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Corsair Hydro H100i GTX & H80i GT Review

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Joined
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Corsair has been launching new all in one water cooling units in waves beginning with their H110i GT, a large 280mm cooler that improved upon nearly every aspect of its predecessor. Now, the venerable H100i and H80i are up for an update via the recently introduced H100i GTX and H80i GT, both of which are supposed to offer better performance and competitive pricing in relation to their competitors.

While the H110i GT focused squarely on a CoolIT designed unit, for this review we’re going over to Asetek’s side of the fence. In order to neatly avoid the aggressively litigious tendencies of Asetek, Corsair has been using them to design any AIO that’s based off a 120mm form factor for some time now. Hence, both the 120mm H80i GT and H100i GTX represent a significant departure from their larger sibling.
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As with its predecessors the H80i GT makes use of a single 120mm radiator that is unusually thick at 49mm (up from a standard 38mm) and includes two SP120L high performance fans. Unlike some other lower-end coolers in Corsair’s lineup, it is compatible with the innovative LINK software which, in this case, acts as a desktop-bound fan controller application.

Since the H80i GT is the third generation of Hydro All in One CPU cooling solutions to use the “H80” moniker, it should also come as no surprise that it also comes with a price that neatly slots in between the lower performance, lower priced H60 series and the single 140mm radiator-based H90 series. At an even $100, it is in for a dogfight since competitors like Enermax’s Liqtech 120X, NZXT’s Kraken X31 and even dual 120mm coolers like Antec’s unique Kuhler H20 1250 all retail for about the same or even less. In keeping with Hydro H80 tradition, Corsair is fully cognizant of this fact and the H80i GT's overall <i>value</i> and success rests squarely on its heat dissipation abilities.

The H100i GTX also is the third model to be given the 'H100' label and also comes with extremely high expectations. To meet these expectations Corsair has once again opted for a dual 120mm bay radiator that is slightly thicker than most at 30mm, two SP120L fans, extra-long tubing, the best waterblock Asetek and Corsair could create and compatibility with the LINK software.

Much like the H80i GT, the H100i GTX has been launched into a hotly contested segment. Its $120 price aligns perfectly with the likes of SilverStone’s Tundra TD02, Cooler Master’s Nepton 240M, Enermax’s Liqtech 240 and a host of other excellent 240mm AIOs.

The competition in the 120mm and 240mm water cooler market is heating up, simply because Asetek seems to be selling their designs to every conceivable company who wants to launch an All in One lineup. With that in mind, only minor yet engineering differences, fan performance and software will allow one product to distinguish itself from another. Corsair hopes their own well-respected team has been able to design a unique, appealing combination of abilities into the H80i GT and H100i GTX.

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,421
Location
Montreal
A Closer Look at the H80i GT

A Closer Look at the H80i GT



The H80i GT’s included mounting hardware shares a lot more in common with CoolIT-based Corsair units than it does with previous Asetek models. While the backplate and top mounting rings are classic Asetek the rest of the equipment is basically the same as the H110i GT's. The same metallic standoffs, the same large knurled screws, even the same socket 2011 adapter hardware. This certainly makes for an interesting combination but one that benefits consumers.


The H80i GT obviously builds upon the foundation of its predecessors, but Corsair has taken the 'GT' model in a new direction. Just as the H110i GT was given a makeover to increase its good looks so too has the H80i GT been given a new and much more aesthetically pleasing external design. There are not metallic inserts alongside the radiator and a sleek water block.


Like the H110i GT, this makeover is not just skin deep. Corsair has doubled down on idea that thicker is better when it comes to radiator designs. When the H80i was released the 38mm thick radiator it boasted was highly unusual and a key selling feature since it boosted thermal transfer by a significant amount.

Since then other companies have come out with slightly thicker models (such as Silverstone’s TD03 at 45mm) which took away some of the original model’s allure. In order to further optimize the design Corsair and Asetek created a new 'double thick' radiator which is downright massive. While it may not technically be twice as thick as their H60's 27mm radiator, at 49mm it is the thickest single bay 120mm radiator we know of.


When you add in the two 25mm thick stock fans it comes equipped with, the H80i GT is almost as thick as it is tall. This extra thickens also introduces some unique installation issues that even the H80i did not suffer from, but we will get to them later in the review. Suffice to say that a consumer thinking the H80i GT is just like the H80i will be in for a shock.

On the positive side this additional depth to the single bay radiator not only significantly increases cooling efficiency it also boosts the amount of liquid sealed inside the H80i GT. This should enhance its effectiveness since coolant capacity is a weakness of 120mm models.

