Cooler Master

It would seem that Cooler Master simply wanted to create the best performing AIO coolers available. In that respect, they certainly managed to do so, as their Nepton series coolers are constantly at the top of our high load thermal performance charts. On the other hand, one would have to be at least partially deaf in order to use these coolers with the fans anywhere near their maximum speed. Even with their voltage reduced down to 7V, both kits are rather noisy. It is not possible to run these kits quiet even if you reduce the voltage even further, as the fans are clearly audible from 1 meter away even at just 4.7V, the minimum voltage required to start them. Therefore, we simply cannot recommend them to anyone seeking a quiet cooling solution.

The Seidon 120V however is an entirely different product. Priced at just $49.99, it is more of an alternative to an average air cooler than competition for liquid cooling solutions. It fares relatively well at lower loads but its performance diminishes with thermal loads greater than 150W. With an average thermal resistance slightly above 0.014 °C/W, it will most likely be unable to compete with most extreme performance air coolers, and it has a particularly noisy pump, making it noisier than other 120mm AIO coolers. However, it has other merits, as it does not stress the motherboard with its weight and it requires very little space around the CPU area, making it ideal for special builds and/or systems that are moved around a lot.

Corsair

Corsair has such a vast selection of AIO cooling products that we could make a roundup just for them. Each of the five coolers that they shipped us for this roundup displays entirely different behavior; thus, each of them is suitable for a different type of user.

With the H75 Corsair is offering a compact 120mm AIO cooler but with two 120mm fans for extra performance. The H75 performs relatively well, although it generally does better at thermal loads lower than 150W due to the low capacity of its small radiator. The use of two fans however increases the noise of the system, giving the advantage to Enermax's Liqmax 120S if low-noise operation is the top priority.

The 140mm H90 on the other hand displays great all-around performance and very low noise levels. Even with its fan constantly running at maximum speed, the H90 can be considered fairly discreet and is comfortable for everyday use. If quiet computing is what drives you, the H90 deserves a very strong consideration.

Corsair informed us that the H100i is their most popular AIO cooler and we can see why. Despite its size, the H100i easily competes with coolers using significantly larger radiators. The stock fans have a wide operating range and the USB interface allows the user to adjust the performance/noise ratio to meet his or her exact needs. Furthermore, the size of the radiator makes the H100i compatible with a relatively wide array of cases.

After looking at the performance figures of the H100i, we felt disappointed by the performance of the newly released H105. The H105 hardly performs much better and it only does so when the thermal load is very high. Unfortunately, the thicker radiator can create compatibility issues and it also is more expensive than the H100i, all while lacking the USB interface that the H100i has. It is hard to recommend the H105 over the H100i for the slightly better thermal performance alone, unless of course maximum thermal performance is virtually the only concern of the user and a larger radiator cannot fit into the system.

Finally, the last AIO cooler from Corsair that we have tested, the Hydro H110, possibly stands as the performance winner of this roundup. Although it does not have the best thermal performance, it is very close to the top of the charts and manages to do so while maintaining very low noise levels. However, the size of the radiator limits the compatibility of the cooler with only a handful of cases currently available and, considering that the retail price of the H110 is over $125 at the time of this review, it is a costly thermal solution.

Testing Results, Low Fan Speed (7V) Conclusion (Enermax, NZXT, Silverstone)
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  • Subyman - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Thank you for the great write-up. It can be hard to find decent comparisons for AIO coolers. I don't personally use them, but my friends and clients seem to love them so I need to be informed. I loved your introduction! I remember brazing barb fittings on a heater core I picked up at the local car parts shop to cool my PC. I used hardware store tubing, an aquarium pump, and made a fan shroud out of fiberglass. That was a very fun summer! Reply
  • Sivar - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Silent = No sound whatsoever
    Quiet = Barely audible or inaudible
    No cooler with moving parts is entirely silent even when its fan's voltage is reduced down to 7 Volts.
    Reply
  • DLoweinc - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Nitpicking, but I had a Coolit systems ECO cooler in 2010, so I don't think 2012 was the year these 'appeared'.

    That cooler, by the way, leaked after 2 years and destroyed my mobo/processor. The coolant was mineral based and caused enough damage, who knows if a water based coolant would have left the system components undamaged? The leak was at the tubing where it went into the pump. This was in a 24/7 system that did not get touched until I noticed one day it was offline.
    Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    It would not; even pure distilled water becomes conductive once it comes in contact with dust. None of these coolers are using pure distilled water anyway, all are using a mixture, which is conductive. It has lower conductivity than mineral water, yet it is conductive. The higher the portion of the additive over the distilled water, the more conductive the solution becomes. The actual level of conductivity also depends on the additive, some are more conductive than others. However, it should suffice to say that the least conductive additive at the lowest possible concentration would still be extremely dangerous to electronics.

    I will summarize: If it leaks, you are doomed.
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    "If it leaks, you are doomed" is a little alarmist. It depends on where the product leaks and how large the leak is. The cooler itself certainly isn't usable anymore if it's leaking, but we get hardware in from time to time for leak damage that actually works perfectly fine (Corsair warrants your hardware against cooler leaks). Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Yes, I possibly over-exaggerated there. What I wanted to stress is that the liquid is definitely conductive, not that it will cause permanent damage 100% of the time. There is a high chance that the hardware will be damaged but that is definitely not always the case. I myself had a serious (nearly 1/4 liter) leak with a custom-made setup and the system was just fine once it was dry again. Reply
  • jrs77 - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Enermax and Silverstone use quiet possibly Swiftech as a supplier for their AIO-blocks.

    And btw, you should've really integrated the Swiftech H220 into your roundup.
    Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    I know. I actually tried to acquire all AIO coolers in existence, including Intel's, Thermaltake's and others. Not everyone is happy to cooperate and/or willing/able to supply samples at a give time, for whatever reason. Reply
  • toyotabedzrock - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    We need a roundup of fans. I have bought many expensive fans that turned out to be less than advertised and failed quickly when used in certain orientations. Even had blades break. Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    That is going to happen, eventually. I need proper equipment to properly test fans. Until I can acquire it, I will not perform a half-assed job. Reply

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