Corsair H100i CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Otto Coelho on February 8, 2013


Introduction

Hardware Secrets Golden Award

This time we are reviewing the Corsair H100i, a sealed liquid cooling system for CPUs, with a 240 mm radiator cooled by two 120 mm fans and featuring the “Corsair Link” USB interface that allows the computer to control and monitor temperature, pump, and fan speed. Check it out!

Recently, we tested the H80i, a smaller version of this cooler, with a 120 mm radiator, which proved to be a good product. Let’s if its big brother also deserves our recommendation.

Figure 1 shows the box of the Corsair H100i.

Corsair H100i
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Figure 1: Package

Figure 2 shows the contents of the box: the radiator-block set, fans, manuals, cables, and installation hardware.

Corsair H100i
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Figure 2: Accessories

This watercooler is discussed in detail in the following pages.

The Radiator

The sealed radiator-block system is shown in Figure 3. At the left is the radiator; at the right is the block. The 240 mm radiator of the H100i uses two 120 mm fans side-by-side, and can also be installed with four fans in a push-pull configuration.

Corsair H100i
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Figure 3: Sealed system

Figures 4 and 5 reveal the radiator of the Corsair H100i.

Corsair H100i
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Figure 4: Radiator

Corsair H100i
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Figure 5: Radiator

Block and Fan

Figure 6 shows the block. The power cable has a connector that must be connected attached to a SATA power cable of the power supply. This may be a problematic if the user has a relatively old power supply with few SATA power cables, or if he or she is using all the available SATA cables. There is also a single cable that must be connected to the “CPU cooler” header of the motherboard, since many motherboards must receive the rpm signal of the CPU cooler fan in order to work properly.

There are connectors in the block for the fans (at the left) and for the USB cable (at the right). Each one of the connectors at the left is intended to be used with a harness that connects two fans. The H100i comes with two harnesses, which allows the user to install up to four fans. The white area at the top of the block is illuminated by LEDs whose colors can be configured by the user.

Corsair H100i
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Figure 6: Block

The base of the block, which is made of copper, is revealed in Figure 7. The thermal compound comes pre-applied.

Corsair H100i
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Figure 7: Base

The cables that come with the H100i are shown in Figure 8. The cable on top connects the H100i to a USB port of the motherboard. Each one of the harnesses below it allows you to connect two fans at the block.

Corsair H100i
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Figure 8: Cables

Figure 9 illustrates the 120 mm fans that come with the Corsair H100i. The fans have three-pin connectors.

Corsair H100i
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Figure 9: Fans

Installation

In Figure 10, you can see the mounting hardware of the H100i. At the left is the frame and screws for use with AMD processors (which use the stock backplate), and at the right the backplate and frame for use with sockets LGA1155, LGA1156, LGA1366, and LGA2011.

Corsair H100i
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Figure 10: Mounting hardware

Figure 11 shows the screws installed on the component side of the motherboard.

Corsair H100i
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Figure 11: Screws installed

The last step is to install the system inside the computer, attaching the block on the CPU and the radiator on the top panel of the case. (Some cases allow the installation of 240 mm radiators on the bottom or front panels.) The fans must be installed as exhaust.

Corsair H100i
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Figure 12: Installation finished

The software that controls the H100i must be downloaded from the Corsair website. The fans can be configured for several manual or automatic modes. The color of the LEDs at the block can also be configured. We liked the option to change the color of the LEDs according to the temperature of the coolant liquid. Figure 13 shows the application screen.

Corsair H100i
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Figure 13: Corsair Link screen

We tested the H100i in two modes: Quiet and Maximum.

How We Tested

We tested the cooler with a Core i5-2500K CPU (quad-core, 3.3 GHz), which is a socket LGA1155 processor with a 95 W TDP (Thermal Design Power). In order to get higher thermal dissipation, we overclocked it to 4.0 GHz (100 MHz base clock and x40 multiplier), with 1.3 V core voltage (Vcore). This CPU was able to reach 4.8 GHz with its default core voltage, but at this setting, the processor enters thermal throttling when using mainstream coolers, reducing the clock and thus the thermal dissipation. This could interfere with the temperature readings, so we chose to maintain a moderate overclocking.

We measured noise and temperature with the CPU under full load. In order to get 100% CPU usage in all cores, 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 other coolers we already tested, and to the stock cooler that comes with the Core i5-2500K CPU. Note that the results cannot be compared to measures taken on a different hardware configuration, so 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 on the next page. Every cooler was tested with the thermal compound that comes with 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 panels of the computer case were closed. The front and rear case fans were spinning at minimum speed in order to simulate the “normal” cooler use on a well-ventilated case. We assume that is the common setup used by a cooling enthusiast or overclocker.

The sound pressure level (SPL) was measured with a digital noise meter, with its sensor placed near the top opening of the case. 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 is not 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 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 full speed.

