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Corsair Hydro Series H100 Liquid CPU Cooler Review

Author: Steve Grever
Manufacturer: Corsair

Retail Packaging, Components and Heatsink Design

 Retail Packaging

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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. 

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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Lastly, Corsair included an installation guide, product guide (from 2010?), and a warranty card.

January 17, 2012 | 05:52 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 | 07:13 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 | 07:44 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 | 04:26 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 | 04:17 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 | 07:14 AM - Posted by jewie27 (not verified)

depends on what voltage/clock speed you are running.

January 18, 2012 | 05:00 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 | 07:54 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 | 07:14 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 | 07:47 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 | 12:56 PM - 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 | 01:57 PM - 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 | 07:40 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 | 07:16 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 12, 2014 | 12:36 AM - 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 | 03:29 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 | 10:18 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 | 10:22 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 | 08:27 AM - Posted by Casho (not verified)

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

September 3, 2012 | 03:04 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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