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Antec Kühler Vs. Corsair Hydro: Sealed Liquid CPU Coolers Compared

Sealed Liquid Coolers Do Battle

The path to better PC component cooling has always involved bigger cooling surfaces, more airflow, or lower ambient temperatures. The problem with standard heat sink and fan designs is that the fans already hit the space limits of most systems, and making the cooler thicker can push its weight beyond the limits of the ATX form factor, causing bowing, bending, and sometimes even breaking. Noisy high-speed fans are required to maintain reasonable air velocity through the thicker sink, and pushing for the lowest ambient temperature often necessitates an acoustically-unfriendly chassis.

Liquid cooling conquers these challenges by relocating the heat sink to a more appropriate location, where it can be supported by the case and exposed to a cooler and/or higher-velocity airstream.

Moving the radiator away from the processor interface also benefits the builder, providing ample space to reach memory modules and on-board power connectors. And yet, maintenance issues often chase builders away from the custom cooling systems so often favored by our most enthusiastic readers. The alternative for low maintenance, sealed systems have become so reliable that they’re even being branded and sold by AMD (with its FX-series processors) and Intel (complementing the Sandy Bridge-E-based chips).

For as similar as the two coolers in the shot above seem, though, the included installation hardware is platform-specific. We decided that if we're going to spend big money on cooling, we want more universality than that. So, we chose to compare retail coolers able to support multiple platforms (two of which were produced by the same company as the platform-specific models).

Closed-Loop Cooler Features
Antec Kühler H₂O 620Antec Kühler H₂O 920Corsair Hydro H80Corsair Hydro H100
Length5.6"5.6"6.0"10.8"
Width4.7"4.7"4.7"4.8"
Rad. Thickness1.1"1.9"1.5"1.1"
Cooling Fans1 x 120 x 25 mm2 x 120 x 25 mm1 x 120  x25 mm2 x 120 x 25 mm
Total Thickness2.1"3.9"2.5"2.1"
Control TypeIntegrated/AutoProgrammableIntegrated/AutoIntegrated/Auto
Weight24 Ounces39 Ounces42 Ounces41 Ounces
AMD SocketsAll AM2 to AM3+All AM2 to AM3+All AM2 to AM3+All AM2 to AM3+
Intel Sockets775, 1156/1155, 1366775, 1156/1155, 1366775, 1156/1155, 1366, 2011775, 1156/1155, 1366, 2011
Web Price$58$95$75$95
  • compton
    You would have a hard time convincing me that my Noctua NH-U12P SE2 was anything but quiet and effective, but I know that many prefer sealed water solutions. My opinion is that for 1155 SB processors, even overclocked ones, you're better off with a high end air cooler.
    Reply
  • soccerdocks
    comptonYou would have a hard time convincing me that my Noctua NH-U12P SE2 was anything but quiet and effective, but I know that many prefer sealed water solutions. My opinion is that for 1155 SB processors, even overclocked ones, you're better off with a high end air cooler.
    I completely agree. Pretty much the only reason to go with these sealed water coolers is to say that you water cooled your PC.
    Reply
  • gmcizzle
    Yes for SB processors, air is fine because they don't really get that hot. Now SBE, on the other hand, gets extremely hot and you need the best cooling you can get.
    Reply
  • cmcghee358
    soccerdocksI completely agree. Pretty much the only reason to go with these sealed water coolers is to say that you water cooled your PC.
    I agree 100%. And I do, in fact have an H70. And when I'm at work describing the epic beast of computers I build, and I show off some pics of mine; I always point to the H70 and go "Theres the radiator for the water cooler" /gasp!
    Reply
  • joytech22
    I still have my H50 so reading this bummed me out a little. Haha.
    Reply
  • drumsrule786
    High end air is probably better than most sealed liquid coolers except for the H100. My H50 is alright but not nearly as good as I thought it was going to be when I first got it. Next build im definitely gonna go full custom water cooling though :D
    Reply
  • aznshinobi
    These coolers are terrible cooling/value, it's sad that consumers see "Water-cooling" (IMO this is "fake" water cooling in that it's all in a closed loop) and they think it'll cool the best. However the temps speak for itself, a $50 air cooler can practically, if not beat, a $80 closed-loop WC solution with the dBA being similar. Sad.
    Reply
  • Lutfij
    did anyone else notice that the author as well as manufacturer's of these pseudo WC loops rerfer to the cpu contact plate as a cold plate...last time i checked a cold plate is what is used in a Peltier unit...:/
    Reply
  • compton
    cmcghee358I agree 100%. And I do, in fact have an H70. And when I'm at work describing the epic beast of computers I build, and I show off some pics of mine; I always point to the H70 and go "Theres the radiator for the water cooler" /gasp!
    I think that's a perfectly good reason to buy any product. I like that I have a choice. But Noctua's tower coolers look pretty sexy too.
    Reply
  • Darkerson
    Was thinking about getting the 620 for a future SB/IB build, but now Im not so sure. Anyway, thanks for the reviews!
    Reply