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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  • CaptainDoug - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    Very true. Unbiased with lots of data. Great stuff. Reply
  • Novuake - Thursday, December 27, 2012 - link

    Very technical? You mad? They did not go into ANYTHING technical on these coolers. All of this I can do in a 2 hours. Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    Thank you.

    This review was actually my baby for a while, I'm glad it was helpful. :)
    Reply
  • mavere - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    Great review. However, I do wish you included a low anchor (like maybe the stock Intel heatsink) to help visualize the performance numbers. Reply
  • MrSpadge - Saturday, December 29, 2012 - link

    Anyone beats the stock HSF. A much more useful baseline (from my point of view) would have been a high end air cooler. Reply
  • DesktopMan - Sunday, December 30, 2012 - link

    Agreed. Throwing in a couple high end air coolers for comparison would be very useful. Reply
  • geniekid - Monday, December 31, 2012 - link

    Agreed. Reply
  • jospoortvliet - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    It was surely useful, thanks for that. The one thing I miss is a bit about the pumps. For example, the H60 is in some places said to have a better (more quiet) pump than the H50. If one wants to replace the fans anyway (for example because your case already has real quiet fans and you just want to mount the rad on there), this is a very important point of consideration.

    So, I'd love to hear exp between the X40, H55 and H60 - how do the radiators and pumps stack up against each other? You've played with them for a while, so I'm sure you have your thoughts on them...
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    Honestly I continue to be on the fence about Corsair's pumps. The original H80 needed a refresh to get rid of pump rattle, and the H80i and H100i both needed firmware updates. Even then there's a hint of rattle in the H80i. The H55 and H60's pumps don't have any issues.

    The pumps in the X40 and X60 need to "air out" a little on their initial startup, but after that they're dead quiet.
    Reply
  • jospoortvliet - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    Thanks, really appreciate the feedback! I'll buy either the X40 (if it fits) or the H55/H60 and if the pumps and radiators are all similar I'll just go for the cheapest (H55).

    Cheers,
    J
    Reply

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