By your own admission teh watercooling setup was somewhat shoddy...so, i dont know as if i would hold much weight in comparing temps against it.
Like i said, noise is purely subjective. I happen to prefer systems to be at a certaint tone, and pitch. And this cooler didnt fit that. Call me crazy, i just didnt prefer it.
But a couple of things i will add is this.
A buddy of mine has gone through three of them. All of them becuase the bearing in the fans went bad, and begain making alot of noise. The good thing...they (artic cooling) replaced it factory direct. The bad thing, the seconed one they sent, went straight to ebay, and he bought a Zalman. Plus on both ocasions where he contacted Artic Cooling, they never replied back to him about the issue. But several days later a box showed up on his door from them, with a replacment unit. Awefully nice of them. But it woulda been nice to know it was coming. And then to have his seconed unit fail, really left him a bad feeling about the product.
Also, a couple of people at my LAN commented on the fact that the fins in the chute can get easily compacted and blanketed with dust particles, which can quickly hamper cooling performance. And its anoying to have to clean it ever so often.
Still dont see how it merits a perfect score.
But then again its my job to give you crap.