CORSAIR iCUE H115i ELITE CAPELLIX Liquid CPU Cooler Review
Deck The Halls With Shiny LEDs
CORSAIR’s H115i liquid coolers are the 280 mm option in each year’s lineup, last reviewed here way back in 2018 with the H115i RGB PLATINUM. This year the H115i gets the CAPELLIX LED treatment, making it a more prominent showpiece in your build – if you so desire.
Of course technically the H115i ELITE CAPELLIX is a cooler, not just an ARGB lighting accessory (it’s true, I checked), so we will test it against other recent 280 mm coolers in this review. It’s compatible with virtually every current CPU, including Threadripper, though I went with our Core i9-10900K (with no power limit) once again.
The extensive list of features for the iCUE ELITE CAPELLIX series from CORSAIR includes:
- HIGH-PERFORMANCE RGB PUMP HEAD – The ELITE CAPELLIX cooler pump head houses 33 ultra-bright CAPELLIX RGB LEDs to go along with its RGB fans. When you add powerful, low-noise cooling to the mix, your system will look great and will run even better
- SPLIT-FLOW COPPER COLD PLATE – An optimal cold plate design and a high-density stack of 128 micro-skived fins-per-inch provides highly efficient cooling at all loads
- LOW-NOISE CENTRIFUGAL PUMP – Delivers a flow rate of up to 0.82L/min while generating less than 20 dBA, for extreme cooling with low noise
- CHANGE UP YOUR LOOK – Each ELITE CAPELLIX CPU cooler includes two separate pump caps. The pre-installed pump cap is a stylish, glossy black, while the alternate pump cap is more transparent to let your CAPELLIX LEDs shine through
- TURN ANY CASE INTO A SMART CASE – Harness the power of iCUE with the included iCUE Commander CORE to control the fan speed and RGB lighting for the included ML RGB fans, with the potential to control additional CORSAIR RGB fans, up to a total of six
- POWERFUL CORSAIR iCUE SOFTWARE – Adjust fan and pump speeds, control and synchronize your cooler’s RGB lighting with all iCUE-compatible devices, and monitor CPU and coolant temperatures, all from a single intuitive interface
- MAGNETIC LEVITATION RGB FANS – CORSAIR ML RGB Series PWM fans deliver powerful airflow for extreme CPU cooling performance, with eight RGB LEDs per fan
- ZERO RPM MODE – Zero RPM cooling profiles in CORSAIR iCUE software allow fans to stop entirely at low temperatures, eliminating fan noise
- AVAILABLE IN THREE SIZES AND PERFORMANCE LEVELS – 240mm (H100i) for great compatibility, 360mm (H150i) for high cooling performance, and 280mm (H115i) for a great mix of both
- EASY TO INSTALL – Modular, tool-free mounting bracket for quick and painless installation on all modern Intel and AMD sockets
Enjoy this embedded YouTube video:
- Cooling Socket Support
- Intel 1200, 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156, 1366, 2011, 2066
- AMD AM4, AM3, AM2, sTRX4, sTR4
- Radiator Size: 280mm
- Radiator Dimensions: 322mm x 137mm x 27mm
- Radiator Material: Aluminum
- Coldplate Dimensions: 56 x 56mm
- Cold Plate Material: Copper
- Tubing Length: 380mm
- Tubing Material: Black Sleeved Low-Permeation Rubber
- Number of Fans: 2
- Fan Dimensions: 140mm x 25mm
- Fan Model: ML RGB Series
- Fan Control Method: PWM
- Fan Speed: 2000 RPM
- Fan Airflow: 97 CFM
- Fan Static Pressure: 3.0 mm-H2O
- Noise Level: 10 – 36 dBA
- Lighting: RGB
- CORSAIR iCUE Compatibility: Yes
- Cooling Warranty: Five years
Corsair lists support for all recent Intel platforms including LGA 1200 and 2066, but more enthusiasts probably care about AMD support these days, and this includes the latest AM4 and sTRX4 sockets.
Our H115i model has a 280 mm aluminum radiator, with overall dimensions of 322 mm long x 137 mm wide x 27 mm thick. The “sleeved low-permeation rubber” tubing is 380 mm long, and leads to the pump/block assembly.
The coldplate offers a 56 x 56 mm copper surface with pre-applied thermal paste.
This 280 mm model features dual 140 mm fans of course, and these are from Corsair’s ML RGB Series. These are PWM fans that can spin up to 2000 RPM, which would provide airflow of 97 CFM with 3.0 mm-H2O static pressure.
