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Best CPU Cooler Roundup Review Feat. Corsair, Cooler Master, Noctua, Phanteks, Zalman

Best CPU Cooler Roundup Review Feat. Corsair, Cooler Master, Noctua, Phanteks, Zalman

Sam ChenJanuary 30, 2013

A Closer Look

Corsair H100i


Here’s a look at the Corsair H00i. As you can see from the box, it’s a high end AIO water cooler sporting a 240mm radiator.


Cracking open the packaging, we get some documentation along with  all the mounting hardware necessary to install the cooler.


Here’s a look at the fans included with the H100i. These fans are optimized for high static pressure and are capable of spinning at up to 2,700 RPM.


Diving further into the box, we also get the radiator/CPU block assembly. With the Corsair H100i, Corsair has gone with a 240mm radiator, which provides more surface area than a 120mm radiator, which allows for additional heat dissipation.


Let’s also take a look at the CPU block as well. The top of the CPU block includes a Corsair logo along with a high gloss finish. The logo is RGB backlit and lighting can be adjusted via the Corsair Link software. One thing worth mentioning about the H100i is that Corsair is using very high quality, very thick rubber tubing which not only looks fantastic, but also feels much more durable than the tubing found on the older Corsair all in one water coolers such as the H70.


Unlike any cooler I’ve seen previously, the H100i includes a mini-USB port as well as a Corsair Link port for interfacing with other Corsair devices. The mini-USB port allows the H100i to connect to the Corsair Link software, which will allow the user a ton of functionality such as adjusting fan speed, adjusting LED backlighting, or monitoring temperatures.


On the other side of the waterblock, there’s two ports for connecting fans. Corsair includes two proprietary adapters that connect to each of the ports shown here and splits into dual 4 pin fan connectors that allow fans to be connected to the pump. While it’s not 100% necessary for the fans to be connected to the waterblock, this solution allows the waterblock (and Corsair Link) to control fan speeds.

However, by connecting the fans to the pump, I did run into the issue of the stock fans making a high pitched squeal while in operation. This issue is only present when the stock fans are connected via the pump. It doesn’t happen with other fans I’ve tested and it doesn’t happen when the fans are connected via the motherboard header. This leads me to believe that it’s definitely a firmware issue, so hopefully this will be fixed in future firmware updates. (Testing conducted with Corsair H100i firmware 1.0.4)


Additionally there’s also a SATA connector along with a 3 pin fan connector as well. This provides power for the fans and the pump.


Moving to the bottom of the cooler, we can see that Corsair has also pre-applied thermal paste on the H100i which is a nice touch. It allows for more even application of thermal paste, which may make a huge difference in temperatures. Unfortunately since additional thermal paste is not included, you’ll need to purchase additional thermal paste if you’d ever want to re-seat the heatsink. 


Before installing the cooler on the CPU, let’s install the fans on the radiator real quick and take a look at what that looks like. While only two fans are included (and installed at the moment), up to 4 fans may be installed.


Let’s go ahead and install the H100i. With the LGA 2011 platform, the entire installation is a breeze as LGA 2011 comes with the heatsink bracket pre-installed on the socket.


Nice thing about the H100i along with pretty much any other all in one water cooler is that you’re not really restricted on what kind of memory you can purchase, so higher profile memory isn’t an issue.


As mentioned previously, the Corsair logo on the H100i is RGB backlit. The software also allows you to adjust the functionality on the backlighting so you do some pretty neat stuff like set the backlighting color depending on the temperature.


Before we move on, let’s also take a look at the Corsair Link software that may be used to interface with the CPU block on the H100i. Of the coolers tested today, the H100i is undoubtedly the most advanced cooler of the bunch. The software allows the CPU block itself to adjust stuff like fan speeds, monitor the fans, monitor the temperatures, or change the lighting on the CPU block.


Here’s a look at the lighting settings adjustment page on the Corsair Link software. There’s a pretty cool mode here called temperature which will change the LED color based on temperature so if the sensor on the CPU block hits a certain temperature, the LED color would change. It’s always great when companies integrate something that’s flashy and cool, but also has some sort of utility as well.

About The Author
Sam Chen
Hardware and Technology Enthusiast. SSD Evangelist. Editor-in-Chief. You can find Sam's full biography here
  • Russell Robinson

    Excellent review. Id still go with an air cooler over these AIO solutions. If I ever did water cooling again, Id do it properly (custom loop).

  • PC_ User

    Ill Stick with my Phanteks PH-TC14PE out does the all in one coolers at
    1/2 the noise mine never gets over 62c while gaming , folding,
    benchmarking on a OCed 2500K@ 4.5ghz nice review Sam.

  • ubercake

    Good review. There aren’t many sites out there compaing the H100i to the NH-D14 (are they being paid not to?). This is one of few that does.

  • Anoince

    The “m” stands for Medium, just like on the 220XL the “xl” stands for extra large. The difference between them are the thickness of the radiator.

  • Brian Blair

    Why can’t Intel not be so friggin cheap and just add a decent Heatsink. My non K i5 3470 does fine at 3.8GHZ with the Stock heatsink never going to 60c under load, Ok that’s fine but could still be much better. Just good enough should never be acceptable for the price we pay for these chips.

  • Gabe

    got the phanteks and with delid , CLU i am able to clock at 4.8 ghz i7 4790k , with prime stable not seeing anything past 80 C