Thermaltake WATER2.0 Performer Review I was recently selected by Thermaltake to review one of their WATER2.0 Performer coolers.. Nice! I received the cooler in the mail 4 days after receiving an email that I was selected to participate, with a weekend in between - nice shipping, Tt! I’ve been using the cooler since the day I received it, which was Monday 05/21/12, so it’s been used for a while in order to truly see how it performs. With a price tag of $69.99 on The Egg, the WATER2.0 Performer can be considered “entry level” in the closed-loop water cooler market. The cooler comes with Dual PWM fans (and a splitter), which is a first for these rads designed for 120mm fan holes. Each fan is capable of 2000RPM. The coolers radiator is 25mm thick, with aluminum fins. From the Manufacturer No-maintenance operation Traditional water cooling solutions require constant upkeep to prevent clogs or performance degradation. Thermaltake WATER2.0 Series of water cooling solutions are self-contained and proven to last. Universal Support Upgrading or switching between CPU platforms? No problem, WATER2.0 water cooling solutions are designed with universal mounting to support all available AMD and Intel desktop processors. Super quiet WATER2.0 water cooling solutions offer the best of both worlds: performance and silent operation thanks to the highly efficient radiator and pump design. Smarter cooling Users should not have to adapt to the tool they are using. Instead, WATER2.0 water cooling solutions all come with PWM-enabled fans so the cooling performance adapts to you. WATER2.0 Extreme also comes with software-based control system that allows the user to fine-tune performance perameters. A Flexible All-in-One Liquid Cooler that provides Easy and Safe Installation. No Refill Needed. · High performance Copper base plate accelerates the heat conductivity. · High reliability low profile pump provides quick liquid circulation lowering the temperature. · Pre-filled coolant reduces the liquid replenishment hassle. · Low evaporation tube decreases the loss of coolant effectively. · The high-tech sealed circulation system prevents leaking issue. Dual Automatic Adjustable 120mm PWM Fans maximize the cooling performance and tranquility. · Powerful fan blows the heat of radiator out to the chassis to maximize cooling performance. · PWM control function fan (1200~2000rpm) automatic adjust the fan speed according to CPU temperature, minimize overheating possibility. Universal Socket Compatibility Universal socket support: Intel: LGA2011, LGA1366, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA775 AMD: FM1, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2 Packaging The WATER2.0 Performer is packaged really well. On the front of the box the design is nice, displaying the product front and center with 3 key selling points. There’s also an “award-style” gold badge that declares Socket 2011 compatibility. The rear of the box is a similar story, with a picture of the product actually installed on a board.If you’re curious, it’s a Maximus III Formula for the 1156 socket. The picture aside, there’s a lot more information on the features offered by the product here, along with 4 smaller pictures detailing the 4 key components of the unit. The left side of the box has a detailed spec sheet, whereas the right side has the features listed on the front of the box in an additional 12 languages. Inside the box everything is packaged snugly. One fan is in a card shroud, the other is loose. The radiator is shrouded also, and the block/pump has a plastic protection cap on it to stop the thermal paste or block itself being compromised. Each cable on the unit is “sleeved” though not in the traditional sense. The cables seem to be ruggedized and coiled. First Impressions The packaging is nice and the unit and accessories are well protected and laid out. Everything required is easy to find. I’d be amazed if any damage was caused to your cooler in shipping. The unit itself is clean looking. The block isn’t overly huge and the WATER2.0 logo is actually pretty cool. The rubber tubing is “stealthy” and wouldn’t ruin the look of any case, no matter your color scheme. Installation The installation instructions are fairly straightforward. First, you need to take the backplate and insert 4 silver plastic grommets into the corresponding socket holes. The socket labels are kinda tough to see as they’re engraved into the black plastic, but squint hard enough and they will reveal themselves. Then, add the 2 mylar (pretty much dual sided sticky foam) to the correct spot on the backplate, align the holes and stick it to your motherboard. This can be kinda tricky, and the mylar is EXTREMELY adhesive, so if you’re using this review as an installation guide, try lining the holes up before removing the tab on the mylar. After doing this you take the socket ring (there’s one for Intel and one for AMD) and attach the correct socket mounts to it. Again, these plastic socket mounts require specific positioning depending on your socket type, but squint hard enough again and you’ll be able to make them out. Then add the correct bolt screws to the socket ring. Then you’re going to want to put your socket ring over the pump. Finally, there’s another ring that you place here which locks everything in place. Put your aftermarket thermal paste/grease here if you want - I did. This isn’t a thermal paste review, it’s a cooler review, so I used my own. If you’re going to do this, be sure to remove the preinstalled paste with isopropyl and a lint free wipe like a coffee filter. Put the block on your CPU, and tighten the bolt screws to lock it in place. Your pump is now installed and it’s time to install the radiator. Check the airflow diagrams on the fan casings and make sure they’re both blowing the same way. I had mine blowing out, and that’s what Thermaltake recommend, but some of you like to have your rad fans blowing in. I don’t know why you guys do that, but, that’s fine if you want to. Just don't have the fans blowing in opposite directions or you’ll create turbulence. Mount the rear fan directly to the radiator, then line up the second fan with the 120mm fan holes on the rear of your case. Slide the extended mounting screws into the fan and you should have