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The Corsair Hydro Series H80i High Performance Liquid CPU Cooler Deconstructed

Conclusion

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Before continuing with our final weigh-in on the H80i's tear down and inner workings, we would like to take this opportunity to give our friends at Corsair a hearty “Thank You” for giving us the opportunity to take apart the Hydro Series™ H80i High Performance Liquid CPU Cooler. This cooler still remains my favorite in the Hydro Series™ cooler line even though there were some questionable design decisions that came to light through the deconstruction exercise.

For the provided price point, the H80i represents the pinnacle in design and implementation for an all-in-one liquid cooling solution. Corsair, in teaming up with CoolIT Systems, came up with several innovations to make this cooler as successful as it could be. The pump choice and dual chamber design are ingenious with the use of a rubber impingement plate to create a water tight channel and further accelerate coolant travel through the CPU cold plate. The rubber tubing selection is another high mark in this system with its tri-layered design to ensure minimal fluid loss. The rubber-based tubing clamps are another key design decision in the H80i's success and longevity.

The fragile nature of the pump to controller board interface irked me and remains one of the most questionable decisions in this design. I understand that this unit is not supposed to be field repairable, but the use of soldered connections here rather than some type of plug-in type interconnect seems unnecessary.

Additionally, the use of a mixed metal system and a propylene glycol-based solution seem to work against the longevity of this cooler. Propylene glycol will break down over time leading to less effective corrosion inhibition in the system, especially over the rated 5 year period of this cooling solution. As the coolant solution breaks down, galvanic corrosion between the copper cold plate and aluminum radiator could occur and cause system performance degradation. In extreme case, the corrosion could cause system integrity failures leading to fluid leaking all over your precious motherboard and video card. However, bio-growth should not be a issue even with coolant breakdown because the system is sealed from outside influence.

Strengths

  • Impingement plate design and implementation
  • Pump selection
  • Tri-layered tubing design
  • Dual-chambered CPU cooler assembly design
  • Cold plate finned channel design

Weaknesses

  • Use of 90 degree barbs on CPU cooler inlet and outlet
  • Lack of removable connector between pump and controller board
  • Galvanic corrosion potential with mixed-metal aluminum radiator and copper CPU cold plate
January 22, 2013 | 07:13 AM - Posted by David (not verified)

A cool article.

I've owned an original H80 since not long after they came out. The original design had a lot of problems with the integrated fan controller not working properly out of the box. Corsair was very good about RMAing and I'm reasonably happy with it. I don't think I'll ever do another closed loop cooler again, though.

The new cold plate design on the i variant looks like a pain to install compared to the old design.

January 22, 2013 | 12:21 PM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

I didn't find it too bad to install actually.  And the integrated magnets holding the top plate in place helps immensely.  It is simliar in nature to Swiftech's block mounting mechanism...

January 22, 2013 | 02:31 PM - Posted by nabokovfan87

It was a heck of a lot more elegant on amd compared to my h50, no backplate to swap, easier to install than a stock amd cooler, 2 screws instead of a latch. The multitude of cords is bad though.

January 22, 2013 | 11:16 AM - Posted by leobiendurana

Awesome article. I wish to read more like this.

January 24, 2013 | 02:07 PM - Posted by razor512

Is it possible to get one that has been used in a system for like 1-2 years and then take it apart and check how the internals held up.

Also if possible, on an analytical balance, measure the weight to find out how much fluid was lost.

Also if possible as a final bit of destruction test is a hole can be made in the tank for the installation of a small cap where a small syringe (the kind used for filling ink cartridges) can be used to top the tank off after a few years and then sealed with a screw with a o-ring at the end or something)

December 15, 2013 | 08:26 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I hate people like you.

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