Today we are back with another AIO water cooling solution, this time from Corsair’s award-winning Hydro series. While Corsair has certainly been the king of the mountain for a while in the AIO market, competitors have recently made some quite impressive challenges to the throne.  The H80i promises high performance cooling and unparalleled control via its built-in Corsair Link controller in a package fitting the Corsair name. With integrated Corsair Link functionality and a push-pull fan configuration where will the H80i land on our charts? Read on to find out.

Product Name: Corsair H80i

Review Sample provided by: Corsair

Review by: Debo

Pictures by: Debo

Specifications

Cooler Unit

Model Number

CW-9060008-WW

Material & Finish

Copper waterblock

Socket Compatibility

Intel: LGA 1150 / LGA 1155 / LGA 1156 / LGA 1366 / LGA 2011

AMD: AM2 / AM3 / FM1 / FM2

PWM Fan

Dimensions

120 x 120 x 25mm

RPM @ 100%

2700 RPM

Airflow

77 CFM

Noise @ 100%

37.68 dB(A)

Radiator

Material

Aluminum

Dimensions

120 x 152 x 38mm


Packaging

The H80i comes packaged in that oh so familiar red, white and black Corsair shell, giving us our first introduction to the cooler right on the front of the box. Not much is here for us except the Corsair Link logo letting us know this cooler has that capability built right in.

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Flipping the box over we find graphs, a list of the box’s contents and socket compatibility information. While I’m all from trusting Corsair’s testing information we, of course, plan to put the cooler through our own tests.

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Lifting off the lid we find everything wrapped in so much plastic and stuffed into an egg crate. Included with the unit is the usual documentation including warranty information and the install/user’s guide as well as all the installation and mounting equipment and the pair of 120mm fans that move the air across the radiator. The final extra in the box are the two connection cables, one for the two fans and the other for the USB Corsair Link.

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Saving the best for last, we now take a look at the actual cooling unit. Starting with the water block and pump combination we find a ton of connections on the top. Three of these ports are for fan connections to tie into the H80i’s Corsair Link capability and the last is a USB connection meant to connect to one of your motherboard headers. The pump itself is SATA powered and PWM controlled like most AIO water cooling solutions we find today. The block is made of solid copper and already has a layer of thermal compound applied to it to make for an even easier installation. This whole package is connected to the radiator by 90o fittings and triple layer, low-permeability rubber tubing.

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 The radiator is, curiously, made of aluminum and seats the pair of included 120mm case fans. The coolant mixture in the H80i is a propylene glycol mix because of this and while it helps offset the galvanic corrosion it does lead to a lesser cooling capacity.

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Testing Methodology

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Our testing rig is as follows:

•             Processor:  Intel Core i5-2500 @3.3GHz

•             Motherboard: Asus Sabertooth P67

•             HDDs: Seagate Barracuda ES.2 1TB

•             RAM: 8GB Kingston DDR3 1600

•             Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 Ti

•             Case: CoolerMaster xB

•             OS: Windows Home Premium x64

A total of two tests will be run. These tests are as follows:

•             A Peak Test with the supplied cooler and fan setup running Prime95 for a total of 30 minutes.

•             A Real World Test using the supplied cooler and fan setup running 3DMark 11 for a total of 30 minutes.

The Peak Test is meant to test the absolute worst case scenario you could throw at your perspective cooler and will both be conducted with the CPU fans running at 100% RPMs under load.  The real world test is something a bit less stressful, meant to give you an idea of the coolers performance in a more day-to-day sense.

All tests will be performed using Noctua NT-H1 thermal paste in order to eliminate that variable from testing. CPU temperature reading will be taken using RealTempGT, RAM DIMM temperatures will be taken with a non-contact infrared thermometer and the remaining temperature results will be taken using the Sabertooth P67’s own temperature sensors using the following layout.

LayoutWM

The Peak test will also be subject to noise level measurements taken with a digital sound level meter every 10 minutes throughout the test to be averaged into an overall comparison score during both load and idle timeframes.

For our tests, we did not use the Corsair Link Dashboard beyond updating the firmware to its latest version. Instead we opted to use our tried and true testing software to get the truest comparable result. Your performance may vary.