a small amount of screw poking out for screwing into the radiator. Line the rad up and place it against the fan, and tighten it all into place. Now we wire her up. Your 2 fan cables both go into the fan Y-Splitter, and then that goes into your CPU_Fan1 header on your motherboard. Then there’s another cable coming from the pump which determines how hard the pump works, and that goes into the CPU_Fan2 header. Don’t have 2 CPU fan headers? Well, you can get 2x 4-pin PWM to 3-Pin Fan converters, and then connect them to your chassis fan headers, or get MOLEX adapters and connect them to MOLEX on your power supply. Please remember that the fans can no longer be controlled by the motherboards temperature readings, so you’ll have to keep watch yourself.. or have them at 100% all the time if you opted to connect them to MOLEX. Installation Thoughts I am a computer enthusiast, and with that, my case was purchased to accommodate my needs and wants. I use an NZXT Phantom, and it has a CPU cutout to allow me to mount aftermarket coolers with ease, without removing my motherboard. Now, the problem comes in that with new technology such as the z77 chipset which I am using for this review, cases don’t automatically go “Oh, well, the CPU is slightly offset now, maybe we should move our cut-out.” My CPU is not where my cutout is. It’s slightly to the right, towards my 5.25” bays. This means 50% of my CPU socket, and therefore 50% of the backplate, is hidden. Whilst this isn’t Thermaltake’s fault, it would have been nice to have the backplate be a little be more rugged than plastic. The reason I say this is because every time I went to tighten the fourth and final screw, the backplate bent slightly, causing the plastic grommet to pop out of the socket hole. This particular hole was covered by my motherboard tray. This required me to re-clean the block and CPU, apply paste, remove the backplate, reattach the plastic grommet, reattach the backplate, and try again. Before you say anything, yes I did try just tightening that screw first.. but it still refused to play ball. Three times I tried to install in-case, and every time the plastic grommet loosened from the backplate. I eventually caved and removed the motherboard and held the grommet in with my hand, but this shouldn’t have been popping out in the first place. That aside, installation is fairly straightforward. If you lack sight in one eye and your depth perception is off, then perhaps you’ll have trouble mounting the rad and fans to your case, but that aside, I can’t see any issues deterring you from installing. Testing Now the fun begins. I’d been waiting on getting a decent enough cooler to overclock my new toy; an i5 3570k. At 3.4ghz, at stock the CPU is nothing to be sniffed at, but I wanted more. I’ve been overclocking a while and know how to achieve a good overclock at the lowest possible voltage. I’m also aware every chip is different. From testing and voltage limits, my chip appears to be relatively normal. In the silicon lottery, I am not a winner, but I’m not a loser either. These max temps are after an incredibly short Prime95 Blend test - I ran it for ONLY 10 minutes simply to see if the chip was very unstable for further tinkering. At STOCK 3.4ghz, stock voltage, idle temps are 28c and load temps are 60c. At 4.2ghz / 1.216v - max temp 68c after 10minutes in Prime. At 4.4ghz / 1.216v - max temp 70c after 10minutes in Prime. At 4.5ghz / 1.256v - max temp 74c after 10minutes in Prime. At 4.6ghz / 1.320v - max temp 82c after 10minutes in Prime. At 4.7ghz / 1.415v - max temp 91c after 10minutes in Prime. I draw the line at 90°C for Ivy Bridge, where I would have drawn the line at 85°C for Sandy Bridge. IntelBurnTest produced some pretty sickeningly high temperatures, but that’s to be expected.. it’s IntelBurnTest. The clue is in the name. No temperature related crashes, though! Keeping in mind that general use or gaming is unlikely to achieve 100% load, these temperatures are pretty much a normal persons theoretical maximum at these voltages on the 3570k. That said, please don’t copy my settings, I don’t want to be and cannot be held responsible for you overclocking your CPU. This isn’t an overclocking guide, it’s a cooler review. I’m aware that a 10 minute Prime95 Blend test is not a true stability test. I know that Prime doesn’t truly stress test until much longer in a cycle. It’s not meant for a quick stress test, it’s meant to run for hours at a time. Looking at the numbers I already had, I decided that I’d stick to the 4.5ghz clock speed, and run an 8 hour plus Prime run to see what temps could be produced. Here is the result: Max temp of 85°C after 8 and a half hours in Prime 95 is a perfectly acceptable temp, and I remain on that clock speed now. Conclusion Being able to keep my CPU from exploding at 1ghz+ overclocks even when running IntelBurnTest is quite a feat for what is in essence, an entry level cooler. Given that Ivy Bridge runs substantially hotter than Sandy Bridge at even slight voltage increases, please don’t take these temperatures as “really high” as you would on Sandy. Ivy is a resilient chip, and temps of 80°C aren’t a huge issue for it. In terms of noise, the stated claim that the fans are very quiet even when at full RPM is true. It IS very quiet. I can’t hear the pump at all, and the fans have a very gentle.. fan noise. If you’re going for full silence you’re not going to get it, but for what this unit offers you in performance to cost, a little noise is definitely nothing to sniff at. The only problems I had with the cooler was the backplate during installation. Yes, it’s not great for high overclocks, but it’s $70. It looks neat through a window. It’s exceptionally good value for what it is, and it comes with dual PWM fans. Don’t forget that, as most entry level coolers (or even high end ones) only come with a single fan. Overall, I’d give the WATER2.0 Performer a 9/10. Pros: Looks cool Built solid Good cooling performance up to a certain clock speed Quiet Dual PWM fans Well packaged Out-of-Case installation is easy Cons: Backplate is flimsy plastic and can cause issues if your cases cutout is not in the perfect location. Won’t keep high overclocks cool - but this is an ENTRY LEVEL cooler. I will not dock a point for that.