Corsair Hydro Series H100 Review

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The H100 is currently the top of the line offering from Corsair in their Hydro series which is a low cost liquid cooling (LCLC) product line. Water cooling is far superior to even the best air coolers on the market, but will the H100 be worthy of being put into the same category as custom loops? Will it even be able to beat out what some say is the best air cooler on the market, the Noctua NH-D14? Continue reading to find out!

Product Specifications

(Courtesy of Corsair)

Corsair Hydro Series H100 Specifications
SKU# CWCH100
Radiator Dimensions 122 x 275 x 27 mm
Radiator Material Aluminum
Fan Dimensions 120 x 120 x 25 mm
Fan Speed (+/-10%): up to 1300 RPM (Low Noise),2000 RPM (Balanced), 2500 RPM (High Performance)
Fan Airflow 46 – 92 CFM
Fan dBA 22 – 39
Fan Static Pressure 1.6 – 7.7mm/H20
Warranty 5 Years
Cold Plate Material Copper
Tubing Low-permeability for near-zero evaporation
Socket Support Intel: LGA 2011, 1366, 1155, 1156, 775,
AMD: AM2/AM3

Not too much to comment on here except for the usage of an aluminum rad, anyone who know anything about water cooling will immediately advise against using a copper block and aluminum rad. This is because when using two different materials you have the potential for corrosion to be an issue. Since Corsair has pre-filled the H100 propylene glycol it won’t be an issue since it contains corrosion inhibitors. Given the 5 year warranty this product has it is safe to say that Corsair does not think it will be an issue. It still would have been nice to see a copper rad if only for the added performance and peace of mind.

 Product Features

(Courtesy of Corsair)

  • Ready for Corsair Link Digital.

The H80 and H100 work great with Corsair Link, an ecosystem of hardware and software components designed to give you unprecedented control over your PC. Connect your H80 or H100 to the Corsair Link Commander (available separately) and monitor a wide range of parameters, including pump speed, coolant temperature, and fan speed, and customize your own performance profiles.

  • Control at your fingertips.

The low-profile integrated pump and cold plate includes push-button control so you can select the fan speed and cooling performance setup that best suits your needs. The cool white LED display lets you know at a glance which profile is being used.

  • The Hydro Series H100: Go long.

Want even more? Featuring a full 240 mm radiator and two 120mm fans, the Corsair Hydro Series H100 extreme performance liquid CPU cooler is designed to deliver cooling performance that meets the needs of even the most demanding enthusiast.

  • Easy installation, zero maintenance.

You no longer need to invest into finicky modular water cooling systems to get serious CPU cooling performance. Each Hydro Series Liquid CPU Cooler is a sealed, closed-loop system that comes pre-filled and never needs refilling. Tubing is constructed from low-evaporation FEP for a long lifespan. Even the thermal compound is pre-applied. You’ll be up and running in minutes.

  • The latest cooling technology.

Both the H80 and the H100 include a low-profile, light-weight cooling unit with a micro-channel copper cold plate and a split-flow manifold. The result of all this attention to fluid dynamics is CPU cooling that’s remarkably efficient, with a total noise level that’s lower than most stock CPU fans.

Packaging and Contents

Box Front

Box Front

Box Backside

Box Backside

Box Topside

Box Topside

Box Side

Box Side

First look inside box

First look inside box

Contents securely packaged

Contents securely packaged

H100 Fans front side and backside

H100 Fans front side and backside

H100 Radiator

H100 Radiator

H100 Mounting Hardware

H100 Mounting Hardware

Radiator Fin Damage

Radiator Fin Damage

H100 fans attached top view

H100 fans attached top view

H100 Fans attached side view

H100 Fans attached side view

Base and Ruler Comparison

Base and Ruler Comparison

Radiator and pump/waterblock

Radiator and pump/waterblock (Courtesy of Earthdog)

Corsair has a very nicely packaged unit, the outside of the box is covered with pictures of the contents and marketing info in several different languages. Just about everything a consumer needs to help them make an informed purchase. As can be seen inside everything is securely packed to help prevent any damage occurring during shipping. I did find some damaged fins on the radiator, they are not likely to have an adverse affect on cooling performance. Besides the fins, everything else was in good order. Another thing to note is that the base of the water block I received was slightly convex. There is a debate that a flat base is better than a convex base, but I for one do not see it as a big issue.

Installation

Installation of this unit was very easy, the supplied instructions are step-by-step and contain instructions for both Intel and AMD mounting systems.

Install Instructions (Courtesy of Corsair) pg1

Install Instructions (Courtesy of Corsair) pg1

Install Instructions (Courtesy of Corsair) pg2

Install Instructions (Courtesy of Corsair) pg2

Install Instructions (Courtesy of Corsair) pg3

Install Instructions (Courtesy of Corsair) pg3

Installed on CPU

Installed on CPU

 

Installed in Fractal Design Arc Midi

Installed in Fractal Design Arc Midi

A .pdf version can be found here for download and viewing.

