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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  • lwatcdr - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    And maybe the CoolerMaster Evo 212 Reply
  • Streetwind - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Excuse me for pointing this out, but are the noise levels given here not a little bit bogus? On your "Testing Methology" page, you qualify 50-54 dB(A) as "Extremely loud (level equivalent to a ≈1500W vacuum cleaner)". Then on the next page in your 12V results, you state: "To give you a rough estimate, 56 dB(A) represents about the same level of sound as a typical box fan the same distance."

    Are you honestly trying to imply that a CPU fan is capable of producing a typical noise scenario that is twice as intense as a 1500W vacuum cleaner at full bore? I think that either the table under "Testing Methodology" is wrong, or you performed your tests in a way that generates results which have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the scale presented in the table. In both cases, said table is in dire need of a revision.

    The article is very nice and no doubt took a lot of work, but with the noise levels looking as arbitrary as they do, it's very difficult to glean much value from it other than a rough order of absolute cooling performance. There's no noise floor given either, and no qualifying comparison to an air cooling solution.
    Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    That is my error. The original sentence was something along the lines of "To give you a rough estimate, 56 dB(A) represents about the same level of sound as a small vacuum cleaner over the same distance". I was then told that vacuum cleaners in the US are generally larger and much louder than their counterparts here and that the comment was edited, but I foolishly did not check the article. 56dB(A) is definitely loud, as much as two of the loudest 140 mm fans, although not as loud as a vacuum cleaner; at least not the kind of vacuum cleaners most readers here are used to. :) More like to the noise of a small hair dryer, I suppose. Reply
  • LancerVI - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Thanks for the explanation. When I heard "as loud as a vacuum cleaner" I was taken aback. Our vacuums are LOUD! My custom WC loop is loud, but it's no where near vacuum cleaner loud. Reply
  • Impulses - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    Now I'm intrigued by these stealthy Euro vacuum cleaners... :p Reply
  • 3DoubleD - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    Me too... please review! Reply
  • svandamme - Tuesday, December 02, 2014 - link

    take it from me , they suck Reply
  • npz - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    "This all changed in 2012, when Asetek came up with an inexpensive closed loop solution, a liquid cooling device that was leak-free and required no maintenance at all."

    That's the ideal, but the reality seems far off. I just got 2 AIOs but I'm feeling a little bit of regret. I'm now debating whether or not I should put them in my 24/7 systems after reading about reliability. I can tolerate clicking pumps and failed pumps. Overheating will be monitored and the system can shutdown.

    However leaks are problematic. Leaks which can occur in small trickles or explode in fantastic fashion and can destroy a system. Insiders seem to know of the inherent issues and that's why there have been several revisions to pumps and attachments and hoses.

    What I'd like to see are reliability tests. This would of course take time, years even, using them 24/7 under mostly constant load interspersed with periods of idle to stress the pump and joints/connectors. From what I've read all the water coolers start to develop issues after about two years, some earlier.
    Reply
  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    It's that worrying in the back of my mind that means I wouldn't build a water cooling rig. A big ol' air cooler like the NH-D14 will cool just as well with less noise (no pump noise) and if the "pump" fails (the fan) you have an easy task - snap on a new fan. When that pump fails, you're screwed.

    Water coolers used to be the preserve of those who persevered in making hardcore cooling setups. That's where they should stay. These all-in-one coolers are problems waiting to occur, in the form of leaks or pump failure.
    Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    "What I'd like to see are reliability tests. This would of course take time, years even, using them 24/7 under mostly constant load interspersed with periods of idle to stress the pump and joints/connectors. From what I've read all the water coolers start to develop issues after about two years, some earlier." - Although I would really love to be capable to add some truly useful reliability tests, that is impossible. As you said, the system would need to run 24/7 for years. Since a valid reliability test requires the testing of many samples, I would need to leave many samples of each cooler running for several years. Such an endeavor would not be possible even if we were talking for days, let alone years. Sorry. Reply

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