Introduction

Thermaltake Technology Inc. was founded in 1999 with the vision of building Thermaltake Technology into “a cultural brand for the enjoyment of entertainment, e-Sports, technology, and lifestyle”. Thermaltake Technology is focused on delivering the perfect user experience. Their products range from Power Supply Units, PC Chassis, Complete Custom Loop solutions, CPU Coolers, Fans to the range of the peripherals like keyboards, mouse, mouse mat, headphones, and even gaming chairs. The very essence of the Thermaltake DNA is based on Courage, Passion, and Perseverance. They are diversified in brands like TteSPORTS, Luxa to bring consumer-focused products from respective domains.

This time we will be taking a look at one of the premium CPU Liquid Coolers from the Thermaltake. It is Thermaltake Water 3.0 120 ARGB Sync CPU Liquid Cooler. The cooling solution is based on Asetek design. This is a 120mm size cooling solution. Besides the packed performance, the cooler features stunning ARGB lighting display on the CPU water block and the Pure 120mm ARGB fan. The lighting solution is compatible with the ASRock Polychrome, Asus AURA Sync, Gigabyte RGB Fusion 2.0, MSI Mystic Lighting using 5V headers. Not only that but they have also provided a dedicated lighting controller to cover the users without addressable header motherboard(s). This is like all in one complete solution, taking care of everything a user might need. The cooler supports almost all Intel and AMD sockets including the LGA20xx and AMD AM4.

  • Product:               Water 3.0 120 ARGB Sync
  • Manufacturer:      Thermaltake
  • Price:                   PKR 13000/- [At the time of the review]
  • Availability:         Shing

Specifications

Packaging and Unboxing

The cooler comes inside a cardboard box. The contents of the box are placed inside the egged carton for maximum protection during the shipping.

This side of the box has a TT premium logo printed in the center followed by the Thermaltake text. Water 3.0 120 ARGB Sync is printed below the Thermaltake.

This side has TT Thermaltake printed on the top left. There is a picture of the cooler printed in the main section showing the addressable lighting. Compatibility information with regard to the motherboard manufacturers is printed at the bottom left side. ARGB Controller & 5V MB Sync shows that the cooler comes with the dedicated controller as well as compatible with the motherboard addressable headers using 5V. The cooler has support for leading sockets from both sides.

This side has salient features of the cooler printed in 11 different languages. A serial no sticker is pasted at the bottom side followed by a printed sticker of Part No, EAN, UPC codes.

This side has the specifications of the cooler printed in a tabular format.

This side shows the features of the cooler as well as detail on the ARGB lighting modes. For performance data, there is a graph comparing this cooler with the Intel stock cooler on i7 7700k at 100% load. We are not sure what load it was that they used to test the coolers and seems like the chip was tested on stock clocks but can’t confirm.

There is an egged carton packing for safety of the contents. The user manual and warranty policy pamphlet are placed on the top.

Accessories

These are:

  • 1x 120mm Radiator
  • 1x Pure ARGB 120mm Fan
  • 1x Backplate for Intel
  • 1x Mounting bracket for AMD
  • 1x Mounting bracket for Intel
  • 1x Supporting Bracket
  • 4x Intel LGA115X/1366
  • 4x Intel LGA20XX standoff screws
  • 1x AMD mounting Pin and thumb screw
  • 4x Fan Long Screws
  • 4x Radiator Screws
  • 4x Washers
  • 1x Motherboard Sync Cable E
  • 1x Motherboard Sync Cable F
  • 1x Lighting Controller
  • 1x User Manual
  • 1x Warranty Policy

Closer Look

Thermaltake is catering for all market segments by custom tailoring their products for each specific requirement. Their enthusiast thermal cooling solution in an AIO starts with the Floe RGB coolers. Their TT Premium edition line up now includes Floe RGB, DX, and Water 3.0 (Performer RGB) ARGB Sync editions. Thermaltake has sent use their Water 3.0 120 ARGB Sync Edition TT Premium Edition cooler for the review. This is what Thermaltake has to say about this cooler.

