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Corsair Hydro Series H100 Liquid CPU Cooler Review

Author: Steve Grever
Manufacturer: Corsair

Installation, Performance Testing

Installation

Installing the Corsair H100 is pretty straight forward, but I am going to show some of our novice PC builders how it's done on one of my mid-range LGA 1156 gaming systems I built in 2011. One of the most important questions to ask yourself when you are deciding to upgrade to the H100 is if your current PC case can support a dual radiator configuration. My current rig wasn't up to the challenge, so I swapped it out for an NZXT Tempest 410 Elite that I reviewed in August 2011. This case can support a dual radiator on the top panel of the case, which should compliement the H100 perfectly.

 

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We are installing the H100 on an Intel i7 860 processor and ECS P55H-AK motherboard. The first step to install this CPU cooler is attaching the bracket to the back of the motherboard. The bracket has adjustable mounting holes that users will need to align with their board's socket type.

 

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The next step is to apply a thin layer of thermal paste on the CPU and screw in four mounting screws to attach the H100's integrated waterblock/pump over the CPU.

 

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Next, secure the H100's dual radiator to the top panel of the case using eight screws. You'll notice there are additional mounting holes for attaching two more fans to create a push-pull fan configuration, which has been shown to be an effective way to increase performance on these self-contained watercooling systems.

 

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I screwed in two 120mm fans to the bottom of the radiator to help cool it down during operation.

 

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Here is a quick shot of the top of the radiator before I attached the top panel to the Tempest 410 Elite case.

 

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I grabbed the multi-platform mounting kit and attached the brackets to the integrated waterblock/pump using four screws.

 

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After I secured the brackets, I placed the waterblock/pump over the CPU and began tightening down four studs in a criss-cross pattern to get consistent contact with the top of the processor. This part is very important to ensure max performance from any air-cooled heatsink or liquid CPU cooler.

 

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The last thing to do is attach the two 120mm fans to the fan controller located on the integrated waterblock/pump. Don't forget to attached the three-pin fan connector to the motherboard and you'll be all set.

 

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After about 25 minutes, we were able to install the H100 in our LGA 1156 gaming system. As you can see, the Tempest 410 Elite was a fantastic choice for this build because of the ability to mount the radiator to the top panel of the case. We didn't run into any significant issues installing the H100 so let's take a look at the performance results we received during H100 testing.

 

Performance Testing

To evaluate the H100, I measured the CPU temperatures for each core under idle and load conditions using Core Temp. For idle testing, I booted into Windows and let the system "idle" for about 15 minutes and then recorded the CPU temperatures. For load testing, I ran Cinebench 11.5's multi-threaded test that uses 100 percent of the CPU's resources and all eight core threads. After recording both idle and load testing results, I ran identical tests with the Corsair's H50 and H70 as well as Coolit System's Vantage A.L.C. and ECO A.L.C. self-contained watercooling units. I didn't have another dual radiator watercooler to test "apples to apples" against the H100, but this should give our readers a good overview at how the H100 stacks up against other consumer-level and performance CPU coolers from Corsair and Coolit Systems. 

 

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To say the H100 was impressive during performance testing would be a gross understatement. As you can see from the charts above, the H100 was 2-3 degrees cooler than the H70 during idle testing and about 7-9 degrees lower in load testing. The H70 was configured with a push-pull fan configuration, but even that setup couldn't top the H100 that was using only two fans to cool the coolant running through the dual radiator.

January 17, 2012 | 02:52 PM - Posted by Somar (not verified)

Thanks for the review - appreciate the good info on this.

Have you done any comparisons to high end air coolers on the same testing rig? The thing that's always stopped me from getting the earlier models of the Corsair water coolers is that they never really seemed measurably better than the top notch air coolers. Would be very interested to see how they compare to this model.

April 13, 2012 | 04:13 AM - Posted by jewie27 (not verified)

The H100 cools slightly better than the Noctua NH-D14. I've had my H100 since November 2011.

January 17, 2012 | 04:44 PM - Posted by nabokovfan87

For my money I cannot stand my h50. The tubes are so rigid that it feels like they are going to break every time I open the door on my Antec 1200. The plastic rather then rubber nature of the tube makes them more difficult to work with and I really wish corsair had revised it to match the upcoming Asetek 2011c designs with plastic tubing.

For your pro/con section of the review, you should add the mirror finish to the con. You mentioned it in the article and while it still presents the best performance, I am going to guess it would be slightly more with the type of finish in question.

Not trying to question your methods or anything, but why was there a vast difference between core 1/2 and 3/4 on the load testing? Seems like there was a defect with the heatsink or something to cause a hotspot on that aspect of the processor. Under all the other load testing the heat was distributed evenly for every other cooler, which makes me think it wasn't a single/dual threaded app and caused only those threads to be under stress.

To give you an idea, ~5-10 degree C difference, which is 41-50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Finally, didn't this come out around 3-4 months ago? Anyways, thanks for the review, glad to have the PCPER opinion on things.

January 21, 2012 | 01:26 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

10 degrees celsius converts to 18 degrees fahrenheit. Converting a difference in temperatures is not the same as converting a single temperature reading. Ie

40c = 104f
50c = 122f

January 18, 2012 | 01:17 AM - Posted by kbohip (not verified)

Picked one of these up for only $75 a couple months ago. Needless to say I'm happy with the performance/price ratio. Still, I was thinking it would keep my oc'd 2600k at least at no more than 60c under Prime load. It's actually hitting 70c even with the fans on high.

