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

Manufacturer: Corsair

Cooler Comparison Testing

Cooler Testing Methods

To best gage the quality of the system coolers under review, system CPU temperature and cooling system audio measurements were taken with the CPU idle and under load. To replicate CPU idle conditions, the system was rebooted and allowed to sit idle for 10 minutes. To replicate a stress system load, a combination of LinX and FurMark were run over a 1 hour period with LinX running for 500 loops with Memory set to All and FurMark running at 1280x1024 resolution and 2x MSAA in stress test mode. After each run, the system was shut down and allowed to rest for 10 minutes to cool down. Then the CPU heat plate was removed, cleaned, and remounted to the CPU with fresh thermal paste applied. This procedure was repeated a total of six times for each cooler - three times for the stock speed runs and three times for the overclocked speed runs.

Temperature measurements were taken directly from the CPU thermistors using RealTemp v3.70. For both the idle and load temperatures, the highest recorded value in the application were used for the run. Sound measurements of the system cooler where taken with the sound meter placed 3 feet away from the system with all other devices in the room silenced. The Sound Meter Pro applet on a Samsung Galaxy S3 mobile phone was used to measure decibel level.

CPU Stock Speed Testing

The CPU stock speed testing was conducted with the BIOS defaults set for the CPU and Turbo Mode disabled, equating to a 3.4GHz CPU speed, 1600MHz memory speed, and 100MHz base clock. The Intel SpeedStep functionality remained enabled for the duration of the testing to get realistic CPU idle performance conditions.

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At stock CPU settings, all coolers performed well with the spread between the lowest and highest temps a mere four degrees Celsius. The H80i cooler had the highest fan noise because of its push-pull fan configuration with the H60 coming in with the least noticeable fan sound. In all cases, the fan noise was no more than a low hum.

CPU Overclocked Speed Testing

The CPU overclocked speed testing was conducted with known stable settings from a previous board review for the CPU and Turbo Mode disabled, equating to a 4.4GHz CPU speed, 1960MHz memory speed, and 105MHz base clock. The Intel SpeedStep functionality remained enabled for the duration of the testing to get realistic CPU idle performance conditions.

Board voltage settings were configured as follows:

  • CPU Core Voltage - 1.2750
  • CPU I/O Voltage - 1.150
  • DRAM Voltage - 1.6255
  • System Agent Voltage(SA) - 1.0850
  • CPU PLL Voltage - 1.7500
  • PCH 1.05 - 1.0995

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In these tests, the cooler fan noise remained close to the reading measured in the stock testing with the H80i cooler exhibiting the loudest fan sounds. However, the H80i cooler was the only cooler out of the Corsair coolers tested to keep the system stable for the 1 hour duration of all runs (with the exception of the Swiftech Apogee HD-based cooling system that is). Both the H60 and H100i coolers had two out of their four runs complete successfully with the other two run resulting in benchmark test crash, system reboot, or blue screen. I was impressed that the H60 remained stable at all with its single fan configuration and thin profile radiator. At lower clock speeds, I have no doubt that the H100i and H60 coolers would be more than adequate to keep the system fully stable.  One thing to keep in mind is that the applications used in testing stress the system to excess, meaning that stability with them running ensures a fully stable system.  However, it also inflates the heat load that the cooler must dissipate because of the amount of work the CPU is forced to accomplish.

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The theory behind the H80i's enhanced stability during this overclocking test was due to its radiator. While the H80i has a 120mm x 120mm radiator and the H100i has a bigger 120mm x 240mm radiator, the H80i's radiator is twice as thick as that of either the H100i or the H60. You can see this fact from the profile pictures shown with the H100i and H80i radiators sitting next to one another. The thicker radiator on the H80i gives the coolant more travel area and the heat more surface area for the radiator to do its job with. The thin profile of the H100i's radiator works against the cooler since the coolant is not given enough time and surface area with which to dissipate its heat load. This is further supported by the fact that the cooling potential of the H100i was not improved at all when running with a 4-fan setup in push-pull configuration.

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...

July 2, 2014 | 10:00 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I agree with you. Needed to replace my h100i. Got a new one from company sold it to someone else and just got a high end air cooling. Same temps less problems.

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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