“Thermaltake Water 3.0 120 ARGB Sync CPU Liquid Cooler comes with one 120 mm fan with a large surface radiator, high performance waterblock and pump for ultimate CPU cooling. The built-in Pure ARGB fan features compression blades, hydraulic bearing, and 16.8 million colors LEDs that is ready to sync with 5V RGB capable motherboards from Asus, Gigabyte, MSI and AsRock. Users can easily switch RGB lighting effects using the ARGB controller that is included in the packet, or by ASUS Aura Sync, GIGABYTE RGB Fusion, MSI Mystic Light Sync and AsRock Polychrome software. Water 3.0 ARGB Sync Edition Series allows users to enjoy better cooling performance and greater CPU protection!”

It is time to take a closer look at the cooler.

Radiator

The dimension of the radiator is 151x120x27mm where 27mm is the thickness or height of the radiator. It is a slim radiator. With 25mm fans, the total height would be 52mm. The total thickness of the unit when assembled was 53.50mm (approximately) as measured with a digital caliper. This is due to the thick heads of the fan screws.  The radiator is made of aluminum hence it is lightweight. FPI count is 20 on this radiator and fans with high airflow and high air pressure would make sense here. The edges of the radiator are angular.

The far chamber is relatively thinner which is what we see on almost all AIO coolers. There is 105mm of spacing between any two mounting holes on the radiator housing. The total length of the fins area is 120mm approximately. The length of the radiator is 151mm. There is no protective plating under the mounting holes on this radiator so take care while installing the fans on it as long screws could easily damage the fins that would least impact the performance or worst leakage from the radiator.

There is a sticker pasted on the side confirming that the Asetek is an OEM of this unit.

This cooler is using flexible rubber tubing with no sleeve. The length of the tube is 326mm. The tubes have OD of 9.72mm as measured with a digital caliper. Barbed fittings can be seen from the above picture.

Water Block

Let’s take a look at the water block of this cooler.

The pump housing is made of the plastic. There is a lid on the top of the block with a white diffuser in a circular design.

There is a TT premium brand logo in the middle of this circle followed by the Thermaltake text. All these have frosted white diffusers underneath that light up when powered on. The complete block is in circular shape finished in the matte black color. The front, left and the right sides of the pump housing are solid surfaces without any branding. There are two cables coming out from the left side of the block. These are:

  • 3-pin power cable for the pump measuring 282mm approximately.
  • Pump LED cable measuring 885mm approximately.

The pump’s power cable is flat while the LED cables are braided. One thing that I have observed is the extra-ordinary length of the LED cables on this cooler which makes the cable management task more challenging.

The backside of the pump housing shows two 90° barb fittings. The tubes can be rotated as per requirement due to this 90  implementation and flexible nature of the tubes. There is a groove on the three sides of the pump housing between the upper chamber and the lower chamber. This area has housing clamping and this is where the Intel and AMD mounting rings are put in.

I have had one complaint with this design which is there was no way for the user to lock the mounting ring/bracket on the block on its own and it makes the installation process tedious as the user has to hold the ring mounted block so as to ensure that ring does not displace. This time around, Thermaltake has provided another plastic bracket which has 4 edges. The user will put the ring on the block and lock it by installing the plastic bracket from the bottom side of the block. This will secure the mounting ring/bracket and makes the installation convenient. Kudos to the Thermaltake for coming up with a simple yet effective solution!

The motor speed of the pump is rated at 3000 RPM. The pump is rated at 12VDC with a power input of 3.9W at 12V. The ARGB LED power rating is 1.06W at 5V. Please, note that you would need to multiply the RPM reported in the UEFI/BIOS with 2 to get the effective or true speed due to the bipolar motor.

The cooler comes with the pre-applied thermal paste. In recent times, the coolers with Asetek as an OEM have come with much improved thermal pastes as the performance delta was observed to be marginal between the stock paste and the Noctua NT-H1. There is a transparent cover safeguarding the pre-applied thermal paste. The diameter of the copper base is 52mm approximately. It is secured by 8 screws to the pump housing.

Fans

Thermaltake has provided their popular Pure 120mm fan with this cooler.

Let’s take a look at the specifications of the fan, first:

Variable Value
Dimension (mm) 120x120x25
Speed (RPM) 500~1500
Static Pressure (mmH₂O) 1.59
Air Flow (CFM) 56.45
Noise dB(A) 25.8
Voltage (VDC) 12
Power (W) 1.44
Connector Type 4-Pin PWM
Power Cable Length (mm) 930 (approx.)
LED Cable Length (mm) 900+100 (approx.)
LED Cable Power 5V, 1.60W

 

The Pure 12 features compression blades, hydraulic bearing, and a 16.8 million colors LED ring with 9 addressable LEDs that is ready to sync with 5V RGB capable motherboards from Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, and AsRock. It has a black color frame. There are gray color rubber pads on the mounting holes to reduce the vibration. The fan has 9 blades which are lightly frosted. The hub has black color sticker pasted on it with TT premium logo printed on it. The corner sides of the frame have downward sloped design. One side of the frame has two arrows indicating the direction of airflow and spin blade.

