Thermaltake is a company that pursues creativity for a more personalized experience for gamers. Thermaltake states “Every myth starts out as a dream, and every legend is a desire”. I used to remember Thermaltake for their cases when I first got into PC building. Over time their inventory has grown exponentially into other areas. They have recently targeted e-Sports and lifestyle for part of its growth. Today I will be looking at one of their AIO coolers and their premium RGB fans. AIO (All In One) coolers are important today with a modern CPU and the heat they can produce. It is also important to have efficient cooling if you plan to overclock your CPU. The cooling market is crowded with AIO coolers because they are easy to install vs traditional custom loops, and are significantly cheaper to manufacture and easy to maintain. Let’s see what Thermaltake has to offer in the water cooling department and if its performance makes this cooler worthwhile.
The specifications are as follows:
Core i7/Core i5/Corei3AMD
FM2 / FM1
AM3+ / AM3
Phenom II/Athlon II/Athlon/Sempron series
AM2+ / AM2
Phenom II/Phenom/Athlon/Sempron series
|Pump||Motor speed : 2900+-150 RPM
Rated Voltage : 12V
Rated Current : 175mA
|Fan||Dimension : 120 x 120 x 25mm
Speed : 1000~2000RPM
Noise Level : 20 dBA
Rated Voltage : 12V
Rated Current : 0.3A
Max. Air Flow : 99 CFM
Connector : 4 Pin
|Radiator||Dimension : 270x 120 x 27 mm
Material : Aluminum
|Tube||Length : 326 mm
Material : Rubber
Riing Fans vs Water S Fans
I chose to review this cooler in a differently because the new Riing fans bring something new to the table and that is digital control. The fans that come with the Water 3.0 Extreme S would be more than adequate for your personal rig, but I wanted to test the performance of these new fans and see if there could be any benefit to the Riing software control vs your bios or motherboard utility.
Both units arrived on time and with no damage. Unboxing the products we can see the Riing box is rather colorful and caught my attention first. The Water 3.0 is more basic and shows the cooler supports LGA1150. LGA1150 is a popular socket type that is used with modern CPUs, but LGA 1151 was the replacement for Skylake. The Water 3.0 accepts multiple mounting types, but please look for compatibility here.
The Water 3.0 also advertises:
- “Top of the line liquid cooler,equipped with power and performance. No Refills Needed”
- “240mm Radiator Doubles the Cooling Surface”
- “Universal Socket Compatibility”
The Riing advertises:
- “PWM control”
- “Patented RGB 256 Colors”
- “Riing RGB Software & Digital Fan Hub”
The back of the Water 3.0 goes into more detail about the cooler and the radiator and the TT premium fans talk more about the patented RGB design and software. We will go over each of these design elements later in the review.
The accessories included with the Water 3.0 are as follows:
- Install booklet
- 2x 120mm Thermaltake Double Curved fans
- Water Extreme 3.0 S unit
- Mounting hardware for AMD and Intel Sockets
- Compatible screws for mounting
- Thermal Paste pre-applied
The accessories included with the TT Premium Riing RGB Fan set is as follows:
- Install booklet
- Digital fan hub controller
- Daisy chain adapter
- Molex power connector to power hub
- USB motherboard header and USB Micro-B connector for hub
- Screw set for mounting and velcro for hub
- 3x 120mm TT Premium RGB Fans
- Riing software must be downloaded to control and use each fan
Install and Design
First thing is to always check your manual before installing something. I also inspect the product for any defects and to plan out what’s required for the install. For instance, the thermal paste is already pre-applied so I know I don’t need thermal paste handy.
I gathered all the parts needed per the instructions and prepared them for mounting to my motherboard. It’s important to know what socket type your motherboard uses because this will determine specific screws, back plate settings, and the instructions will vary slightly across platforms. I’m installing this for Socket LGA1151.
The next step is to mount the backplate to your motherboard for the desired socket type. This is simple and straight forward. The Water 3.0 comes with pads you can place on the front of the bracket so your motherboard has some support and protection. Once you apply the support pads line up the screw holes with your motherboard and flip it over.
For the front retention plate, you are required to install special clips that hold the screws in place and align them with your back plate. Following the instructions, I had to clip them in and spin them around to be compatible with socket LGA 1151.
One you know the clips are aligned properly you can push the proper LGA 1151 screws through the 4 clips. The front retention bracket is mounted using teeth that will align to the cooler keeping it in place. The water block here is full copper and maximizes heat conductivity improving cooling performance. The pump used inside the Water 3.0 enables maximum circulation to keep the copper plate continuously cool.
To mount the bracket you need to align the 4 screws to the backplate and tighten down the cooler to your CPU. It’s important not to over tighten or you could damage your motherboard. You should attempt for finger tight here. The last step for mounting the cooler is to plug your 3 pin fan header into the CPU fan header on your motherboard. I have two so I chose the first one.
