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Corsair Hydro Series Cooler Comparison and Review - H60, H80i, H100i

Manufacturer: Corsair

Conclusion

Performance

The latest revisions of the Corsair Hydro Series™ coolers deliver on their performance promises and enthusiast-targeted appeal. The fact that all the coolers were able to successfully complete multiple runs with the overclocked settings is impressive on its own. However, the H80i seems to stand out as the best cooler of all of them.

Pricing

As of January 2, the Corsair Hydro Series™ H100i Extreme Performance CPU Cooler was available at Newegg.com for $104.99 after mail-in rebate. The cooler was also available from other retailers such as Amazon.com for $119.99 and TigerDirect.com for $119.99 with free shipping.

The Corsair Hydro Series™ H80i High Performance Liquid CPU Cooler was available at Newegg.com for $89.99 after promo code savings and mail-in rebate with free shipping. The cooler was also available from other retailers such as Amazon.com for $99.99 and TigerDirect.com for $99.99 with free shipping.

The Corsair Hydro Series™ H60 High Performance Liquid CPU Cooler was available at Newegg.com for $81.99 with free shipping. The cooler was also available from other retailers such as Amazon.com for $79.99 and TigerDirect.com for $79.99 with free shipping.

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Corsair Hydro Series H100i Extreme Performance CPU Cooler

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Corsair Hydro Series H80i High Performance Liquid CPU Cooler

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Corsair Hydro Series H60 High Performance Liquid CPU Cooler

Conclusion

Before continuing with our final weigh-in on the coolers, we would like to take this opportunity to give our friends at Corsair a hearty “Thank You” for giving us the pleasure of reviewing three of the newest additions to their Hydro Series™ liquid cooler line. I had mixed feelings coming in to this review because of my affinity for home-brew water cooling systems. Up to this point, I had not seen much in the realm of pre-built water cooling systems that were any better than a high end air cooler. I stand corrected with the Corsair Hydro Series™ coolers. All three of them, the H100i, H80i, and H60, performed well above my expectations with performance approaching that of the custom system using the Swiftech Apogee HD water block. Corsair made a smart move in redesigning the series with larger coolant tubes, better fans, and a redesigned CPU block. The performance of the H80i cooler is a testament to Corsair's design improvements.

However, the coolers were not without their issues. I cannot fault the H60's performance or design since that is the "budget-minded" model of the series - the only thing budget-minded being its price. However, the H100i's performance was lacking when compared to that of the H80i. Because of its more expensive price and flagship position in the line, it should outperform the mid-tiered cooling solution. This was not the case because of its underpowered radiator. If the radiator thickness matched that of the H80i, the H100i cooler's performance would match the "Extreme Performance" moniker in its title.

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Another issue I ran into was a weakness in the cooler mounting stand-ups. As shown in the picture, one of the stand-up screw legs broke off in the hand screw with no possibility of a fix. This only occurred a single time with on of the stand-up mounting poles after a total of 72 cooler mounts and dismounts performed while testing. This issue was most likely caused by a manufacturing defect in the particular stand-up used rather than a widespread problem in the unit's design.

The most concerning issue occured when I attempted to update the BIOS on the H100i cooler. Yes, both the H80i and H100i have internal BIOSes to control the pump, fan, and LED settings and can be flash-updated from the Corsair Link™ application. Just like motherboard BIOS flashing, bad things can happen during the update. In the case of the H100i BIOS update, the BIOS was bricked in the process reducing the cooler's functionality. The cooler still worked - the pump continued to operate and the fan spun. However, the fans were kept running at a static 100% speed instead of temperature throttling, the in-build LED remained disabled, and the BIOS was no longer detected in Windows by the Corsair Link™ software leaving the BIOS irreparable.

Note that this BIOS update issue is a known issue with the system, currently being investigated by the Corsair engineers and is well documented in the Corsair forums. If you encounter this issue, contact Corsair for RMA replacement.

The other issue of concern has is centered on Corsair's use of mixed metals in the system.  Because the system contains different metals in the radiator and CPU block, there is a possibility of galvanic corrosion occurring in the system. This is caused when two dissimilar metals are connected via an electrical contact forming a battery type connection. In a liquid cooling system, this occurs when the liquid used becomes conductive because of impurities introduced into the coolant. The issues surface as corrosion in the copper surface or material build-up on the aluminum surface. Corsair uses a proprietary coolant mixture in the coolers to act as dual-purpose corrosion inhibitor and bio-cide to combat such issues.

