Just the other day I took a look at the "good" AIO solution from Thermaltake with the Water2.0 Performer. This is an AIO or All in One liquid cooling system that utilized the latest in technology from Asetek along with a 25mm thick radiator to easily manage what my i7 2600K delivered. I'm not too sure if the ideas were a request of Thermaltake or just the direction Asetek went, but the snap-on locking ring and the new thumbscrew setup makes the Water2.0 units much easier to install than similar older units, thus making for a good user experience right out of the box.
As I mentioned in my last review from this series, there are more models in Thermaltake's lineup. Since we have already seen what "good" LCS units offer from the Water2.0 series and now it is time to look at the "better" solution from Thermaltake. In the most basic concept, the radiator gets replaced for a thicker one, while the rest of the kit remains the same.
For those who didn't read the Performer review, these kits offer a new low power head unit that add less pump heart into the loop and so far have proven to be more efficient than any of the earlier kits I have tested from various manufacturers. The one thing that really drives this new unit to be even more efficient than the Performer is that with that thicker radiator addition to this loop, they almost tripled the available surface area within the radiator to transfer the heat.
I wasn't so sure about these units when I first caught wind of their inception and releases, even at CES I still had reservations. With what I have seen from the Water2.0 Performer, I am actually sort of excited to see what so much surface area does for this cooler. There wasn't a huge gap between a custom water cooling kit and what the Performer showed in the charts. It seems to me, the cooler we are going to be looking at today, the Water2.0 Pro should close that gap even more, delivering some really top notch results.
Let's have a look at what Thermaltake has in store for us and then apply the heat and see just where the Water2.0 Pro stands.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The head unit or the part that will sit on top of your CPU when the Pro is installed is a three piece unit. There is the top cap that displays the Thermaltake name, logo and the Water2.0 name on it keeps everything pretty and away from sight. The second layer that the cap gets screwed to is the PCB, the pump and all of the wiring needed to run these units. On the bottom of this middle layer, there is a copper transfer plate that absorbs the CPU heat and delivers it to the coolant that the pump above is pushing through the system.
What makes this unit so efficient is that pump. These pumps draw 3.1 Watts and 220mA of power to keep the pump revolving near 2800 RPM. With so little power draw, there is much less heat created in these pumps, so less heat is delivered to the coolant allowing for lower CPU temperatures.
The radiator that is connected to the head unit via a pair of 90 degree fittings on the head unit, terminating to straight fittings on the radiator with just over twelve inches of black rubber tubing is much thicker in the Pro. We are moving from a 25mm thick radiator to a 48.8mm one and the surface area has increased from 1385 centimeters squared to 3730 centimeters squared worth of fin surface area. That is just shy of triple the amount of room for heat to be pulled away from the radiator of the Performer, so to already expect better efficiency and lower temperatures from this unit is sort of a no brainer.
Both units are cooled with the same pair of PLA12025S12HH-LV 120mm fans. These fans are capable of speeds up to 2000 RPM and will deliver just more than 80 CFM from each fan in a push/pull configuration on the radiator. They do have 4-pin PWM power connectors and since one header on the motherboard is needed for the head unit, Thermaltake includes a Y-splitter to power the pair of fans from a single fan header.
Of course a thicker radiator and "better" performance is going to cost you a bit more; $30 more as a matter of fact. If you look at Thermaltake's site and buy direct, the current price is set to $109.99 and there is shipping still to consider. Newegg is saving the day for US buyers as I type this. The price there is $108.99 lowered from $114.99 and there is no shipping cost. If you are the type to like waiting on mail in rebates, the Water2.0 Pro can be had for as little as $93.99. I don't know about you, but I would much rather pay $14 more for the advantages of having the Water2.0 Pro over the Performer, than dishing out $30 more.
I will say this, upon release of all of the other AIO units, the pricing is spot on with what everyone else was charging when they released units with older technology in them. Considering a custom loop, on the retail market, new is going to cost a minimum of $200 just to cool your CPU. So for half the price, let's see what the Water2.0 Pro offers even against the custom water cooling solutions.
Back with even more black packaging, the familiar bright red stripe and the Tt sun logo, the Water 2.0 Pro takes center stage. At the bottom left there are points on the features of this AIO system, the thicker radiator and its universality of sockets this can mount to, including LGA2011.
As the red stripe on the front draws you around to the right side panel containing the features listed on the back panel, but here in 12 languages other than English. Let's spin the box one more time so we can see what this panel says too.
What jumps out first is the image of the Water2.0 Pro installed in a case and the four images below showing finer detail images of the components. As for those features, they cover the copper base, the new pump, its hassle free nature, low-evaporation hoses and what they have done to cure any leaks.