The backside of the fan has a sticker pasted on the motor hub with Thermaltake brand name and TT premium logo printed at the top. The fan is using DC Brushless motor. The fan is made in China. There is a 4-arm design holding and connecting the motor hub and the blades to the fan’s frame. The current rating is mentioned as 0.70A. One of the arms has a widened body with a clamp to secure the power and LED cables coming out of the hub. The frame has an identical design on both sides.

RGB Lighting

This is an ARGB Sync Edition meaning that it is fully compatible with the Asus AURA Sync, Gigabyte RGB Fusion 2.0, MSI Mystic Lighting, and ASRock RGB LED lighting solutions on their motherboards. I have tested the cooler on the Asus Strix X470-F and the cooler’s lighting was synced successfully with the motherboard’s lighting solution. In case you don’t have such enabled motherboard, then there is good news as Thermaltake has bundled a dedicated lighting controller as well.

The controller is in black color. It has a TT premium logo printed on the top. There is a blue LED indicator right next to the TT logo. There are three buttons on the controller:

  • Mode
  • Color
  • Speed

There are 7 LED modes using a dedicated controller which can be accessed using the Mode button on the controller. These are:

  • Wave
  • Full Light
  • RGB Spectrum
  • Off
  • Flow
  • Ripple
  • Pulse
  • Blink

Off is not counted as a mode hence 7 modes. There are 7 basic colors. The RGB color is only available in certain modes which are Full Light, Pulse, and Blink. The colors are:

  • Red
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Teal
  • Blue
  • White
  • Purple

There are 4-speed controls using the dedicated controller:

  • Slow
  • Normal
  • Fast
  • Extreme

The controller is powered by 5V SATA connector. The length of this cable is 460mm and it is braided as well.

The other cable of the controller is LED connector. Its length is 441mm approximately. It is also braided.

The concept is simple. All the ARGB devices are to be daisy-chained (in a series) and connected to the controller using the controller’s LED cable. The maximum signal output for a single controller is 90 ARGB LEDs.

Motherboard Sync

If you wish to connect the ARGB devices to the motherboards’ ARGB lighting headers using 5V then there are two MB Sync cables included in the accessories. They are labeled as E and F.

The E labeled MB Sync cable is to be used for Asus, ASRock, and MSI motherboards as these motherboards are using 4-pin design for 5V lighting headers. The length of this cable is 900mm approximately and it is braided.

The F labeled MB sync cable is to be used for the Gigabyte motherboards as these boards are using 3-pin design for 5V lighting headers. The length of this cable is 900mm approximately and it is braided.

Simply connect the fan and the pump LED cables to the respective MB Sync cable and connect the MB Sync cable to the motherboard’s 5V lighting header. You will have to use the motherboard’s respective lighting controlling software.

The pure 12 ARGB Sync Radiator Fan and the Pump pack stunning 16.8M colors light spectrum with some vivid lighting modes to make your day and to color coordinate the build to its full effect. The overall lighting effects are sublime and evenly diffused. They are not overly done which is a plus. Here are some pictures of the lighting on this cooler.

 

Installation

Here are the Installation guides for the Intel LGA-20XX and AMD AM4 sockets:

LGA-20XX

  • Install the LGA-20XX standoffs screws on the mounting holes around the CPU Socket.
  • Install the fans on the radiator using the supplied fan screws.
  • Place the Intel mounting ring on the block by aligning the notches of the ring to the catchers on the block’s housing. Slide it to secure it.
  • Now, place the plastic 4 edged ring from the bottom side of the block. Push it till you hear the clicks.
  • Place the water block on the CPU by aligning the mounting holes on the mounting bracket with the LGA 20XX standoff screws.
  • Secure the block using the thumb screws. Use a screwdriver for this job and go diagonally for even pressure.
  • Connect the 3-pin cable to the CPU fan header or any of your desire fan header.
  • Connect the fan power cables to your desire fan header on the motherboard.
  • Daisy chain the fan and the block using the LED cables and connect them to the motherboard sync cable or to the controller. Connect the Sync cable to the lighting header on the motherboard.
  • This would complete the installation.

