For the most part, we experienced no troubles with this cooler. Everything installed easily and cooling performance was right where we would expect a product like this to be. Daily use over the course of a week at 4.6 GHz never saw temperatures soar to concerning heights, a good sign for anyone who may have been worried about the temperature deltas encountered during testing. We found that noise levels were most livable right around the 1200-1300 RPM range, so anyone who prefers silence over heavy performance should look to setting fan speeds right around that range for a good balance of sound and performance. For those who prefer to simply set it and forget it, the Silent preset worked beautifully as well. The only problems we encountered during testing surrounded Grid and power delivery: If at any point Grid was shut down, all of our settings reverted back to OEM, including lighting. This isn’t such a big deal, as the software is minimally intrusive and reasonably lightweight.
The power issue actually scared us a little bit, as even with Q-Control deactivated, the motherboard wanted to try and control fan speeds anyway. We re-checked our motherboard settings and everything was set correctly, yet at times of system load the power would fluctuate on the pump and cause the pump to momentarily shut off and cause our system to freeze momentarily… not good. The problem was resolved by taking the power cable off of the motherboard header and using a 4-pin Molex adapter; to be fair we would recommend that you take this step anyway as you want your pump to always be at maximum speeds for the best possible performance so it turned out to not be a big deal at all.
Apart from those few bugs we experienced (most likely limited to this system), this cooler has been a joy to work with. Official pricing as of this time is hard to determine through typical online shops as availability currently seems a bit scarce. NCIX’s US site lists this cooler at around $99.99. This represents the typical high side of the pricing range for these kinds of coolers. Still, ease of installation, great lighting effects, and good cooling performance definitely justifies the price. Consider how much more you would need to pay for the exact cooling configuration from our comparison cooler with fans, then consider that there is less compatibility for such coolers in a PC case; then it gets even more appealing. With a three year warranty under your belt, you also get peace of mind knowing that should anything tragic happen you are covered. Of course we must mention that the build quality of this cooler appears to be very good, so we doubt if very many people will need to use it much.
While the attempt at innovation doesn’t necessarily appear to have had a positive impact on performance, it has also not negatively impacted anything either. Despite it’s polarizing looks, the Antec Kuhler H2O 950 is a solid cooler and one we would be glad to recommend for all but the most extreme builds. For these reasons and despite the small issues, we gladly grant it the PureOverclock Editor’s Choice award. This is a great feat considering that this cooler only stands to get better with future revisions.
Antec Kuhler H2O 950
Special thanks goes out to Antec for supplying us with this test unit, and as always feel free to discuss this and other PC-related topics in our forums.