Strengths

  • Sleek flat black and black chromed appearance
  • Utility of Corsair Link™ software package
  • Performance under stock and overclocking conditions
  • H80i cooler performance under extreme overclocking conditions
  • Durability of tubing
  • LED color configuration capabilities

Weaknesses

  • H100i cooling system performance
  • BIOS update issues
  • Galvanic corrosion potential with mixed-metal aluminum radiator and copper CPU block

Out of all the coolers tested, I would select the Corsair Hydro Series H80i High Performance Liquid CPU Cooler as the best of them all, both from a value and performance perspective.

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January 14, 2013 | 03:19 PM - Posted by TheBoss (not verified)

Okay let us just say this, we almost exclusively sell Corsair Coolers for two reasons. One, they are one of the rare companies who actually stand behind their products 100%. And two, these units are of VERY high quality. With that being said, we are gearing up to include all of these units in our Corsair Combo Kits because of those two main reasons.

We are very proud of Corsair for improving on the few area's that were of concern to us. We have been testing some of these for a while now, and man are we happy with them. We have yet to get a single unit that has an issue. Concerning the H80i and H100i. If you read the reviews on Newegg, and Amazon though I think people were on Drugs or just plain lying because out of the hundred plus units we have gone through I have to admit, there should be 100% satisfaction. This is why those who are into getting the real low-down should not trust "buyer" review sits like those, and only put their trust in Genuine Reviewers who obviously have integrity like PCPER.

Regards,

TB

January 17, 2013 | 10:43 AM - Posted by WillRock (not verified)

"these units are of VERY high quality."

Which is why a number of Corsair AIO's (especially the H50 and the H80) have either had their pumps fail or leak in months time... very high quality my ass. I haven't had a single issue with either my H100 nor my H80 I've been using on my secondary machine for 1.5 years, they've been pretty nice so far.

Though, the Swiffy H220 IS going to blow and kick the dog shit out of these coolers out of the water... it has a pump similar to the MCP35x, which pushes A TON of more head pressure and GPM than the weak arse 50-75 GPM pumps of the Corsair AIO's. Not to mention that it's going to be priced head-to-head with the H100i. Corsair has some serious worries about it already.

Personally, I'm done with ANY AIO. Building your own is the way to go period. Why? Because once you buy an AIO, a better one comes in and you replace the entire kit to buy a new one again. For the price of TWO AIO's, you can build a great loop. AIO's are non-expandable, somewhat unreliable/cheaply made (especially the little plastic hoses used on the H50/70/80/100 etc.) and poor bang for the buck when compared to high-end air, and also have worse noise profiles than huge air coolers. The only thing good about AIO is that it makes for a clean setup and is easy to setup as there's nothing you need to maintain...

January 14, 2013 | 03:44 PM - Posted by Bill (not verified)

I wish PCPer had included results from Corsair's previous line of water coolers such as my H100. I'm curious to know just how much of an improvement in real life their new line is. I'm still 100% happy with my H100 a year down the road btw. It's been perfect.:)

January 14, 2013 | 03:50 PM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

The performance difference between the old and new versions is probably not drastic (like ~5%) but that's just a best guess-timate.  The biggest differnce is the change in manufacturer from the old version to new version - old was made by Asetek, new one is from Cool IT.

As I had elaborated in the review, there is bigger performance difference between the H80 and H100 because of the radiator thickness.  That is what got the H80i the reward and kept my thoughts on the H100i only so so...

January 14, 2013 | 03:51 PM - Posted by clonzelda

my h80i keeps my i5 2500k(stock) at min 22c max 42c, at 4.5GHz min 26 max 53c, this are just gaming temps.

January 14, 2013 | 06:08 PM - Posted by NIGHTSCOUT (not verified)

Guys, I have to agree that short-term, Corsair coolers are great. But long term, I had a H60, and H80 both leak on me after extended use. Corsair was aware of this, and maybe that is why they switched from Asetek to Cool IT.

January 15, 2013 | 08:11 AM - Posted by Computer Ed (not verified)

Not sure that I would classify this as an Asetek issue. I have used the Antec cooler for quite a while with zero issues. I also have an Intel cooler, again Asetek design that has zero issues as well as the AMD cooler.

January 15, 2013 | 08:11 AM - Posted by Computer Ed (not verified)

Not sure that I would classify this as an Asetek issue. I have used the Antec cooler for quite a while with zero issues. I also have an Intel cooler, again Asetek design that has zero issues as well as the AMD cooler.

January 15, 2013 | 09:32 AM - Posted by Skidmarks (not verified)

They seem to be pretty effective coolers but I'm still slightly nervous of the dissimilar metals. I've used an Asetek based system for nigh on 2 years now with no problems but the worry still lingers.

January 15, 2013 | 03:21 PM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

Unfortunately, the only way to know for sure with a failed system is to break it open or if it starts leaking.  However, if you have not had any noticeable performance degradation in the cooling capability of the unit, its a good bet that the galvanic corrosion is under control (ie, the internal fluid has not broken down completely)...

