Corsair Hydro Series H110 Review
Reviewed by: ccokeman
Reviewed on: March 14, 2013
Corsair Hydro Series H110 Introduction:
Cooling down the current generation of high performance processors is more of a challenge as die sizes drop packing more and more transistors into an ever smaller package. Cooling them down is much easier when running at stock speeds, as you might have guessed, as even the box solution can handle the thermal load, barely. Adding additional voltage and upping the clock speed effectively renders the box solution obsolete with even small bumps in voltage and/or clock speed. An improved air cooling solution such as those from Noctua and Phanteks help control the thermals but still have a hard time pushing higher, bringing rise to the need for something better.
Corsair has been at the forefront of manufacturers selling self-contained liquid cooling solutions over the past few years culminating with its latest creation: the Hydro Series H110. Over the past few years Corsair has built a market others have jumped into as it has proven fruitful, mainly due to the adoption of a self-contained pre filled liquid cooling solution by the masses. That in itself was a dynamic shift away from the fears of running a "water" cooling solution. Improving performance by spinning fans faster and pump revisions can only take you so far in terms of better thermals. Realizing that, Corsair stepped up and away from the traditional 240mm radiator and went with a 280mm radiator using lower speed 140mm fans along with the latest generation technology for the pump/cooling plate combo. Larger surface area and larger slower fans address the two main concerns, cooling improvement and noise reduction.
Priced competitively at $120, the H110 comes with a five-year warranty allowing it to potentially last well into your next build. Is bigger always better? Let's find out!
Corsair Hydro Series H110 Closer Look:
Visually different from the rest of the Hydro Series line-up, the packaging of the Hydro Series H110 features red accents against a black base rather than blue on white or silver. In other words more visually appealing when shopping in a retail location. The front of the package shows a picture of the H110 and illustrates that there are two fans with support for both AMD and Intel processors. The back panel illustrates in chart form the benefits of using the H110 over a stock Intel boxed cooler running on an Intel Core i7 3770K clocked to 4.6GHz. This message could not be any clearer. In case the pictures do not tell the whole story the text spells it out in a variety of languages for Corsair's diverse customer base.
The Hydro Series H110 is designed as a high performance liquid cooling solution supporting all of the current socket types from AMD and Intel. The accessory bundle is equipped to handle each contingency using parts specific to each CPU manufacturer. Included are the manual and warranty paperwork, the back plates, retention ring, mounting plate, and thumbscrews.
It's nice to see how the H110 comes from the factory, but what really counts most is just how well will it dissipate the thermal load generated by an overclocked and over volted processor? A quick run through the component structure will have to come first to illustrate how the H110 is put together.
Corsair Hydro Series H110 Closer Look:
Corsair's H110 is the latest version of the popular Hydro Series high performance liquid cooling solutions. A cursory glance tells you it is a self-contained pre-filled cooling solution equipped with a pump head connected to a dual fan radiator by rubber tubing. At a quick glance essentially it is what you have. When you dig into it a little closer you realize that something's not quite the same, and you would be correct. The Hydro Series H110 is equipped with a larger radiator designed for use with dual 140mm fans. That alone is significant but comes with some challenges. Measuring 140mm x 312mm x 29mm, the H110 provides an increase in surface area to promote improved cooling. Corsair uses a 20mm fan spacing on the H110 simply because the majority of components-style radiators used for custom liquid cooling loops use this spacing. Without a standardized dimension Corsair went with the majority.
Choosing a chassis to mount the H110 is paramount to using this solution. Corsair has some of its lineup that works but there are additional choices out on the market. The tubing used to connect to the pump head/cooling plate to the radiator is a new flexible design that is a huge improvement over the FEP tubing seen on the H100. In addition to the added flexibility it is also a low evaporation design to allow the cooling to stay inside long enough to reach the end of the warranty period. Metal clamps are used in place of the heat-shrunk plastic sleeves used with the FEP tubing and looks more secure, adding a degree of confidence in the design.
