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Corsair Hydro H110 Review

Rating: 9.0.

Today we are going to look at the Corsair Hydro H110 which is the latest performance CPU cooler in their range, fitting in just above the H100i.  It marks Corsair’s response to the NZXT Kraken X60 which utilises a larger 280 mm radiator than the 240 mm unit associated with the existing  H100i.

Corsair are widely regarded as the leading enthusiast brand in the ‘all-in-one liquid cooling’ market.  They have a wide range of products which cater for a broad spectrum of users.

We were recently impressed by their H100i, but many enthusiasts have since been speculating that the Kraken X60 would offer better cooling performance.  Unfortunately, we don’t have the Kraken X60 available for comparison with the H110 today, however we expect to publish a comprehensive review in the coming weeks.

Specification

  • Cold Plate Material: Copper
  • Fan Specification: 140 mm (x2)
  • Socket Support: AMD AM2/AM3/FM1/FM2 Intel LGA 1155/1156/1366/2011
  • Radiator Material: Aluminium
  • Tubing: Low-evaporation, easy-bend tubing is guaranteed leak-free

The H110 is supplied in a larger box than the H100i, hinting at the larger size of the unit within.  It’s decorated in an attractive red and black livery which features a large image of the cooler on the front.

Turning the box around reveals some more details about the cooler, including some basic temperature comparison graphs.  The box feels quite good quality and should do a good job of protecting the cooler in transit.

Inside the box, we find a plethora of bundled accessories.  Most of these are related to the mounting mechanism which is more complicated than that of the H100i.  There are also a pair of Corsair branded fans included alongside an installation guide.  We would like to see Corsair including two PWM fan splitters and a second set of fan screws with the cooler, for those who want to use a push-pull configuration.

Despite the small difference in model number, there are quite a few differences between the H110 and the H100i.  The former is based on an Asetek design like the NZXT Kraken X60 and Corsair H55, whereas the latter is based on CoolIT Systems technology.

The most prominent feature of the H110 is the sizable 280 mm radiator.  While this creates a larger area for heat transfer than a 240 mm radiator, it restricts the compatibility of the cooler significantly.

There aren’t a great deal of cases out there which support a 280 mm radiator without modifications, so care needs to be taken when selecting components.  Another key factor to consider is the spacing of fan mounting points on the case as there isn’t a clearly defined standard for 280 mm radiators.

The H110 has a fan spacing of 20 mm, but some cases have 15 mm spacings and will also be incompatible.

From a glance, it’s clear that the CPU block on the H110 is very different to that on the H100i.  The H110 doesn’t boast Corsair’s Link technology, meaning it’s much more compact.  The block itself is circular and features a large copper plate on the bottom, surrounded by screws holding it together.

The block is connected to the radiator via flexible rubber pipes which are generally preferable to the more rigid FEP tubes that feature on some liquid coolers.  The pipes are noticeably smaller in diameter than those on the H100i, however it’s not clear how the interior dimensions compare.

We were a little disappointed that Corsair haven’t developed a variant of their ‘Static Pressure’ fans for this cooler, however we are assured that this is to make it as affordable as possible.  There are two PWM controlled 140 mm fans included with the cooler which are Corsair branded models, similar to that supplied with the H55.

The retention mechanism isn’t quite as simple as that used on the H100i, making the installation process a little more complicated.  There is a detailed installation guide included, though, which improves the situation somewhat.

The first step of the installation process is to prepare the retention ring for the motherboard socket.  This involves affixing clips onto the four corners, in the correct orientation for the socket in question.

Next, the backplate needs to be prepared, by pushing the screw threads into the correct holes.  Then, it can be affixed to the back of the motherboard using the foam pads provided.  We found that the backplate conflicted with a component on the back of our motherboard, meaning that it wouldn’t lay completely flat.  We were forced to modify the backplate to account for this, cutting off one of the corners.

Then, the retention ring can be attached to the pump head using the provided clip, and the thumbscrews can be put into place.  The radiator can then be installed into the case.

Finally, the CPU block can be secured down onto the motherboard.  The fans and pump also need to be connected via the 4-pin and 3-pin headers provided.

To test the performance of the Corsair H110, we built a powerful Z77 based system to push the cooler to its limits.  It features an Intel Core i7-3770K which was overclocked to 4.7 GHz using a core voltage of 1.3 V.

Test System
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-3770K
  • Motherboard: ASRock Z77E-ITX
  • Memory: 8 GB Mushkin Blackline 1333 MHz
  • Thermal Paste: Arctic Cooling MX-2
  • Graphics Card: AMD Radeon HD 7950
  • Graphics Card (noise tests): HIS Radeon HD 5550 Silence
Software
  • Prime 95 (64-bit)
  • CPUID Hardware Monitor
  • Corsair Link V2.2.0

It is worth pointing out that our engineering sample Core i7 3700k which we use in these cooler reviews does run hot, compared to another 3770k sample we use in different reviews. You can expect your own results to be better at the same settings.

For our temperature tests we loaded the system for 15 minutes using Prime 95 and recorded the CPU temperature using CPUID HWMonitor.  We then restarted the system and left it idling at the desktop for 15 minutes before recording temperatures. Room temperature was maintained at 18 degrees Celsius for the duration of the tests.

While the H110 doesn’t have a large lead over the H100i in terms of absolute temperatures, it’s very important to consider the noise emitted by the fans under the test conditions.  These are detailed on the next page.

In our noise level tests we switched off all the case fans and replaced the AMD Radeon HD 7950 graphics card with a HD 5550 passive model so were  just taking into account the noise generated by the cooler fans themselves.  We measured the noise level with a Digital Noise Level meter at a distance of 1 m from the front of the case.

Here we can see that the H110 is very quiet indeed, despite the exemplary performance in the thermal tests.

Overall we are very impressed with what the Corsair Hydro H110 has to offer.  While it may not be quite as impressive as the H100i in terms of features, it provides superior cooling performance, allowing enthusiasts additional headroom for overclocking.

It’s quite clear that Corsair are targeting this cooler at a different segment of the market compared with the H100i.  The H110 does away with all of the superfluous features that aren’t really necessary and concentrates on offering the best cooling and acoustic performance for the lowest possible price.

Obviously, there are drawbacks to this approach.  Namely, the H110 looks and feels a little less ‘premium’ when directly compared to the to the H100i, predominantly as a result of the cheap fans bundled with the unit.  We expect that many enthusiasts will replace these with superior models, though.

Please Note: We would urge those who are considering purchasing the H110 to think carefully about the case they’re planning to use as a basis for their system.  There hasn’t yet been a standard set for the spacing of fans on 280 mm radiators and, consequently, different cases use different fan spacings.

The H110 uses 20 mm fan spacings, so you’ll need to make sure the fan mounts on your case correspond.  It’s worth noting that this differs from the NZXT Kraken X60 which uses 15 mm fan spacings on the radiator.

The Corsair H110 will be available to purchase shortly in the UK from all major etailers.  Corsair inform us that it will cost around £95 when it hits the market, and will therefore be priced extremely close to the existing H100i.

We think that it offers great value for money at this price as it provides better cooling performance than the H100i for a negligible price premium.  It also comes in around £25 cheaper than the NZXT Kraken X60 which we expect to be it’s main competitor in the market for the foreseeable future.

Pros:

  • Impressive performance.
  • Great value.
  • Quiet operation.
  • Does away with unnecessary features.

Cons:

  • Poor compatibility.
  • Cheap fans.

KitGuru says: Yet another impressive product in Corsair’s Hydro Series.

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