Introducing the 2013 Closed-Loop Cooler Line-Up

While closed-loop liquid coolers seem to perform at best comparably to the highest end air coolers, there's a certain appeal in their flexibility, stress on the motherboard, and sometimes even in cost. Prolimatech's industry standard Megahalems starts at $70, and that's before you even put halfway decent fans on it. Meanwhile, closed-loop coolers are getting to the point where you can find them for under $60. One of those is Corsair's H55, just one of the coolers we have in for review today.

Of course, in addition to the H55, Corsair has refreshed their H60, H80, and H100s with the H60 2013 Edition, the H80i, and the H100i. The "i" designates Corsair's Corsair Link technology, software that allows you to control fan speeds from within Windows as well as potentially integrate and monitor other Corsair peripherals. Not to be outdone, NZXT hit us with two coolers based on 140mm fans instead of 120mm: the Kraken X40 and X60. With a 280mm radiator, the Kraken X60 could very well be the best closed-loop cooler available.

This is all just surface, though. The reality is that these new coolers are almost uniformly indicative of an evolution of this product type as a whole. Corsair's H80i and H100i integrate with their existing Corsair Link software (also supported by their "i" series power supplies), while NZXT's Kraken coolers also include USB headers and their own fan speed control software. This kind of integration alone is a smart differentiation point from air coolers.

They need it, too. What's important to keep in mind is that while there's some special sauce for the waterblocks, software, and fans from the vendors of these units, we're still ultimately looking at systems that are built by either CoolIT Systems or Asetek. You can tell who's responsible for which unit, too, just by the way the waterblock mounts to the motherboard. We may have six coolers in for review (as well as last year's incumbent, the Corsair H80), but there are only two different mounting systems. Everything else is just mounting the radiator and connecting the fans/USB headers.

  Corsair H80 (2012) Corsair H55 Corsair H60 (2013) Corsair H80i
Type 120mm 120mm 120mm 120mm
Dimensions (in mm) 120x152x38 120x152x27 120x152x27 120x152x38
Fans (Supported) 2 (2) 1 (2) 1 (2) 2 (2)
OEM CoolIT Asetek CoolIT CoolIT
MSRP (NewEgg) - ($89) $69 ($59) $79 ($76) $109 ($109)

  Corsair H100i NZXT Kraken X40 NZXT Kraken X60
Type 240mm 140mm 280mm
Dimensions (in mm) 120x275x27 138.4x172.5x27 138.4x312.5x27
Fans (Supported) 2 (4) 1 (2) 2 (4)
OEM CoolIT Asetek Asetek
MSRP (NewEgg) $119 ($104) $99 $139

NZXT's coolers aren't available to mass market just yet, and we just got these review units in not too long ago. 140mm fan support in enclosures is fairly uncommon and dual 140mm even less so, but many of you seem convinced and I do agree that 140mm is really the direction things should be and are going.

At first it seems like there's a pretty brutal premium on NZXT's coolers, but it's not as bad when you look at what they're competing against. The X40 is really facing off with the H80i, which is selling for a pretty hefty $109, while the X60 is doing battle with the H100i. Since the X60 is basically the largest closed-loop cooler you can buy (or at least will be), it makes sense that it would also be the most expensive. Let's hope for NZXT's sake it's also the best performing.

Ease of Installation
POST A COMMENT

68 Comments

View All Comments

  • buhusky - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    i'm interested to see the comparison of these vs. the stock air cooler included with the processor. sure, i could go find it somewhere else, but it'd help make this a more complete review if it was all just here, imo Reply
  • Beenthere - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    Unless you have some space limitation preventing you from using a quality HSF, a Closed Loop Cooler is a poor choice and has the very real liability of a water leak damaging your hardware, data loss, RMAs, etc.

    When you can buy a highend HSF for ~$60. that cools better, is quieter and never leaks water to damage your PC hardware, you'd be ignorant to buy a CLC which is inferior in every way as independent testing has confirmed.

    The Xigmatek Aegir SD128264 double heat-pipe HSF is a perfect example of a very quiet, cost effective, HSF fully capable of cooling an AMD FX CPU OC'd to 4.8 GHz. without issue. There are other HSFs with dual fans that cost more but few perform better than the Aegir. Note that the Xigmatek Aegie and other HSFs cool better than the Corsair H100 and AMD CLC cooler both of which are inferior and can leak water.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...

    http://www.frostytech.com/articleview.cfm?articlei...
    Reply
  • FriendlyUser - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    Thanks for the review. It would be great to include the stock cooler and a good air cooler (Noctua, Thermalright or even the cheap CoolerMaster 212 EVO).

    I'm tempted by closed-loop coolers, but I'm not sure the technology is yet mature. I think it's the future...
    Reply
  • etamin - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    I'd like to see a CM Hyper 212 thrown into the charts for some kind of air cooler reference. That would be a big help to determining value. Reply
  • cmdrdredd - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    As was said it would be nice to have a really high end air cooler from Noctua like the NH-D14 in the charts for reference. I mean, the noctua can be found for around $80 and the mounting is solid (no plastic to strip although it is heavier so...). Is a $140 closed water system worth an extra $60? Reply
  • rrohbeck - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    The NH-D14 is on sale for $69.99 AR today at Newegg. Reply
  • Spacecomber - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - link

    Are these kits strictly designed to be CPU coolers, or are they expandable to include GPU and maybe even MB chipset cooling, too?

    Sorry if I missed the answer to this in quickly reading through the article. It seems like if you are going to switch over to a liquid cooling system, you'd also want it to include the GPU (at least this would be true for enthusiasts who also enjoy computer gaming).

    If these are CPU only kits, I suppose they might find a place in a media player computer.
    Reply
  • A5 - Thursday, December 27, 2012 - link

    These kits are CPU only. You could probably hack a GPU block into one of the dual-length systems, but at that point you should just go full custom and get better performance. Reply
  • Foeketijn - Friday, December 28, 2012 - link

    There are simple mounting frames to screw the 2012 Antec and corsair blocks on any recent GPU. But from what I see in reality, most people use tie wraps ; ). IMHO these closed loop cooler are more suitable for GPU's since the radiator conducting properties (relatively thin and aluminum) are often the limiting factor (considering the results according to the tweakers who changed the radiator of these things). The efficiency goes up when you
    1. Get more air in contact with the radiator (bigger radiator, better fan, a bit of spacing between the fan and the radiator to avoid airflowing "dead spots")
    2. Get more heat from the water to the actual air (copper radiator, more fins etc.)
    3. Get the temp delta bigger. (colder air or warmer water)

    Cooling the GPU does number 3. Since modern GPU's can draw a lot more power than a CPU especially @stock and they function without a problem at much higher temps.
    Reply
  • Novuake - Thursday, December 27, 2012 - link

    No Static Pressure readings? Nothing about the pumps on these thinks? Thermal paste that come with them? Really... What is going on with Anandtech? MORE DATA! More effort into this PLEASE... Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now