Unfortunately the underlying technology of this thick radiator has not been upgraded and still relies upon outdated 'folded fin' technology to transfer heat from the water channels to the air. However, its oversized dimensions should make up for this lack of efficiency by sheer brute force and surface area.


Corsair has opted for a pair of SP120L fans that they have dubbed 'High Torque' which is a very apt description. The previous second generation fans included on the H80i were indeed powerful and rotated at a whopping ~2700RPM while moving 70 cubic feet of air a minute at 4mmH2O of static pressure. These ones may only rotate at ~2435RPM, but they also move 7 cubic feet of air more per minute (77CFM) and do so at higher static pressure 4.65mmH2O. It can be argued that fan technology has moved forward faster than radiator and water block designs have.

Even though the SP120L fans are more powerful, they promise to be quieter than their processors, thanks in small part to their slower rotational speed. In testing the differences weren’t drastic, but nevertheless noticeable and certainly welcome.


Corsair has once again opted for a low profile waterblock design that is now downright waifish in its dimensions. Unlike previous Asetek based units, the H80i GT's block isn’t circular but features a faux square layout that almost mirrors the design of CoolIT’s waterblock. However by flipping it over you can see the trademark circular base that Asetek always use. This means the majority of the 'square' which overhangs the actual waterblock is nothing more than plastic fascia and is not actually used for improving performance or surface contact area.

While it may be small, the waterblock has all the latest improvements that Asetek could bake into such a small volume. More importantly they have done away with the two 90 degree inlet/outlet ports. Instead these two ports now sprout directly from the top of the block. They swivel a bit so there is no extra pressure being placed on the tubing and the pump itself.


This tweak in conjunction with one of the best base finishes we have seen from Asetek should allow for a very efficient heat transfer from the CPU's hot IHS to the water citculating inside the H80i GT.


Even though this is not a CoolIT based unit, the new waterblock includes an integrated fan controller that is fully capable of communicating with Corsair's LINK software via a typical mini USB 2.0 cable. The fan controller does not make use of the custom fan cables that came with the previous CoolIT based model. Instead, Corsair has allowed Asetek to use a simpler but robust flat double headed 4-pin fan cable that is much easier to work with. .


Moving on we can see that Corsair has once again opted for large reinforced rubberized tubing to connect the new radiator to its waterblock. In the past Asetek-built Corsair Hydro Series AIO's always used smaller diameter tubing compared to CoolIT based units and this upgrade is very welcome news indeed. In fact the tubing dimensions are downright massive though some of this increase in dimensions is from the tight braided covering.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
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Messages
13,421
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A Closer Look at the H100i GTX

A Closer Look at the H100i GTX



With the exception of the installation pamphlet and the number of screws included, the Corsair H100i GTX's accessory list mirrors the H80i GT’s. It has a universal backplate, AMD and Intel top mounting rings, an installation pamphlet, two SP120L fans, a bag of screws, and Intel socket 2011 adapter hardware. These components are all of the highest quality with the sole exception being the plastic backplate. This is one area where Asetek units still fall short of the competition.


In comparison to either the H110i GT or H80i GT the upgrades Corsair have baked into the third generation H100i GTX seem a touch less spectacular and are more subtle in their scope. Make no mistake, the H100i GTX is full of improvements and the end results are still impressive, but the previous H100i was arguably the most advanced Hydro model Corsair offered and as such any improvements seem more like the evolutionary refinements rather than the revolutionary changes.

The H100i GTX has been given a much more attractive design. Just like the larger H110i GT there are metallic 'racing stripe' which run the length of the radiator. This proves a very nice accent to the all-black nature of the H100i GTX and makes it one of the best looking Hydro models Corsair has ever released.

Corsair has not only upgraded the looks of the H100-series but they also improved the radiator’s physical dimensions. The last generation Hydro H100i came with a dual 120mm radiator which was only 27mm thick. This limited performance somewhat but the newest model has been increased to 30mm which shouldn’t cause any issues during installation. It does however boost both the radiator’s surface area and the amount of coolant.


The H100i GTX's radiator uses folded fin technology to transfer heat from the water channels to the air. This will limit the performance increase of this new radiator but the increase in thickness is nevertheless a step in the right direction.


As with the H80i GT, the H100i GTX uses large outer diameter rubberized tubing. These tubes are also covered in a tightly braided black sheath which gives the H100i GTX a more sophisticated look than the previous generations. Unfortunately, this addition does cause some rigidity concerns during installation but those can easily be worked around.


