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Thermaltake Water2.0 review

Thermaltake Water2.0 review

All-in-one watercooling is not necessarily a new thing, but it still has yet to really take hold in the PC builder space. It’s slowly becoming more mainstream, as even OEMs are including all-in-one watercoolers with some of their CPUs.

There are advantages and disadvantages to all-in-one water units, and you’ll see both sides of the fence argue endlessly about which is better. The truth is, they both have their place. The top-end air coolers can still outperform most all-in-one units (though both are generally outperformed by true custom water loops), but they’re gigantic, heavy, noisy, and expensive.

The biggest advantage to having an all-in-one water loop is size and motherboard clearance. Check this out:

Thermaltake Water2 Review: aircooler clearance

Huge aircoolers: They hit stuff

Giant aircoolers are just that: Giant. Here’s my motherboard, with my tall DIMMs being slightly bent by contact with my heatsink. Not good. When I wanted to change memory, I had to take off my heatsink—talk about a pain in the ass.

The clearance on the other axis is just as bad:

Thermaltake Water2 review aircooler clearance demonstration

How's that cramped space right by that heatsink treating you?

I was worried it wasn’t going to make it. It did, but as you can see, with a video card installed, there’s very little room in that area by the northbridge for airflow.

This is probably the best argument for all-in-one watercoolers. They take the heat (via tubes) elsewhere to be dealt with. The radiator can be mounted off the back or top of the case. You have options.

Thermaltake Water2.0 Performer

Thermaltake is an old and respected name in PC aftermarket cooling. They are not a new name in liquid cooling either, but they are new to the all-in-one sealed liquid cooling game, where they are joining competitors such as Antec and Corsair. Their first foray into this newer niche is branded Water2.0 and comes in three flavors: Performer (entry-level), Pro (mid-range), and Extreme (high-end). Here are the specs for the Performer:

Water Block




Motor speed

2800±150 RPM

Rated Voltage


Rated Current




120 x 120 x 25mm



Noise Level


Rated Voltage


Rated Current


Max. Air Flow



4 Pin



151 x120 x 27mm



Cooling Surface Area

1385 cm2








The only difference between this, the Pro, and the Extreme will be the weight, radiator size, included fans, and cost.


For those who are used to air cooling, opening the Water2.0 package can be intimidating. There are a lot of parts, because this unit is designed to work with all current CPU sockets. Backplates and mounting parts are included for  LGA2011, LGA1366, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA775,  and all AMD flavors up to the current AM3+ and FM1. Of course, you won’t need all the parts, but the array of pieces is eye-opening at first glance.

Thermaltake Water2.0 Review: Some Assembly Required

The system goes together like this: You remove your motherboard, remove your old cooling mount and backplate, install the new backplate, put the retention clip on the heatsink, and select the proper bolts to bolt the heatsink down to the new mounting bracket. The heatsink comes pre-applied with thermal compound of unknown variety (the pedantic among us may opt to immediately clean it off and use our own known thermal gunk).

I didn’t really have much trouble assembling the system, as the included instructions were very thorough and clear. The only part I screwed up on (pun intended) was choosing the wrong bolts to use; that was the only thing that wasn’t clearly communicated in the instructions. I had to painstakingly remove the four bolts (carefully so as not to break the plastic clips that hold them in) and replace them with the correct bolts. Once that was done, the rest of the installation was a breeze.

I installed the system in an NZXT Switch 810 Special Edition, which means I had a gigantic ton of space for mounting this system. Even in a normal enthusiast PC case, however, I don’t foresee any mounting problems, as the radiator in the Performer setup is about the thickness of three regular case fans. With the large amount of clearance the heatsink affords, it shouldn’t be a problem to mount this in most any case.

I opted for a top-mount of the radiator because I liked the look, and I have a case that affords the opportunity. A rear-mount should be just as effective; mine was a purely aesthetic choice:

Thermaltake Water2 Review unit installed

The Water2.0 Performer installed in an NZXT Switch 810SE

Once the two fans were hooked up the CPU_FAN lead (with the supplied Y-cable) and the pump was connected to a SYS_FAN header, I fired it up. There was some disquieting burbling as the settled liquid began to flow, but once it worked out and ran for a second, the fluid flow went silent. Only the (low-speed) fan noise could be heard. I won’t say it’s quieter than the low-speed air cooler I already had on there, but it’s still relatively quiet. We’ve come leagues beyond the days of the Volcano and similar loud hairdryers.

