I first ventured into liquid cooling for my computers way back, about a decade ago, for my Intel Pentium 4 "Williamette" and AMD "Duron" based test systems. This was when I was in high school and in my early years of reviewing computer hardware. Back then, the big players in the watercooling market were Danger Den and Swiftech. There were no pumps specific for computer watercooling, so most adopters of liquid cooling used fountain and pond pumps. For radiators, the main choices were the Black Ice series from HWLabs or car heatercores (I preferred Chevelle cores).
Soon after this time period, the liquid cooling market exploded with many new companies in the market and many more component options as a result. While I stayed more in the DIY/enthusiast end of the liquid cooling spectrum, I remember seeing many all-in-one liquid cooling kits appear. I always scoffed at them. They were never really good, with cooling performance not being remotely close to the top-end air coolers they were competing against, and price was always very high.
Today I'll be looking at a modern version of an all-in-one liquid cooling kit, a class of product I used to dismiss. But it's been a long time, and as with any other category of computer component, I'd expect this class to evolve for the better over time. Representing our first look at a modern all-in-one liquid cooling kit is Corsair's H100 Extreme Performance Liquid CPU cooler. The highest end liquid cooler offered by Corsair, the word "extreme" is used by their marketing folks to describe it. We'll see how that description holds true...
|Socket Support||AMD AM2, AMD AM3, Intel LGA 1155, Intel LGA 1156, Intel LGA 1366, Intel LGA 2011, Intel LGA 775|
|Tubing||Low-permeability for near-zero evaporation|
|Radiator Dimensions||122mm x 275mm x 27mm|
|Fan Speed||(+/- 10%): up to 1300 RPM (Low Noise), 2000 RPM (Balanced), and 2500 RPM (High Performance)|
|Fan AirFlow||46 - 92 CFM|
|Fan dBA||22 - 39|
|Cold Plate Material||Copper|
|Fan Specification||120mm (x2)|
Corsair's H100 is an all-in-one liquid cooling kit. It comes preassembed and prefilled with coolant (mixture of water and propelyne glycol), and consists of two main parts: the waterblock (with integrated pump) and radiator which are connected with flexible tubing. The H100 was designed to be simple to use with no maintenance required. Since it's preassembled, installation is made easy as it only requires the mounting of the waterblock and radiator. Those familiar with the assembly of liquid cooling setups know that it's more complicated than that. The H100 is Corsair's attempt at bringing liquid cooling to the masses.
The waterblock, with its integrated pump, has an all black colour scheme. Its exterior is mostly all matte black plastic, except for the top which has a glossy insert. The top of the waterblock has a button that controls the speed of the fans that are plugged into it. Three speeds are selectable.
The fan controller integrated into the waterblock supports four fans. The side of the waterblock has four 4-pin PWM fan connectors. The cable coming out of the side of the waterblock ends in a 4-pin molex connector, supplying power for the waterblock and fans.
The other side of the waterblock has the inlet and outlet ports leading to the radiator. The connectors can be rotated as necessary, depending on how and where you install the radiator in relation to the waterblock.
The baseplate of the waterblock is copper. It's smooth, but with faint-feeling machining marks. Thermal compound comes preapplied to the waterblock.
The radiator in the H100 kit is sized to support two 120mm fans. It's entirely made of aluminum and is completely painted black. As mentioned earlier, the waterblock contains copper. Normally, in a pure water liquid cooling loop with mixed metals, galvanic corrosion will occur. Typically, aluminum will corrode and and build up on copper surfaces. In the case of the H100 this would be bad as it could lead to leaks in the radiator and clogging of the waterblock. What helps to slow down this corrosion is Corsair's of propylene glycol additive in the liquid within the H100's loop. Reassuringly, Corsair backs the H100 with a 5 year warranty, so users shouldn't have to worry about corrosion for a while.