Thermaltake Water 2.0 Performer and Water 2.0 Pro Review

airman - 2012-05-24 16:10:46 in CPU Cooling
Category: CPU Cooling
Reviewed by: airman   
Reviewed on: July 10, 2012
Price: $79.99 and $111.99

Introduction:

It's hard to believe that it's been nearly five years since the first self-contained water cooling units were made popular in the market. These liquid cooling systems allowed users to achieve similar efficiency and low noise levels of the high-end custom water cooling systems. At first, these first-generation all-in-one water cooling units were regarded in performance as "not much better, if not even worse than air cooling". I know that I was one that made that statement years ago, but it was also true at the time. Over the past 18 months or so, these prepackaged water cooling units have seriously matured in performance. Thermaltake has had its toes in water cooling for quite some time, having this year released the cut to fit, semi-custom Bigwater 760 Plus. Now, we get to take a look at part of the latest lineup of water cooling from Thermaltake.

The Thermaltake Water 2.0 line includes three models from which to choose: the Performer, the Pro, and the Extreme, and go up in performance respectively. The Performer and the Pro both use a 1x120mm radiator, but the radiator core of the Pro is much thicker. The Extreme, which I won't be looking at, uses a 2x120mm radiator. From what I can tell, the Performer and the Pro are identical in their mechanical properties with the exception of the thicker radiator core on the Pro. In this article, I will provide a thorough evaluation of the Thermaltake Water 2.0 Performer and Water 2.0 Pro. This will include an up-close look of the units, a sharing of technical specifications and features, followed by a performance evaluation to see how these compare to other coolers available on the market. Let's get started!

Closer Look:

When I first opened the package that contained these coolers and laid eyes on their respective boxes, I was unable to distinguish anything different between them. The boxes dimensions, graphic layout, and color are identical. The only separating factor is the different texts (Performer versus Pro) and the cover picture. Of course, the listed radiator dimensions (and as such, the weight) differ slightly — but that's it. In the pictures below, the Water 2.0 Performer remains on the left side and the Water 2.0 Pro appears to the right side.

The right side of the boxes are for our international friends, presenting the features in a multitude languages. Turning to the rear we find the features listed and explained in English, explaining the benefits of self-contained liquid cooling units, CPU socket support, their copper bases, and more. Here again, the packages are identical with the slight difference in the thickness of the radiators. Finally, the left side of these boxes provide the mechanical properties of the two liquid cooling units. The only difference, again, appears to be the thickness of the radiators and the overall weight of each unit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside, we find a holding tray that contains each water cooling unit and protects them from damage during shipment. The arrangement of the contents of each box is again identical. The radiator is placed in the rear of the tray, which lays against the accessory/mounting parts. The two fans are present in the middle (one is in a cardboard sleeve, most likely to prevent scuffing), and finally the water block is laid opposite of the radiator. Overall, this packaging appears to be environmentally friendly with its low use of plastic baggies and recycled cardboard construction.

 

 

Finally, the last thing to share on this page is the included accessory/mounting components. The "packing list," as I'll call it, is not surprisingly the same between both cooling units. An Intel and an AMD backplate pair with one corresponding hold-down bracket, and what looks like OEM Intel-style push-lock hardware. I can't say for sure right away, but later on the next page I will share the installation process and my thoughts about its ease and user friendliness. Once out of the boxes and placed next to each other, the difference in radiator thickness is evident — the radiator on the Water 2.0 Pro is just short of twice the thickness of the radiator on the Water 2.0 Performer.

 

 

With both cooling units out of their boxes, I will now take a closer look at them, share my thoughts and perhaps share my opinions on certain features/design aspects.

Closer Look:

After getting these two coolers out of the box, it's quite clear that they are identical to the eye with the exception of the radiator thickness. With that being the case, I won't show side-by-side comparisons in photographs unless there is a difference between the two models.

The overall system is very simple. There is a radiator connected by two hoses to the water block that houses the pump. Coming off of the pump is a 12V 3-pin connector that will be used to power the unit. The radiator for both the Performer and the Pro accepts two 120mm fans — one on each side. Everything is black with the exception of the white printing of the Thermaltake logo on the top of the block and the serial/model stickers on the radiator. The Water 2.0 Pro radiator is twice as thick as the Water 2.0 Performer, and thus explains the price difference. The Water 2.0 Pro's radiator measures in at 49mm thick and the Water 2.0 Performer's radiator is 27mm thick. Okay, so not quite twice as thick, but very close. The bottom of the water block shows an exposed plate of copper that will be in contact with the CPU. Some thermal paste is already applied to the CPU interface, which will help minimize the assembly effort.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The hose used in the Thermaltake Water 2.0 series is a very nice, flexible, black rubber hose. Having something this flexible certainly beats out some of the other water units I have used where the hose really doesn't like to bend. The fittings that attach to the radiator are fixed, but the 90° fittings attached to the water block swing through almost 180° of motion, which is also a nice feature to have when installing in tight cases. Stiff hoses and relatively fixed fittings can make these hard to use in small cases, so luckily these have neither!