The radiator used is 240mm and has a large surface. This is especially important for heat dissipation. The radiator supports up to four 120mm fan for a push-pull configuration.
Next, I placed the Water 3.0 fans aside because I was mounting the new TT premium RGB fans to the radiator. You would at this point want to think about your case and how you’re going to need to mount the radiator and fans. I am using a test bench, which makes my life a bit easier. I did mount the third fan to my test bench for proper airflow, so my PC compensates had moving air across them. The air blows over both Hard drives mounted below and across the motherboard and cooler. Depending on what case you have, this will determine the orientation and if you need to mount the radiator first and then the fans, or the other way around. If you used the included fans of the Water 3.0 be sure to plug them into headers on your motherboard and move on to testing.
The TT Premium RGB fans have additional setup requirements. You need to plug each fan into the controller’s hub. I have to give Thermaltake Kudos for having extremely long fan cables. This is outstanding and you will have no problem routing cabled to reach the controller, in fact, you have a ton of excess. I would rather have more cable than not enough to work with. The hub is powered over Molex and requires a USB header on your motherboard to communicate between the software and the hub.
The important part here is making sure you connect the Molex adapter to your PSU, the USB header on your motherboard, and connecting the other head of the header cable to the USB Micro-B on the fan hub. The power cable goes out to the Molex plug to provide power to the controller and there is also the ability to daisy chain multiple hubs together. The USB header cable has a y split of USB Micro-B giving you the ability to connect multiple hubs and you also need to use the bridge cable to allow the hubs to talk to each other and the software. The last bit of instruction involves setting the correct DIP switches for multiple controllers. The instruction comes in handy here and shows you how to set each one. If you need the instruction they can be found here, but they are included with each product as well. If you are using one hub you can leave the DIP switches alone because it’s automatically configured as hub 1. This is important so the software can recognize what fans are connected to what hub. Thermaltake is considerate and included velcro for mounting the hub wherever you like inside your case. I would recommend the rear motherboard tray if there is enough space in your case.
Testing & Software
For testing, I overclocked my CPU to 4.6 GHz and will test noise, cooling, and the RGB settings of this cooler. The recorded fan speeds and RGB setting will all be tested using Thermaltake’s Riing RGB software which can be downloaded from their site here. I used Prime 95 and Aida64 Extreme to test load performance. The load performance will consist of max RPM for fans and temperatures recorded. What’s cool about the Thermaltake software is the fans are all digitally controlled via the fan hub including PWM control. I will also record temperatures while running Shadow Warrior 2.
My test bench is as follows:
- ViewSonic XG2703-GS Monitor
- Motherboard- EVGA Z170 Classified K
- CPU: Intel Core I7 6700K
- Network Card- Netgear AC 1200 USB
- Cooler- Thermaltake 3.0 Water Extreme S with TT Premium Riing RGB Fans
- Memory- Anarchy X 16GB DDR4 2800MHz
- Video Card: Nvidia GTX 1060
- Storage- PNY CS2210 480GB (Boot) / Toshiba VX500 512GB (Boot) / Seagate 3TB/ Zotac Sonix 480GB (Not used for tests) / Toshiba RD400
- Power Supply- Corsair RM650X / Sleeved CableMod red/black cables
- OS: Windows 10 x64 Pro
- Headphones- Creative H7
The CPU was overclocked to 4.6 GHz using adaptive voltage. I validated the overclock and ran Prime95 for two hours before continuing. I have already validated my overclock with previous coolers, but I do the quick testing to make sure it still passes and the cooling performance of the new cooler is still sufficient. The Water 3.0 does not come with software to control the fans, but the Riing RGB fans do. If you are using the original fans that came with the Water 3.0you will need to control those from your bios or bios fan software. If your motherboard is new enough yo should have easy software to control the curves and speeds. The pump is PWM and should adjust per voltage for performance needs. I normally just make sure the bios sets the CPU fan header to 100% so the pump is at full speeds all the time. Some AIO coolers require this, like the H100i GTX V2.
For noise testing, I used a high gain microphone. I want to explain a few things about noise testing, and this unit in particular.
First: Testing noise levels can be difficult. First, don’t expect the same levels even with similar hardware. There are too many differences and variables that go into sound testing. You have to account for background noise and other sounds in the environment.
Second: I am one reviewer, and am not a professional sound studio. I am not testing these items in perfect conditions. I do not have an anechoic sound chamber in my test studio.
Here is a comparison of different noise level tests against other AIO coolers I’ve tested before. This should give you a good comparison of at least a few coolers. Notice that they are all very close and about as loud as a normal conversation is which is roughly (50dB). There can be a level of variances with noise level testing due to background noise, systems fans, and other parts of your system.
The Water 3.0 actually out beat the previous coolers I have tested. Again, they are pretty close to each other and all do a decent Job of keeping those temps down, but the Water 3.0 had the lowest temps of the coolers I’ve tested. This was with 4.6 GHz and adaptive voltage. This type of overclocking would produce a significant amount of heat and the Water 3.0 & Riing RGB fans do a great job dissipating the heat away from the CPU.