Corsair went back to its roots with the H110 by using an Asetek pump head and cold plate much like it did with the groundbreaking H50. This time around a more efficient Generation 4 Asetek pump assembly was used to pump the cooling fluid through the 280mm x 140mm radiator to discharge the thermal energy pulled from the CPU. Small and round, the pump head uses a 3-pin power connection instead of a 4-pin PWM connector to provide the pump with full power all of the time. The tubing connections to the pump head are by way of 90 degree fittings that swivel to remove tension off the pump assembly. Corsair pre-applies the thermal compound onto the cooling plate contact surface in the optimum thickness and circumference providing consistent coverage of the CPU heat shield. After testing I found the coverage to be consistent with what I would expect as far as a coverage pattern. Cleaning off the compound I found the surface of the pump head to be smooth with little in the way of significant machining marks.
Included with the Corsair H110 are a pair of 140mm x 24mm fans that are used to provide airflow through the 280mm radiator. These fans are rated at 94CFM of airflow, have a static pressure rating of 1.64mm-H2O, and run at up to 1500RPM at up to 35dBA. Total airflow volume from the fans is only 2CFM higher than the 120mm fans used on the H100. The main difference besides the size of the fan is the noise level associated with the airflow. Where the H100 sounds like a vacuum cleaner, the H110 is much quieter. The trade off is worth it in my opinion. Corsair chose to use a PWM-style 4-pin fan header instead of one using a 3-pin assembly as seen on the fans used on the CoolIT-based H100.
The installation of Corsair's Hydro Series H110 is fairly straight forward. The universal style brackets slip into place on the locating lugs, then are locked into place with a retaining ring. By using this method (which is much easier than earlier revisions), your hands are free to screw the mounting studs into the backplate pressing the Gen 4 pump head onto the CPU. Corsair recommends installing the fans in push mode blowing cool air from outside the chassis and ambient air through the radiator for the best possible temperatures. In this configuration you are able to maximize cooling potential but will have to manage the additional 188 CFM of intake airflow into and through the chassis to keep from increasing the thermals of the motherboard and internal components. The flexible rubber lines are more forgiving than the FEP (Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene) tubing used on previous models allowing the larger diameter tubing the flexibility to run in a tighter radius if need be.
A larger radiator, new pump head cooling plate, and high CFM, low noise 140mm fans all conspire to deliver a product that has immense cooling potential.
Corsair Hydro Series H110 Specifications:
Cold Plate Material
AMD AM2, AMD AM3, AMD FM1, AMD FM2, Intel LGA 1155, Intel LGA 1156, Intel LGA 1366, Intel LGA 2011
Corsair Hydro Series H110 Features:
- 280mm radiator: The 140mm-wide radiator has a larger surface area than typical 120mm radiators for more efficient heat transfer.
- Low-RPM 140mm fans: The blades of the included 140mm fan are larger than most 120mm fan blades, so it doesn’t need to spin as fast to deliver the same airflow.
- Next-generation tubing: The low-evaporation, easy-bend tubing is guaranteed leak-free.
- Advanced cold plate and manifold design: The cold plate uses copper for outstanding heat transfer, and the manifold is engineered for efficient flow.
- Simple mounting bracket: The multi-platform mounting bracket easily adapts for Intel and AMD processors.
All information courtesy of Corsair @ http://www.corsair.com/us/cpu-cooling-kits/hydro-series-water-cooling-cpu-cooler/hydro-series-h90-140mm-high-performance-liquid-cpu-cooler.html
Corsair Hydro Series H110 Testing:
Testing of Corsair's Hydro Series high performance liquid cooler, the H110, will be accomplished installing the cooler into the test system mounted into a case, not a test bench. Most systems are built and mounted into a sealed (relatively) chassis, so this method will be used to generate the load and idle results to give a real world view as to what kind of cooling performance one can expect, based on the test system listed below. Of course, your results may vary, due to case design and ambient air temperature by several degrees. The CPU load is generated by Prime 95 version 27.7 for a period of two hours, with a cool down period of one hour, after the computer has returned to an idle state. Real Temp 3.70 is used to log the temperatures over the time frame with the highest and lowest averages across the four cores of the Core i7 2600K test CPU. Ambient temperatures are kept at 24 °C throughout the testing to minimize the impact of a variable temperature. Each cooler is tested with the manufacturer supplied thermal compound as delivered. Many of us have our own TIM favorites, but for the end-user without a half dozen tubes of thermal paste laying around, the supplied TIM will have to do and is how these coolers will be tested.
