Review: Kingston HyperX H2O 2x4GB DDR3-2133MHz CL11
Category : DDR3
Published by Sam on 29.08.12
A decade ago, liquid cooling came out as an inaudible alternative for the noisy fans. Even though it has not become as widespread as many predicted, these days you can easily buy or build a water-cooled version of just about any component in your PC and therefore Kingston makes no difference with the H2O series memory.

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From a practical point of view, we cannot quite work out why cooling minor components with liquid is a great idea. Things like RAM do not produce much heat and do not get hot even without a heatsink. Surely, it is more of a question of prestige and since makers like to get involved in marketing battles, special memory with native water-cooling support would inevitably appear on the market.
Kingston’s H2O lineup serves as a nice example as its specifications fully duplicate ones of regular HyperX series but its name points at its special purpose. Since we are not what you would call water-cooling enthusiasts, we are going to review our 8GB sample of DDR3-2133 as if it just is a regular air-cooled kit.
Manufacturer Kingston
Series HyperX H2O
Part Number KHX2133C11D3W1K2/8GX
Type DDR3
Capacity 8 GB (2 x 4GB)
Frequency 2'133 MHz
Timings 11-12-11-30
VDIMM 1.6 Volt
Registred/Unbuffered Unbuffered
Cooling Passive Heatspreader
Waranty Lifetime warranty
Package Type Plastic Blister

No matter how you look at it, a timing-set of 11-12-11-30 is not an attribute of a high-performance memory. Of course, there is nothing an overclock won’t fix, however, out recent experience with Kingston has taught us not to set the expectations too high. But before we start bumping our kit around in the overclock testing, let’s first have a look at what it is made of.

Page 1 - Introduction Page 4 - Results
Page 2 - Closer Look Page 5 - Conclusion
Page 3 - Photo Gallery  

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Closer Look

Despite being positioned as an enthusiast lineup, the H2O does not get any special treatment in terms of packaging.

Looking through the plastic cover, the modules look as if they mean business, but a closer inspection and disassembly of the heatspreaders reveals a number of serious design flaws.

First up is the two-layer construction that would remotely make sense if the bottom blue heatsinks were a part of another non-water-cooled model and both parts were connected at least via a layer of thermal adhesive.
Another thing we do not like is the loose attachment of the cooling pipe. Even with the screws fully fastened, it does not take much force to move it inside its tunnel meaning that heat transfer between it and the heatspreaders will be equally loose.

Luckily, the Hynix 2Gb CFR ICs used on this model are not known as fire-spitting monsters, so even a cooling system as flawed as H2O’s should not have any difficulties with keeping temperatures under control.

To finish our initial inspection, we check with the SPD. As can be seen from the CPU-Z screenshot, the SPD provides users with basic information about their memory and assists them in the process of getting up to its rated speeds.

Page 1 - Introduction Page 4 - Results
Page 2 - Closer Look Page 5 - Conclusion
Page 3 - Photo Gallery  

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Page 1 - Introduction Page 4 - Results
Page 2 - Closer Look Page 5 - Conclusion
Page 3 - Photo Gallery  

Discuss this article in the forums [pagebreak]

Testing Method & Test Setup

Rated speed a very isolated, boring and non-enthusiast-ish way of using the memory. To show the picture in full, we are going to perform a series of overclocking tests using our Ivy-Bridge based testing platform.

Motherboard ASUS Maximus V Gene (BIOS 0086)
CPU Intel Core i7-3770K
Graphic card XFX 8600 GT
Memory Kingston HyperX H2O KHX2133C11D3W1K2/8GX
HDD Samsung 40 GB
PSU Silverstone OP1000
OS Windows 7, 64 bit SP1

Based on our previous experience with Hynix CFR, we will use five timing settings with an optimum formula CAS+2=tRCD=tRP+1, each tested for maximum stable frequency at five voltage settings from 1.35 to 1.75V. In every one of 25 scenarios, stability will be verified with a 150% coverage of eight 750MB HCI Memtest instances. In case of an error-free pass, we raise the memory frequency by 10MHz and perform the stability test all over again.

Our H2O was not the first recent Kingston’s memory, SPD of which is incapable of setting subtimings to stable values outside of prescribed profiles. In such case, we advise users to base their settings on ones we show on the screenshot above.


As can be seen from the diagram, our sample has demonstrated optimistic and very predictable timing and voltage scaling throughout all of the testing range. Given a slight raise of voltage, operation at rated frequency is possible with timings of 9-11-10-27. This is a healthy improvement over the specification, speaking of which, we were able to clear it at 1.4V with room to spare. Sticking to CL11 made things stable all the way to 1260MHz; a very impressive result for a DDR3-2133 kit with modern tight binning standards.
Looking back at all the other results we had with Hynix CFR based memory these H2O are somewhere near the average zone; we had kits that performed better, but also we had stuff that was much worse, including its bigger DDR3-2400 brother. Of course, it’s mostly down to luck but it’s funny how Kingston allow their more expensive models fail their specifications while putting the capable ICs on lower rated modules.

Page 1 - Introduction Page 4 - Results
Page 2 - Closer Look Page 5 - Conclusion
Page 3 - Photo Gallery  

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Using geizhals as our EU price research tool, we see that offers for 8GB kits of DDR3-2133 CL11 H2O currently start at 62 Euros excluding shipping, which is 7 Euros above similar HyperX T1 and full 15 Euros more than GeIL’s 2133C11 offering. With Kingston’s water cooler being more of a showoff, we cannot recommend H2O as a rational purchase. Of course, if having memory water-cooled is a must for your next modding project, then Kingston is by far the cheapest possible choice.

Overall, the H2O have helped us build on our impression that Kingston do not give their enthusiast lineups enough attention to iron out all the problems. Basically we like the random design but these days it's kind of weird with Kingston. Sometimes they have modules in their portfolio that are very well capable of running above specs and other times there are modules which don't surpass the specs. So we would love to see specs on Kingston memory which actually shows the performance which can really be achieved.


The Kingston HyperX H2O KHX2133C11D3W1K2/8GX kit receives the good rating of 3.5 out of five stars.

Page 1 - Introduction Page 4 - Results
Page 2 - Closer Look Page 5 - Conclusion
Page 3 - Photo Gallery  

Discuss this article in the forums