While mounting hardware/process will be familiar to anyone who has used a Corsair liquid cooler in recent years, the connections are quite a departure as this cooler includes one of Corsair’s control modules.
This iCUE-powered controller acts as a hub for up to six RGB fans, so you can use it to sync up additional case fan lighting – if you purchase additional Corsair ARGB fans, of course.
You will need to accommodate the controller within your case, as both the RGB and PWM cables for each fan as well as the pump/block assembly plug into this, with power coming from an available SATA connection.
Taken out of context the end result is a little messy, but this will ideally be placed somewhere behind the motherboard tray.
CAPELLIX Lighting and iCUE
Last but not least, the star of the show: CAPELLIX lighting. If you’re unfamiliar, this is a high intensity, low energy LED lighting that is proprietary tech from CORSAIR. My photos didn’t really do it justice. In person it looks like neon lighting with the glow well controlled, yet intense.
I used the default black cap on the pump, but CORSAIR includes an alternate in the box to better match white builds – or if you just can’t get enough of ARGB in your life. (They also offer 2D / 3D CAD file downloads on the product page (ZIP file), so you can customize – and potentially 3D-print – your own cap design.)
The 140 mm fans are also ARGB, with the supplied ML RGB model offering 8 LEDs per fan. All of this lighting – not to mention the performance level of the cooler – is controlled using iCUE, naturally.
As usual, the iCUE software experience is a streamlined one, and in a few clicks you can choose a lighting pattern and performance level for the cooler. Of course you can also endlessly tinker with custom settings, but for the purposes of this review I chose a lighting preset and then tested both “balanced” and “extreme” performance levels.
The results to follow tell the story of an efficient, low-noise cooler that barely ramps up the fans under load at the “balanced” preset, and is the most effective cooler tested to date at the “extreme” preset – and without much of a noise penalty.
The load result at the “balanced” preset are higher than the previous H115i we tested, but this wasn’t indicative of the cooler’s potential. The i9-10900K without a power limit (tested here running the Blender Classroom CPU cycles render) produces a constant ~200W CPU draw, and the fans under “balanced” just don’t ramp up enough under load to keep things competitive in this group.
The result using the “extreme” preset, which increases the pump speed and allows for a faster ramp and higher RPM from the 140 mm fans, was fantastic. This is the most effective cooler tested on this platform to date, and the surprising thing about this result is visible in the chart below.
Easily the lowest-noise liquid cooler we’ve tested, at the “balanced” preset the H115i ELITE CAPELLIX was barely audible under load. A custom setting with slightly higher fan speeds would more than make up for the higher temps we saw at this setting – but what about the “extreme” preset?
This is really impressive, as a full load at this highest preset was generating less noise than any other high performance option in the group. A third-place finish in noise levels for the most effective cooler is superb. 41 dBA is not “silent” by any means, but it is still a modest level for this level of thermal performance, with other coolers in the 45 – 50 dBA range.
The H115i ELITE CAPELLIX doesn’t just have standout looks from its ARGB fans and new CAPELLIX LED-infused pump, as the cooling performance using the “extreme” preset was fantastic. As mentioned above, this is the most effective cooler tested on our toasty Core i9-10900K platform to date, and the noise levels were well controlled even at this highest performance setting.
Given the price tag, which at $169.99 USD list (currently selling for $149.99) is about average for a 280 mm liquid cooler with RGB lighting, I can find no fault with this cooler. It performs extremely well, produces less overall noise than anything else I’ve tested in this category, and looks great.
If I had to pick on something it would be the conservative fan profile in the “balanced” mode, which would offer better performance with a slight tweak to the max RPM. Still, this can all be customized with the iCUE software, and not everyone is going to use this with a 200W CPU (let’s face it, we live in a Ryzen world now).
This disclosure statement covers the way the product being reviewed was obtained and the relationship between the product's manufacturer and PC Perspective.
How Product Was Obtained
The cooler is on loan from CORSAIR for the purpose of this review.
What Happens To Product After Review
The cooler remains the property of CORSAIR but will be on extended loan to PC Perspective for the purpose of future testing and product comparisons.
CORSAIR provided the product sample and technical brief to PC Perspective but had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.
PC Perspective Compensation
Neither PC Perspective nor any of its staff were paid or compensated in any way by CORSAIR for this review.
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