Hardware, Reviews

Does Thermaltake "Dazzle" Us with Water 2.0 Pro?

With Spring and Summer approaching, we need a simple solution that could efficiently and quietly cool our low-footprint multimedia rig. Does Thermaltake?s Water2.0 Pro do the job?

Continuing our mission to build a near-silent multimedia system, we need a cooling platform that could perform with this in mind. The guys at Thermaltake thought the PRO model of their Water2.0 series (CLW0216) was a good match. This all-in-one water cooling solution, with its low-profile pump, copper waterblock, and pre-filled coolant, could lower temperatures quietly with PWM control.

The Water2.0 Pro is compatible with the latest CPU sockets, including Intel?s LGA2011, 1366, and 1155/1156, as well as AMD?s FM1, AM3/3+, and AM2/2+. So that means a lot of small little pieces to assemble the backplate and secure the block. Also included are two 120mm brushless fans, to accommodate any push/pull combinations.

Our system runs Intel?s i7-3770K, at stock clocks and voltage, so our installation started with this little guy. The first step is to insert grommets into the appropriate socket holes, then to attach the backplate onto the mainboard.

Then you have to attach custom, small plastic pieces together onto the socket ring to match the socket holes on the mainboard. This proved a bit difficult to understand with the included instructions, so we had to carefully remove these small plastic bits, rotate them around, and snap them back together several times before getting it right. In fact, it?s worth noting that there are no extra screws or other hardware included in case of an accident, which can halt the installation altogether.

After that, you secure the socket ring in place onto the waterblock, by snapping an included retention ring onto it. Finish by hand tightening the waterblock with the included spring screws. The waterblock comes with a pre-applied layer of thermal compound. We noticed the copper plate is significantly larger than the surface of the CPU and socket combined, so depending on how you secure the waterblock into place, the contact may be uneven. The tubes leading to the block can be swiveled, giving you flexibility in mounting on different boards or cases. Our orientation worked best in our mid-tower chassis, in a way that didn?t disturb nearby components.

So how does it perform? Under normal conditions, the i7-3770K idles around 35-40 C, reaching as high as 70-75C range under heavy usage. We experimented with differences between push-only, pull-only, and push-pull fan combinations, but found minimal temperature difference between setups. For a one-week test, this is warmer than we expected, so we?ll see if adjusting the waterblocks orientation and applying another thermal compound helps.

The fans are also louder than we expected, registering about 24-25 dBA each at normal loads (rated 27 dBA max at 12V). This could add up to 48-55 dBA of extra noise coming from the system, which is not what we?re looking for in this build. Instead, we replaced the fans with Nexus? 120mm fans that only produce 18 dBA at full voltage. Granted, these fans have less pushing power than what?s included, but with already enough cold air coming in, it?s still enough to accommodate without causing a drone.

Despite its quirks, Thermaltake?s Water2.0 Pro is a nice all-in-one solution for those entering the world of water-cooling, or for those who need the simplicity. While we found that it wasn?t as cool or quiet as we were looking forward to out of box, with a few adjustments and tweaks, we?re sure system builders can find a way to make it their own.