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Saturday, 23 January 2016


Corsair Hydro H100i GTX Liquid CPU Cooler Review and Specifications

Its a universal rule that liquids and electronics don't go well together but this rule feels lot less meaningful or rather redundant when we talk about Corsair. A brand that made its debut as a DRAM manufacturer more than two decades back but has solidified its name in field of Liquid CPU Coolers like no other! Their Hydro series LCS is one of the best out there & provides a comprehensive solution to a wide spectrum of users both in terms of budget and performance requirements.
Today I have with me the their latest offering in the more common 240mm cooling solutions, we have the Corsair H100i GTX 240mm CPU Liquid Cooler for review. A cooler that promises unmatched performance in its price range courtesy to a all new design, improved electronics and above all looks!
Lets take a quick look what this cooler has to offer on its spec sheet & then we'll move on with our review.

  •     Radiator dimensions: 276mm x 125mm x 30mm
  •     Fan dimensions: 120mm x 120mm x 25mm
  •     Fan speed: 2435 +/- 10% RPM
  •     Fan airflow: 70.69 CFM
  •     Fan static pressure: 4.65 mmH2O
  •     Fan noise level: 37.7 dB(A)
  •     Compatibility (Intel): LGA 1150, 1155, 1156, 1366, 2011, 2011-3
  •     Compatibility (AMD): Sockets FM1, FM2, AM2, AM3

Packing and Closer Look

Corsair has stuck to its conventional red and black color theme for designing the H100i GTX packing. The front has a big image of the H100i GTX cooler itself printed clearly on a black backdrop along with the product name clearly mentioned. Key features such as the 5 years warranty, Corsair Link & 240mm design are laid out well on a grey streak at the bottom.

At the back a diagrammatic image of the radiator is provided with dimensional markings to help you in determining its compatibility in your case. Corsair has even provided a temperature graph with the H100i GTX vs Intel Stock Cooler for comparative purposes, how true is that we'll find out in the review later on.

Inside the components are packed in a molded cardboard frame which is strong and has enough shock value to protect everything while transit.

Laying out everything out of the box we see that its a humble bundle with the following accessories--
1.Hydro Series H100i GTX Liquid CPU Cooler
2. Mounting kit for all modern CPU sockets
3. Two SP120L High Torque 120mm Fans
4. USB cable for Corsair Link Integration
5. Fan and radiator mounting screws
6. Thermal compound (pre-applied)
7. Quick Start Guide
Something that I really liked over here is the exclusion of any AMD backplate since AMD motherboards already come with  metal backplates and hence providing any along with a cooler is a waste of money for the brand and confusion for a first time user.

Looking at the accessories closely we see that Corsair has revamped the product from ground up since the backplate this time doesn't have confusing triplet holes on each corner corresponding to each Intel socket but instead a sliding mechanism is provided to match with the hole's alignment.
The screws, stand-offs and retention rings all are chrome plated rather than matte black adding a contrast and premium look to the entire offering.

Looking at the cooler itself we see that the radiator is the same 240mm one measuring 25mm in thickness, with high fin density and connected to the pump/cold-plate installation via two thick pipes. Clearly it is a different design from the older H100i or the H100 and shows hints of an Asetek design rather than the original CoolIT design. Also we can see an additional wire coming out from the pump which is a Y shape Fan splitter to connect the fans on the radiator directly to the pump rather than on the motherboard fan headers.

The radiator is matte black with trim of Corsair logo at the sides imparting style & variation to the biggest part of the entire unit. These trims are replaceable with other similar trims of different colors though none are provided with the H100i GTX by default.

From the flexible rubber tubing Corsair has this time parted ways and chosen to use thick, durable and leak proof braided pipes! These are not only beautiful and tough but also very durable while at the same time flexible. Their connection to the radiator is however the same as the old ones and can be the only sight for breakage/leakage if any.

Corsair has made the pump more than just a pump this time by adding a dedicated IC behind it, all covered nicely by a thick plastic shroud. The pump now comes with a fan connector wire to power and control the fans via the Corsair Link software along with the normal pump power cable.
A mico USB port is provided at one corner for establishing the connection between the Corsair Link and the H100i GTX via a cable plugged into one of the USB slots on the motherboard.

The pump comes with a pre-applied thermal paste to ease the installation process and we can see that the copper plate is evenly made without any discrepancy to deliver a consistent cooling experience.

You get a pair of SP120L high static pressure fans with the Corsair H100i GTX that are a great option since they can spin upto 2435 RPM on full speed to cool down even the hottest processor, though all this comes at the cost of audible noise which you can avoid by choosing silent or performance mode from the Corsair Link Software.

Corsair Link

Corsair provides a utility software to keep a track of its cooler's performance, you can select the fan speed from a given set of presets namely as Quiet, Balanced and Performance mode that gives low RPM-low noise, medium RPM-medium noise and high RPM-high noise respectively.