The last panel houses the specifications chart above some in-house testing results. Looking back at the other box, the Water2.0 Pro shows a two degree benefit over the Performer with that processor.
Opening the top and sliding out the inner packaging shows a recycled cardboard container with compartments for the components to ship safely in. There is a layer of dense foam above this that I set under the container for this image.
With the manual out of the way you can see each of the components, even the hardware, has a nice snug compartment to ship in, so that nothing should move around and damage the fins or any of that nonsense older AIOs had issues with.
Thermaltake Water2.0 Pro AIO Liquid Cooler
Just like on the Performer, the head unit of the Pro also has the Tt logo, the Thermaltake name and tag line and the Water2.0 series name painted in white on the textured plastic cover.
Ninety degree fittings that swivel allow the coolant to pass through the head unit while giving you a few mounting options. To the right of the screw making sure this fitting won't ever back out, there is a cut out in the cap to allow the 3-pin power lead to run out of the pump so you can power this later.
This unit ships with a twist-off protective cap. This keeps anything from damaging the mating surface as well as keeping the pre-applied paste in place.
Removing the pre-applied paste shows that the base still has some milling marks in it, but the surface is level across in any direction.
Taking a step back shows that there is just over 12 inches of black tubing between the head unit and the radiator. You can also see that the wire from the head unit is about 10 inches long, so getting this mounted in a chassis should have little issues getting there.
Not too sure why, but the fittings on the radiator are longer than those found on the Performer. On the Pro, the same amount of tubing is on the fitting and the clamps are in the same place, but there is almost a half inch of fitting still exposed.
The fins are a bit wider in this radiator, but the FPI stays the same with all of these AIO radiators. High density fins means we need some high CFM fans with a lot of static pressure to work the best, especially when we are now going through a thicker radiator.
On the end of this near 50mm thick radiator there is the Asetek label with the Pro designation on it, just in case you were confused as to which cooler or OEM we have been discussing.
Jumping ahead just a bit, I grabbed the fans and the fan Y-splitter and got the cooler ready for installation. Now you can see what sort of wiring and tubing you are dealing with as you install this unit into your own case.
I know the tape measure is angled a bit, but this sandwich of 25mm thick 120mm diameter fans and the 48.8mm of the radiator, we are very close to four inches of space that is going to be hanging in the back of your chassis to get the results you are about to see.
Accessories and Documentation
Here are all of the mounting brackets and back plates. On the left is the AMD gear and on the right is the Intel setup, the main attraction is the thin lock ring in the middle that makes mounting more like a custom water block and no longer is a pain to install.
The rest of the mounting hardware consists of the screw adapters and foam pads at the top left and eight fan screws and four washers in the bag to its right. On the bottom row are the fatter LGA2011 screws on the left and the other four on the right are for all other socket types.
Here we have the duet that Thermaltake sends along to cool these units. This pair of 120mm, PLA12025S12HH-LV fans, delivers plenty of CFM, so with more surface area to cool, these fans should be able to remove even more heat now.
Since I already had the fans out I figured I would go ahead and take the image of the black, braided, Y-splitter that allows both of the 4-pin PWM connectors on the fans to be bridged down to one connection for the motherboard headers.
As I have mentioned, even if you have installed an Asetek OEM AIO before, I urge you to read this manual and learn the nuances of the new inserts for the top bracket as well as how to use the locking ring. It is all plainly there in the manual with images to show what you are supposed to be doing for both AMD and Intel installations. Next to the manual is the warranty information that comes along with the Pro.
Installation and Finished Product
The first thing you have got to do is install the foam spacer pads on the back plate. If you plan to use the cooler for a long time, then peel both sides of the tape on the foam and stick this right to the motherboard.
Since I am using a Z68 motherboard, I found the 1155/1156 holes in the back plate and line up the nuts so that they lock into the back plate once all the way in.
Line up the back plate with the holes in the motherboard and attach the back plate. The plate does sit at an angle for this installation, but it makes no difference for the mounting or its pressure.
In the old days this is how the top bracket had to be dealt with. You could slide it over the top, but it just flopped loosely, just as this one has fallen back to the hoses.
Not with the Water2.0 kits! This handy little locking ring keeps the top metal ring locked into the tabs on the head unit. So when the rest of the hardware is in place, this all goes onto the CPU just like a custom block would install.
There isn't really much to see on the motherboard in preparation for mounting these. Just that the nuts from the back plate are in the holes and I need to add some TIM before I mount up the Warer2.0 Pro.
