Antec Kühler H20 620 & 920 CPU Water Cooling Units

Cooling
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MP3 SOUND RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. Be aware that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn't hear it from one meter, chances are we couldn't record it either!

The recording starts with 5~10 second segments of room ambiance, then the fan at various levels. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don't change the volume setting again.

  • Antec Kühler H20 620 at 1m
    — pump at 7V, stock fan at 5V (16 dBA@1m)
    — pump at 7V, stock fan at 6V (18~19 dBA@1m)
    — pump at 12V, stock fan at 7V (22 dBA@1m)
    — pump at 12V, stock fan at 9V (27~28 dBA@1m)
    — pump at 12V, stock fan at 12V (33 dBA@1m)
  • Antec Kühler H20 920 at 1m
    — pump at 7V, stock fans at 5.6V (19 dBA@1m)
    — pump at 12V, stock fans at 6V (26~27 dBA@1m)
    — pump at 12V, stock fans at 7V (32 dBA@1m)
    — pump at 12V, stock fans at 9V (42 dBA@1m)
    — pump at 12V, stock fans at 12V (48~49 dBA@1m)

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Antec Kühler H20 620/920 is a big improvement over the first fully-assembled one piece CPU water cooler we reviewed, the Corsair Hydro H50. The pumps on both units are considerably quieter, particular on the 620. This allows Kühler users to run their fans faster and produce better temperatures at similar noise levels to the H50. The smooth, non-corrugated tubing also gives them greater flexibility than the stiff plastic hoses of the Hydro series.

Despite these improvements, our final tests results were not compelling. Neither managed to match the majority of comparably priced tower coolers on our heatsink test platform. Given its street price of about US$60, the 620's main competition are premium single 120/140 mm fan heatsinks. Of the 22 we've tested in the past couple of years, 20 of them outperformed the 620. The larger 920, with its thicker radiator, second fan, and fan/LED controller goes for US$100, making it fair game for expensive dual 14 cm fan coolers. We've reviewed only six of these beasts but they all outpaced the 920 by a large margin.

These units are popular amongst DIY enthusiasts who can't afford or lack the technical expertise or dedication to construct a proper water cooling system, but from what we've seen so far, they just aren't efficient enough. The Kühler H20 620/920, even though they have quieter pumps than the H50, are still handicapped by the additional noise source of the pump, making them impossible to succeed as super-quiet CPU coolers. When you consider the risk of leaking liquid into your system and the countless number of superior alternatives that don't have this potential liability, it only makes sense to use them in cases with limited CPU heatsink clearance. Small microATX cases with 120 mm fan placements like the Silverstone GD05 and Lian Li PC-V354 come to mind. For performance oriented silencers, stick to tried and true air coolers. They are both cheaper and more effective.

Our thanks to Antec for the Kühler H20 620/920 CPU cooler samples.

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Articles of Related Interest

Havik 140: NZXT's First CPU Heatsink
Thermalright Venomous X Silent Edition CPU Cooler
Prolimatech Genesis CPU Heatsink: Retaking the Crown
Swiftech Polaris 120 CPU Heatsink
Zalman CNPS9900 MAX & CNPS5X CPU Coolers
Corsair Hydro H50 CPU Water Cooler

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Discuss this article in the SPCR forums.



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