Conclusions, Part 1

As before, drawing conclusions on these products is less about simply crowning one the victor than it is about figuring out just what they offer on balance against each other, whether or not they hit the right price points, and what they're competing with. So while NZXT's Kraken X60 and Corsair H110 both dominate the charts, that doesn't make them the best choices for everyone. It's easier to fit a 120mm Corsair H80i into most cases than a 280mm Asetek radiator.

The Corsair H90

I've been a pretty big advocate of Corsair's products for some time now. Their RAM has largely been synonymous with "guaranteed to run right the first time" in my group, I still use and adore the K90 keyboard on my main workstation (and the M60 mouse on my Alienware M17x), and Corsair Link is a product with a lot of potential. That's why the H90 and H110 are such a disappointment.

Outside of the mounting bracket, what you see here with the H90 is pretty much what you get. The H90 and H110 are barebones packages that are uncharacteristically devoid of any of the care and polish you typically expect with Corsair kit. Beyond that, using a different fan doesn't really make up for the fact that the Asetek 140mm radiator is a bit of a dud. Corsair really should've included two fans to differentiate themselves from the NZXT Kraken X40; as it stands, NZXT's package offers more features and better connectivity at the exact same price, making the H90 a non-starter.

The Corsair H110

If the lack of trimmings on the H90 was essentially fatal, on the H110 it's at most crippling. Not including any allowances of any kind for the fact that the H110 has two PWM fans to run is borderline unacceptable, but the H110 does have at least two advantages against the NZXT Kraken X60: price and fan quality.

Build quality and performance are almost identical between the two products. The 280mm radiator does allow Corsair's fans to stretch their legs, though, and while at low speeds there's very little difference between the X60 and H110, at high speeds the H110 is able to produce comparable performance at lower noise levels. The fans NZXT uses on the X40 and X60 really only have two noise profiles: quiet at their lowest setting, and then unpleasantly loud at almost any other setting. Corsair's enjoy a more gradual ramp.

There's also the fact that despite its lackluster presentation (or maybe because of it), the H110 is ten bucks cheaper than the NZXT Kraken X60. If you're willing to make the sacrifices needed, the H110 at least makes a case for itself, and Corsair does offer a superior five year warranty on its products compared to the two year warranties on the Krakens.

Performance Results Conclusions, Part 2: Swiftech
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  • lowlymarine - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    Still, I can't help but feel it would be worthwhile to include a couple of the more popular air coolers as well for comparison. The Noctua NH-D14 and Cooler Master Hyper 212+ are very popular units, and in the case of the former runs around the same price as some of the mid-range closed loop options. I think it would be illuminating to see how these options stack up against each other, for situations where clearance and so forth aren't major concerns.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    I'll get there. :)
  • Ratman6161 - Monday, February 4, 2013 - link

    I recently replaced my Hyper 212+ with the H55 so I can sort of make that comparison. I'm running an i7-2600K@4.4Ghz so a fairly similar setup to the test rig in the article. With the 212+ I used to idle at 32 - 35 C and peak out at about 65 C running Intel Burn Test. With the H55 I idle at about 24 and the peak under load is around 53 - 55. But....I've made other changes too. With the liquid cooler I turned the my three 120 mm intake fans and case's 140 mm exhaust down to their minimum speeds and put the variable speed fan from the 212+ on the H55 in place of the constant speed fan that came with it.

    The 120 mm intakes and the fan off the 212+ that's now on the H55 are all bios controlled and set to run at their minimum speeds unless the CPU temp goes over 50 C. However that condition is never met (i.e. it never does go over 50 C) unless I'm deliberately ramping things up with Intel Burn Test. FYI my goal is always the best overclock I can get with stock voltage. I don't get any better overclock than I did with the 212+ but it does run cooler and quieter due to all the fans now able to run at minimum speed basically all the time. Since I don't turn up voltage, something better than the H55 probably would not do any good in my particular circumstances and what I've basically achieved over the 212+ was a quieter system.
  • TreXor - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - link

    53° C at full load with a 4.4 GHz overclocked i7-2600 on a H55? lol...

    Its time that you and all the other people that post ridiculous temps learn what programs to use to read out the real core temperatures. And its definitely not the software coming with your motherboard, reading out the CPU sensor in the socket...
  • althaz - Monday, February 4, 2013 - link

    Yeah, this is a great review, but it's mostly useless data without including good air coolers for comparison. Especially the Noctua NH-D14 (which is probably not the best anymore, but from what I've seen still offers superior performance per decibel to most closed-loop water coolers).

    From Dustin's comments it seems we can expect some more stuff in the future, which will make this excellent review much more useful.
  • Jambe - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    Ah, Swiftech, makers of those eccentric heavy slabs of copper studded with helicoid aluminium pins. Nice to see them making new & competent products.
  • drfish - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    Lol, was thinking that same thing. Now THAT would make for a great read, all of the classic coolers over the years pitted against each other - mounting all of them "unconventionally" shouldn't be that hard, right? ;)
  • maratus - Sunday, February 3, 2013 - link

    Actually, Swiftech has gone full-H2O after that and was always high-regarded amongst watercooling enthusiasts. Ever since Swiftech Storm was introduced, they became a major source of high-quality CPU and universal GPU waterblocks for custom builds. They also are the biggest reseller of Laing pumps and offer exclusive PWM-controlled version of DDC. MCR rads were the best in their price range for low noise fans and it's nice to see all-in-one kits as they have much more potential customers. I just hope that Swiftech will be more like Asetek in future and less like DangerDen, if you know what I mean.
  • jasonelmore - Monday, August 12, 2013 - link

    it was taken off the market due to patent infringements. gabe used someone else's design.
  • Aikouka - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    Dustin, with the following statement...

    "The H220 itself is definitely a strong radiator, but Swiftech clearly tuned their fans for acoustics instead of performance." sounded like you were faulting the fans on the H220 as the main reason why the H220 can't compete with the other offerings. Out of curiosity, would you be willing to try different fans on it to see it that helps? Obviously, those numbers wouldn't be able to be used in any official context, but it would be interesting to see!

    Although, I will admit that the idea of suggesting ponying up another $12-25 per fan (Enermax Magma, Noctua PF-12, etc.) to make an already expensive product work better is a bit ballsy of a marketing tactic! ;)

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