Corsair H100i CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Coelho on February 8, 2013
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.
Figure 2 shows the contents of the box: the radiator-block set, fans, manuals, cables, and installation hardware.
This watercooler is discussed in detail in the following pages.
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.
Figures 4 and 5 reveal the radiator of the Corsair H100i.
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.
The base of the block, which is made of copper, is revealed in Figure 7. The thermal compound comes pre-applied.
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.
Figure 9 illustrates the 120 mm fans that come with the Corsair H100i. The fans have three-pin connectors.
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.
Figure 11 shows the screws installed on the component side of the motherboard.
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.
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.
We tested the H100i in two modes: Quiet and Maximum.
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.
Operating System Configuration
We adopted a 2°C error margin, meaning temperature differences below 2°C are considered irrelevant.
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.
In the graph below, you can see how many decibels of noise each cooler makes.
The main specifications for the Corsair H100i CPU cooler include:
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.
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.