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.
Figure 2 displays what comes in the box: the preassembled radiator-hoses-block-pump system, fans, manual, and installation hardware.
This watercooler is discussed in detail in the following pages.
[nextpage title=”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.
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.
[nextpage title=”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.
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.
The copper base of the block is shown in Figure 8. It comes with pre-applied thermal compound.
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.
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.
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.
[nextpage title=”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.
- Processor: Core i7-860
- Motherboard: Gigabyte P55A-UD6
- Memory: 2 GB Markvision (DDR3-1333/PC3-10700 with 9-9-9-22 timings), configured at 1,200 MHz
- Hard disk: Seagate Barracuda XT 2 TB
- Video card: Zotac GeForce GTS 250
- Video resolution: 1680×1050
- Video monitor: Samsung Syncmaster 2232BW Plus
- Power supply: Seventeam ST-550P-AM
- Case: 3RSystem L-1100 T.REX Cool
Operating System Configuration
- Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit SP1
We adopted a 2 °C error margin, meaning temperature differences below 2 °C are considered irrelevant.
[nextpage title=”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.
Processor at Full Load
|Cooler||Room Temp.||Noise||Speed||Core Temp.||Noise||Speed||Core Temp.|
|Intel stock (socket LGA1156)||14 °C||44 dBA||1700 rpm||46 °C||54 dBA||2500 rpm||90 °C|
|Cooler Master Hyper TX3 G1||14 °C||47 dBA||2050 rpm||33 °C||56 dBA||2900 rpm||62 °C|
|Zalman CNPS10X Extreme||14 °C||45 dBA||1400 rpm||27 °C||53 dBA||1950 rpm||51 °C|
|Thermaltake Silent 1156||14 °C||44 dBA||1200 rpm||38 °C||49 dBA||1750 rpm||69 °C|
|Noctua NH-D14||14 °C||49 dBA||1250 rpm||27 °C||49 dBA||1250 rpm||53 °C|
|Zalman CNPS10X Performa||14 °C||46 dBA||1500 rpm||28 °C||52 dBA||1950 rpm||54 °C|
|Prolimatech Megahalems||14 °C||40 dBA||750 rpm||27 °C||60 dBA||2550 rpm||50 °C|
|Thermaltake Frio||14 °C||46 dBA||1450 rpm||27 °C||60 dBA||2500 rpm||50 °C|
|Prolimatech Samuel 17||14 °C||40 dBA||750 rpm||40 °C||60 dBA||2550 rpm||63 °C|
|Zalman CNPS8000A||18 °C||43 dBA||1400 rpm||39 °C||54 dBA||2500 rpm||70 °C|
|Spire TherMax Eclipse II||14 °C||55 dBA||2200 rpm||28 °C||55 dBA||2200 rpm||53 °C|
|Scythe Ninja3||17 °C||39 dBA||700 rpm||32 °C||55 dBA||1800 rpm||57 °C|
|Corsair A50||18 °C||52 dBA||1900 rpm||33 °C||52 dBA||1900 rpm||60 °C|
|Thermaltake Jing||18 °C||44 dBA||850 rpm||34 °C||49 dBA||1300 rpm||60 °C|
|GlacialTech Alaska||18 °C||43 dBA||1150 rpm||36 °C||51 dBA||1600 rpm||60 °C|
|Deepcool Gamer Storm||18 °C||43 dBA||1100 rpm||35 °C||48 dBA||1600 rpm||62 °C|
|Corsair A70||26 °C||56 dBA||1900 rpm||40 °C||56 dBA||1900 rpm||65 °C|
|Deepcool Ice Blade Pro||23 °C||45 dBA||1200 rpm||38 °C||52 dBA||1500 rpm||64 °C|
|AC Freezer 7 Pro Rev. 2||23 °C||47 dBA||1750 rpm||44 °C||51 dBA||2100 rpm||77 °C|
|Corsair H70||27 °C||60 dBA||1900 rpm||37 °C||60 dBA||1900 rpm||61 °C|
|Zalman CNPS9900 Max||27 °C||55 dBA||1600 rpm||38 °C||58 dBA||1750 rpm||63 °C|
|Arctic Cooling Freezer 11 LP||25 °C||45 dBA||1700 rpm||51 °C||49 dBA||1950 rpm||91 °C|
|CoolIT Vantage||26 °C||60 dBA||2500 rpm||37 °C||60 dBA||2500 rpm||62 °C|
|Deepcool Ice Matrix 600||25 °C||46 dBA||1100 rpm||41 °C||53 dBA||1300 rpm||69 °C|
|Titan Hati||26 °C||46 dBA||1500 rpm||40 °C||57 dBA||2450 rpm||68 °C|
