Corsair Hydro Series H90 Reviewccokeman - February 28, 2013
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Corsair Hydro Series H90 Closer Look:
Corsair's Hydro Series H90 high performance liquid cooling solution looks much like many of the previous revisions with the main exception being the size of the radiator and change in the pump head. Well when you look at it it is basically all new. An aluminum 140x140x25mm radiator takes the place of the 120x120x25mm unit on the new H60 and older H50. The pump head is an all-new Asetek Gen 4 design and the tubing is a more flexible design than the FEP (Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene) tubing used on earlier designs. This tubing is a thick wal,l low evaporation design. It's more flexible but is larger in diameter. With a 140x140mm radiator, chassis design is going to be key on your list of to-do's before you select the H90 as your cooling solution of choice. The reason is as simple as it gets, in that not all chassis can handle a 140mm fan in the top or exhaust locations. Thankfully our Corsair 650D can handle a 140mm fan and radiator combination. Compression-style clamps are used to keep the tubing attached to the radiator and leak-free.
The radiator is only part of the equation when managing the thermal load of today's processors. As mentioned before, Corsair has decided to go with Asetek for the pump head and cooling plate assembly for this round of the Hydro Series. Using the Gen 4 design that incorporates an all-new copper cooling plate, the pump head assembly is more efficient at removing heat than prior designs. The flexible rubber tubing is attached to the pump through a pair of 90 degree O-ring sealed inlet/outlet fittings. Using an O-ring sealed fitting allows it to swivel in place for added installation flexibility. Rather than using a 4-pin connection to use PWM control, the pump assembly uses a 3-pin power connection to provide full power at all times to the pump. Missing is the ability to integrate and control the H90 with Corsair's Link control and monitoring system. The cooling fluid is a proprietary blend that uses a propylene glycol/distilled water mixture as the transfer medium to pass the heat from the pump head to the 140mm radiator. Corsair pre-applies the thermal paste to the cooling plate surface that spreads out nicely when the cooling plate is mounted.
A 140mm capable radiator is best used with a 140mm fan. Using a larger fan and radiator is a way to reduce the noise penalty with some 120mm fans. A larger, slower moving fan is going to push more airflow with less noise. Corsair is using one of its nine blade 140mm fans on the H90. Rated to run at up to 1500RPM, it pushes up to 94 C.F.M. of air, has a static pressure rating of 1.64mm-H2O, uses 5.76 watts, and at full speed the noise penalty comes in at 35dBA. In testing this fan proved to be substantially quieter than the 120mm fans used on the H100 I use in my test bed PCs. This fan uses a 4-pin power connection so the fan can be PWM controlled to tailor the noise and cooling performance to meet the end users needs.
Installing the Hydro Series H90 is almost exactly like installing the H50 with a locking ring that locates and holds the pump head in position. A backing plate is used for each CPU socket type that varies by processor manufacturer. In this case I am installing the H90 on a socket 1155 motherboard. The back plate is held in place by a pair of double sided foam cushions that locate it while the pump mounting assembly is mounted and tightened down into the secured nuts in the back plate. Once each of the four mounting screws are started, tighten them in an X pattern until fully seated. Corsair suggests mounting the fan as an intake pushing cool, ambient air through the radiator for the best possible temperature deltas. Doing this requires placing the fan on the radiator and locating the fan/radiator mounting holes with each mounting screw. Once all four screws are in you will tighten them equally in, yes yet again, an X pattern. Do not over tighten the screws. Corsair has taken steps to make sure the distance from the mounting location on the frame to the radiator proper is great enough to prevent penetration of the radiator tubes during the installation.
Once the H90 is installed, it's time to take stock and see just what kind of cooling performance the system can deliver when equipped with Corsair's latest creation.