In this review I will be looking at the Corsair H80 which is an all-in-one liquid cooler which is actually not manufactured by Corsair but is commissioned to and made by CoolIT a company based in Calgary, Canada a long way from the sunny climate of California. Corsair as you might already know are world leaders in Memory, SSDs, computer cases and cooling solutions with their H50 being one of the first all-in-one coolers.
Corsair have done well by choosing CoolIT as they have had collaborations with industry leaders like Apple, Dell, Delphi, HP, Intel, AMD and others, in regards to liquid cooling through their expertise in all-in-one cooling solutions.
All-in-one water cooling solutions have come a long way in such a small time, they are now seen by many as a viable alternative to custom water cooling at a fraction of the cost. I personally asked to review this unit as I have thought about using it within my mITX based server which I will be doing a blog about over the next 5 weeks and wanted to see how it performed.
Product Specifications, Features and Highlights
Okay onto the unit itself… The head unit serves as a control for the two 120mm fans (included with the H80) and provides three fan speeds. You, of course, do not have to use two fans and can just use the one. I do however recommend using both fans in a Push/Pull configuration for better temps. The CPU block then plugs into the motherboard via a 3-pin fan header (you will need to also plug in the Molex if using both fans on the head unit).
The unit also sports a third connection that will enable the cooler to link up to Corsair’s Link system, according to Corsair, this will offer better fan control and thus temps. Meanwhile, the hoses connect to a full-depth radiator.
On LGA1156 systems (which I will be using in my testing), four screws attach the CPU block to a back plate via a mounting bracket that screws to the CPU block itself. It is a very simple task to complete and you can have the H80 attached in literally minutes.
On AMD systems, the H80 uses the standard AMD retention bracket, with two loops hooking over the bracket clips. I however do not have a AMD system to test the fitting of the H80 to see if fitting was as easily accomplish as on a LGA1156 board.
Specification wise the H80 comes as follows:
Compatibility: Intel: LGA775, LGA1155, LGA1156, LGA1366, LGA2011. AMD: Socket AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+
Weight: Not stated
Size (mm): 120mm x 88mm x 152mm (With both radiators attached) (W x D x H)
Fan: 2x 120mm (2600-1300RPM)
Stated Noise: 22dBA - 39dBA
As you can see the unit is not too big at all and would be ideal for water cooling an mITX based system where you do not have much space and trying to squeeze your hands into those tight spaces to attach the tubing to the radiator is damn near impossible!
So, in the box itself we have the following:
Corsair Hydro Series H80i High Performance Liquid CPU Cooler
Magnetic Multi-platform mounting kit for all modern CPU sockets
Dual SP120L High Performance Fans
USB Cable for Corsair Link™ Compatibility (not included in my test unit)
Fan and radiator mounting screws
Quick Start Guide
I have to note that the review sample H80 I was given did not come with any kind of thermal paste and luckily for me I have a draw full of the stuff .
The TIM that I used was the highly rated IC Diamond 24-Carat Thermal Compound which is created by fairly new players in the market, Innovation Cooling. I have seen some test of this thermal paste on other sites and have seen quite a large temp drop, sometimes around several degrees!
While I’m at it I may as also say that I will not be testing out the software for the Corsair H80 as the USB Cable for Corsair Link was missing from the test kit and according to Corsair this helps intelligently control the fans through the head unit giving a better all-around performance.
Testing Software and Environment
I will be testing the H80 to see how unit performs against the stock cooler provided by Intel, and also how it performs at stock and also while overclocked. This will show you the potential that the H80 has for system builders that want liquid cool temps without the hassle of having to research, build and setup custom loops and also for people that just want to overclock their CPUs with a decent cooler.
The software I will be using is:
CoreTemp – Will be used to get a reading of the CPU cores while idling and under load to see how the H80 performs in cooling the CPU in the tests.
Prime95 – I will be using Prime95 (blend test) to max the CPU to its full potential at stock and also in overclock to ensure that the CPU is stable while under load.
The rig I will be testing on is:
Core i3 530 2.93Ghz Skt 1156
Asus Skt 1156 Maximus III GENE
4 Gb (2 x 2 Gb) Patriot Sector 5 RAM
Onto The Testing:
After fitting the H80 to the Maximus Gene motherboard which, as mentioned before, took no time at all, a very easy fit indeed. A first time system build that wants to ‘mess’ around with overclocking would have no issues understanding and fitting the H80 to their computer and, of course, I’m sure that this is what Corsair had in mind when designing the H80.
I booted up and firstly noticed just how loud the fans are which are supplied with the H80 deafening is not the word to describe it, as I said earlier though after installing the Corsair Link software and letting it control the fan speed it might have been a lot quieter when idling but at full fan speed I don’t think I could have put up with the noise. I decided for optimal cooling to leave it at full speed but if I was using this every day I would knock it down to medium speed for the best of both cooling and sanity.
I fired up Core Temp to see what the Core temperature was at idle and it was an average of 24c while idling and under load a respectable 48c which is a lot better over the stock cooler which managed 32c while idling and around 58c under load.
I then quickly overclocked the chip to see what the Corsair H80 could cope with. I got the chip to an overclock of 3.7 GHz and booted up I quickly noticed that again while idling the chip sat at a respectable 24c. I then fired up Prime95 to see how the H80 coped under load and it did not disappoint with an average of around 63c and a max of 69c the H80 kept the CPU well under the 80c limit which I set myself for the Intel Core i3 Clarkdale CPU.
Summary and Conclusion
As stated earlier the cooler was exceptionally loud, which either means that the Corsair Link software is necessary to keep the noise down without having to go in your case every time you want to reduce the fans speed to get some peace and quiet, or you replace the fans with some non-standard ones which are quieter by design.
I recommend using the H80’s medium fan setting as this provides the best balance of cooling and noise, and has the potential to handle a heavy overclock.
Apart from the noise the H80 is a fantastic an all-in-one liquid cooler which I would recommend for both my friends and family if they want a reliable and rock solid liquid solution without having to go to the trouble of creating a custom water cooling loop.
I found myself asking the question if I would use an all-in-one liquid cooler in my main overclocked rig and I find myself saying no. This is not due to anything that Corsair or CoolIT have done wrong more because I like the challenge of water cooling and also the way that I can quickly customise any of the parts which I need to change, for example, a change in CPU socket, or a better liquid comes to market.
For the above reasons I see why custom water cooling is as popular as ever but I can also see that there is a place in the market for all-in-one liquid coolers such as the H80 which offers the best of both worlds to builders that don’t want the cost and/ or do not have the time to invest in setting up a custom water cooling loop.
For people looking for an all-in-one liquid cooler the H80 is a fantastic offering by Corsair and at the price of £80.77 from CCL computers you cannot go wrong if you are looking for the best of both worlds.