|Arctic Cooling Freezer 13||27 °C||49 dBA||1950 rpm||41 °C||53 dBA||2300 rpm||70 °C|
|Noctua NH-C14||26 °C||52 dBA||1300 rpm||37 °C||52 dBA||1300 rpm||61 °C|
|Intel XTS100H||26 °C||49 dBA||1200 rpm||42 °C||64 dBA||2600 rpm||68 °C|
|Zalman CNPS5X SZ||23 °C||52 dBA||2250 rpm||38 °C||57 dBA||2950 rpm||69 °C|
|Thermaltake SlimX3||21 °C||50 dBA||2700 rpm||46 °C||50 dBA||2750 rpm||99 °C|
|Cooler Master Hyper 101||21 °C||50 dBA||2600 rpm||38 °C||57 dBA||3300 rpm||71 °C|
|Antec Kühler H2O 620||19 °C||52 dBA||1400 rpm||34 °C||55 dBA||1400 rpm||58 °C|
|Arctic Cooling Freezer 13 Pro||20 °C||46 dBA||1100 rpm||36 °C||49 dBA||1300 rpm||62 °C|
|GlacialTech Siberia||22 °C||49 dBA||1400 rpm||34 °C||49 dBA||1400 rpm||61 °C|
|Evercool Transformer 3||18 °C||46 dBA||1800 rpm||33 °C||51 dBA||2250 rpm||65 °C|
|Zalman CNPS11X Extreme||20 °C||51 dBA||1850 rpm||34 °C||56 dBA||2050 rpm||61 °C|
|Thermaltake Frio OCK||15 °C||44 dBA||1000 rpm||27 °C||64 dBA||2200 rpm||51 °C|
|Prolimatech Genesis||18 °C||49 dBA||1050 rpm||30 °C||49 dBA||1050 rpm||54 °C|
|Arctic Cooling Freezer XTREME Rev. 2||15 °C||41 dBA||1050 rpm||32 °C||44 dBA||1400 rpm||60 °C|
|NZXT HAVIK 140||16 °C||48 dBA||1250 rpm||29 °C||49 dBA||1250 rpm||55 °C|
|Antec Kühler H2O 920||18 °C||41 dBA||650 rpm||29 °C||64 dBA||2500 rpm||49 °C|
|Zalman CNP7X LED||18 °C||45 dBA||1950 rpm||33 °C||48 dBA||2150 rpm||58 °C|
|EVGA Superclock||14 °C||43 dBA||1300 rpm||27 °C||58 dBA||2350 rpm||47 °C|
|Evercool Transformer 4||15 °C||46 dBA||1500 rpm||26 °C||53 dBA||1950 rpm||52 °C|
|Xigmatek Dark Knight||18 °C||47 dBA||1700 rpm||30 °C||53 dBA||2150 rpm||57 °C|
|Xigmatek Aegir||15 °C||44 dBA||1500 rpm||27 °C||50 dBA||1950 rpm||52 °C|
|Cooler Master GeminII S524||16 °C||45 dBA||1300 rpm||29 °C||53 dBA||1800 rpm||58 °C|
|Enermax ETS-T40-TA||16 °C||40 dBA||1050 rpm||28 °C||48 dBA||1800 rpm||55 °C|
|Corsair H80||14 °C||42 dBA||2150 rpm||25 °C||52 dBA||2150 rpm||47 °C|
|Akasa Venom Voodoo||13 °C||40 dBA||1000 rpm||26 °C||48 dBA||1500 rpm||51 °C|
|Xigmatek Thor’s Hammer||15 °C||44 dBA||1500 rpm||30 °C||50 dBA||2000 rpm||55 °C|
|Cooler Master Hyper 612 PWM||19 °C||45 dBA||1400 rpm||30 °C||52 dBA||1900 rpm||54 °C|
|Xigmatek Loki||17 °C||44 dBA||1850 rpm||34 °C||55 dBA||2750 rpm||60 °C|
|Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO||14 °C||44 dBA||1250 rpm||26 °C||50 dBA||1750 rpm||50 °C|
|Xigmatek Gaia||17 °C||44 dBA||1250 rpm||32 °C||46 dBA||1500 rpm||61 °C|
|Rosewill RCX-ZAIO-92||21 °C||48 dBA||2050 rpm||37 °C||54 dBA||2600 rpm||68 °C|
|Thermalright True Spirit 120||16 °C||41 dBA||1000 rpm||30 °C||46 dBA||1400 rpm||55 °C|
|Corsair H100||20 °C||55 dBA||2000 rpm||29 °C||59 dBA||2000 rpm||50 °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.
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
The main specifications for the Corsair H100 liquid cooling solution include:
- Application: Sockets 775, 1155, 1156, 1366, 2011, AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, and FM1 processors
- Radiator dimensions: 4.8 x 10.8 x 1.1 inches (122 x 275 x 27 mm) (W x L x H)
- Block height: 1.6 inches (40 mm)
- Fins: Aluminum
- Base: Copper
- Heat-pipes: None
- Fan: Two, 120 mm
- Nominal fan speed: 2,500 rpm
- Fan air flow: 92 cfm
- Maximum power consumption: 2 x 4.2 W
- Nominal noise level: 39 dBA
- Extra features: Corsair Link connector
- More information: http://www.corsair.com
- Average price in the US*: USD 120.00
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.[nextpage title=”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.