Corsair H100 CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Coelho on November 9, 2011


Introduction

Hardware Secrets Golden Award

The H100 is a top-notch sealed liquid cooling system from Corsair. Let’s test it and see if its performance matches its size.

Along with its “little brother,” the H80 (which we already tested), this product is manufactured in partnership with CoolIT Systems.

You can see the H100’s huge box in Figure 1.

Corsair H100
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Figure 1: Package

Figure 2 displays what comes in the box: the preassembled radiator-hoses-block-pump system, fans, manual, and installation hardware.

Corsair H100
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Figure 2: Accessories

This watercooler is discussed in detail in the following pages.

The Corsair H100

As with any sealed liquid cooling system, the block, radiator, hoses, and pump come preassembled, with the coolant liquid already inside. This means the system doesn’t need (or accept) any maintenance.

Figures 3 and 4 reveal the radiator, which is responsible for dissipating the heat from the liquid to the air passing through it. This 240 mm radiator supports two 120 mm fans and is intended to be installed at the top panel of the computer case. This means it will only fit cases with room for a 240 mm radiator on the top panel.

Corsair H100
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Figure 3: Radiator

Corsair H100
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Figure 4: Radiator

Figure 5 presents the 120 mm fans. They are simple and black, and they don’t support PWM control. Actually, the system is designed for you to connect the fans to the block, which has the circuitry to control them.

Corsair H100
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Figure 5: Fans

The Corsair H100 (Cont´d)

Figure 6 shows the CPU block, which transfers the heat from the processor to the liquid. As in other sealed systems, the pump that makes the liquid flow is integrated in the block.

The connector you see in the side of the block allows you to connect the H100 to the Corsair Link, a modular system that controls case cooling and lighting and can be controlled via a USB port. This system must be purchased separately.

There is a button on the top of the block, used to switch between three operation modes, where the fans are set at minimum, medium or high speed. The lights on the block indicate which speed it is by displaying one (minimum), two (medium), or three (high) lights.

Corsair H100
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Figure 6: Block

In Figure 7, you see the connectors for the fans. Although the system comes with only two fans, the fan controller embedded into the block can control up to four fans. You can also see the cables of the block: one four-pin standard peripheral power connector (“Molex”) that powers up the H100, and a single wire that must be connected to the motherboard, allowing it to sense the pump speed.

Corsair H100
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Figure 7: Block

The copper base of the block is shown in Figure 8. It comes with pre-applied thermal compound.

Corsair H100
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Figure 8: Base

Installation

Figure 9 shows the backplate to be used with Intel CPUs at the left. In AMD systems, the block is installed using the existing motherboard frame and the clips shown at the right.

Corsair H100
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Figure 9: Intel backplate and AMD clips

To install the H100 on our CPU, first we installed the backplate on the solder side of the motherboard, holding it in place with the thumbscrews shown in Figure 10.

Corsair H100
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Figure 10: Holders installed

As we mentioned before, the radiator of the H100 is intended to be installed at the top panel of the case. But the top panel of the case that we use to test coolers is solid, not supporting the installation of this product. There is no point in testing this cooler in another case, which could void any comparisons between the performance of the H100 and our previous results. So, we simply hold the radiator in the recommended (horizontal) position, at the side of the case during the tests, as seen in Figure 11.

Corsair H100
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Figure 11: CPU cooler installed

How We Tested

We tested the cooler with a Core i7-860 CPU (quad-core, 2.8 GHz), which is a socket LGA1156 processor with a 95 W TDP (Thermal Design Power). In order to get higher thermal dissipation, we overclocked it to 3.3 GHz (150 MHz base clock and 22x multiplier), keeping the standard core voltage (Vcore), which was the maximum stable overclock we could make with the stock cooler. Keep in mind that we could have raised the CPU clock more, but to include the stock cooler in our comparison, we needed to use this moderate overclock.

We measured noise and temperature with the CPU idle and under full load. In order to get 100% CPU usage in all threads, we ran Prime 95 25.11 with the "In-place Large FFTs" option. (In this version, the software uses all available threads.)

We compared the tested cooler to the Intel stock cooler with a copper base (included with the CPU), as well as with other coolers. Note that in the past, we tested coolers with a socket LGA775 CPU, and we retested some "old" coolers with this new methodology. This means you can find different values in older reviews than the values you will read in the next page. Every cooler was tested with the thermal compound that accompanies it.

