Performance and Final Thoughts
|Processor||Intel Core i7-4790K|
|Motherboard||ASUS MAXIMUS VII GENE (mATX Intel Z97)|
|Memory||G.Skill AEGIS 8GB 1600MHz DDR3|
|Graphics Card||NVIDIA GTX 750 Ti (OEM)|
|Storage||OCZ Vertex 460 120GB SSD|
|Cooling||Corsair H100i GTX, Corsair H80i GT, Corsair H105, Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 (with NM-i115x)|
|Power Supply||SilverStone Strider ST-1000P 1000W Modular PSU|
|OS||Windows 8.1 64-bit|
For testing CPU load temps I use prime95's torture test on the "blend" setting for exactly 5 minutes per run with each cooler, taking the max temperature from the hottest core using RealTemp.
Here we see that the new H100i GTX edged out the H105 when set to the “performance” profile with the Link software, no small feat considering the outstanding performance of the H105 in my experience. The 120mm H80i GT is next, also in “performance” mode, and it expectedly falls a bit behind the larger H100i GT - though not by much. Then we have both new coolers in their default modes, which as you can see are a few degrees warmer at this setting (though with a considerable impact to noise output, as we will see). Finally we have the Noctual NH-D14 (the newer version with PWM fans), which I added to the mix as an air alternative. This massive dual-tower air cooler still performs quite well (it’s arguably one of the best air coolers ever made, in fact) but can’t match the performance of the AIO liquid coolers in this group. The NH-D14 does excel in the following category, as you will see:
Here the NH-D14 wins by a wide margin, thanks mainly to the fact that its fans were spinning below 700 RPM even at full load. Next we have Corsair’s new coolers which put up an excellent showing at their default profiles. While the temperatures were higher at these settings (though still very good) the savings in noise output make a compelling case for the default mode. The larger H100i GTX was able to produce slightly lower noise with identical 120mm fans, and this is likely attributable to the difference in radiator thickness (49mm vs. 30mm) and fan configuration (push/pull vs. push). It is worth noting that the H105, which turned in a consistent 3 dB above ambient at idle and load, can actually be quite a loud cooler when pushed - nearly 50 dB at full speed. The noise levels were the only drawback I could find when I reviewed the H105 last year, and it looks like the H100i GTX has supplanted it as the higher performing 240mm unit.
Both of these new coolers are compatible with Corsair’s Link software, which allows for easy selection of the different performance/noise levels available. In addition there is also the ability to control the RGB color on the cooler’s pump assembly to allow for a custom look that matches your build. I found the Link software to be easy to use and it worked reliably throughout testing when switching between profiles. It’s a nice value-add considering that both coolers perform very well out of the box, and Link isn’t actually required to use either of these in their default mode.
One the areas where both of these coolers really excel seems really basic, but it's vitally important: They install securely and easily. I didn't cover the installation process here as this is unchanged from prior models such as the H105 (and you can check out a closer look at installation by following the link to that review). The mounting hardware included with these AIO coolers seems to improve incrementally with each generation, and the kit included with both the H100i GTX and H80i GT was the best I've used so far. Subtle changes such as the size of the screw holes on the CPU bracket and the size and flatness of the included thumbscrews don't sound like much, but they matter a lot when you need a solid connection to the CPU.
Beyond the installation process I was impressed with both of these new coolers overall. The build quality seems high and they have a premium look with the new design - right down to the hoses. While I’m used to the smaller diameter rubber hoses of previous models (which also offer greater flex than these new hoses), the premium look of the braided finish is very nice. Most important, however, is the performance - which was excellent. The mighty H105 (I might just have an exceptionally high performing unit) has finally fallen to this the new H100i GTX, and between the two I would personally take this larger cooler given the slight improvement over the H80i GT in both noise and temps. Still, both offer solid performance so if 240mm doesn’t work for your build it’s nice to have the option - though the 49mm thickness (before fans, of course) mean you’d need to check clearance before committing to the H80i GT.
Bottom line: These coolers don’t break any new ground, but they do offer solid performance and attractive new styling to help differentiate them from the competition. The H100i GTX and H80i GT represent the state of AIO liquid CPU cooling, and do so very well indeed.