The Riing RGB software is really basic at its core. Thier are some glaring issues with it, but hopefully, will be worked out with later updates. This is still brand new and any of the issues I list can easily be fixed by Thermaltake. For starter download the software and install it to your desired location. Once you open up the software you will be able to set the desired hubs RGB settings, fan profiles & speeds, and select what profile you want to save the settings to. You will be able to see some of the effects in the later video which shows off the RGB lighting and its features.
The first thing I did was test the limits of each fan, I set the silent button and performance button to work. The lowest the RPM got under silent was 380 and the fastest the fans got was 1318 under performance. I know it says 1317 above but I did see that while stress testing Prime95.
Setting PWM worked pretty well when the software worked. If you’re interested in PWM or what that means check here. Basically, PWM allows your fan speed to change dynamically based on temperature. It did ramp up and ramp down like it should. You can curve the fan speeds manually under man mode as well as set each fans individual RGB lighting or use the sync button to match the other two fans. Fan one is considered your main fan and will sync the other fans to its settings if you press the profile button next to the “Blink” button. It’s the one with the red/green papers.
The RGB button turns the RGB color cycle on and cycles through the fans 256 colors. The Lightbulb button next to it turns off the light to each fan and Blink allows your fan to blink the set color mode. You can also adjust the brightness of each fans color using the color slider under “LED Brightness”. Once you’re happy with all your settings and you get a proper match you can save these settings to the desired profile. The default profile for one set is profile_1. Here is where you will run into your first issue if you’re using multiple hubs daisy chained. You can only configure three fans per profile, which makes it difficult to get a color match across your system. If you have 6 TT RGB Riing fans it may be hard to get an exact match between hubs. Hubs are recognized as the numbers to the left of your profiles in the software. You can only customize three fans at a time.
The RGB color is thankfully represented in the circle where your fan speeds are displayed behind the text. So you can get a close match if not the same. You can also see your CPU temp displayed at the very bottom right of the Riing software. This is a nice addition that gives you quick access to temperatures without checking other software. If you wish to change your language you can by selecting the gear icon in the upper right.
I ran into some pretty annoying issues with the software. The worst is the loss of communication between your hub and the Riing software. When my PC goes to sleep the hub loses connection. This can be fixed by restarting my PC, but this should be checked out by Thermaltake engineers and fixed with a software update. Once the PC wakes the Riing software halts fan speeds and doesn’t allow for any color changes or anything, forcing you to restart. The way I got around this by building my own power profile that only turns the monitor off and doesn’t ever put my PC to sleep. I like to keep my PC on so I can gain remote access, but I can see this being a deal-breaker for some users.
This is an all digital control solution that is new and I have to give Thermaltake credit for being innovative. I only hope they can work out of these design flaws with the software and update the software to fix these issues. You will be able to see more of the RGB colors shown in the video below.
The above video contains all the recorded information I got during testing and should showcase the RGB fans best features. You can also hear how loud the fans are on load, which to me had an excellent noise level (dB). The TT premium fans offer 256 different RGB color combinations that you can select from. I also showed off the blinking feature and color modes to get a good idea of how they will look inside your system.
There are a few cons with this system. The Riing RGB software definitely needs some work but does offer something new to the table when trying to customize your systems color theme. They need to fix the software issues like losing connection to the hub when your PC sleeps. The other issues come with profile support and using multiple hubs. If you could address more than three fans at a time per profile this could help syncing the RGB colors together giving all your fans the same RGB color. You can sync three of the fans together using the “Sync” button but that is only for three of the fans per each profile. It’s not that you can’t make all your fans the same color it’s just no intuitive or easy to do.
The water 3.0 worked as I expected. I would highly recommend this cooler for a few reasons. The performance you get is outstanding compared to the price. Hitting 4.6 GHz is not bad for using an AIO cooler, and my temps stayed well below my comfort level. It’s hard to compare AIO coolers these days because most are really going to have similar performance minus a few degrees here and there. You need to compare Apples to Apples here, and what will stand out are design choices like the pump, fans included, and warranty.
The best part of the Riing fan is the brightness and combination of RGB colors. I also love that you can digitally control the fans even with PWM, when the software is working correctly. I highly recommend the Thermaltake Water 3.0 Extreme S! I also really like the Riing fans and feel they have a lot to offer in personalization fo your PC. If they can fix some of the software bugs they will be a compelling option to beat. The fact that you can digitally control them makes setting fan colors and speeds dynamically extremely easy.
Both the Riing fans and the Water 3.0 have a 3-year warranty. You can buy the Water 3.0 Extreme S on Amazon for $78.00 (Thermaltake Water 3.0 Extreme S 240mm AIO Liquid Cooling System CPU Cooler CLW0224-B). The Riing LED RGB TT Premium 3-Fan Pack can be found here for $90.00.