The Thermaltake Water 2.0 Extreme is the flagship model in its new all-in-one cooling line-up.

We've already checked out the bargain version, the single-fan 120mm radiator Water 2.0 Performer, which was a decent little liquid chip-chiller. This model is an altogether more enthusiast-oriented offering, with a full 240mm radiator and the cooling chops to match.

The larger radiator means the Water 2.0 Extreme needs a big case, but frankly, if you're contemplating something as serious as this you've probably got a full tower case anyway.

The Thermaltake Water 2.0 Extreme is so, well, extreme, it comes with fan-controlling software. It has a rather lovely GUI dashboard showing the cooling liquid temperature, fan sound levels, fan and pump speeds, and three presets: Custom, Silent and Extreme. These are available via a click knob on top of the dashboard.

Hassle-free

Thermaltake has made a real effort to ensure the Water 2.0 Extreme is as easy to fit as possible. Thanks to great design and build quality, it's got it pretty much nailed.

It took us around 30 minutes to get set up and installed, which is pretty impressive, but Thermaltake does seem to have a weird perversion about supplying enough washers for the fan mounting screws. We got eight screws but only four washers - very odd.

The pump is pretty much silent, and the two included 120mm PWM fans were impressively quiet when our test system was in idle. That's not surprising as, according to the dashboard, they were spinning at an average of 1,080rpm in silent mode with the CPU at 100 per cent.

Clicking into Extreme mode got them spinning at an average of 2,100rpm. They became noticeably louder, but this mode knocked a full 5°C off the CPU temperature. When we overclocked the CPU to 4.5GHz, the base fan speed rose to an average of 1,440rpm, but the fans weren't that noticeable.

Its cooling performance, on the other hand, was staggering, with the CPU measuring an average of just 59°C. Extreme mode got the fans running at an average of 2,100rpm again, with the CPU temperature dropping a further 6°C.

Benchmarks

Stock cooling performance
CPU 100% load: Degrees centigrade: Lower is better
THERMALTAKE WATER 2.0 EXTREME: 50
THERMALTAKE WATER 2.0 PERFORMER: 54
ARCTIC COOLING FREEZER I30: 58

Overclocked (3770K @ 4.5GHz)
CPU 100% load: Degrees centigrade: Lower is better
THERMALTAKE WATER 2.0 EXTREME: 59
THERMALTAKE WATER 2.0 PERFORMER: 70
ARCTIC COOLING FREEZER I30: 77

Peak to idle
Peak to idle: Seconds: Lower is better
THERMALTAKE WATER 2.0 EXTREME: 145
THERMALTAKE WATER 2.0 PERFORMER: 167
ARCTIC COOLING FREEZER I30: 152

The dashboard software works well, although you do need a free USB header on the motherboard for it to function. There's also a custom setting that allows users to set the working temperature they require, while the system adjusts fan speeds to suit. It's a neat compromise and really caters to the needs of more advanced users.

The Water 2.0 Extreme is just as easy to assemble as its smaller sibling; thanks mainly to its build quality and clear instruction manual. The components layout page leaves you in no doubt which bits you need - other manufacturers take note.

We also liked the dashboard software. It tells you most of what you need to know about what the cooler is up to. All we've really got to complain about is the lack of the right number of washers in the box - and if that's all we can find, you know you've got an impressive water-cooler on your hands.