The latest revisions of the Corsair Hydro Series™ coolers deliver on their performance promises and enthusiast-targeted appeal. The fact that all the coolers were able to successfully complete multiple runs with the overclocked settings is impressive on its own. However, the H80i seems to stand out as the best cooler of all of them.
As of January 2, the Corsair Hydro Series™ H100i Extreme Performance CPU Cooler was available at Newegg.com for $104.99 after mail-in rebate. The cooler was also available from other retailers such as Amazon.com for $119.99 and TigerDirect.com for $119.99 with free shipping.
The Corsair Hydro Series™ H80i High Performance Liquid CPU Cooler was available at Newegg.com for $89.99 after promo code savings and mail-in rebate with free shipping. The cooler was also available from other retailers such as Amazon.com for $99.99 and TigerDirect.com for $99.99 with free shipping.
The Corsair Hydro Series™ H60 High Performance Liquid CPU Cooler was available at Newegg.com for $81.99 with free shipping. The cooler was also available from other retailers such as Amazon.com for $79.99 and TigerDirect.com for $79.99 with free shipping.
Corsair Hydro Series H100i Extreme Performance CPU Cooler
Corsair Hydro Series H80i High Performance Liquid CPU Cooler
Corsair Hydro Series H60 High Performance Liquid CPU Cooler
Before continuing with our final weigh-in on the coolers, we would like to take this opportunity to give our friends at Corsair a hearty “Thank You” for giving us the pleasure of reviewing three of the newest additions to their Hydro Series™ liquid cooler line. I had mixed feelings coming in to this review because of my affinity for home-brew water cooling systems. Up to this point, I had not seen much in the realm of pre-built water cooling systems that were any better than a high end air cooler. I stand corrected with the Corsair Hydro Series™ coolers. All three of them, the H100i, H80i, and H60, performed well above my expectations with performance approaching that of the custom system using the Swiftech Apogee HD water block. Corsair made a smart move in redesigning the series with larger coolant tubes, better fans, and a redesigned CPU block. The performance of the H80i cooler is a testament to Corsair's design improvements.
However, the coolers were not without their issues. I cannot fault the H60's performance or design since that is the "budget-minded" model of the series – the only thing budget-minded being its price. However, the H100i's performance was lacking when compared to that of the H80i. Because of its more expensive price and flagship position in the line, it should outperform the mid-tiered cooling solution. This was not the case because of its underpowered radiator. If the radiator thickness matched that of the H80i, the H100i cooler's performance would match the "Extreme Performance" moniker in its title.
Another issue I ran into was a weakness in the cooler mounting stand-ups. As shown in the picture, one of the stand-up screw legs broke off in the hand screw with no possibility of a fix. This only occurred a single time with on of the stand-up mounting poles after a total of 72 cooler mounts and dismounts performed while testing. This issue was most likely caused by a manufacturing defect in the particular stand-up used rather than a widespread problem in the unit's design.
The most concerning issue occured when I attempted to update the BIOS on the H100i cooler. Yes, both the H80i and H100i have internal BIOSes to control the pump, fan, and LED settings and can be flash-updated from the Corsair Link™ application. Just like motherboard BIOS flashing, bad things can happen during the update. In the case of the H100i BIOS update, the BIOS was bricked in the process reducing the cooler's functionality. The cooler still worked – the pump continued to operate and the fan spun. However, the fans were kept running at a static 100% speed instead of temperature throttling, the in-build LED remained disabled, and the BIOS was no longer detected in Windows by the Corsair Link™ software leaving the BIOS irreparable.
Note that this BIOS update issue is a known issue with the system, currently being investigated by the Corsair engineers and is well documented in the Corsair forums. If you encounter this issue, contact Corsair for RMA replacement.
The other issue of concern has is centered on Corsair's use of mixed metals in the system. Because the system contains different metals in the radiator and CPU block, there is a possibility of galvanic corrosion occurring in the system. This is caused when two dissimilar metals are connected via an electrical contact forming a battery type connection. In a liquid cooling system, this occurs when the liquid used becomes conductive because of impurities introduced into the coolant. The issues surface as corrosion in the copper surface or material build-up on the aluminum surface. Corsair uses a proprietary coolant mixture in the coolers to act as dual-purpose corrosion inhibitor and bio-cide to combat such issues.
- Sleek flat black and black chromed appearance
- Utility of Corsair Link™ software package
- Performance under stock and overclocking conditions
- H80i cooler performance under extreme overclocking conditions
- Durability of tubing
- LED color configuration capabilities
- H100i cooling system performance
- BIOS update issues
- Galvanic corrosion potential with mixed-metal aluminum radiator and copper CPU block
Out of all the coolers tested, I would select the Corsair Hydro Series H80i High Performance Liquid CPU Cooler as the best of them all, both from a value and performance perspective.