In few of these snapshots you can see the various temperatures at which the processor, motherboard and SSD are working at. One noticeable feature of the H100i GTX is that on any preset mode the fans will not spin until a predefined temperature for the processor in my case the fans didn't spin for the Intel i7 5960X till the time it reached 30°C which is a great feature to avoid unnecessary noise.

The RGB LED on the Corsair H100i GTX can be be configured in ample of ways including temperature dependent that will make the LED glow on a particular temperature or change its color when the temperature of the coolant is too high! My favorite was that I can choose a combination of red, blue and green in a particular amount to create a custom color a great feature for those who like to be creative or want to match the cooler with their rig's theme.

Test Setup and Benchmark

Installing the Corsair H100i GTX was merely a 10 minutes venture since all the nuts and bolts have been condensed to the bare minimum to ease and speed the installation in contrast to the previous generation LCS. Also since mine is a X99 motherboard I didn't require a backplate at all. 
One thing that I disliked was the wild number of wires coming out from the water block, so keep in mind to do some tight wire management when using this unit in your system.
For the test setup we hooked up the Corsair H100i GTX with a powerful and hot processor to justify our benchmarks. The configuration for our test setup is as follows --

CPU: Intel Core i7 5960X 3Ghz octacore processor
Motherboard: GIGABYTE X99 SLI
RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX 2800Mhz 16GB DDR4 (4x4)
Cooler: Corsair H100i GTX 240mm Liquid Cooler
Graphics card: Gigabyte GTX 950 2GB DDR5 OC Edition
Storage: Corsair Neutron GTX 480GB SSD
Power Supply: Corsair AX860i 860W 80+ Platinum
OS: Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit

The Intel i7 5960X is the best processor for this test since its both consumer grade and can get really hot when over clocked making it a good choice for coupling with the H100i GTX or higher.
We started our benchmark with 20°C ambient temperature and a stock clocked processor, reading were taken at idle state & then after the completion of each benchmark, a gap of 10 minutes was maintained for the coolant to cool down between each benchmark.
After this the processor was over clocked to 4.5Ghz at 1.3v and the same procedure as above was observed.
The setting were set to quiet for the pump & fans which afterwards were set to performance all via the Corsair Link software.

Temperature Reading at Idle State

The Corsair H100i GTX shows a good reading on both modes and is doing exceptionally well over here.

AIDA64 Stability Test

AIDA64 Extreme Edition can be used to stress CPU, GPU and even the RAM for stability test of the system which is obtained by loading the selected component with a pre-defined algorithm of calculations & emulations to recreate real world load scenarios. We ran the test for a good 15 minutes before taking the final readings.

The reading show that the cooler is doing well in both modes.

MSI Kombuster v3.30

Just like the previous test MSI Kombuster is a great stress test for GPUs though it works equally well for CPU and test their stability aswell as gives you the option to select how many threads you want to run the test upon, so we ran the test for 15 minutes on all 16 threads.

We can see that the performance mode especially shows exceptional readings since the Kombuster stresses the CPU to very high limits emulating what can be the worst scenario for the chip in real life.

Intel XTU

A suite designed by Intel for Intel CPUs best used for tuning and tweaking the CPU but also a great way to benchmark the processor and in due process heating it up which can easily result in thermal throttling if the cooler is not up to the mark.

A similar case like the previous test is observed here as well, for a 240mm cooler the H100i GTX is performing very well due to the improved pump design and fans that are pushing in high gushes of air through the fins. 

Fan Noise Level

The noise level was recorded from a distance of 4 feet since that's generally the distance at which most people sit from their system.

The reading tally with the spec sheet to quite an extent and is a good reading with respect to what each mode has to offer performance wise.

My Verdict

Corsair with the H100i GTX has once again lived up to our expectations with ticking all the right boxes in each of our tests and observations. The all new 'premium' design with matte black color, interchangeable logo trims on the radiator and even the new braided tubes make it one of the better looking CPU liquid coolers out there. The RGB Corsair logo can match with almost every possible theme in the market today, be it red for Asus ROG boards or yellow-orange for Gigabyte and even white for MSI Titanium/Krait boards.
The cooler manages to cool the beefy Intel i7 5960X way better than any other offering from Corsair itself even passing ahead of the Corsair H110 which is a 280mm cooler, only second to the top dog Corsair H110i GTX. This makes it a great offering both in terms of performance & compatibility since almost all cases can accommodate a 240mm rad.  
Priced at $119 or Rs 8500 in India the Corsair H100i GTX is a highly recommended AIO from my side to every gamer and enthusiast out there. A cooler quiet on noise & price tag but loud on performance & looks is what best defines the Corsair H100i GTX.
I give it a 9.5/10

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