The Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate is a high-end liquid cooling system for processors. It has a 360 mm radiator with three 120 mm fans. Let’s see if this huge watercooler is as powerful as it looks.
As with any sealed liquid cooling system, the Water 3.0 Ultimate comes with the coolant liquid pre-filled inside the loop (block, radiator, pump, and hoses).
Figure 1 shows the box of the Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate.
Figure 2 shows the contents of the box: the radiator-block set, two fans, a harness to connect the three fans to the motherboard, manual, and the installation hardware.
This water cooler is discussed in detail in the following pages.
[nextpage title=”The Water 3.0 Ultimate”]
The sealed radiator-block system is shown in Figure 3. At the top is the radiator that transfers the heat from the circulating liquid to the air, and at the bottom is the block that transfers the heat from the CPU to the coolant liquid. The rubber hoses are 12.8” (326 mm) long.
Figures 4 and 5 reveal the radiator of the Water 3.0 Ultimate. It supports three 120 mm fan at each side and it is 1.06” (27 mm) thick.
[nextpage title=”The Water 3.0 Ultimate (Cont’d)”]
Figure 6 shows the top of the block, where the pump that makes the liquid flow is integrated. The cable has a three-pin connector, which draws power for the integrated pump.
The base of the block, which is made of copper, is revealed in Figure 7. The thermal compound comes preapplied at the base.
Figure 8 illustrates the 120 mm PWM fans that come with the Water 3.0 Ultimate (model A1225M125, 120 mm, 2,000 rpm, 4.56 W, 99 cfm, 20 dBA).
To install the Water 3.0 Ultimate, you first have to assemble the holder that secures the block, as shown in Figure 9. There are two frames available, one for Intel and one for AMD processors, as well as two backplates. Socket LGA2011 (and LGA2011-v3) CPUs use the stock backplate.
Figure 10 unveils the holder attached to the block.
The last step is to install the system inside the computer, attaching the block on the CPU using the four screws and the radiator on the top panel. Of course, you must have a computer case that supports a 360 mm radiator. We installed the fans outside blowing outwards.
[nextpage title=”How We Tested”]
We tested the cooler with a Core i7-5960X CPU (eight-core, 3.0 GHz), which is a socket LGA21011-v3 processor with a 140 W TDP (Thermal Design Power). In order to get even higher thermal dissipation, we overclocked it to 3.5 GHz (100 MHz base clock and x35 multiplier), with standard core voltage (Vcore).
We measured noise and temperature with the CPU under full load. In order to get 100% CPU usage in all cores, we ran Prime 95 25.11 with the “In-place Large FFTs” option. (In this version, the software uses all available threads.)
We compared the tested cooler to one of the most powerful coolers we tested so far, the Water 2.0 Extreme, also from Thermaltake, and we tested both coolers with the fans at maximum speed and at “silent” mode.
Room temperature measurements were taken with a digital thermometer. The core temperature was read with the SpeedFan program (available from the CPU thermal sensors), using an arithmetic average of the core temperature readings.
During the tests, the side panels of the computer case were closed, but we removed the top panel in order not to block the airflow from the fans.
The sound pressure level (SPL) was measured with a digital noise meter, with its sensor placed near the top of the case. This measurement is only for comparison purposes, because a precise SPL measurement needs to be made inside an acoustically insulated room with no other noise sources, which is not the case here.
- Processor: Core i7-5960X @ 3.5 GHz
- Motherboard: ASRock Fatal1ty X99M Killer
- Memory: 16 GiB DDR4-2400/PC4-19200, four G.Skill F4-2400C15Q-16GRR 4 GiB modules
- Boot drive: Kingston M.2 SM2280S3 de 120 GiB
- Video display: Samsung U28D590D
- Power Supply: Corsair CX750
- Case: NZXT Phantom 530
Operating System Configuration
- Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit SP1
We adopted a 2°C error margin, meaning temperature differences below 2°C are considered irrelevant.
[nextpage title=”Our Tests”]
The table below presents the results of our measurements. We repeated the same test on each cooler listed below. Each measurement was taken with the CPU at full load. On the Water 2.0 Extreme, the fan speed was set on the control software that comes with the cooler, and on the Water 3.0 Ultimate, the fan speed was adjusted in the motherboard setup.
|Cooler||Room Temp.||Noise||Speed||Core Temp.||Temp. Diff.|
|Thermaltake Water 2.0 Extreme (maximum)||17 °C||55 dBA||1,950 rpm||58 °C||41 °C|
|Thermaltake Water 2.0 Extreme (minimum)||17 °C||44 dBA||1,250 rpm||60 °C||43 °C|
|Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate (maximum)||17 °C||56 dBA||1,900 rpm||41 °C||24 °C|
|Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate (minimum)||17 °C||43 dBA||1,050 rpm||48 °C||31 °C|
In the graph below, you can see how many degrees Celsius hotter the CPU core is than the air outside the case. The lower this difference, the better is the performance of the cooler.
In the graph below, you can see how many decibels of noise each cooler makes.
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
The main specifications for the Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate CPU cooler include:
- Application: Sockets AM2(+), AM3(+), FM1, FM2(+), LGA 1150, LGA1155, LGA1156, LGA1366, LGA2011-v3, and LGA2011
- Radiator dimensions: 15.5 x 4.7 x 1.1 inches (393 x 120 x 27 mm) (W x L x H)
- Block height: 1.1 inches (27 mm)
- Fins: Aluminum
- Base: Copper
- Heat-pipes: None
- Fans: Three, 120 mm
- Nominal fan speed: 2,000 rpm
- Fan air flow: 99 cfm
- Power consumption: 3 x 4.56 W
- Nominal noise level: 20 dBA
- More information: https://www.thermaltakeusa.com
- MSRP in the U.S.: USD 140.00
The Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate is a true high-end liquid cooling system. It beated (by far) one of the most high-end liquid coolers we tested to date. Even with its fans at low speed, it maintained our processor 10°C colder than the Water 2.0 Extreme with its fans at full speed.
The only drawback of the Water 3.0 Ultimate is its compatibility: you will need a case that supports 360 mm radiators, which most likely means a high-end, and thus expensive, case.
If you have a compatible case and need extreme (better said, ultimate) cooling performance, the Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate is an outstanding choice.