Room temperature measurements were taken with a digital thermometer. The core temperature was read with the SpeedFan program (available from the CPU thermal sensors), using an arithmetic average of the core temperature readings. During the tests, the left panel of the case was open.

The sound pressure level (SPL) was measured with a digital noise meter, with its sensor placed 4" (10 cm) from the fan. We turned off the case and video board cooler fans so they wouldn't interfere with the results. This measurement is only for comparison purposes, because a precise SPL measurement needs to be made inside an acoustically insulated room with no other noise sources, which isn't the case here.

Hardware Configuration

Operating System Configuration

Software Used

Error Margin

We adopted a 2 °C error margin, meaning temperature differences below 2 °C are considered irrelevant.

Our Tests

The table below presents the results of our measurements. We repeated the same test on all coolers listed below. Each measurement was taken with the CPU at idle and at full load. In the models with a fan supporting PWM, the motherboard controlled the fan speed according to core load and temperature. On coolers with an integrated fan controller, the fan was set at the minimum speed on the idle test and at full speed on the full load test.

 

Idle Processor

Processor at Full Load

CoolerRoom Temp.NoiseSpeedCore Temp.

Noise

SpeedCore Temp.
Intel stock (socket LGA1156)14 °C44 dBA1700 rpm46 °C54 dBA2500 rpm90 °C
Cooler Master Hyper TX3 G114 °C47 dBA2050 rpm33 °C56 dBA2900 rpm62 °C
Zalman CNPS10X Extreme14 °C45 dBA1400 rpm27 °C53 dBA1950 rpm51 °C
Thermaltake Silent 115614 °C44 dBA1200 rpm38 °C49 dBA1750 rpm69 °C
Noctua NH-D1414 °C49 dBA1250 rpm27 °C49 dBA 1250 rpm53 °C
Zalman CNPS10X Performa14 °C46 dBA1500 rpm28 °C52 dBA1950 rpm54 °C
Prolimatech Megahalems14 °C40 dBA750 rpm27 °C60 dBA2550 rpm50 °C
Thermaltake Frio14 °C46 dBA1450 rpm27 °C60 dBA2500 rpm50 °C
Prolimatech Samuel 1714 °C40 dBA750 rpm40 °C60 dBA2550 rpm63 °C
Zalman CNPS8000A18 °C43 dBA1400 rpm39 °C54 dBA2500 rpm70 °C
Spire TherMax Eclipse II14 °C55 dBA2200 rpm28 °C55 dBA2200 rpm53 °C
Scythe Ninja317 °C39 dBA700 rpm32 °C55 dBA1800 rpm57 °C
Corsair A5018 °C52 dBA1900 rpm33 °C52 dBA1900 rpm60 °C
Thermaltake Jing18 °C44 dBA850 rpm34 °C49 dBA1300 rpm60 °C
GlacialTech Alaska18 °C43 dBA1150 rpm36 °C51 dBA1600 rpm60 °C
Deepcool Gamer Storm18 °C43 dBA1100 rpm35 °C48 dBA1600 rpm62 °C
Corsair A7026 °C56 dBA1900 rpm40 °C56 dBA1900 rpm65 °C
Deepcool Ice Blade Pro23 °C45 dBA1200 rpm38 °C52 dBA1500 rpm64 °C
AC Freezer 7 Pro Rev. 223 °C47 dBA1750 rpm44 °C51 dBA2100 rpm77 °C
Corsair H7027 °C60 dBA1900 rpm37 °C60 dBA1900 rpm61 °C
Zalman CNPS9900 Max27 °C55 dBA1600 rpm38 °C58 dBA1750 rpm63 °C
Arctic Cooling Freezer 11 LP25 °C45 dBA1700 rpm51 °C49 dBA1950 rpm91 °C
CoolIT Vantage26 °C60 dBA2500 rpm37 °C60 dBA2500 rpm62 °C
Deepcool Ice Matrix 60025 °C46 dBA1100 rpm41 °C53 dBA1300 rpm69 °C
Titan Hati26 °C46 dBA1500 rpm40 °C57 dBA2450 rpm68 °C
Arctic Cooling Freezer 1327 °C49 dBA1950 rpm41 °C53 dBA2300 rpm70 °C
Noctua NH-C1426 °C52 dBA1300 rpm37 °C52 dBA1300 rpm61 °C
Intel XTS100H26 °C49 dBA1200 rpm42 °C64 dBA2600 rpm68 °C
Zalman CNPS5X SZ23 °C52 dBA2250 rpm38 °C57 dBA2950 rpm69 °C