January 17, 2013 | 02:34 AM - Posted by ShadowLeaper

Galvanic corrosion is easily avoided with a cheap bottle of corrosion blocker chemical. Obviously, Asetek and Cool IT and other companies have been doing this for a while and know exactly what needs to be done to avoid the problem.

I have an EK-KIT H3O Supreme HF 360 water cooling system that's been running for over two years now with no maintenance whatsoever. Like the Corsair closed-loop systems, it has a copper water block and an aluminum radiator (note that 99% of water cooling systems are like this). I filled it with distilled water, added Feser Base Corrosion Blocker and a silver coil for bio-cide, and that's it. No cleaning has been done, and I haven't added any water to the loop. The system runs 16-18 hours per day, every day. There has been no loss in cooling efficiency, and temps have been stable the entire time. The water level in the reservoir has dropped about an inch or so since I first filled it, but that kind of evaporation is to be expected when using the standard thin-wall clear tubing that came with the kit.

Note that the EK system isn't designed to be no-maintenance. They recommend draining, cleaning, and re-filling the system once a year. I've just been using this as a test bed since I first became curious about water cooling a couple of years ago. I've been an overclocker for many years, but I had always used monster air coolers before I got the EK system.

Put the thought of galvanic corrosion out of your mind. Pump failure and leaks are more likely to be the source of problems for closed-loop systems like the Corsair H series. Even those are low-percentage problems, so the vast majority of users won't ever experience them.

January 17, 2013 | 09:00 AM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

You've gotten lucky my friend.  The reason why they recommend once a year clean-out and refill is because the chemicals do and will break-down over time, losing their effectiveness.  I've been water-cooling rigs for many, many years - some are problematic and some are not.  Unforturnately, there are too many factors at play to reliably say that it will or will not happen (corrosion that is).  The old motto still stands - an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure...

January 15, 2013 | 10:21 PM - Posted by Cr1ms0ngh0st

I got the H100i for X-mas, now I just need a new CPU and MoBo for it.

January 16, 2013 | 04:42 AM - Posted by Sublym3 (not verified)

Will we see a comparison with other closed loop systems?

Antec kuhler 620 & 920
NZXT Kraken X40 & X60
Thermaltake Water series

Or get your hands on the Swiftech H220 :)

January 17, 2013 | 10:46 AM - Posted by WillRock (not verified)

These coolers blow the other AIO's away. The fans push more pressure, the pumps are stronger so are the hoses which are all elastic and bigger.

The Thermaltake Water 2.0 Extreme used to be THE best AIO out there, though, it got outdone by the H100i so no point in buying any of the other AIO's, or best yet, any of these AIO's at all.

The Swiffy H220 is more of a something in between AIO and a real loop and is going to beat all these things by a significant margin anyway.

January 17, 2013 | 11:58 PM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

Oddly enough, the middle tier one (the H80i) performed best overall most likely due to the radiator thickness.  The H100i would be killer with a dual fan and radiator as thick at the H80i...

January 18, 2013 | 09:56 AM - Posted by nabokovfan87

that's what the thermaltake water 2.0 extreme is, the asetek 2011c.

January 18, 2013 | 09:44 PM - Posted by Sublym3 (not verified)

Morry would you be able to re-test the H80i and H100i in a closed case?

Linus tested the H100i and H80i in a closed case and as far as I can tell is the only one to show a good difference between the two (the H100i comes out on top)

January 23, 2013 | 02:52 PM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

Unfortunately, the H100i had its BIOS bricked while testing (as mentioned in the conclusion) and the H80i was disassembled (and broke as a result) for the deconstruction follow-up article.

However, I would be surprised if the performance difference between the two was more than 1-2C even in a closed case situation.  The increased thickness of the H80i more than makes up for its lack of length/fans in comparison to the H100i.

In-case performance of the coolers would also be affected by the amount of incoming and ongoing fans that exist in the case besides those of the cooler because of pressure dynamics -> negative case pressure will cause the cooler's fan to push less air out while positive internal pressure would force more air through the cooler.

January 25, 2013 | 01:28 PM - Posted by AnonymousDude (not verified)

Linus' results are bogus in the "best cpu cooler final answer" video.
He clearly says that he will use the nf-a15's when testing the silver arrow and ends up using the nf-f12's (silver arrow is a 140mm cooler).
Most results i've seen show only a 2-3 celsius difference between the h100i and the h80i. Linus showed a 14 celsius difference... 14!!!! Lol anyone?

That video was clearly made to sell h100i's.
I am a Linus fan too... but don't be fooled, he is a straight up salesman.
He will say whatever they tell him to say.

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