For all intents and purposes the upgraded waterblock is almost the same as the one that accompanies the H80i GT. It is however a low profile waterblock and the restricted internal space does limit the amount of improvements their engineers could bake into it. The top mounted ports do reduce pump head pressure and swivel so there should be no issues during installation.

Unlike the H75 & H105 Hydro AIOs, Corsair does not include any different color options. Instead they expect you to purchase them separately.


The waterblock's base also has the mirror bright finished base that Corsair sealed water CPU cooling units are known for. This will further help boost the performance of the new waterblock. More precisely it will not hinder efficiency like a poorly finished base would.


The fans which accompany the H110i GTX are the exact same as those that accompany the H80i GT. They are the extremely impressive as while they may rotate slower than their predecessors, 2435RPM versus 2700RPM, they not only move 7 cubic feet of air more per minute (77cfm) but also do so at higher static pressure of 4.65mmH2O.
 

SKYMTL

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Setup and Installation

Setup and Installation



Both the H80i GT and the H100i GTX are built for Corsair by Asetek which leads to them both utilizing installation hardware that is radically different than the H100i, H80i or even the new H110i GT. In practical terms this means instead of using the best in class magnetic mounting bracket the H80i GT and H100i GTX use the more old fashioned mounting hardware Asetek favors. The end result is still a straightforward installation procedure though, particularly if you have an Intel system and don’t need to switch out the hardware.


Asetek has come a long way in their installation procedure and the difference in ease-of-use is not as large as it once was. Now the top mounted tubing is even easier to work with than the CoolIT based H110i GT since it pivots in place around a set axis.


The only real issue with these two Asetek based units and the mounting hardware concerns AMD users. Since the Intel top bracket is installed at the factory AMD users will first have to take the time to remove the plastic securing ring, then remove the top bracket, install the AMD bracket, and then ensure that this AMD bracket is securely mounted to the small - and finicky - teeth before reinstalling the plastic securing ring. These extra steps are a bit more tedious but not overly so. After all 'patience' and 'persistence' are two words that AMD users are already very familiar with.


Once consumers have physically mounted the waterblock to their motherboard these two fundamentally different form-factored coolers do diverge in the type and number of installation hiccups owners will run into. The H80i GT uses a single 120mm radiator, and since 120mm rear exhaust fans are ubiquitous very few cases will be unable to accommodate this small but thick cooler.

In some smaller cases that only accept 120mm rear exhaust fans you may find the base of the H80i GT’s radiator coming too close for comfort to your first PCI-E slot, but the majority of cases will have no major issues with actually mounting the H80i GT in place.

With that being said, even though most cases can accept the H80i GT, the sheer depth of this cooler - a full 97mm or 3.82 inches with both fans attached - will bring a whole host of unique problems usually not associated with single bay 120mm units.

This means one fan and possibly even the radiator itself may overhang the CPU socket. This is especially true of smaller form factor cases where 120mm AIO's usually reign supreme. It really will come down to your motherboard and how tall its heatsinks are which will ultimately determine if you can in fact install the H80i GT.


If you plan on using this model with an Intel socketed 2011 based system you will have to damn well make sure that there is enough room between the inner-most RAM slots and the radiator as otherwise you may not be able to make use of this Hydro cooler without first replacing your expensive DDR4 ram with -also expensive - low profile DDR 4 ram sticks. Once again most consumers should still be able to mount the H80i GT but proper previous planning will be paramount to proper (installation) performance. We recommend having the two ports on the waterblock pointing in either a North/South orientation or towards the front of the case. This should allow any portion of the H80i GT overhanging the CPU socket to not cause any problems with most motherboards. Just to be clear such measures should not be necessary but small tweaks like this during the early stages of the installation may make your life easier in the long run -and both Corsair and the H80i GT do not care which direction you install the waterblock.


In comparison to the H80i GT, the number of issues consumers need to be aware of with the H100i GTX seem downright sparse. Thanks to its overall form factor and thin radiator (only 55mm thick with 2 fans attached) there aren’t many showstoppers here. However, be aware the radiator uses the newer 15mm fan spacing standard. Not all cases which have dual top mounted exhaust ports use this offset and the majority of older cases use 20mm spacing.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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H80i GT; Stock Fan Performance Results

H80i GT; Stock Fan Performance Results





The H80i GT's extra thick radiator really does pay dividends; the improvements Corsair has been able to pack into this new cooler is bordering on phenomenal. While some of the benefits may be due to the higher performance fans, the fact remains that they are ~250RPMs slower than the ones included with the H80i. Even with that slight "handicap" the GT is able to easily run alongside or even outpace several of today's better 140mm AIOs.
 