AMD AM4

  • Take out the AMD mounting ring.
  • Take out the AMD mounting pin and the thumb screw.
  • Pass the pin from either side. Use the thumb screw to secure holds the pin to the mounting ring. Make sure not to tighten the screw to its full torques. Just screw it in so that the pin is secured unlike the one shown in the below picture. The pin holder will be a bit flexible. We need that.
  • Place the AMD mounting ring on the block by aligning the notches of the ring to the catchers on the block’s housing. Slide it to secure it.
  • Now, place the plastic 4 edged ring from the bottom side of the block. Push it till you hear the clicks.
  • Place the block on the CPU such as one side of the mounting bracket snuggles to the hook of the AMD stock backplate.
  • Press the other side of the mounting ring so that the pin holder catches the hook of the AMD stock backplate.
  • Start screwing in the thumb screw till the thread runs out.
  • Connect the 3-pin cable to the CPU fan header or any of your desire fan header.
  • Connect the fan power cables to your desire fan header on the motherboard.
  • Daisy chain the fan and the block using the LED cables and connect them to the motherboard sync cable or to the controller. Connect the Sync cable to the lighting header on the motherboard.
  • This would complete the installation.

Clearance and Installation Notes

The best thing about AIOs is the maximum clearance and compatibility with respect to the chassis, DIMM slots, PCIe slot. This cooler has no such clearance issue. The tubes are not blocking any DIMM slot and RAM modules of any height can be used. Similarly, the block is not obstructing the first PCIe x16 3.0 slot. Make sure that chassis has provision for a 120mm radiator mounting and you are good to go.

Testing

Following test benches have been used for testing this cooler: –

Intel Test Bench

  • Asus Rampage V Edition 10
  • Intel i7 6850k
  • Corsair Vengeance RED LED 16GB @ 2666MHz
  • Colorful GeForce GTX 1050Ti Vulkan
  • Samsung 840 EVO 250GB SSD
  • Seagate Barracuda 2TB
  • Corsair AX1200i
  • PrimoChill Praxis WetBench

AMD Test Bench

  • Asus Strix X470-F Gaming
  • AMD Ryzen 2700X
  • Corsair Vengeance Pro RGB 16GB @ 3200MHz
  • HyperX 120GB SSD
  • Antec HCP 1300W

Following software are used for testing and monitoring.

  • Asus Real Bench v 2.44 for Intel
  • Real Temp GT v 3.70 for Intel
  • AIDA64 6.0 for AMD

Here is the settings table for testing:

Intel Stock Voltage (V) 1.130
Stock Clock (MHz) 3600
OC Voltage (V) 1.350
OC Clock (MHz)  4300
Turbo Boost Disabled
Voltage Control Manual
AMD Stock Voltage (V) 1.1125
Stock Clock (MHz) 3700
OC Voltage (V) 1.3250
OC Clock (MHz) 4100
Turbo Boost Disabled
Voltage Control Manual
Thermal Paste Noctua NT-H1
Test Run Time 60 minutes
Idling Time 15 minutes
Fan Speed Manually set to run at 100% speed
Pump Speed Connected to the AIO Pump header to run at 100% speed

 

The thermal paste being used on the test bench is the Noctua NT-H1 thermal paste. The use of the same thermal paste for all coolers will ensure the standardization and mitigate any performance benefit that may come using the supplied thermal paste. Delta temperatures are reported on the graphs. The testing is done on an open-air bench system. Once inside the chassis, the temperatures are expected to rise and would largely depend upon the optimal airflow inside the chassis.

Not every run of the stress test may yield the same result. This could well be due to many factors like mounting pressure, thermal paste application, varying ambient temperature. Not to mention the silicon differences even among the same category of the chips. Hence, it is pertinent to mention the testing methodology along with the specifics.

Let’s take a look at the results.

On stock clocks i.e 3.6GHz at 1.13V the chip was idling at 2°C. Under stress test the cooler was doing a delta of 28.9°C. This is a good performance as the cooler is closer to the 240mm AIO.

