Liquid Cooler Round 2: Antec Khuler H2O 620
Almost a year ago we took a look at two different self contained liquid cooling systems. Corsair was the first to catch my attention with their H50 and then CoolIt caught my eye with their ECO. At the end of the day I chose the ECO because of the ease of install, as far as performance was concerned they where a dead heat. When Antec announced they where entering this market I was not all that excited. Don’t get me wrong I have come over the years to expect a quality product from Antec but I was firmly convinced this would be just like the other two as far as performance.
When I got the box, it was the same colorful style we have come to expect from Antec. I did notice from the box that the actually water block looked smaller than the H50 or ECO and on the side of the box was a chart that said this system was more effective than “1st Generation” liquid coolers.
As stated on the front of the box the Khuler has mounting systems for every current system you can imagine. A look at the mounting system reminded me of the H50 system from Corsair, well it should. Just like Corsair, Antec teamed up with Asetek to create this unit. The water block is substantially smaller than the H50 or ECO, in fact it is less than a 3rd the height of the block on the H50. It is obvious this is a new design from Asetek.
After noticing the more diminutive size, the next thing I noticed was the way the tubing was constructed. Both the ECO and the H50 have a plastic shroud covering the tubing. The H2O has a think rubber tube with no shroud, this make the tubes more flexible and easier to position.
Finally, unlike the other two models, this unit has two wires leaving the water block area, one to hook to the motherboard and one to allow the connection of the exhaust fan. The pump actually has control of the fan based on the temperature of the cooling solution. Coolit introduced a similar system in it’s Vantage cooler that was controlled by software, the H2) does not allow user control using this system.
I am in the process of doing some work on a system in the Antec Six Hundred v2 we saw last week and so decided to do my testing their. The the sake of this testing I used an AMD Phenom II 1100T. I then setup the system with stock cooling, the H50, ECO and H2O as well as a Thermaltake Frio, with the fans that came with them as well as in the orientation suggested by each manufacturer. Since cooling numbers will vary from many factors from user to user I will post variances here instead of hard numbers. The numbers where achieved by running SMP Folding on the system for 8 hours and then measuring the temp.
|Cooler||Difference from base|
|Stock Cooling (baseline)||0|
While I expected the H2O to be near the numbers of the ECO and H50 it surprised me completely by dipping much lower in temperatures. So much lower in fact that it was head to head with a much larger dual fan cooling system that was sounding like 747 on final approach to achieve it’s temperatures. Without a doubt the H2O lives up to it’s boast of out cooling the first generation runs of this type of cooler. I considered toying with setting up a push pull system to see how it works but with these temperatures why?
The system installation was simple to do and as with all of these self contained units, the real joy is the fact that you have room to work in your case. As you can see there is nothing restricting the RAM and the mounting system can be easily gotten to inside the case, no need to remove the motherboard to make a processor change.
I have to admit that I still prefer the ECO mounting system over this one. To mount the unit you first put in the mounting bracket and loosely connect 4 screws. Then you put the water block in and rotate it to match the locking mechanism and then tighten down the screws. This is a bit more cumbersome than the ECO/Vantage thumbscrew system, but if you are not often swapping CPUs this should not be a big deal.
With better cooling power, quite operation and a smaller size than it’s competition the Khuler H20 620 enters the market strong and hard. With a suggested retail price of around $70 this places the H20 at the same price point as it’s direct competition and in the same ball park as higher end air coolers.
Every time I talk about these self contained liquid coolers I have said the same thing, the cost for me is offset by the fact they are easier to work with when in the PC. This is still a big concern for me as even the worst of these coolers is more than enough to easily keep a PC cool. Add to this the fact that they achieve these cooling levels with less fans and less noise and they are a pure win in my book.
With the better cooling and same price point the Khuler H2O 620 has passed the ECO as my choice for use. While the ECO still has the easier mounting system the cooling potential of the Khuler is enough to make up for a little more work. If you are a DIYer then the Khuler H2O 620 is a must buy!
Segment Aired 13 March 2011