April 13, 2012 | 04:14 AM - Posted by jewie27 (not verified)

depends on what voltage/clock speed you are running.

January 18, 2012 | 02:00 AM - Posted by Swoosh (not verified)

A friend of mine bought this as his cooler upgrade for this i7 2600K processor.
Since he's into heavy overclocking and currently his processor clocks at 4.2ghz
and i told him that he could further maximize his H100 cooling performance
by adding 2 hi performance fans making it a push/pull setup and he immediately
bought two CM sickle flo 120mm fans and install it as "pull" fans in his CM HAF
932 advance case. As a result, he cant believe that he reached 4.4ghz @ around
70c+ degrees. Im impressed to H100's cooling performance but IMO, H100 design
could be further improve and will surely provide much better results as to what
Corsair did now.

Few of these improvements are making the radiator much thicker to an additional
5mm to 6mm to make cold air flow through the fins more thoroughly and instead
of using aluminum fins they could do a revision using copper fins in that way,
heated water coming in from the CPU block will be more easier to cool which
adds to a much cooler water making it more efficient specially on heavily
overclocked i7 processors and with that, i think H100's performance would yield
into an additional 20 to 25 percent added cooling efficiency as compared to the
current released model.

- I hope Corsair would released a revised and improved version of their H100
based on what many are suggesting similar to what i said here and im sure it
will be worth it.

January 18, 2012 | 04:54 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I have the H50 and not the H100 and i can reach 5.0 GHz at 70° C with the 2600K. Maybe your friend is doing something wrong?

The H50 and the H70 are from Asetek, H60, H80, H100 from CoolIT.

January 18, 2012 | 04:14 AM - Posted by xiz0r (not verified)

I have one (in push/pull) with my 2500k oc'ed to 4.8 and I rarelly see over 50-55C in game but prime 95 will take it up to 68-70C.
Not bad given that I need 1.48V on the 2500k to make it stable.
I really like it!

January 18, 2012 | 04:47 AM - Posted by Prodeous (not verified)

The main issue of concern for me based on this review is the CPU Load temperatures.

While other coolers show difference of 2-5*C difference between the cores, the H100 shows 10*C difference between the cores.

42*C on two cores
47*C on one core
52*C on one Core???

That indicates that there is definitely are of improvement in the design. If the manage to get that sorted out then indeed it would be a significant improvement over others.

January 18, 2012 | 09:56 AM - Posted by amythompson172@gmail.com (not verified)

i have thought about buying the h100 but my zalman z9 plus can't support it kinda gay nevertheless this cooler cool my cpu very well i got mine hex core up to 4ghz and max out at 50c so no biggy very impressive cooler if u r doing push pull

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0051U7HMS/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=...

January 18, 2012 | 10:57 AM - Posted by kbohip (not verified)

Hmm, after seeing the temps people are getting above, I guess mine is doing the job as well as it should be. Maybe I'll eventually try a push/pull configuration with it.

January 20, 2012 | 04:40 PM - Posted by nabokovfan87

I would suggest it. I would look into high static pressure fans as well if you are just using the stock corsair/antec fans, which TBH, not good at all for liquid.

April 13, 2012 | 04:16 AM - Posted by jewie27 (not verified)

Push/pull and high pressure fans doesn't matter, the H100 uses a thin radiator. The temperature difference between 2 fans and 4 fans is about two degrees. Not worth replacing the stock fans with $100 worth of aftermarket fans. That would pretty much cost as much as the H100 itself.

March 11, 2014 | 09:36 PM - Posted by شارژ ایرانسل (not verified)

Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Thank you, However I am experiencing problems with your RSS.

I don't know why I can't subscribe to it. Is there anybody else having identical RSS issues?
Anyone that knows the solution will you kindly respond? Thanks!!

January 19, 2012 | 12:29 PM - Posted by jewie27 (not verified)

I have one for my Corsair/Asus ROG gaming rig and currently overclocked my I5-2500K to 4.9 Ghz.

January 20, 2012 | 07:18 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Did I miss it, or is there no discussion of what fan speed setting was used for this or any of the other tested products? Were these performance numbers attained at low/medium/high speed?

And no discussion of noise? What kind of HSF review doesn't mention noise?

January 20, 2012 | 07:22 PM - Posted by Dan (not verified)

This H100 cooler (with 4 noctura fans, push/pull) is great for me. I am using it with a 3930X hexa core. Running a mild overclock of about 4.0 the temps are in the high 20's at idle and about 34-35 under a bit of a load. The fans are set at the lowest (quiet) setting. Fitting it on my motherboard (Rampage IV Extreme) was a bit tight but it installed with no problems. It is quiet and effective

January 24, 2012 | 05:27 AM - Posted by Casho (not verified)

I also think that it is curious to have no discussion about noise.

September 3, 2012 | 12:04 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

eii i have a question, i bought this item for my pc , i installed it according to your instructions, i connected the 4 pin conector and the free 3pin conector to the motherboard but when i start my pc, it says there is a CPU error,did i connect something wrong? or did i got bad luck and got a dmged h100? ... it seems to be working, the CPU fan is lighted up and everything and the top radiator is cooling and everything, what should i do ? D: plss help QQ

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