With overclocked chip at 4.3GHz using 1.350V the chip was doing 49.4°C under load. The cooler has again performed well for being a 120mm AIO.

On stock clocks i.e 3.7GHz the chip was idling at 2.8°C. Under stress test the cooler was doing a delta of 29.8°C. This is a good performance.

On stock clocks i.e 4.1GHz the chip was idling at 4°C. Under stress test the cooler was doing a delta of 57.5°C.

Acoustic Performance

I could not measure the sound level of the unit due to certain environmental noises that would invalidate the actual sound level reading from the sound meter. Based on my experience with the fans and coolers testing so far, the fan and the pump are near silent.

Conclusion

The Thermaltake Water 3.0 120 ARGB Sync CPU Liquid Cooler is a 120mm AIO liquid CPU cooler from Performer RGB series. It is among their TT Premium edition coolers line up. This cooler comes with a Pure 12 ARGB Sync Radiator fan which is optimized for radiator cooling. The fan has 16.8M colors combination and 7 lighting modes. The water block features an ARGB lid on the top for some stunning looks. The dimension of the radiator is 151x120x27mm where 27mm is the thickness or height of the radiator. It is a slim radiator. With 25mm fans, the total height would be 52mm. The total thickness of the unit when assembled was 53.50mm as measured with a digital caliper. This is due to the thick heads of the fan screws.  The radiator is made of aluminum hence it is lightweight. FPI count is 20 on this radiator. There is 105mm of spacing between any two mounting holes on the radiator housing. The total length of the fins area is 120mm approximately. The width of the radiator is 121mm. This cooler is using flexible rubber tubing with no sleeve. The length of the tube is 326mm. The tubes have OD of 9.72mm as measured with a digital caliper. The finishing of the tube is in matte black.

The pump housing is made of the plastic. There is a lid on the top of the block with a white diffuser in a circular design. There is a TT Premium brand logo in the middle of this circle followed by the Thermaltake text. All these have frosted white diffusers underneath that light up when powered on. There are two cables coming out from the rear side of the block. These are 3-pin power cable for the pump measuring 282mm approximately, and Pump LED cable measuring 885mm approximately. The pump’s power cable is flat while the LED cable is braided. One thing that I have observed is the extra-ordinary length of the LED cables on this cooler which makes the cable management task more challenging. There are hooks on the lower side of the pump’s housing. This is where the mounting ring/brackets are put on. Unfortunately, these hooks can’t lock the mounting ring/brackets which have been the downside of this design but Thermaltake has finally addressed this issue and has bundled a plastic made 4 edged locker bracket. Use this bracket to lock the mounting ring/bracket on to the pump’s housing. The motor speed of the pump is rated at 3000 RPM. The pump is rated at 12VDC with a power input of 3.9W at 12V. The ARGB LED power rating is 1.06W at 5V. Please, note that you would need to multiply the RPM reported in the UEFI/BIOS with 2 to get the effective or true speed due to the bipolar motor. The diameter of the copper base is 52mm approximately. It is secured by 8 screws to the pump housing.

The Pure 12 ARGB Sync Radiator fan features compression blades, hydraulic bearing, and a 16.8 million colors LED ring with 9 addressable LEDs that is ready to sync with 5V RGB capable motherboards from Asus, Gigabyte, MSI and AsRock. It has a rated speed of 500~1500 RPM. Our sample unit was reaching 1517 RPM as reported from the UEFI. The rated airflow is 56.45 CFM. The maximum static pressure is 1.59 mmH₂O. The maximum sound level is 25.8 dB(A). The fan power is rated at 12VDC using 1.44W. The LED cable has a power rating of 1.60W at 5V.

The Thermaltake Water 3.0 120 ARGB Sync CPU Liquid Cooler is listed at Rs. 13000/- at the time of the review, exclusively available with Shing. The price may sound steep but given the plethora of accessories bundled with this cooler and packed addressable RGB lighting, it might get away with it. Bear in mind that there are less expensive 240mm AIO (not ARGB ones) in the market as well which could very well impede this cooler’s selling perspective. This cooler has performed quite well for being a 120mm AIO as we have tested it on Intel and AMD test benches and it was sitting close to the budget end 240mm AIOs. Thermaltake has definitely upped their game with the premium cooling solution.

We are thankful to the Thermaltake for sending us their Water 3.0 120 ARGB Sync CPU Liquid Cooler for the review.

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