The H100 was able to easily to fit internally on my Fractal Design Arc Midi, any case that is able to fit a dual 120 mm rad will be able to fit the H100. The H100 hoses have ridges built into them like anti-kink coils so routing the hose was very easy since there was virtually no chance of kinking it. The only complaint to be made about the installation is that the different socket spacing on the mounting bracket for Intel was not label or explained anywhere, so someone who is new to computers might have a bit harder time figuring out where to slide the nut on the bracket. This is only a minor issue since you can just hold it up to the backside of your motherboard and look. But some instruction is always welcome for first time users.

Mounting the water block and pump assembly was easy due to the thumb screws supplied, I would suggest using a screw driver to torque  the screws up just to ensure that your mount does not loosen over time due to the minuscule vibrations caused by the pump.

Testing

Test Setup

  • Intel Core i7 870 @ 4.0 GHz with 1.344 V
  • Gigabyte P55A-UD4P
  • PNY GTX 580
  • Samsung 2×4 GB 1600 MHz RAM (Overclockers.com Approved)
  • Corsair TX750 V2
  • Windows 7 64-bit with SP1
  • Corsair H100
  • Noctua NH-D14
  • Swiftech H20-220 Ultima XT
  • Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Paste

Swiftech H20-220 Ultima XT on test bench

Swiftech H20-220 Ultima XT on test bench

Noctua NH-D14 on test bench

Noctua NH-D14 on test bench

Corsair H100 on test bench

Corsair H100 on test bench

Testing Methodology

  • All power saving features where disabled to ensure a consistent clock speed without throttling. All fan speeds were set to full and the same two fan headers were used for all tests. The built in fan controller on the H100 was not used since the NH-D14 and Swiftech Kit have no built in controllers to run their fans.
  • The ambient temperature in the testing room was maintained at 22 °C for the duration of testing. Core Temp v1.0 and Real Temp v3.6 were used for monitoring CPU temperature during testing.
  • I used latest version of (version 26.6) of Prime 95 using in-place large FFT’s. It was run for 30-32 minutes to stabilize temperature and the idle temps were taken after 15 minutes of idling in windows.
  • Two remounts were done for a total of three mounts to ensure temperatures were not skewed by a bad mount. All temps were taken from the hottest core in the different tests IE: core ZERO was hottest on idle and core FOUR was hottest under load.

Authors Note:

Due to different platforms and other variables this testing is not directly comparable to other cooling reviews that have been done by muddocktor.

Results

Below is a graph of the test results comparing the H100 to the Swiftech H20-220 Ultima XT and the Noctua NH-D14.

Graph of H100 results

Graph of H100 results

As can be seen by the graph, the H100 shows solid performance. Beating one of the best air coolers on the market by several degrees in both average temperature and max temperature. This temperature difference can mean the difference between a 4.2 GHz overclock and a 4.5 GHz overclock on some systems. The H100 does fall in behind the more custom water cooling setup from Swiftech, but the Swiftech kit carries a substantially higher price at $309.95, requires assembly and maintenance.

Conclusion

Overall I am impressed by the performance of the H100. It is finally a low cost liquid cooler that is able to be mentioned along side custom water cooling. The H100 is a solidly built unit that is superior to high end air cooling and just below custom water, so I would say Corsair has brought to the market a much need product. Given the price tag of $119.99 from Newegg it is priced correctly for where it fits in the performance area. Given all of these factors I will give the Corsair H100 a rating of Overclockers Approved! For anyone who wants to achieve cooling above what the current air coolers can, but do not want to take the risks involved in custom water cooling, the H100 is a product that is definitely worth considering.

bmwbaxter

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Discussion
  1. I wonder how much of a diff it would have made replacing the h100 fans with better ones, I have the h100 but haven't purchased a case that will accommodate it so I'm still using my h70 in my antec 900 and the corsair fans aren't anything to write home about. When I find a case to mount the h100 I will def be looking at replacing the stock fans.
    cool thx you just made me feel very happy that i went for the H100 over the NH-D14 and i only got my H100 for $100 after MIR at tigerdirect about 1 -2months ago
    and very nice review :thup:
    {PGA}AfterShock
    I wonder how much of a diff it would have made replacing the h100 fans with better ones, I have the h100 but haven't purchased a case that will accommodate it so I'm still using my h70 in my antec 900 and the corsair fans aren't anything to write home about. When I find a case to mount the h100 I will def be looking at replacing the stock fans.

    Fans with a higher CFM would helps temps. since the rad isn't thick or dense with fins static pressure wouldn't be as important as CFM.
    Even so, 92 CFM (max) for 120mm fans isnt that bad really. You could proly get more but they would likely be a lot louder. I didnt go to the h100 cause im not overclocking for a while. But it seemed like a good cooler.
    120 for you guys maybe.. It's 160+ here in Aus.. If it was 120 I would've bought it already.. Lol. Grr... I can get an XSPC RS240 Kit for a cheaper price than a H100- and an RX240 for the same price.. But I'm not interested in maintaining a proper loop, and all that jazz.. WC'ing isn't my thing.. ><
    Mjolnir
    120 for you guys maybe.. It's 160+ here in Aus.. If it was 120 I would've bought it already.. Lol. Grr... I can get an XSPC RS240 Kit for a cheaper price than a H100- and an RX240 for the same price.. But I'm not interested in maintaining a proper loop, and all that jazz.. WC'ing isn't my thing.. ><

    haha, i kinda agree.. Id like to get one at some point just to play around with, and custom loops look neat, but i dont actually *need* one :P
    Nice reveiw.
    Just a note to make sure "your" case can easily accept the rads: My H60 doesn't top-mount in my Phantom due to the spacing of the screw holes placement for the 200mm fan set-up that NZXT has pre-configured in the top of the case. Custom brackets need to be added to that case. And probably others as well.
    Since not everyone can or wants to mod their case it would be a good idea to check for mount points before buying. Nevertheless, I'm thinking, since your review, that I could mod some brackets in the top, mount the H100, and move my H60 to Unit 2. Hmmmmmm, wonder if the puppy would mind skipping a week or two of treats ??? A few extra degress of cooling would let me push towards 4Ghz 24/7...safely.
    The H100 is a very good cooler imo. I had my doubts with it at first.. I did not like the fans that came with it.. If you can mount the rad in a location that provides an unobstructed flow of air, with minimal turbulence, you will have a solid performer :thup:
    I have 4x 38x120s strapped to mine, and am folding at 4209mhz, for that clock speed I need to use 1.46v, with LLC that translates to about 1.47v loaded. I am seeing load temps in the low to mid 70s, a bit higher in the 70s when the furnace comes on. I have the NH-D14, and a classic TRUE, and this thing mops the floor with em :attn:
    Nope, not total junk, but if they'd consider a premium unit with a copper radiator I might consider buying one.
    Call it a 125 or something, I'd pay the extra.
    On second thought, does the whole series have the same water block/pump unit? The same black neoprene tubing is available and I have a radiator...hmmmm.
    I suspected so with the digital link thingy available only on the top two.
    Thanks!
    $100 bucks is still less than a waterblock and pump in most cases. :D
    A lot of people equate coolant in LCLC systems to that of cars. Even with a 5yr warranty I'd be a little suspicious. Coolant variants like 'dexcool' are rated to 5yrs when in fact it can cause problems, corrosion of aluminum and build up. Hopefully what they use is more along the lines of standard green propylene glycol. I know first hand what 'extended life' versions like dexcool do in a full size car system (radiator channels etc) and would think even though temps are lower than a car, the parts dealt with are much smaller and perhaps more prone due to more restricted lines and weaker pumps than automotive. Are these LCLC systems factory sealed or serviceable?
    synphul
    A lot of people equate coolant in LCLC systems to that of cars. Even with a 5yr warranty I'd be a little suspicious. Coolant variants like 'dexcool' are rated to 5yrs when in fact it can cause problems, corrosion of aluminum and build up. Hopefully what they use is more along the lines of standard green propylene glycol. I know first hand what 'extended life' versions like dexcool do in a full size car system (radiator channels etc) and would think even though temps are lower than a car, the parts dealt with are much smaller and perhaps more prone due to more restricted lines and weaker pumps than automotive. Are these LCLC systems factory sealed or serviceable?

    they are factory sealed, one of the reasons LCLC are becoming so popular is that they are basically maintenance free. the only thing you should do is use an air can to blow the dust out of the rad.
    Those don't appear to be bad temps for what it is, considering the lower cost compared to a custom multi loop system. I'd be a bit concerned about it not being serviceable, but at that price and the pros of easy hassle free setup - seems to be a better alternative to the older h70's or even the new liquid coolers from intel.
    just got my h100 installed in my new switch 810 case and so far it doesn't seem to be doing as good as the h70 was. My unit had fin damage and the fan mounting screws pretty much are forced threaded into the radiator creating metal dust and flakes, had to use an air compressor to clean it out. The mounting method for AMD chips is also far less effective compared to the h70, 2 mounting points vs 4 which unlike the intel install you cannot torque the tumbscrews too much without the risk of snapping off the am3 mounting block.
    I'm going to try reseating and running the fans off my mobo headers vs the waterblock to see if I can get this to perform somewhere a little closer to what I was getting with the h70, I have a feeling that if there was a review pinning the h70 vs h100 on a quad or hex core phenom the odds would be on the h70's side for having much greater mounting force and likely more coolant to move around.
    I just went from an h60 to the h100 with an fx 8120, my 24/7 clock was 4.2 ghz and loaded temp of 58c now i am at 4.7 ghz and 54c. the h60 i ran high speed fans in a push me/pull you, on the h100 i am running the stock fans.