Performance Results

Going into testing, it's pretty easy to expect how the coolers should ultimately stack up: Corsair's H55 should be last, followed by the H60, the H80, the H80i, the NZXT Kraken X40, the H100i, and then the NZXT Kraken X60 at the top of the list. The X40 and H80i should compete pretty closely; the X40 has a larger surface, but the H80i has a thicker radiator and a second fan. Corsair's also been happy to advertise that these "2013" radiator fans are based on their successful SP120 radiator fans, which makes sense. We found the Silent SP120 to be pretty solid while the Performance model was at the top of its game if noise was a non-issue.

Keep in mind, though, NZXT's stock radiator fan did surprisingly well in our testing too.

So how did these systems turn out?

Cooling Performance

Surprisingly, two early favorites turn out to be major underperformers: the Corsair H100i for some odd reason is consistently worse than the H80i (and I did retest to confirm), while the Kraken X40 needs to run at full bore to produce decent results. Meanwhile, the H55 with its constant fan speed actually manages to best the new H60 (though PWM control may certainly contribute to that).

So where are the big winners? While the H80i is pricy, it does perform notably better than its predecessor, producing better thermals at a lower setting. And the most expensive system of all at least earns its price tag; the NZXT Kraken X60 turns out to be every bit the cooling monster the rep promised it would be, meeting or beating every other cooler at its lowest setting.

Acoustic Performance

As far as noise is concerned, the X60 is once again at the top of the pack. Note that our sound meter doesn't go below 30dB and the X60 is noticeably louder than the X40, but not by much and not enough to really change the way things turn out.

So how do noise profiles change the standings? The X60 excels in both disciplines and is essentially undefeated, but the Corsair H55 makes a good case for itself. Thermal performance isn't fantastic, but it's quieter than the H60 under load while running cooler. Meanwhile the H80i remains basically the best offering in Corsair's lineup, running slightly cooler and quieter than the single-fan Kraken X40.

Testing Methodology Conclusion, Part 1: Corsair
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  • AdamK47 - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    The Water 2.0 Extreme is also made by Asetek. How does this stack up agaist the NZXT Kraken X60? Reply
  • DrPi - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    Yes, I'd like to see that too. Reply
  • Havor - Friday, December 28, 2012 - link

    As it's radiator is about double the thickness of the X60, the X60 has about 35% more surface area, and better preforming 140mm fans.

    Overall i think it will be a toss up, ware i personally place my bet on the Water 2.0 Extreme.
    Reply
  • tsponholz - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    I have the Water 2.0 Performance and I'm thoroughly pleased with it. I'd love to see this series put up against this group. Reply
  • jonjonjonj - Sunday, December 30, 2012 - link

    I agree. I just got a water2.0 today but haven't installed it yet. It was on sale for $45. How can you beat that. Reply
  • EzioAs - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    This thing performs extremely good. Silence and cool. Maybe it's one of the benefits of 2x140mm. Corsair should've move to 140mm for the H100i/H80i when they updated it. On the other hand, choices for aftermarket 140mm fans are much lower than 120mm even though that's where the market should be heading to as you said.

    You said in the opening that not a lot of cases have a 140mm fan mount and dual 140mm are even less but for people who are buying these should have decent case already and most newer cases in the mid to high end segment can at least support a single 140mm.

    I didn't see you mention about the fins on any of the rads. Any chance you could clarify that?
    Reply
  • phamhlam - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    Most new case come with 140mm standard for top and rear exhaust. This allows for both installation of 140mm and 120mm fans/radiator. I would be surprise to see a quality case manufacture not include one. Even mini-ITX and mini-ATX case use 140mm fan mounts. Reply
  • EzioAs - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    Yes I did mention that chassis these days have a 140mm fan mounts but what I was trying to point out is that most people who wants to spend $80+ for a cpu cooler should at least have a decent quality case already and quality case should have 140mm fan mounts.

    What I really want to know is about the fins on the rads. It's almost impossible for the performance gap for the X60 and the H100i to be that wide seeing as it's just a slight increase in surface area and both coolers seem to have quality fans already. I'm guessing the X60 has a higher fins per inch rad than the H100i.
    Reply
  • CaptainDoug - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    This is exactly the review I've been looking for. This site puts out the best reviews. Reply
  • phamhlam - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    They also have the best benchmark list and very technical articles. Reply

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