Thermaltake's Water2.0 Pro is the LL Cool J of water coolers: cool, but loud
Water cooling is the way to go if you're serious about keeping your CPU thermals in check, and the easiest way to dip your toe in the water-cooling pool is an all-in-one unit that bolts onto your case. You don’t have to mess with pumps, tubing, or fans, and the kits will work with any modern CPU and most chassis, so their appeal is maximum cooling with minimum effort. Thermaltake is on board with this concept, and offers three tasty all-in-one entrées in its Water2.0 series: a low-end “Performance” model, a double-rad “Extreme” model, and the mid-range “Pro” version we examined this month.
The Water2.0 Pro comes with two 12cm fans for a push-pull configuration.
The cooler is an Asetek design that’s prefilled with coolant and features a fat 48mm radiator sandwiched between dual 12cm fans. Thick rubber tubes shuttle the coolant back and forth between the radiator and the cooling block, which features a copper contact plate to maximize heat transfer. It’s a universal design that bolts onto all modern CPUs and most cases.
Putting it all together wasn’t too difficult, but the installation process included one semi-major annoyance which we’ll get to later. For our thermal test, we didn’t need to install a backplate on our LGA2011 test machine, and of course, owners of AMD or other Intel sockets will need to do so. With ours retention plate already in place, we only had to secure four screws to the cooler’s retention ring. The problem is the LGA2011 uses special screws that look nearly identical to the other screws in the kit (LGA1155, etc.), which was confusing—they should be more clearly labeled, both in real life and in the manual. Color coding, perhaps? With the retention ring in place, the next step was to drop the water block down onto our CPU and snap the two together with a retention clip. From there, finishing the install was as easy as tightening four screws. Installing the radiator was also easy, and involved using the four pairs of provided screws to sandwich the radiator between the fans and attach them to the case. Both fans connect to a Y-shaped PWM power cable, allowing them to run synchronously from a single 4-pin connector.
In testing, the cooler performed surprisingly well when we let it run at full-speed (fan control disabled), outperforming our Hyper 212 Evo zero-point air-cooler by an impressive 5 C, but it was about 3 C warmer than the similarly constructed Corsair H80 kit. In quiet mode, using PWM fan control, its performance was also impressive, but again it was not as capable as Corsair’s offering.
While the Water2.0’s performance is cool, its acoustics weren’t. In quiet mode it emitted a high-pitch humming noise, even at idle, and under load the hum became more pronounced. The sound went away when we ran the fans on full blast, but then the fan noise was so loud as to resemble a small wind tunnel inside our chassis.
Overall, the Water2.0 Pro definitely runs cool, but at the cost of excessive noise in either of its modes. Considering the similarly-priced H80 runs a bit cooler, we'd give the nod to Corsair's solution between the two 12cm-based all-in-one water coolers.
All temperatures in degrees Celsius. Best scores bolded. All tests performed using an Intel Core i7-3960 at 4.2GHz, on an Asus P9X79 Deluxe motherboard with 16GB DDR3/1600, in a Thermaltake Level 10 GT with stock fans set to High.