Installation

We will begin by attaching the H80i’s backplate. For our LGA 1155 setup, this process is a very simple five piece process that involves nothing more than lining up the holes and screwing down our four standoffs to the board. Since the backplate connectors thread through the preexisting holes on the motherboard, this part proved to be a snap. While a small wrench tool might be helpful for getting the screws in place you should always be sure to not tighten anything down onto the motherboard too much.

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Next up is attaching the pump and waterblock to the processor. Since the H80i already has its own thermal compound applied we can skip that step but be aware that the compound application is only good for a single installation. If you plan on reinstalling the cooler at any point or you mess up on your first install you will need sound thermal paste as backup. There are a pair of small magnets on the pump and block unit that hold the bracket to the pump during installation making installing the cooler even in a vertical environment a breeze. Line up the screw threads in the mounting bracket channels and center the pump unit before tightening down the four included mounting screws and you are done.

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The hardest part of the installation process proved to be securing the fans and radiator in place. The first fan is secured to both the outside of your case and the radiator at the same time for a tight connection but lining up the screws is quite the task for two hands. Luckily the second fan is quite easy once the first one is in place. The only problem here is the second fan begins to crowd sections of the motherboard, specifically the area around the 8-pin power connector.

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Another thing to check is the clearance between your RAM DIMMs and the fittings and tubing. In our test bench this wasn’t an issue but it was close enough to warrant a warning if you are using other boards with differing manufacturers and layouts.

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The last part of installation is hooking everything up to the Corsair Link functionality. To this end a two fan connector and a USB cord are included with the device. Both radiator fans plug into the fan connector and are plugged directly into the pump where they will be powered and controlled. The USB is more of a function in cable management as it plugs into the side of the pump unit and has to make its way all the way down to a USB 2.0 header usually located at the bottom of your motherboard. The cable is not long enough to be routed any other way besides over top of your video card and other PCI cards and I would love to either see an extension for this cable or the option to plug into a backpanel USB port.

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Performance

With the H80i installed and running, it is time to see if this AIO cooler can actually put up numbers worthy of its high performance promises. Going into the tests I expected good things with slightly lower numbers then the Glacer 240L with its larger radiator and that is exactly what I was greeted with. CPU temperatures were markedly less than any of our previously tested air coolers though the H80i did lag slightly behind the obviously larger 240L. Ram temps were oddly below stock which can be chocked up to the installation orientation of the 120mm push-pull fans. Noise is unfortunately proving to be the Achilles’ heel of the AIO units as the fans required to create such high static pressures spin at such high RPMs that lower decibel levels are more of a secondary concern.

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The Real World tests showed much of the same things the Peak test did with the H80i finding that middle ground between top end air coolers and double radiator designs. The RAM temps climbed by comparison mostly due to more memory usage during our Real World test but the numbers are still decent.

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Overall and Final Verdict

The Corsair H80i is an impressive little package that fits in perfectly with the rest of the Hydro AIO series coolers. Bringing water cooling performance without the usual effort requires in a water cooling installation, the H80i is perfect for the budding enthusiast as well as veteran needing performance and needing it now. By far the longest part of installation was plugging everything into the Corsair Link and routing cables and even that wasn’t more of a chore than it needed to be.

Still a few design choices are questionable in the overall design. The use of two different metals in the cooling loop requires the use of a cooling fluid with less than peak performance. The Corsair Link USB cable could also be longer for easier routing somewhere beside over top of the PCI cards. The noise is also an issue both our AIO coolers seem to suffer from. It seems that the biggest trade off for lower temps is still higher sound.

The H80i set out to offer high performance liquid cooling in an AIO package and did not disappoint. A few of the design choices may be questionable and, at least for now, the noise issue seems to be unavoidable but Corsair has achieved what they set out to do with the H80i and the Hydro series coolers in general. If you are willing to trade a bit of noise for high performance cooling you can’t go wrong with the H80i.

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Author Bio
William
Author: William
Review and Event Staff
William is the newest addition to both the Review and Event staff. Being in charge of power, hopefully you have to see very little of him during our lans. Outside of lans he can be found engaging in his unhealthy obsession with all things gaming in between writing the odd review and bothering Wes at all hours of the day. An avid gamer nearly all his life, it is common for the latest MMO release to cause him to drop off the face of the Earth for a week or two.

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