Corsair H60 Water Cooling Kit Reviewairman -
Category: CPU Cooling
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Water cooling has always been a personal interest and hobby of mine, as it can be very powerful in the sense of customization, product variety, and overall performance. However, many people are skeptical or afraid of the idea of water cooling simply because of the possible failure and the catastrophic damage that could ensue, and the simple financial needs to implement a high-end, custom-designed water cooling loop. Piecing together a system with high quality parts can cost well over $200, though the performance that can be expected can be quite worth it. Luckily for the skeptics and/or wallet conscious, there are many options available that are self-contained water cooling units from well-known manufacturers, and typically for right at or under $100. This raises eyebrows by many, as we all know that you get what you pay for. The amount of heat pouring out of a CPU may not easily or effectively be cooling by a 1x120mm radiator, which is also where my skepticism stands. However, hopefully I can be proven wrong after testing Corsair’s recently released H60 water cooling system. The H60 is compatible with just about any processor core that’s still worth anything, from all the way back to Intel 775 through 1155, 1156, and 1366 — so that includes even the new Core i5 and Sandy Bridge. AMD support covers both AM2 and AM3 as well, with no custom backplate. Furthermore, Corsair uses a new micro-channel cold plate among other new technologies into its design of the H60, as well as providing an all new fan that offers the enhanced static pressure that is required by high-density water cooling radiators.
Skepticism aside, I am interested to see how this cooler performs. This will not be my first water cooling setup, as I may have hinted earlier, but it will be my first “prebuilt” setup that comes in a box. I always remember hearing and seeing the results of earlier prebuilt water cooling units as “performs worse than some air cooling,” simply because of the lack of heat capacity in the small units. We know that the heat capacity value of water hasn’t increased from the past, but hopefully the technology to put it to work more effectively has. We saw recently with the Antec Kuhler H2O 620 that it’s not terribly difficult to make some decent numbers with a nearly silent setup and small footprint. With that being said, let’s get started!
The classic look of Corsair's packaging is certainly present on the box that contains the H60 water cooling unit. The main visual piece on the front of the box is the H60 water block installed onto a motherboard, with Corsair Dominator memory visible in the background. The large H60 text identifies the model of the unit, with a small picture of the unit itself along with a compatibility list at the bottom. The sides and top of the box contain general specifications about the unit in regards to power draw and other operating principles, such as fan RPM, noise, and static pressure — important for the radiators used in water cooling. The rear of the case simply presents benefits and general improvements to the H60 over earlier "hydro cooler" units, such as the micro channel copper plate, and a liquid flow pathway that offers more direct cooling to the CPU. It also states that it handles the same amount of heat while operating more quietly, and is easier to install since the hold-down mechanism is tool-free. There is also a graph that shows the performance difference between the stock CPU cooler, the H50, and the H60 from Corsair. Of course, the stock CPU will fail on a fully loaded i7 930 at 4.0GHz, and the H60 offers a slight improvement over the H50.
Opening the box will reveal a well-packaged assembly of manuals, the fan, and bags of the mounting accessories along with the H60 unit itself. Removing everything from the bags is self-explanatory. Once everything is out of the box we find that there is one user's manual, a Corsair brochure for new products, Intel backplate, AMD retention brackets, mounting hardware, one 120mm fan, and the pump/block/radiator assembly. As with most prebuilt water cooling units, the H60 keeps its pump inside the water block.
With everything out of the box, it is now time to take a closer look at the H60 and I will offer an evaluation of its construction and features. Following that will be an intense testing session on recent hardware, in both stock and overclocked scenarios, while being compared to the biggest names on the market for cooling hardware.