Corsair H70 Reviewccokeman - August 29, 2010
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Stripped down to its bare bones, the Corsair H70 at first glance looks like many of the pre-assembled and pre-filled liquid cooling solutions on the market today. You have the pump assembly, non permeable liquid lines and a radiator. Simple right? When you put it in those terms yes. But when you dig deeper, you get a feeling that something is different. The radiator is larger and the pump/coldplate assembly has a much lower profile than even the CoolIT ECO. The H70 looks like it is based off of the Asetek 570LC liquid cooling system.
The radiator is a step up from the one used on the H50. Total dimensions are close on both height and width but where it is significantly larger is in the thickness. At 50mm, it is twice as thick as the one used on the H50. With this increase in size, you get an increase in the total surface area. This increased surface area (and now larger internal volume of coolant) leads to a higher heat dissipation capacity that can result in lower temperatures under load. Also, if you are into water cooling you know that mixing metals usually leads to bad things in the long-term due to galvanic corrosion. The radiator here is made of aluminum which is lighter and more efficient at transferring heat than a copper/brass radiator. The coldplate is made of copper so you end up with two dissimilar metals in the loop. However, with a warranty of 24 months you have the expectation that you will not have problems for at least that long or longer. That's long enough for CPU socket changes to render your system obsolete and move on up to the next greatest thing.
The pump/coldplate/reservoir is a low profile design that offers the ability to fit into smaller spaces than a large air cooling solution and comes with performance to match the best full-size air heat sinks on the market. This lower profile design does not come with the weight penalty associated with the large air cooled thermal solutions giving you some piece of mind if you transport your rig around on a regular basis. The inlet fittings come out the side of the reservoir and swivel both left and right. The coldplate has an application of thermal paste already applied so you don't have to worry about getting the correct application if you just use the "blob and go" method of TIM application. The pump assembly is controlled via a three pin power connection that can go either on the motherboard's CPU fan header or to a three pin to four pin wire adapter. The attachment method is visible in this set of pictures. The hold-down mechanism uses a series of notches in the retention ring that lock into place on the H70 when you tighten it down.
The use of fittings that swivel is a huge improvement over the tubing attachment method used on the Corsair H50. This means pretty much any combination of case and cooler can be accommodated so you do not end up with a kink in the non-permeable tubing or having any undue pressure on the motherboard or socket. Swivel to the left or right to fit the H70 into place.
The fans used by Corsair are 120mm x 25mm fans that run between 2000 RPM and 1600 RPM depending on whether you have used the included inline resistors or not. At 2000 RPM, the fans push just over 62CFM of air at 31.5 dBA. Static pressure is what helps the fans push airflow through a radiator. The included fans specifications show that the fans used have 1.8 to 2.3mm H2O worth of static pressure, higher than the Noctua NF-P12 fans used on the NH-U12P SE2. But that added static pressure and fan speed means the noise penalty is greater. When you knock the fans down to 1600 RPM with the supplied adapters, the airflow drops to 50.35 CFM, still pretty decent.
When you put the H70 and H50 Hydro series cooling solutions side by side the differences between the two are pretty easy to see. The tubing on the H70 is much shorter than the tubing on the H50 meaning an easier installation. The radiator looks to be pretty close to twice as thick, offering more surface area and liquid capacity.
The pump assembly is an area where the differences are also easy to spot. The pump/heat exchanger on the H70 is literally half the height of the pump on the H50. What this does is again give you more flexibility in the installation. The added depth of the H70 radiator with its two 120mm fans makes this a necessary change. The wiring to power the pump is another area of change. The H50 has a braided covering on the power supply wiring making it the more attractive wiring package. The surface prep on both heat exchangers is fairly coarse but it is flat.
Once installed in the system, you can see just how much room the radiator and dual fans take up in a full tower chassis. You can orient the H70 one of two ways. Taking the air in the case and pushing it out or pulling in air from outside the case and exhausting inwards. The exhaust-out solution dumps the heat load out of the case at the cost of using warmer case air to cool the radiator. The preferred solution from Corsair is to use the cooler from outside the case. The down side to this is you need to reconfigure the case airflow to compensate for this heat dump into the case. Perhaps by installing one or more top exhaust fans.
Let's see if the H70 can unseat the current king of the hill, the NH-D14.