This past July, Corsair announced the availability of the Hydro Series H80 and H100 liquid CPU coolers. You might recall that Corsair released the H50 in June of 2009 to great fanfare. Though not the first closed-loop liquid cooler, the H50 was wildly popular for its cooling prowess, cool looks, and reasonable price (for a water-cooling system). Each iteration of the Hydro series since the H50, has evolved with greater cooling efficiency and more features, keeping competitors on their toes. The H80 is the next step in the Hydro series, offering compact and quiet cooling, easy installation, and support for Corsair Link.
- Great cooling performance
- Very quiet in Quiet profile
- Easy to install
- No maintenance required
- Looks cool
- 3 cooling profiles
- Fan connectors located on the cooling module
- Can’t change cooling profiles without the opening case
Water cooling in general, is a scary proposition for many enthusiasts. It requires a lot of dedication to cooling because of maintenance, high cost, and the risk of spills. However, the H80 is a closed-loop system that requires no maintenance and has a reasonable, one-time cost. The H80, like the H50, is pre-filled and sealed. It uses high-quality Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene (FEP) tubing that helps minimize coolant evaporation so you never have to worry about refilling the coolant. Besides great cooling performance, water cooling systems are good for keeping noise levels down. If that sounds like something you might be interested in, read on.
Installation of the H80 was fairly easy and I appreciated the small cooling unit. Air coolers that use huge heatsinks with gigantic fins can be challenging to install because they have a tendency to block memory slots on motherboards. Another advantage of the light-weight H80 cooling unit is that it doesn’t cause undue physical stress on the motherboard.
Since this was my first closed-loop water cooler, I took a little extra time to look over the quick start guide and even watched an installation video on the Corsair blog. I had no problems installing the universal Intel mounting bracket it and was easy to adjust for the LGA775 socket of my motherboard.
Next, I installed the radiator and two 120mm fans in place of my rear case fan. Following Corsair’s recommendation, I installed the fans so that they drew air in (push-pull). Conveniently, the fans plugged directly into the cooling unit, instead of having to string the fan cables all over the motherboard. After installing the radiator and fans, I lined up the cooling block and tightened the screws.
CPU: Intel E4500 (overclocked to 2.75GHz)
Motherboard: Abit IP35 Pro (LGA775)
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
Enclosure: Corsair Carbide Series 400R
According to Corsair, the cooling unit of the Hydro H80 uses a split-flow manifold and a micro-channel copper cold plate that allows it to absorb heat more efficiently. Plus, the double-thick radiator increases cooling capacity and the dual 120mm fans aid in achieving maximum cooling performance.
Before running my tests, I ran RealTemp to check out the CPU temperature and was amazed at the difference in idle temperatures between the stock Intel HSF and the H80. With the H80, idle temps never went above 37°C in any of the H80’s cooling profiles. The real test though, would be how it’d perform at 100% load.
To test the H80, I set AIDA64 (previously Everest Ultimate) to log the CPU core temps, which recorded the temperature about every 10 seconds or so. I then ran IntelBurnTest v2.52, 10 times, to bring to CPU load up to 100%. I extracted the last 5 minutes of log data and averaged the temperatures. I repeated this procedure for all three cooling profiles (quiet, balanced, and performance) and recorded the ambient temperature at 28.5°C.
As you can tell from the graph, the H80 performed remarkably well. With the stock Intel HSF, I actually had to stop the test early because it got dangerously hot. The H80 on the other hand, barely broke a sweat. It performed nearly 26% better in Quiet mode and 34% better in Performance mode, than the stock Intel HSF! To cycle between cooling profiles, all I had to do was push the button on top of the cooling unit and the indicator lights showed which profile was running. The only drawback was that I had to open the case each time to change the cooling profile, but the Corsair Link Commander add-on should address this as soon as Corsair releases it.
The noise level of the H80’s 120mm fans range from 22dBA to 39dBA. The H80 is very, very quiet in Quiet mode, but still performs nicely at 100% load––crushing the performance of the stock Intel HSF. I found the balanced mode to be somewhat loud, but not significantly louder than systems that require a lot of cooling. Performance mode was the loudest, but as expected, had the best performance.
||120mm x 152mm x 38mm
||120mm x 120mm x 25mm
||(+/- 10%): up to 1300 RPM (Low Noise), 2000 RPM (Balanced), and 2500 RPM (High Performance)
||46 – 92 CFM
||22 – 39
|Fan Static Pressure
||1.6 – 7.7mm/H20
The Corsair Hydro Series H80 Liquid CPU Cooler is by far, the most effective CPU cooler I’ve ever used. The H80 solves the problem of high performance cooling solutions that are too bulky. Like many enthusiasts, I’ve had to return gigantic air coolers that were just way too big for my system. Factor in the H80’s great performance, good looks, zero maintenance, 5 year warranty and flexible cooling profiles, and what you’ve got is a cooling solution that can meet just about everyone’s needs. Plus, when Corsair releases the Corsair Link Commander, it’ll give you configuration and monitoring options that you only dreamed of. I highly recommend the H80.
Available from Amazon.com.
Review unit provided by Corsair.