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    Categories: Coolers

Antec Kuhler H20 920

Introduction

Antec, Inc., is the leading global brand of high-performance computer components and accessories for the gaming, PC upgrade and Do-It-Yourself (DIY) markets. Founded in 1986, Antec is recognized as a pioneer in these industries and has maintained its position as a worldwide market leader and international provider of efficient, quiet, and reliable products.

The Kulher H20 920, which I am testing today is a self-contained liquid cooling unit for your CPU. The 920 has an extremely feature packed package, with a thick radiator and changeable LEDs in the pump/waterblock. This being the top performing unit Antec produces,  it should make for an interesting test.

Specifications

• CPU Socket Compatibility:
– Intel LGA 775 / 1155 / 1156 / 1366
– AMD AM2 / AM3 / AM2+ / AM3+
• Included software provides essential tools to control and monitor the KÜHLER H₂O 920
• Non-corrugated easy-bend tubes for maximum flexibility in radiator positioning
• Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) radiator fans generate the quietest high performance cooling
• Customizable RGB LED creates brilliant illumination
• Cooling Liquid – Safe, environmentally-friendly, anti-corrosive
• Fan Speed: 700 – 2400 RPM (PWM controlled)
• Tubing Length: 330 mm /13,0″
• Radiator Dimensions:
– 151 mm (H) x 120 mm (W) x 49 mm (D)
– 5,6″ (H) x 4,7″ (W) x 1,9″ (D) /
• Fan Dimensions:
– 120 mm x 25 mm / 4,7″ x 1,0″
• Air Flow:
– 110 CFM
• Noise Level:
– 43 dBA
• Cold Plate + Pump Height:
– 29 mm / 1,1″
• Net weight: 2,4 kg / 1,1 lbs
• AQ3 – Antec Quality 3 year limited warranty on parts and labor

Box and bundle

To start off, the box. A very professional looking packaging, with a moody photo of the unit on the front along with brief specifications and compatibility information.

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The rear of the box shows many details on features and useful things.

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On the side we see a graph comparing an Intel stock cooler, a 1st Gen liquid cooler and the Kuhler 920.

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The bundled goods include:

  • Manuals
  • Intel Brackets
  • AMD Brackets
  • Fan screws
  • ChillControl CD

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Physical layout

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The cooler comes with thermal paste pre-applied which is helpful until you decide to remount the cooler where both myself and Antec recommend you apply new thermal paste.

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The base is fairly reflective although as it shows some marks from machining. The base is very flat and smooth which is important to ensure excellent contact with the CPU.

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The radiator has a relatively tight FPI (Fins per inch) although that is to be expected on a smaller radiator. The radiator also appears to be well made.

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The pump unit has an LED under the Antec logo and the colour is changeable via the ChillControl software.
Here is some samples of how the logo looks with different settings.

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Disassembly

To start, you remove the two smaller screws around the outer ring of screws to remove the top cover. With the cover removed, we see the PCB, pump components. Overall the quality of the components appears to be of a very high standard, very tidy.

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Next you remove all of the outer screws and split the unit apart.

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Once done, you will have something that looks like this and coolant with spill out, hence the use of the tray.

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To take a better look at the “cold plate” or waterblock as it’s more commonly known, you unscrew the smaller screws, revealing this.

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A close up of the “cold plate” or waterblock. This design uses very tightly packed fins which is ideal for a pump that has a low flow rate.

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On to the pump. The impeller is under the piece of plastic that divides the two parts.

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Here you can see the pumps impeller and where the water flows, along with appears to be a piece of foam that absorbs the coolant.

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The impeller and divider.

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The impeller removed from the housing.

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Testing and Overclocking

Test Rig

CPU: AMD Phenom II 1090T
GPU: ASUS Reference 5870
Memory: 4GB G Skill Ripjaw 1600MHz 7-7-7-24 DDR3
Storage: Crucial C300 128GB
PSU: Coolermaster Silent Pro 850W
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Methodology

To ensure the results were consistent, the heatsink was mounted 3 times and idle and load tests run each time. An average of the results is shown on the results page.