- Processors: Core i7 2600K @ 4.3 GHz 100 x 43 1.30v
- CPU Cooling: Corsair Hydro Series H110 High Performance Liquid Cooling
- Motherboard: Gigabyte Z68AP-D3
- Memory: Mushkin 993997 9-11-10-28 1866Mhz
- Video Card: XFX HD 7970 Black Edition
- Power Supply: Corsair AX1200
- Hard Drive: Corsair Force GT 240GB
- Optical Drive: Lite-On Blu-Ray
- Case: Corsair Obsidian 650D
- OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
- Temperature: 24 °C
- Noctua NH-U12P SE
- Phanteks PH-TC14PE
- Sapphire Vapor-X CPU COoler
- Corsair Hydro Series H80
- Corsair Hydro Series H60
- Phanteks TC90LS
- Noctua NH-L9i
- Phanteks PH-TC12DX
- Corsair Hydro Series H90
- Corsair Hydro Series H100
At idle the Hydro H80 delivered lower temperatures in both stock and overclocked trim on the Core i7 2600K. When it comes to load temperatures, the H110 is hands down the winner in these tests again both stock and overclocked. In stock trim the Hydro H110 delivers temperatures 30 °C cooler than the reference cooling solution and over 50 °C cooler when overclocked. When compared to the H100, the Hydro Series H110 maintains a 5 °C margin under load, stock and overclocked.
Corsair Hydro Series H110 Conclusion:
After putting the Hydro Series H110 through its paces I have to say that I am pleasantly surprised by its cooling performance. After seeing what the latest Gen 4 Asetek pump-equipped Corsair Hydro Series H90 was capable of, the H110 just had to be better. In terms of cooling performance it was, even against the more than adequate Corsair Hydro Series H100 where the H110 enjoyed a 5 °C improvement in cooling performance. A 5 °C improvement may not seem like a large improvement but essentially it is when compared to last year's best in class. As a high performance liquid cooling solution the H110 delivers not only impressive cooling but it can do so with significantly less noise than the Hydro Series H100 and Hydro Series H80. It does this by using larger, slower, 140mm fans, a larger 280mm aluminum radiator, and a new Generation 4 Asetek pump to manage the thermal transfer through the system and out the chassis.
Currently priced at $120 the H110 is competitive with the market of 2x120mm self contained liquid cooling solutions including Corsair's own H100 and Thermaltake's Water 2.0 Extreme. Competitive but in no ways inexpensive. However only you can decide whether the performance outweighs the cost. In my eyes it does coming from one that has spent way too much on custom liquid cooled systems.
The only real negative for the H110 is that you will need a chassis that can fit a 280mm radiator in it. Sure, modifications are possible and you can make it fit, but it's nice to have a chassis that can hang it right out of the box. In that respect Corsair has several of its chassis, including the Corsair Obsidian 650D that I use as my test system chassis, that fit the bill. Further Corsair case compatibility includes the Vengeance C70, the 550D, the 500R, and of course the latest full tower beast, the 900D. Other manufacturers may have compatibility but you will need to do your research. Socket compatibility for the Corsair H110 includes all current socket types from both Intel and AMD, ensuring just about everyone running a current socket has access to this cooling solution from Corsair.
I have to say that the lower noise levels and improved cooling really make the case for the H110. It currently sits at the top of the heap as the best cooling solution I have tested on this iteration of my test system. Equipped with all of the adapters and installation parts you need, Corsair has thought of it all. Ease of installation is improved with the larger, more flexible low evaporation tubing that allows Corsair to extend a five-year warranty for this product as a way to provide peace of mind to the skeptical user. The five-year warranty is going to mean this cooler may make it through to your next build on average. Great cooling, competitive pricing, low noise, and a great warranty make the H110 a shoe-in for you next build or cooling system upgrade.
- Excellent Cooling
- Low Noise
- Improved Pump
- Large surface area
- Five-Year Warranty
- Competitive pricing
- Limited Case compatibility