Corsair Hydro Series H100 Liquid CPU Cooler Review
Retail Packaging, Components and Heatsink Design
The H100 is packaged in dark retail packaging with an upclose studio photo of the pump/waterblock and push button fan controller. They also included a smaller studio photo of the entire unit in the left hand corner of the front panel. I like Corsair's approach to marketing because I think it helps consumers find their products on store shelves much easier.
The back panel includes a handy chart that depicts how the H100 handles 100% loads while overclocking an Intel i7-920 to 3.8GHz. The rest of the marketing material is a bit too wordy for my taste, and they reprint the same test in German, Italian, Spanish, and Russian.
The interior of the retail packaging shows that the H100 is well packaged and each part is secured in its own molded compartment. Each piece of the H100 is individually wrapped and the installation guide is easily accessible as well.
Components and Heatsink Design
Like every product in Corsair's Hydro Series line, the H100 is a sealed, closed-loop watercooling system. Closed-loop liquid cooling is basically a self-contained CPU cooling system that is manufactured as a single unit and pre-filled with coolant. These units are much more cost effective than traditional, custom liquid-cooling setups from companies like Danger Den and Koolance and are virtually impervious to leaks.
The radiator is manufactured from aluminum and measure out at 240 millimeters in length and 27 millimeters in height. The dimensions of this CPU cooler may present problems for PC builders who don't own a case that supports dual-radiator watercooling systems. Many modern PC cases are starting to support dual and triple radiator setups, but installation issues may arise if pre-planning for this isn't accomplished in advance. The tubing that runs from the radiator to the waterblock/pump is constructed from low-evaporation FEP to make it more durable so it can maintain optimum performance levels for longer periods of time. This is probably why Corsair is comfortable giving consumers a five-year warranty on this product.
Corsair pre-applies their own thermal paste when they ship the H100, but we will be using Arctic Silver 5 to have a standardized thermal paste for all our testing. The base plate is copper, but the surface wasn't milled to a mirror finish like other heatsinks and self-maintained cooler solutions I've seen from other vendors. I prefer a mirror finish on the base plate to ensure there is maximum contact with the processor to get the best performance results.
The H100 supports Corsair Link that the company describes as "an ecosystem of hardware and software components designed to give you unprecedented control over your PC". According to their website, users can connect the H100 to the Corsair Link Commander and monitor pump speeds, coolant temperature, fan speeds, and create custom performance profiles. The Corsair Link hardware/software kit is sold separately for $99.99 on Corsair's website.
Users can also attach up to four fans to the waterblock/pump/copper base plate, which is great for enthusiasts who want to set up a push-pull fan configuration with the H100.
Corsair developed a low-profile, integrated pump and copper base plate that includes controls for three fan speed and cooling performance modes. The buttons on top of the unit light up with white LEDs to show which mode is being used on the H100.
Corsair includes two 120mm fans that run between 1,300 and 2,500 RPMs at different performance settings. These fans push between 46-92 CFM so noise could become an issue when they are used at max levels. They also sleeved two extension cables for use with larger PC towers. This is a smart move on Corsair's part because some custom PC cases have mounting brackets for triple radiators at the front of the case.
Here's a quick shot of the mounting brackets we will use that supports all of Intel's current CPU socket types. The CPU backplate has adjustable mounting holes, which is a pretty innovative way to create one backplate that supports many socket types.
Lastly, Corsair included an installation guide, product guide (from 2010?), and a warranty card.