Cooler Room Temp. Noise Speed Core Temp. Temp. Diff.
Cooler Master Hyper TX3 18 °C 50 dBA 2850 rpm 69 ºC 51 °C
Corsair A70 23 °C 51 dBA 2000 rpm 66 ºC 43 °C
Corsair H100 26 °C 62 dBA 2000 rpm 64 ºC 38 °C
EVGA Superclock 26 °C 57 dBA 2550 rpm 67 ºC 41 °C
NZXT HAVIK 140 20 °C 46 dBA 1250 rpm 65 ºC 45 °C
Thermalright True Spirit 120 26 °C 42 dBA 1500 rpm 82 °C 56 °C
Zalman CNPS12X 26 °C 43 dBA 1200 rpm 71 °C 45 °C
Zalman CNPS9900 Max 20 °C 51 dBA 1700 rpm 62 °C 42 °C
Titan Fenrir Siberia Edition 22 °C 50 dBA 2400 rpm 65 °C 43 °C
SilenX EFZ-120HA5 18 °C 44 dBA 1500 rpm 70 °C 52 °C
Noctua NH-L12 20 °C 44 dBA 1450 rpm 70 °C 50 °C
Zalman CNPS8900 Extreme 21 °C 53 dBA 2550 rpm 71 °C 50 °C
Gamer Storm Assassin 15 °C 48 dBA 1450 rpm 58 °C 43 °C
Deepcool Gammaxx 400 15 °C 44 dBA 1500 rpm 60 °C 45 °C
Cooler Master TPC 812 23 °C 51 dBA 2350 rpm 66 °C 43 °C
Deepcool Gammaxx 300 18 °C 43 dBA 1650 rpm 74 °C 56 °C
Intel stock cooler 18 °C 41 dBA 2000 rpm 97 °C 79 °C
Xigmatek Praeton 19 °C 52 dBA 2900 rpm 83 °C 64 °C
Noctua NH-U12P SE2 18 °C 42 dBA 1300 rpm 69 °C 51 °C
Deepcool Frostwin 24 °C 46 dBA 1650 rpm 78 °C 54 °C
Thermaltake Frio Advanced 13 °C 56 dBA 2000 rpm 62 °C 49 °C
Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk Edition 9 °C 48 dBA 2100 rpm 53 °C 44 °C
Thermaltake Frio Extreme 21 °C 53 dBA 1750 rpm 59 °C 38 °C
Noctua NH-U9B SE2 12 °C 44 dBA 1700 rpm 64 °C 52 °C
Thermaltake WATER2.0 Pro 15 °C 54 dBA 2000 rpm 52 °C 37 °C
Deepcool Fiend Shark 18 °C 45 dBA 1500 rpm 74 °C 56 °C
Arctic Freezer i30 13 °C 42 dBA 1350 rpm 63 °C 50 °C
Spire TME III 8 °C 46 dBA 1700 rpm 70 °C 62 °C
Thermaltake WATER2.0 Performer 11 °C 54 dBA 2000 rpm 49 °C 38 °C
Arctic Alpine 11 PLUS 11 °C 45 dBA 2000 rpm 82 °C 71 °C
be quiet! Dark Rock 2 10 °C 41 dBA 1300 rpm 58 °C 48 °C
Phanteks PH-TC14CS 16 °C 47 dBA 1300 rpm 58 °C 42 °C
Phanteks PH-TC14PE 16 °C 48 dBA 1300 rpm 57 °C 41 °C
SilverStone HE01 (Q) 19 °C 44 dBA 1150 rpm 63 °C 44 °C
SilverStone HE01 (P) 20 °C 57 dBA 2050 rpm 62 °C 42 °C
Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme (S) 17 °C 44 dBA 1250 rpm 52 °C 35 °C
Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme (E) 17 °C 53 dBA 1900 rpm 50 °C 33 °C
Deepcool Neptwin 11 °C 46 dBA 1500 rpm 56 °C 45 °C
SilverStone HE02 19 °C 49 dBA 2000 rpm 64 °C 45 °C
Zalman CNPS9900DF 23 °C 45 dBA 1400 rpm 68 °C 45 °C
Deepcool ICE BLADE PRO V2.0 22 °C 43 dBA 1500 rpm 67 °C 45 °C
Phanteks PH-TC90LS 24 °C 47 dBA 2600 rpm 95 °C 71 °C
Rosewill AIOLOS 20 °C 40 dBA 1600 rpm 94 °C 74 °C
Corsair H60 20 °C 49 dBA 2000 rpm 64 °C 44 °C
Zalman LQ310 27 °C 51 dBA 2050 rpm 65 °C 38 °C
Noctua NH-L9i 24 °C 44 dBA 2500 rpm 95 °C 71 °C
NZXT Respire T40 20 °C 45 dBA 1850 rpm 76 °C 56 °C
NZXT Respire T20 21 °C 45 dBA 1900 rpm 77 °C 56 °C
Zalman LQ315 20 °C 52 dBA 1950 rpm 57 °C 37 °C
Corsair H80i (Quiet) 19 °C 44 dBA 1100 rpm 61 °C 42 °C
Corsair H80i (Maximum) 19 °C 57 dBA 2500 rpm 55 °C 36 °C
NZXT Kraken X40 (Silent) 25 °C 44 dBA 1050 rpm 66 °C 41 °C
NZXT Kraken X40 (Extreme) 25 °C 53 dBA 1650 rpm 62 °C 37 °C
Zalman LQ320 20 °C 52 dBA 2100 rpm 57 °C 37 °C
Corsair H100i (Quiet) 22 °C 45 dBA 1150 rpm 58 °C 36 °C
Corsair H100i (Maximum) 22 °C 61 dBA 2500 rpm 54 °C 32 °C

In the graph below, 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 H100i

In the graph below, you can see how many decibels of noise each cooler makes.

Corsair H100i

Main Specifications

The main specifications for the Corsair H100i CPU cooler include:

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

Conclusions

The Corsair H100i presented an exceptional cooling performance in our tests, outperforming the former best-performance liquid cooling solution in our roundup, the Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme.

With the fans at their maximum speed, the noise level was high. However, configuring them at their minimum speed, the cooling performance was still excellent. This means the user can find an optimum balance between cooling performance and noise level.

For its flexibility, ease of installation, quality of construction, and incredible cooling performance, the Corsair H100i receives our Golden Award.

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Corsair-H100i-CPU-Cooler-Review/1719


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