Corsair Hydro Series H100i Extreme Performance CPU Cooler Review

Posted by on Monday, December 10, 2012 - 8:00am

Many of you are familiar with the H80 and H100 offerings by Corsair. These two self contained liquid coolers were the ones that made us all want to hop onto the water-cooling bandwagon. These are the coolers that topped the big humongous air-coolers that were popping up at the time, those very same air-coolers that barely leave us two slots to install memory. Just as their H60 sibling they too have been given their own updates, but are these updates the H100i has received enough to merit us to ditch our older H100 and run out to nab the new ‘i’ model?

Corsair Hydro Series H100i Extreme Performance CPU Cooler Review

 

Introduction

Over the past two weeks we have seen a lot of new gear come from the Corsair camp. New mousing surfaces, power supplies, but the most exciting have been the all-in-one water-cooling. We had the chance to take a look at their update to the H60, and we'll also be bringing you a look at their new H55 in the next few days, as well as the H80i shortly after that. They perform very well, but we always seem to want more.

Many of you are familiar with the H80 and H100 offerings by Corsair. These two self contained liquid coolers were the ones that made us all want to hop onto the water-cooling bandwagon. These are the coolers that topped the big humongous air-coolers that were popping up at the time, those very same air-coolers that barely leave us two slots to install memory. Just as their H60 sibling they too have been given their own updates, but are these updates the H100i has received enough to merit us to ditch our older H100 and run out to nab the new ‘i’ model?

Corsair’s take on the H100i

Have a PC case that supports a top-mounted 240mm radiator? Take your CPU cooling to a new level. H100i starts with the advanced design of the Hydro Series H80i, and adds a double-wide radiator for even better performance.


Specifications

Warranty: Five years
Cold Plate Material: Copper
Fan Specification: 120mm (x2)
Socket Support: AMD AM2, AMD AM3, AMD FM1, AMD FM2, Intel LGA 1155, Intel LGA 1156, Intel LGA 1366, Intel LGA 2011
Radiator Material: Aluminum
Tubing: Large-diameter, low permeability

Features

Self-contained Cooling System

Hydro Series H100i comes pre-filled, and never needs refilling or priming.

Dual Radiator with Custom Fan Design

The 240mm top-mounted radiator provides maximum surface area for maximum cooling power. The 120mm fans use wide, low-pitch blades for better static pressure to noise ratio, offering improved efficiency at lower noise levels.

Built-In Corsair Link

No additional hardware is necessary – just connect the included Corsair Link cable to a USB header on your motherboard and download the free Corsair Link Dashboard software. You can monitor coolant temperature and adjust cooling performance directly from your desktop.

Tool-free multiplatform magnetic mounting bracket kit

The modular design makes installation simpler, and it’s compatible with Intel and AMD processors.

Large-diameter, low permeability tubing

Minimal coolant evaporation helps ensure long life, and the resilient material offers both high flexibility and excellent leak protection.


Closer look

To begin our tour of the H100i we start with the radiator. Just like the original H100, Corsair implemented a dual 120mm rad as a way to dissipate any heat that its coolant picks up, allowing for much higher cooling capacity. If you are wondering the, rad is the same thickness as the Thermaltake Water 2.0, but the Tt offering is surrounded in a wider frame making it look thicker.

The longer rad may offer better performance overall, but it all makes it difficult to install for those with smaller cases. If this is the situation you're in then you may want to take a look at our upcoming review of the H80i, with it's smaller 120mm rad.

The rad is linked to the rest of the setup via two flexible hoses, which are big upgrades over the original H100. The original H100’s tubing incorporated a coil to prevent bending or crimping, and this is not the case for the H100i. At the opposite end of the tubing where it meets pump are two swivel mounts making twists and turns easier on the user when mounting.

The block of the H100i is where it gets busy as everything attaches to it, i.e. the fans, Corsair "Link v2" monitoring cable, and of course the In/Out coolant lines. The two connectors in the first image are for the Link v2 USB cable which plugs into the Corsair Link device; however, it unfortunately is not included and is a separate purchase.