 

 

Each the Water 2.0 Performer and Water 2.0 Pro are shipped with two 120mm fans. They have a black housing and use a white propeller. At 12V and rated to 0.50A, these fans operate between 1200~2000RPM and have a maximum noise level of 27.36dBA and move just over 81CFM. As far as 120mm fans go, these are quite nice. The plug that powers the fan is a 12V 4-pin PWM connector. Although there are two fans to be used, only one PWM header on the motherboard will be required since a Y-splitter is included from Thermaltake.

 

 

 

Installation could prove to be a bit of a challenge if the manual is not completely understood. Some assembly is required to get the mounting components together before the mounting process can begin. There are four pairs of pieces that snap together and will retain the screws that hold down the block. These snap into the respective Intel or AMD hold-down bracket. This metal bracket sits on the top of the water block and a retaining ring snaps in place on the other side, which holds this all in place. The backplate has the four metal grommets placed into the respective holes depending on socket type (775, 1156, 1366, 2011) and is moved onto the back of the motherboard. From here, the water block is easily tightened into place with the mounting mechanism already mounted to the water block. After the block is in place, the radiator and fan combo can be installed. The interior fan can be fastened first, followed by the final mounting of the radiator. With everything in place, everything is plugged up and the system can be powered on.

 

 

 

With everything mounted, powered on, and successfully running, it's almost time to get the testing going.

Specifications:

Compatibility (CPU Socket)
Intel LGA 2011/1366/1155/1156/775
AMD FM1/AM3+/AM3/AM2+AM2
Water Block material
Copper
Pump Motor Speed
2800+/-150 RPM
Pump Rated Voltage
12V
Pump Rated Current
0.22A
Fan Dimension
120 x 120 x 25 mm
Fan Speed
1200~2000 RPM
Fan Noise Level
27.36 dBA
Fan Rated Voltage
12V
Fan Rated Current
0.5A
Fan Max. Air Flow
81.32 CFM
Fan Connector
4-Pin
Radiator Dimension
149 x 119 x 27 mm (Performer)
141 x 120 x 48.8 mm (Pro)
Radiator Material
Aluminum
Tube Length
326 mm
Tube Material
Rubber
Weight
815g (Performer)
1060g (Pro)

 

Features:

 

Information provided courtesy of Thermaltake USA @ http://www.thermaltake.com

Testing:

Testing of these water cooling units will involve applying a load simulated by Prime95, using small FFTs in stock and overclocked scenarios, where both idle and load temperatures will be recorded. Load temperatures will be the maximum value displayed in RealTemp after running eight threads in Prime95 for one hour, and idle temperatures will be the minimum recorded value by RealTemp with no computer usage during a period of one hour. The temperature values for each of the four cores will be averaged and displayed in the graphs below. The ambient temperature is held at a constant 23°C throughout testing of the Thermaltake Water 2.0 Performer and Water 2.0 Pro as well as the comparison units. All the data shown in the graphs below is in degrees Celsius. The included thermal paste from Thermaltake will be used during testing and thermal pastes from other heatsinks provided by their respective manufacturers will be used. The fan(s) on each cooler will be run at full-speed for these tests.

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Heatsinks:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From what I see here, for the prices of these coolers we seem to have reached some pretty good performance results. I'll offer more of my opinion next in the conclusion.

Conclusion:

Well, if everyone sees what I see, the performance numbers from these coolers seems to be pretty good. For comparing right around its price range, it puts out comparable numbers. The Water 2.0 Pro hangs with the Phanteks PH-TC14PE, the current air cooling champion, and bumps up to the Corsair H100 water system, which uses a 2x120mm radiator. The Water 2.0 Performer nests itself right around the performance levels of the Thermaltake Frio Extreme, beating out the similarly-priced Thermaltake Frio Advanced by a strong margin as it is valued at only about $10-15 more.

My first impressions of these two water cooling units were good. I liked the compact nature, the quiet fan specifications, the flexible tubing and the swivel fittings all helped overcome the bar where I expected these units to be. I will admit that the installation process, being unique, took me by surprise and I had to clarify several things in the manual. Other than that, the installation process went smoothly and I have no complaints. In the Corsair Obsidian 650D case, I found out that the memory modules would knock into the interior fan on the Water 2.0 Pro if I tried to install it on the top. The Water 2.0 Performer would not have this problem due to its thinner radiator, but to keep things consistent I also tested it on the rear of the case like the Water 2.0 Pro. The noise levels are very acceptable, I only began to actually hear anything until the CPU was loaded and the fans spun up — a little bit.

Overall I am pleased with these two cooling units and I like what Thermaltake has done. These worked well for me and I'm sure that they will work well in plenty of other systems, too. The Water 2.0 Extreme is also available now, and uses a 2x120mm radiator, which should continue the performance trend and outdo the Water 2.0 Pro. Right now, these two coolers can be purchased for $69.99 and $96.99 after a $10 and $15 mail in rebate, respectively. I expect after a couple of months for the prices to settle down a little bit, and they should become even more affordable. These two coolers certainly aren't for the everyday power user, but would definitely suit someone looking to get great overclockability with low temperatures and deal with little noise.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: