go a long way to making this a well thought through solution to cover all markets. Well done Antec, nice to see some solid variety, and done so well from a well established PC component company.
You can get the Antec Kühler H₂O 920 from a number of stockists, including Playtech who have it reasonably priced at NZD$149.
Craig "Arseynimz" Nimmo is a gamer and shoutcaster from New Zealand who spends his spare time looking in to the hour glass of competitive and general gaming. When not travelling the world on game commentating adventures, he can be found observing life idiocy, or general industry excitement...... Craig is a Senior Shoutcaster for Gamestah, PC Head Admin for CyberGamer, and a part of the Vox Eminor eSports Team.