Should you plan on running in a push-pull configuration with the H100i, the pump can support four fans via this two special plug headers pictured above, with the aid of these special 4-pin splitters pictured below.

In addition to these plus are two more connections. The first is pictured above on the far right and is the Corsair Link cable. The second is a SATA plug that provides power to the pump and the possible four PWM fans, no need for the typical Molex plug. Piggybacking off this same wiring is a 3-pin monitoring plug for your typical RPM readings.

The cooler does come with thermal compound already applied but we have removed in order to provide you a better look at the cold-plate's mounting surface.

Corsair includes two very nice fans which are similar to their 'SP' series of cooling fans. They have a maximum of 2700 RPM and 77 CFM @ 37.68 dBA.

All the necessary hardware to mount the cooler to any AMD or Intel based motherboard. Here is where I applaud Corsair as they have made the installation much easier than the previous model, as well as those systems marketed by others.


Software

The CorsairLink 2.0 software is very simple to use but is more advanced than that from Thermaltake. The Corsair software allows the user monitor the CPU temps, H100i fan and pump speed, but also GPU fan speed and temps as well.

Double clicking on any of the round dials on the left will open another panel to control that device (if applicable).

 

Mounting Images


Testing Methodology

For our testing we will be using the following procedures and parameters to acquire the necessary data:

  1. Thermal compound used is Arctic Silver 5
  2. Idle temperatures are recorded after the system has been allowed to idle for thirty minutes from the point Windows has finished loading.
  3. Load temperatures are recorded by running OCCT for twenty minutes on all available threads.
  4. Real Temp is used for the recording of all temperature sensor reading.
  5. PWM function is disabled via BIOS to allow the fans to run at full speed.
  6. CPU model and overclock speed used for testing are outlined below in "Test Hardware".
  7. Each cooler is first tested with one fan supplied from the manufacturer.
  8. Each cooler is then tested again with a second fan attached if provided by the manufacturer.

Test Hardware:

1. ASUS X79 Deluxe Motherboard
2. Intel Core i7 3930K Processor
3. Kingston HyperX 1866 DDR3 16GB
4. Kingston V+ 200 120GB Solid State Drive
5. ASUS BC12B1LT BD-Rom Drive
6. Corsair H100i Water Cooler
7. Microcool Banchetto 101 Open Air Test Bench
8. Silverstone Strider Gold Evolution 850W Power Supply
9. ASUS Nvidia GTX 560Ti 448 Graphic Card

Results

 


Conclusion

There are several reasons to purchase the new H100i over the older H100 or many of the other dual rad (240mm) AIO water-cooling kits out there. Some of these reasons might be the new higher performing fans, the easier to install mounting hardware, wider yet more flexible tubing, or the new Corsair Link v2 software. Whatever the reason you will be getting a great piece of hardware.

We especially like the new install setup. It is much easier to apply the four corner brackets than the round rings we have seen on many of the other models. For some strange reason it even seems more secure. That may or may not be a placebo effect, but we do enjoy the feeling regardless. Another aspect of the new H100i we liked is the tubing itself. Yes, it is larger in diameter but we also like the omission of the coil that surrounded the tubing on older H100 model.

The Corsair Link software application is far and above more usable than that which comes with Thermaltake's Water 2.0 Extreme. This one allows you to not only monitor the hardware directly related to CPU cooling, but the GPU as well. It also allowed us to adjust fan speeds to whatever may be to your liking, not just simple presets that come with the app.

It all boils down to performance when it comes to a piece of hardware like this. Well, the H100i performed like a champ. We tested against Thermaltake's larger AIO and the cooling aspect was extremely close making the choosing of one difficult with the final decision coming down to the additional features.

The noise level of the H100i is something that you are in control of. If you want peace and quiet, you can have that, while still maintaining a decent overclock. However, if you are one that wants to push your processor to its limits then be prepared for some noise, and we mean quite a bit of it as the 38 dBA can be quite easily heard over other components in the case. Then again, there is still the option to add in another two fans and still achieve the same airflow but at much more ear-friendly noise level.

 

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