Once, while building a system for a friend, I was asked why CPU heatsinks are getting progressively larger. I told him it just seemed that way and that, in fact, newer CPUs do not require as much cooling, as they run on lower voltages and are much more efficient. He was just noticing larger heatsinks because he recently discovered overclocking, and that cooling requirements are different compared to stock settings. In fact, I recommended that he look into building a water-cooled system if he wants to push his system further.
That was over two years ago and we still have very large heatsinks. Also, my friend never did get into water-cooling, for he found the cost of assembling a system with a pump, reservoir, radiators, cold plate, hose, bards, fittings, and cooling liquid just simply did not fit his budget. Thankfully, self-contained liquid-cooling kits are widely available, currently, and have been progressively improving fast. Large manufacturers, like Corsair, have thrown their hat into the ring and worked with Asetek and CoolIt to provide self-contained, no-maintenance, liquid CPU coolers across various price points.
The H100i is Corsair’s latest flagship AiO CPU liquid cooler based on CoolIt’s design. The new Corsair H100i offers an improved mounting convenience through magnetic brackets, new flexible rubber hoses and superior 120mm fans based on Corsair’s latest SP120L fan designs. Corsair also integrates the fan preset options digitally on the H100i through the Corsair Link software via a USB connector instead of the physical on-pump preset button used by the Corsair H100. Compatible with all current AMD desktop systems, including AM3+, AM3, FM2, and FM1 mainboards, as well as Intel LGA2011, LGA1366, and LGA115X sockets, the Corsair H100i carries a 5-year warranty, so it should last users at least a few upgrade cycles.
|Cold Plate Material
||Copper Micro Fin|
||AMD AM2, AMD AM3, AMD FM1, Intel LGA 1155, Intel LGA 1156, Intel LGA 1366, Intel LGA 2011|
|Tubing||Large-diameter, low permeability|
||120mm x 275mm x 27mm|
||120mm x 120mm x 25mm|
||2700 RPM +/- 10%|
|Fan Static Pressure
To test all heatsinks/fans in this comparison, Hi Tech Legion will maintain an ambient room temperature of 23C. Temperatures will be climate controlled in all instances, so there will be no variance in benchmarks. Noctua NT-H1 Thermal Compound will be used for all comparison units. All heatsinks/fans will be benchmarked in the exact case as its comparisons, unless otherwise specified. HTL does not benchmark heatsinks/fans on a work bench - this is an attempt to show real world statistics. Temperatures will be calculated using AIDA64 and will all be measured in Celsius. All load temperatures will be at 100%, achieved by using OCCT, which will be run for 30 minutes before temperatures are measured.
In this review, the $119.99 MSRP Corsair H100i CPU Cooler will be tested against the following comparison units. The units were tested in succession in the same build, and only results from these tests were used.
Room Temperature: 23C
All power saving features were disabled in the BIOS and on Windows on both Stock and Overclocked, with the Windows Power Saving feature set to "High Performance". The top 140mm exhaust fan on the Switch 810 was removed and all fans were attached directly to the power supply via molex to 4-pin/3-pin adapters to ensure full RPM. The H100 and H100i fans were attached through the pump unit and the H100i settings were adjusted via Corsair Link software.
Provided by: Corsair
No compensation was received for review of this product.
Price: $119.99 USD (MSRP)
With an estimated price point of $119.99 USD, the Corsair H100i is in the enthusiast category of CPU coolers.
The Corsair H100i's updated design and new fans outperform high-end air-coolers and the H100 on an overclocked Intel Core i7-3960X, although the new fans are very loud, even when set to Balanced mode.
The math, when it comes to radiators, is simple: more surface area equals better heat dissipation. Naturally, the 240mm radiator found on the H100 and the new H100i allows for enthusiast class cooling when paired up with very capable fans. As seen in the benchmark results, when it came to stock settings, two high-end air-coolers and both H100 and H100i perform similarly, with the quiet modes of the Hydro series trailing only by 2 or 3 degrees under load. Once voltage is applied, and the Sandy Bridge Extreme processor was pushed to 4.8GHz, however, the gap increases. The Corsair H100 in performance mode fared well against both the Noctua NH-D14 and Phanteks PH-TC14PE but the Corsair H100i in performance mode pulled ahead of the pack.
Aside from the performance upgrade, the H100i also boasts new and better features absent from the original H100. The new magnetic mounting bracket is easily superior to the screw-on type found on the H100 and also has more allowance for the mounting holes, so it is a lot easier to install on an LGA1366 and LGA2011 motherboards. The new thicker rubberized hose is also easier to manage than the ribbed plastic type from the previous version. The H100i, with its variable RGB LED, sleeker pump design and gray fans, also looks a hell of a lot sexier compared to the boxy H100.
Corsair Link is tightly integrated into the H100i, as it is with the rest of Corsair’s digital “i” products. A USB cable is included which attaches to a motherboard’s USB 2.0 header and does not require users to purchase additional accessories so they can control it from their desktop. The Corsair Link v2 software itself has plenty of features and opens up a ton of control options, including individual fan control, which the previous H100 was incapable of out of the box. The software is not perfect, however, and despite its wealth of features, I would’ve preferred if the font was bigger, for the text was quite small and I found no options for adjusting the size. The CPU temperature was also being reported incorrectly, reporting that my CPU temperature was only 44C when I was running OCCT while overclocked to 4.8GHz with a 1.485Vcore. There were also times when I booted the computer and the Corsair Link v2 software was reporting that the CPU temperature was 0C. Thankfully, the pump and fan controls do not offer any sort of resistance and would instantaneously adjust to whatever setting I select from the desktop without any delay or load times. Corsair Link even offers comprehensive fan control adjustments in case users do not wish to use the default presets and individual profiles can be saved and loaded.
The new set of high static pressure fans bundled with the H100i definitely cools very well, however, they are far from quiet in Balanced and Performance mode. The H100 was very loud when set to the highest setting but the H100i’s fans are impossible to ignore, with an added annoyance of a faint but very high pitched noise. I cannot imagine anyone using a system running the H100i in Performance mode and actually get work done because it is very distracting. I suggest making use of the Corsair Link software to make your own custom fan profile or running it in Quiet mode.
Overall, the Corsair H100i improves a lot and adds several new use features over the previous H100. Just the fact that it is being offered at the same price as the original H100, despite having a ton of improvements and having superior cooling results, should merit it an Editor’s Choice award. However, the extremely distracting noise, even in balanced mode, and the quirks of the Corsair Link software mar its otherwise stellar performance.