With the adapters in the ends of the bracket and the thumbscrews clicked into place, the head unit of this Water2.0 Pro is ready to go.
To mount the head unit, line up the screws and work in an X pattern as you tighten each a little bit at a time until the thread stop the screws as they bottom out. All that's left on this end it to plug in the 3-pin connection for the pump and be sure it gets 12V of power.
This is more just to give you an idea of what sort of room you have with this AIO as the radiator sits some four inches behind the edge of the motherboard.
The Test System and Thermal Results
Testing for the CPU coolers is done with the use of RealTemp to ascertain temperatures, Intel Burn Test to deliver the load to the CPU and CPU-Z to verify the CPU speed and the voltage being used in Windows. All of the testing is done with an ambient temperature of 24.5-25°C and humidity is maintained to 35% sometimes less.
For the "stock" runs, it's more of a plug and play setup where the PWM of the motherboard is in control of the fans speeds for both the idle and load results. Speed Step is active and the processor idles at 1600 MHz and loads at 3500 MHz for the stock settings. I also set the memory to run at 1600 MHz for stock. As for the overclocked runs, I load the CPU at 4.5 GHz and idle results are obtained with 7.5V to the fans while the load run is set to deliver 12V to the fans. This allows me to gauge the lowest and highest fan ratings for my charts.
There was a bit of a surprise to see at first that the temperatures were a degree higher at idle settings, but once I took a look at the fan speeds I found out why. At the low end the fans for the Performer were spinning at 1224 RPM and with this sample I barley saw 1100 RPM, so that would cause a slight loss of efficiency. And explain what we are seeing here. This is also why the specifications on fans have a +/- 10% notation in them. Still good results all the same.
Loading the processor at stock levels, the Water2.0 Pro gave a result to match the Swiftech kit I tested with previously. When we applied the overclock, the gap widened just a bit, but three degrees behind custom water and two degrees better than the Performer, means the Water2.0 Pro holds its own very well.
Noise Level Results
The thicker radiator seems to make a bit of difference in the sound results, as even with slightly slower fans being used than what came with the Performer, the Pro is just ever so slightly louder with 7.5V applied to the fans.
With 12V going through these fans I noticed that these fans seemed to be "lose". By that I mean they not only ran slower on the low end, but they also ran a little strong on the high end. The fans on the Performer ran just into the 1900 RPM range, where these broke 2000 RPM. This explains the slightly louder results of the Pro over the Performer. Not exactly silent, but with PWM control active, the fans rarely get to this level in normal use, only stress testing.
Seeing what the Performer brought to the table, I said then I was eager to see what Thermaltake had in store for users with their "better" solution with the Water 2.0 Pro. I will say this, while most packaging results for testing don't really ever seem to stand up to my comparisons, I really liked that the packaging shows for X amount of dollars you can get two more degrees of cooling with the Professional model over the Performer. I can attest to this completely, even with my results and attempts to saturate these loops, they were two degrees apart with my testing as well. Just as far as readily available AIOs are concerned, the Water 2.0 Pro is one of the best I have tested.
What I really like is even though you need two fan headers to properly control this unit, once you max out the pump speed, allow the 120mm fans to run via control of the PWM controls, it keeps the idle time inaudible through a case door and slightly audible on my open air system. As for the top end noise levels, games and most daily tasks in a well tempered environment should not be getting close to my 56 dB results, that is worst case scenario. Having this cooler on the rig for near a week now, I can say I haven't found myself thinking "wow, that needs the fans replaced, it just too loud" and that is something I do to every cooler I get and run long term.
As much as I liked the Performer, I am sort of torn on the Water 2.0 Pro. Is it efficient? Yes it is. Does it look cool? Yes it does. Does it outperform its little brother? It sure does! It is also just as easy to install and for most of the time during use of this kit, the Water 2.0 Pro is pretty quiet. The part I think that hurts this product at all is the MSRP of $109.99 if you buy it direct. If you are fast, the deal with the mail in rebate at Newegg is terrific at a price of $93.99 or essentially $7 a degree in performance to obtain the Water2.0 Pro over it lesser performing little brother.
As big as air coolers are getting, at least with these units, you aren't hanging 1000 grams of metal on the socket; here it's just the light weight of the head unit as the bulk of the weight is delivered to the strongest part of any build, the case. In the end it is up to you the buyers, but if anything I say matters, I urge you to lean to the Water 2.0 Pro over the other AIOs, it just works that well and I have no reason not to recommend these to everyone.
In the end I am going to withhold our Editor's Choice award in favor of the Performance award, only because I still think the upcoming Water2.0 Extreme still has even more to give, otherwise the Pro would have gotten one, it's really that close!
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