Thermaltake SlimX321 °C50 dBA2700 rpm46 °C50 dBA2750 rpm99 °C
Cooler Master Hyper 10121 °C50 dBA2600 rpm38 °C57 dBA3300 rpm71 °C
Antec Kühler H2O 62019 °C52 dBA1400 rpm34 °C55 dBA1400 rpm58 °C
Arctic Cooling Freezer 13 Pro20 °C46 dBA1100 rpm36 °C49 dBA1300 rpm62 °C
GlacialTech Siberia22 °C49 dBA1400 rpm34 °C49 dBA1400 rpm61 °C
Evercool Transformer 318 °C46 dBA1800 rpm33 °C51 dBA2250 rpm65 °C
Zalman CNPS11X Extreme20 °C51 dBA1850 rpm34 °C56 dBA2050 rpm61 °C
Thermaltake Frio OCK15 °C44 dBA1000 rpm27 °C64 dBA2200 rpm51 °C
Prolimatech Genesis18 °C49 dBA1050 rpm30 °C49 dBA1050 rpm54 °C
Arctic Cooling Freezer XTREME Rev. 215 °C41 dBA1050 rpm32 °C44 dBA1400 rpm60 °C
NZXT HAVIK 14016 °C48 dBA1250 rpm29 °C49 dBA1250 rpm55 °C
Antec Kühler H2O 92018 °C41 dBA650 rpm29 °C64 dBA2500 rpm49 °C
Zalman CNP7X LED18 °C45 dBA1950 rpm33 °C48 dBA2150 rpm58 °C
EVGA Superclock14 °C43 dBA1300 rpm27 °C58 dBA2350 rpm47 °C
Evercool Transformer 415 °C46 dBA1500 rpm26 °C53 dBA1950 rpm52 °C
Xigmatek Dark Knight18 °C47 dBA1700 rpm30 °C53 dBA2150 rpm57 °C
Xigmatek Aegir15 °C44 dBA1500 rpm27 °C50 dBA1950 rpm52 °C
Cooler Master GeminII S52416 °C45 dBA1300 rpm29 °C53 dBA1800 rpm58 °C
Enermax ETS-T40-TA16 °C40 dBA1050 rpm28 °C48 dBA1800 rpm55 °C
Corsair H8014 °C42 dBA2150 rpm25 °C52 dBA2150 rpm47 °C
Akasa Venom Voodoo13 °C40 dBA1000 rpm26 °C48 dBA1500 rpm51 °C
Xigmatek Thor's Hammer15 °C44 dBA1500 rpm30 °C50 dBA2000 rpm55 °C
Cooler Master Hyper 612 PWM19 °C45 dBA1400 rpm30 °C52 dBA1900 rpm54 °C
Xigmatek Loki17 °C44 dBA1850 rpm34 °C55 dBA2750 rpm60 °C
Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO14 °C44 dBA1250 rpm26 °C50 dBA1750 rpm50 °C
Xigmatek Gaia17 °C44 dBA1250 rpm32 °C46 dBA1500 rpm61 °C
Rosewill RCX-ZAIO-9221 °C48 dBA2050 rpm37 °C54 dBA2600 rpm68 °C
Thermalright True Spirit 12016 °C41 dBA1000 rpm30 °C46 dBA1400 rpm55 °C
Corsair H10020 °C55 dBA2000 rpm29 °C59 dBA2000 rpm50 °C

In the graph below, at full load you can see how many degrees Celsius hotter the CPU core is than the air outside the case. The lower this difference, the better is the performance of the cooler.

Corsair H100

Main Specifications

The main specifications for the Corsair H100 liquid cooling solution include:

* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.

Conclusions

The Corsair H100 was the best CPU cooler we’ve seen to date. With its 240 mm radiator, which is twice the size of the radiator seen in most sealed liquid cooling systems, it outperformed all the air coolers and liquid cooling solutions we tested so far.

However, it is not perfect. Its main drawback is that it will fit only mid-tower cases that support a 240 mm radiator on the top panel. However, the H100 may not fit full-tower cases, because the hoses are relatively short and the radiator must be near the CPU block. Another problem is that it is not quiet at all. Even in the silent mode, the fans were louder than they should be.

Nonetheless, we are talking about a CPU liquid cooling solution with the highest cooling performance we have seen so far, which means it is designed for power users who want to keep their CPUs as cold as possible with a single, easy-to-install, cooling solution.

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Corsair-H100-CPU-Cooler-Review/1427


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