Corsair Hydro Series: H60, H80 and H100 Reviewedby Jared Bell on November 7, 2011 12:00 AM EST
|Cooling Test System|
|Case||Corsair Graphite Series 600T|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-2600K (4x3.4GHz, 3.8GHz Turbo, 32nm)|
|Motherboard||ASUS P8P67 Pro (BIOS version 1502)|
|Memory||G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3-1866 Kit|
|Graphics Card||MSI GTX 580 Lightning|
|Solid State Drive||OCZ Agility 2 120GB|
|Hard Drive||Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1.5TB|
|Power Supply||Corsair HX850 Power Supply|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit|
Stock Intel HSF
Thermalright Silver Arrow
|Thermal Compound||Arctic Cooling MX-2|
For temperature testing we load our Core i7-2600K's four cores and eight threads using Prime95 version 26.6. For the sake of consistency, we use the Small FFT stress test. Most likely in daily use, your CPU will rarely reach the temperatures Prime95 and other applications used for stress testing will produce. This should present a worst-case scenario for CPU temperatures and allow us to really see how these CPU coolers handle heavy loads. Due to fluctuations in the ambient temperature during testing, albeit minor, we use delta temperatures to compare results.
Real Temp version 3.67 is used to monitor and log temperatures with samples taken once every second. We run each test for 15 minutes, take the average temperature of all four cores, and use a three minute rolling average to calculate the results. The final temperature is the average of the last three minutes from the test. We then take the final calculated temperature and subtract the room’s average ambient temperature to get our delta temperature. This method has the least temperature fluctuations and is the most consistent.
In addition to the Corsair Hydro Series coolers, we’re testing with Intel’s stock HSF as a baseline, and representing high-end air-cooling is the frankly massive Thermalright Silver Arrow. The Silver Arrow comes with two 140mm fans, with one fan sandwiched between the two large radiator towers. It also weighs in at a hefty 825g without the fans, or around 1.2kg with the fans and clips. Thankfully, it comes with a good mounting solution so as to avoid putting too much strain on your motherboard, but there’s no denying the fact that this is a heavy cooler.
Each cooler is mounted and retested three times to verify good contact was made. We use Arctic Cooling MX-2 instead of the thermal interface material (TIM) that comes preinstalled on the test CPU coolers. There is no curing time allowed between mounts or changing CPU coolers—the MX-2 TIM we use claims not to need curing anyway. These methods help ensure consistency across all tested coolers as well as provide comparable results.
We test each cooler at the Core i7-2600K's stock 3.5GHz frequency, which is the speed it runs at if all four cores are maxed out at 100% and Turbo Boost is enabled. For testing purposes, we disable Turbo Boost and manually set the clock speed to 3.5GHz, with Hyper-Threading enabled; the stock speed runs at 1.16V. We also perform the same set of tests with the CPU overclocked to 4.8GHz using 1.4V, again with Turbo off and Hyper-Threading on.
For noise measurements, we use a Check Mate CM-140 SPL meter. All noise tests are conducted between 1 and 3 AM to ensure the lowest possible ambient noise. In our test environment, we measured ~29 dBA with the test system turned off. Before and after each noise test, the same ambient ~29 dBA measurement was verified. We measured 1 foot away from the test chassis with all doors installed. Our goal is that this method for measuring noise will best mimic a typical usage scenario, though obviously the choice of case, power supply, and graphics card also plays a role.