For Idle testing Windows 7 was allowed to run with no programs running for 5 minutes.

For load testing I used Prime 95 Small FFT’s and temperatures were taken after 20 minutes.

The standard thermal paste, provided with the cooler was used.

A Corsair 700D equipped with many fans was used for testing.

Ambient temperature was 17 degrees c.

Overclocking

The settings we used for our stock and overclocked tests are:

Stock – CPU 3200MHz Auto voltage
Overclocked – CPU 4000MHz 1.456v

Results

[easychart type=”horizbar” title=”Temperature – Stock” groupnames=”Kuhler 920 Silent, Kuhler 920 Extreme, EK Supreme HF, Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo, Prolimatech Panther” valuenames=”Idle, Load” group1values=”21,38″ group2values=”18,26″ group3values=”18,26″ group4values=”22,36″ group5values=”20,32″ ]

The Kuhler 920 did very well in both the Silent and Extreme settings.

[easychart type=”horizbar” title=”Temperature – Overclocked” groupnames=”Kuhler 920 Silent, Kuhler 920 Extreme, EK Supreme HF, Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo, Prolimatech Panther” valuenames=”Idle, Load” group1values=”21,46″ group2values=”18,36″ group3values=”22,36″ group4values=”32,77″ group5values=”24,48″ ]

When it came to overclocking, the Kuhler 920 did very well again, only reaching 36C in extreme mode and 46C in Silent mode which along with beating every air cooler I’ve tested was also far quieter. The fans both stayed at only 600RPM which made for a very quiet system and not far from silent. When in extreme mode the maximum temperature 36C is brilliant for having some fun overclocking your CPU even past the 4GHz mark. I found with the same voltage, I was able to increase my CPUs frequency to 4.3GHz and temperatures topped out at a very respectable 40C.

Conclusion

The testing results were extremely impressive. Having the options to be able to run your PC in different modes such as silent, extreme and custom modes means you can set your system to run as you like it. Say you want very low CPU temperatures, just flip the mode to extreme and have some fun. Want to play some games, watch a movie, the silent mode will still keep your CPU cool while staying quieter than most coolers available.

The mounting system has been used on many similar self-contained liquid cooling systems. It works fine on both Intel and AMD systems. The idea that the bracket is installed before the actual pump/water block is great and allows you to focus on making sure you get a good mount. The mounts are very firm and won’t go anywhere once tightened down.
In the Antec Solo II case that I am using for testing I found the top of the radiator slightly too thick and that it puts pressure against the PSU when fitted but luckily this is only a slight issue and on other slightly larger cases, especially cases where the PSU is mounted at the bottom of the case, this will not be an issue.

The thermal paste is already applied to the bottom the pump/water block. This makes installing for a first timer much easier and takes the guess work out of how much you should be applying. The amount applied is good and after loosening the screws, I saw very even coverage. The issue with only having the pre-applied paste is that as both Antec and I recommend, will only last one mount as you should change your thermal paste every time you re-mount the cooler.

The base of the waterblock was very flat and was machined to a high quality finish.

At the price of £74.99 I see it for online, it does seem like a large jump over the £44.99 you can get the Kuhler 620 for. However the Kuhler 920 has a much larger feature set and the performance too. If you’re simply looking for a CPU cooler, the 920 is likely more than you’re looking to spend but for a more expensive build, the 920 will fit right in.

Pros

  • Excellent performance in both Silent and Extreme modes
  • Dual fans
  • Very quiet operation in silent mode
  • High quality thermal paste
  • Overall quality of the product is excellent

Cons

  • Only one mount of thermal paste included
  • Cost could be slightly high if you’re only looking for a simple CPU cooler
  • Very noisy in Extreme mode.
William Hemmens:

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