Conclusion, Part 1: Corsair

With the results at our disposal, we can now evaluate each cooler on its own merits. The charts can tell us how good the coolers are at their jobs and how quiet they are, but it's also about price and value included in the package. This year's H80 boasts a major improvement over last year's in terms of both the fans used, but also the fan control, which is now a much more convenient software solution.

Corsair H55

Corsair's budget offering actually turns out to be one of its strongest. The H55 is as no-frills as it gets, but boasts a solidly performing fixed-speed fan and a respectably low price tag. You can have it for just $59, which is extremely competitive for a closed-loop liquid cooler. While no one would really argue that $59 is "cheaping out" on a processor cooler, this is nonetheless a good choice if you're on a tighter budget.

Corsair H60 (2013 Edition)

Unfortunately, part of the reason the H55 looks so good is because the H60 performs so poorly. The H60 runs $10 more than the H55 for an arguably better PWM-controlled fan and a somewhat lesser quality waterblock. In this corner of the market, there's really no legitimate reason to spend up on the H60 when the H55 performs as well or better for less.

Corsair H80i

The H80i is the other big winner in Corsair's lineup. While it's not an absolute killer in performance or in price, it does beat NZXT's Kraken X40 while being more compatible with different cases due to use of a thicker 120mm radiator and dual fans as opposed to the thinner 140mm radiator and single fan. You also benefit from the Corsair Link interface and software, which allows you to connect either a fan controller or an "i" series Corsair power supply to the waterblock and control them through the software. Corsair Link is much, much more robust than NZXT's solution, and Corsair has been steadily updating it since it appeared at the beginning of the year.

Corsair H100i

Inexplicably, Corsair's flagship dual-length solution is only able to at most achieve parity with the H80i. You can theoretically produce superior cooling performance by adding yet two more fans to the H100i, but you become increasingly at the mercy of your case's clearance, already an issue just by virtue of going with a dual-length radiator like this one. At the time of this writing, NewEgg is selling the H100i for cheaper than the H80i, so they may know something there as well. Either way, the H100i is a very hard sell when the H80i provides both better value and better compatibility.

Performance Results Conclusion, Part 2: NZXT and Recommendations
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  • schulmaster - Friday, December 28, 2012 - link

    The most aberrant result of this review, at least in my opinion, is how the H80 and H100 compare. Presumably similar 120mm Fans, but differing by a significant factor in cooling area, the H100 should not be performing at H80 levels under load, let alone below.
    Here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8HsjgtMzEg

    Linus runs a test series, with the variable of 120mm Fan quality removed, using top-of-the -line cooling on all contenders; and the h100 unsurprisingly performs 15+ degrees better than the H80 under OC load. I don't know wherein the testing parameters, on either side, emerged the resulting discrepancy of this magnitude. However, I would diversify the bonds of my research before discounting the H100 as a pragmatic enthusiast cooling solution. Perhaps Linus' using of a real- world-esque environment, ie only average cable management in a closed chassis contributed?
    Reply
  • Foeketijn - Friday, December 28, 2012 - link

    For all the people who may be too enthusiastic about high end air coolers.
    These things are harder to compare than you might think, in all the reviews I've seen it's all about the temp delta /Noise ratio. Funny thing is, a watercooler throws it's heat right out your case while a lot of warmth of your air cooler is circulated back to cool your heat-generator with preheated air. That's probably why almost every watercooler review has some comment about "why you should go for an similarly priced air cooler" and that being followed up by an actual owner of an watercooler (probably "closed loop" since the few DIY watercooler owners really understand the amount variables in hand) countering with his or her trial and having much better real life results.

    A disadvantage is that the radiator blocks the airflow. So without the different fan in the equation there is less air going through your case. How much this shall impact the performance is strongly dependent on how much heat is being blocked (or how much heat is being produced not including the CPU and how much airflow is left)

    Bottom line, comparing an watercooler (an air cooler with water as an heat transporting medium ; ) ) with an air cooler is almost impossible without testing several case builds and probably a really vague conclusion.

    That being said, this is the right website for such an endeavor! An while I'm at it, I support the comments about missing some feedback about rotor noise and the 30 db floorlevel of the sound-o-meter. Great review tho, when you want to decide which CLWC to buy.
    Reply
  • Khenglish - Friday, December 28, 2012 - link

    What were the fan speeds with the thicker radiators? The 38mm rads will need either push-pull or have high rpm fans to push the air through.

    I would have liked to have seen performance with the IHS removed. Someone who decides to go with a water cooling setup is more likely to remove the IHS. It's well known that IVB has CPU die - IHS connection issues, and the variance between IHS quality among IVB's makes it difficult for people to compare their results to yours. Even with a good IHS, removing it still makes a big difference. The thermal resistance drop makes a big difference, especially when pushing the voltage and clocks. I lost ~5C when I removed the IHS from my 580 (1.25V). An IVB's gains should be even larger.

    Your results are pretty terrible for liquid cooling setups, and it would be nice to know how much of that was due to the IHS, or if these liquid cooling setups just aren't very good.
    Reply
  • riottime - Saturday, December 29, 2012 - link

    i had placed 2 orders for the corsair h55 on newegg when this article appeared. :)

    they just arrived yesterday. i put one on my tuban 1090t amd system (stock speed) and i5 3550 intel system (also stock speed). i got them mainly to reduce the system noise not to overclock my processors with. so far they're doing just that i'm happy to report. :P

    the manual/instruction that comes with it is atrocious. i recommend going on youtube and search for 'corsair h55 install' before you start installing it on your system.
    Reply
  • TekDemon - Sunday, December 30, 2012 - link

    I think you guys might have to check the mounting and test again because the H80i definitely shouldn't be outperforming the H100i assuming the H100i isn't defective. I mean, your own H100 vs H80 review has the H100 clearly winning and they're the same coolers minus the link.

    I honestly would suggest double checking your mounting and testing with a higher heat load since a i7 @ 4.4Ghz and 1.4V hardly really shows the benefits of an H100. I would point out that in your previous review the CPU was clocked at 4.8Ghz. If the H80i still manages to beat the H100i then either Corsair has upgraded the fan setup on the H80i such that the push-pull is managing to beat out the H100's stock 2 fan configuration or there's just something wrong with your H100i.

    I would also point out that the H100i can be upgraded to a 4-fan configuration while the H80i is maxed out in it's stock configuration, I have an internally mounted H100 (non-i) with 4 fans on it and it's probably about as high performing as you can get with an all internal compact setup.
    Reply
  • Reservoir_Dog - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    Cannot understand the temp results, i mean, whats, 4.5 under load?
    4.5 deg celcius??
    With the H80i and a 2600K @ 4.2 ghz i get 60 deg celcius with the same test
    So is it too hot then?
    Reply
  • chesbrougha - Thursday, March 07, 2013 - link

    I have an X40 and it is not cutting it with a 3930k. I am thinking that it might be because I can't figure out how to change the profile as there is no mac software (install windows then change back to mac??). Anyone have any ideas?

    I am thinking about changing to the H100i but think I will run into the same issues
    Reply

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