While at Computex this year we saw a couple of unique items come from Corsair: one was a great new case design called the Obsidian 800D (video preview available here) and the other was an exclusive water cooling kit built by Asetek dubbed the Corsair Hydro H50. Just last week we received our first sample of the H50 and have been spending some quality time with it since then, preparing a video review for our faithful readers.
In the video below you will see the various components included in the box with the Corsair H50, how the installation process works on a typical Core i7 system and some quick performance numbers comparing it to your standard stock Intel heatsink and fan.
You can start the video above by click the big shiny PLAY button and you can expand it to full screen with the button in the bottom right hand corner.
Our sample included mounting brackets for both the LGA1366 (Core i7) and LGA755 (Core 2 Duo/Quad) processors though in the near future both LGA1156 (Lynnfield) and AMD AM2/AM3 brackets will be included as well.
(As a side note, if you get an early version of the H50 without AM2/AM3 mounting brackets, Corsair will send them along for free.)
The cooler itself consists of a pump/water block combo, a radiator and a 120mm fan.
The cooler is completely self contained - there is never a need to add fluid, remove air bubbles or perform maintenance of any kind. That definitely makes this type of water cooling a MUCH simpler option for consumers.
The water block already had some TIM (thermal interface material) applied to it and that should be adequate for just about any user installing it. If you want to, you could of course remove it and apply your own.
Installation begins by putting the appropriate plate on the back of the motherboard that will be used for attaching the mounting bracket.
You can see the small black recesses that allow for screws to be installed for mounting bracket purposes here on our ASUS ROG Core i7 motherboard.
The next step is to place the correct mounting bracket over the socket (obviously the CPU should be installed already) and turn the screws a half turn or so just to prevent it from coming off as we move the pump/water block into place.
Speaking of the cooler, here you can see the sets of tabs that allow for it to slide in UNDER the bracket after the bracket is attached to the motherboard.
By simply aligning the tabs correctly you can see how the pump assembly fits through.
To lock the assembly in place, you need to rotate it on top of the CPU until the tabs are directly over one another - you might feel a click if you have tightened the mounting bracket enough beforehand.
The alignment of the cooler can be at any angle - though Corsair would prefer you put it so the logo is showing as much as possible! ;)
The radiator and fan parts go together like so.
To properly install the radiator and fan combination, your chassis will NEED TO HAVE a 120mm fan location on it - otherwise the H50 is not going to work in your system. Also, the air flow needs to be directed IN to the system - the H50 works best with cold air coming in from the back of the case across the radiator and into the case. You might then want to switch some other fans in your case to move air in the other direction to allow for proper airflow.
There is a nice section in the video review above that shows diagrams and describes this issue in more detail.
These last two images show the finalized installation of the radiator and fan assembly in the case. After you plug in the two power connections (the pump assembly into any 3-pin fan header and the 120mm fan into the primary CPU fan header) you are ready to turn on the system and enjoy your water cooling configuration.
Performance and Closing Thoughts
As shown in our quick benchmarks in the video review above, the Corsair H50 dominated over the stock Intel cooler, as you would expect. Under a full load, the H50 ran our Core i7-920 as much as 24C cooler! That is QUITE a difference and would allow for a much better chance of overclocking. Obviously the real competition to the H50 is from the likes of air coolers like the Thermalright 120 and we plan on doing some more testing of the Corsair H50 to pit it against those types of devices.
Overall though, for a somewhat nominal $80 price tag, the Corsair Hydro H50 cooler is one of the lowest cost and most simple ways to integrate basic water cooling into your system. The only draw backs are the requirement of a 120mm fan location on the back of the case (though most chassis today will have that) and the need to remove your motherboard and change direction on existing case fans. I would have no problems recommending the H50 to enthusiasts and gamers looking for more performance than most air coolers without the extreme hassles of most water cooling systems.
If you want to leave feedback on our video review or discuss the Corsair H50 with others, stop into this thread of the PC Perspective forums!