The clearance issue is gone with the Water2.0. My DIMMs can now breathe.

Thermaltake Water2 Review case clearance example

All the space!


Temperatures were taken at the BIOS, at idle in Windows 7, and under full load from Folding @ Home, using AIDA 64. The CPU is an AMD Phenom II X6 1100T at stock clocks and voltages.

  • BIOS: 32c
  • IDLE: 35c
  • LOAD: 48c

This temperature range was maintained with no change in fan RPM or noise.

Idle temps Water2

Water2.0 Performer idle temps

Water2.0 Performer temps under 100% CPU load

Water2.0 Performer temps under 100% CPU load

The Water2.0 Performer, as you can see, performs very well, especially considering its price range. What you’ll get is performance similar to a high-end air cooler, at a bit less money, and with tons of freed up space in your case to boot.


Icrontic Outstanding Product artworkI’m a convert. At $70, the Water2.0 Performer is in the same price range as a high-end air cooler (slightly less than one of the best, the massive Noctua NH-D14), and is much smaller, at least on the CPU side. The weight is around the same once you factor in the radiator and double fans, but when all’s said and done, you’ll have a lot more perceived room in your case with an AIO (all-in-one). Plus, you can brag to your friends that your PC is watercooled.

We’re happy to award the Thermaltake Water2.0 Performer AIO liquid cooler the Icrontic Outstanding Product award for opening our eyes to the possibility of liquid cooling and offering up a solid alternative to massive, heavy air coolers in a relatively low-cost package.


  1. Garg
    Garg Another benefit to the design: I know I'd feel a lot better transporting a computer with an AIO unit screwed to the case than I would with a giant cooler bolted (or worse, clipped) to the motherboard.
  2. Ryan Agreed, I always fear coolers snapping off, also the weight makes me wonder if the pressure is uneven or too much on the processor.

    I like watercooling in a box, I'm happy with my H80 so far, it works quite well for the past year.
  3. Tim
    Tim First photo in the review, of the heat sink fins touching the memory -- I suppose it's too much efort to bend those bottom couple fins up a bit? Or take a grinder and grind off the outer 1/4" of them or so? I'm still kind of "meh" on water cooling.
  4. primesuspect
    primesuspect That's kind of the point: If you have to take grinders and tools to your heatsink, that's a design problem.
  5. fatcat
    fatcat would like to see how it does when you overclock

    cause we all know a retail heatsink can handle stock speeds :)

    I overclock my CPU 33%, and why I have a Noctua
  6. Thrax
    Thrax The usual wisdom of large air coolers applies: gotta do the research to make sure your DIMMs clear the sink. I wouldn't really characterize it as a "design problem."
  7. Garg
    Garg I guess it depends on "problem." I mean, there are scenarios where it works just fine, so it certainly isn't broken. Good design tends to be less of a pain in the ass, though.
  8. primesuspect
    primesuspect Yeah, but people change DIMMs way more often than they change air coolers. My case was exactly that; I had low-profile DIMMs that were fine, but that air cooler came with me for something like three or four generations of motherboards and RAM upgrades. You shouldn't have to limit your DIMM choices because you have a giant heatsink that doesn't clear all DIMMs. I maintain it is poor design, because a good design would accommodate huge DIMMs, or have a pre-cut angle for exactly that scenario.

    Anyways, the point is, these problems don't exist with AIO coolers. That's all I was trying to say.
  9. Soda
    Soda Question: Have you ever messed around with the Corsair H60 AIO, as it has amazing reviews, and is even cheaper still ($50 if you believe in mail in rebates). The reviews on it convinced me to go AIO instead of air cooler for my next proc upgrade, which will be soon at this point.
  10. drasnor
    drasnor How many of these are actually the same unit? All the Corsair models are rebadged Asetek or Coolit models, and this one looks a lot like the Asetek 570 series.

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