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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  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    This is great, but where's at least a couple of air coolers in there for reference?
    I'd recommend the ever popular and classic Noctua NH-D14 since it's a widely reviewed, well known reference point.
    Reply
  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    If only I could edit my reply. I see that there is a category in Bench for CPU coolers. Never mind! Reply
  • ddriver - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    It would still be a good idea to include a few high performance air coolers to compare how they do against the low end h2o coolers. Reply
  • just4U - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    Or even a Coolermaster 212 which is pretty much the go-to HSF for standard builds due to cost/cooling performance. Reply
  • MrSpadge - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Agreed - one standard high performance air cooler for ~50€ would suffice, but not including any feels incomplete. Reply
  • jmke - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    so true, would have been a very good idea to throw in a €20 and €50 air cooler, using one of the 120mm fans to see how these water coolers compare. Reply
  • jmke - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    best performance/noise CPU coolers is the Noctua in their charts. One of the best AIO is the NZXT Kraken X60. Let's see how they stack up:

    Noctua NH-U14S (2 Fans 100%) 43.1°C / 33.3 dBA / €70
    NZXT Kraken X60 (Silent) 41.2°C / 30.5 dBA / €140

    is a few °C difference worth an extra €70? is a HSF worth €70?
    how important is CPU temperature?
    if you don't overclock, keeping CPU temp below max would suffice...
    Reply
  • mr_tawan - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Personally I use closed-loop water cooler(corsair H60) because the large air cooler I used (CM Hyper212) gets in the way of ram modules (people with intel chip does not suffer from this, AFAIK). With water cooler, I can put 4 DIMM on the mainboard without any problems.

    In my system, there is no significant differences between these two cooler. Water cooler is a little bit louder, btw.
    Reply
  • Idonno - Saturday, December 06, 2014 - link

    I agree 100%. Plus the sheer weight (on the MB and CPU) and size that an air cooler like the Noctua NH-U14S has to be to be even remotely competitive is absolutely ridiculous.

    It's not just the better temps that closed loop water coolers provide, it's convenience, accessibility, less strain on critical components and better temps.

    All-in-all the higher cost of closed loop water coolers is IMO worth every penny.
    Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Unfortunately, the few air coolers that I still have in my house are outdated. Yet, there will be many air cooler reviews and roundups coming in the near future, with their results directly comparable to those of this review. :) Reply

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