SKYMTL

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Messages
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H100i GTX; Stock Fan Performance Results

H100i GTX; Stock Fan Performance Results







The H100i GTX posts some very good numbers, however since Corsair once again opted for a thin radiator the differences are not as large as they could have been. Corsair would have been much better served by upgrading the radiator's thickness to 37mm which is basically what their H105 comes equipped with.

On the positive side the 30mm thick radiator is easily cooled by the included fans. It is actually arguable if such high static pressure fans are even necessary, but few consumers will complain about having too much performance potential to work with.
 

SKYMTL

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Dual & Quad Fan Performance Results

Dual Fans Apples to Apples




Quad Fans Apples to Apples




Even in a more apples to apples comparison against competitors with two fans, the H80i GT still looks like a winner.

As with the dual fan results the H100i GTX's quad fan results may not be as impressive as the H80i GT, but they are still nevertheless attention grabbing. With that being said we honestly can say that few will ever bother with quad fan configurations. The H100i GT's radiator is more than adequately cooled with only two of its high performance fans.
 

SKYMTL

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Sound Level Testing

Sound Level Testing


<i>While everyone "hears" noise differently there is one easy way to remove all subjectivness and easily compare different fans: use a sound level meter. This way you can easily compare the various fans noise envelopes without us coloring the results and see what fans fit within your personal comfort level. Of course, we will endeavor to try and explain the various results (which are taken at a 30 inch distance) to help you our readers get an even better understanding of how loud a cooler's stock fan is, but even if you discount our personal opinions, the fact remains numbers don't lie. All fans are tested with both voltage regulation / PWM turned off. 32 decibels was the background noise level and as such anything below this level is considered inaudible. This is why the bottom of the chart stops at 32.</i>

H80i GT


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H100i GTX


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Since both of these units come with extremely high performance fans it comes as no surprise that they are loud at full speed. However, they weren't as loud as most would surmise from their specifications.

Most of noise is from air movement and the hum they do make is fairly easy to ignore. The SP120L fans are also surprisingly predictable in their noise profile. This makes tuning them to your needs a very straightforward proposition.
 

SKYMTL

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Messages
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Conclusions

Conclusions



H80i GT


In its heyday, the original H80i combined a unique radiator design with an excellent waterblock design to create a class leading AiO. Unfortunately, while its relative cooling power is still more than adequate, competitors have since surpassed by alternatives. The Corsair H80i GT on the other hand is an impressive piece of engineering which builds upon the successes of its predecessor while bringing a new level of performance to the 120mm form factor table.

From a raw potential standpoint, the H80i GT has obviously been optimized for the high amounts of heat emitted by Intel’s latest architectures. It was able to provide best-in-class cooling across every test and even managed to hit far above its weight class by competing against some dual bay units. This was all accomplished while maintaining a relatively low acoustical profile across the fans’ RPM range. The H80i GT certainly isn’t the quietest cooler around but, with the Corsair LINK software, its noise output can be tailored to suit anyone’s needs.

One of the major benefits of 120mm-based water cooling units is their compatibility with a wide variety of enclosures and this is where the H80i GT may encounter some issues. While it won’t have problems fitting into larger cases, mATX and SFF systems may find it a tight fit due to the ultra thick radiator.

This may not be the least expensive 120mm AiO on the market but it is currently one of the best options around for high performance, compact cooling. With the H80i GT, Corsair seems to have it all: a good price, awe-inspiring cooling power, an easy installation process and excellent back-end controller software.




H100i GT


The H100i GTX is another excellent product refresh and it easily exceeded our expectations. Compared to its predecessor, the H100i, it represents a great leap forward for consumers. This is one of the most well-rounded and complete solutions we have seen to date in the 240mm AiO segment to date.

With that being said the market that the H100i GTX enters is not the same one that the previous H100i had to compete in. What was once a niche product for consumers interesting in performance at any price has evolved into a mainstream solution while the larger dual 140mm alternatives are now considered cooling leaders. This causes a bit of a sticky situation since the newly released H110i GT is a mere $10 more than the GTX at most retailers and it can provide quite a bit more cooling capacity at lower noise levels. If your case is compatible with the larger form factor, we highly recommend looking closer at it.

While looking outside the 240mm “norm” may lead potential buyers down another path, it is impossible to ignore what the H100i GTX brings to the table for those who can’t fit or simply don’t want a larger form factor cooler. It is affordable, offers enticing value-added features like compatibility with Corsair’s LINK, looks great and offers better performance than similarly-priced alternatives. What more could we ask for?


 

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