Welcome all to yet another Go! Gaming Giant Hardware Review. Today I’ve got the Corsair H80 Water Cooler for you guys. For those of you who have been living under a rock these past few years, Corsair started producing High-Performance Water Cooling systems a few years ago. Initially they had just the Corsair H50, but now they’ve got an entire line of Water Coolers, going all the way up to an H100. The H80 isn’t necessarily a step down from the H100, more like a step sideways.
Starting off with the front of the box, Corsair shows us the Cooler and Radiator down in the bottom left hand corner, a picture of the water block installed right in the center (on a motherboard that is of course sporting Corsair Memory), and a CPU Compatibility chart. I’m glad to see that Corsair put this front and center so that if you’re looking at this at the store, you don’t have to look hard to find out if it’s compatible with your system (chances are that it is).
Swinging the box to the side, we find the Specifications for the entire setup.
- Radiator Dimensions – 120mm x 152mm x 38mm
- Fan Dimensions – 120mm x 120mm x 25mm
- Fan Speed – 1300 – 2600 RPM
- Fan Airflow – 46 – 92 CFM
- Fan Noise Level – 22 – 39 dBA
- Fan Static Pressure – 1.6 – 7.7mm H2O
On the back of the box Corsair talks up the Radiator and Cooling System in general. They also include a small graph showing the different Corsair H Series Coolers cooling an Intel Core i7 920 @ 3.8Ghz.
With the box out of the way, let’s move into what’s included inside the box. For starters we have an Installation Guide, Solutions Guide for 2010 (really??), and a “STOP!” sheet.
Here we have two different brackets. The two on the left are installed for use with AMD CPU’s, the one on the right is a back-plate for installing Intel CPU’s (The Intel CPU Bracket is already Pre-Installed on the Water Block).
Included in two separate baggies are Corsair’s 120mm Cooling Fans. The build quality is excellent, and the cables are sleeved which is always a plus in my book. To install these fans (as well as everything else), Corsair includes another little baggy that is full of all the different screws, thumb screws, and hooks needed to get your system up and running.
Now onto the Water Block and Radiator. Taking a look at the entire system we can see that there are two hoses (obviously) which the water transfers through for keeping everything nice and cool. The hoses are plastic and a bit rigid, but they don’t seem like they are going to rip or snap or anything of the sort which is good. There is also a power cable. At the end it splits into a 3-pin motherboard connector and a 4-pin Molex connector. I found out the hard way that you need both plugged in (or at least the Molex) to get power to the fans.. So please make sure you plug in both wires.
Taking a closer peak at the Radiator. It’s crafted entirely of metal, the fins are pretty tight together and the Radiator weighs a ton. These may seem like generic observations, but these are the signs of a quality radiator. The thickness of the radiator is also quite impressive with it clocking in at a massive 38mm’s thick.
The Corsair Water Block feels good, just enough heft to it that you don’t feel like it won’t make a good connection with the CPU, but small enough to be able to move it around to be able to install it with ease (or at least that’s the way it seems). Right in the middle is button that transitions between the three speed profiles; low, medium, and high. With each click one of the white rings around the button will light up, when on the high profile, all three rings will be on.
Turning the block on it’s side, you can see the two 4-pin power connectors for the fans to plug into. On the other side of the block is the connector for the Corsair Link technology. What is Corsair Link you ask, well according to Corsair’s website, “Corsair Link™ is an integrated system that gives you complete control of your PC’s CPU cooling and case lighting systems. It’s the perfect finishing touch for any high-performance gaming PC.” Here is a closer look at the two power connectors for the H80 Water Cooler.
Before I ever un-boxed the Corsair H80, I had heard horror stories from many different PC Gamers who have used Corsair Water Coolers. Nobody was complaining about the performance or the quality of the coolers, no.. They were complaining about how damn hard they are to install. I can now officially say that I agree with them, at least when installing the Corsair H80 on an AMD Motherboard.
Installing the fans on the Radiator was a cinch. Installing the Radiator in the case was easy as well. It was installing the water block that was the pain the in the butt. I spent well over 25 minutes trying to get the block situated perfectly on the chip. Once Installed and the system was booted, I crashed several times, only to realize the fans were not spinning (this was my fault), once they were plugged in the system ran fine, until I tried to benchmark, then boom Blue Screen of Death. Once I rebooted the system I found out that the CPU was skyrocketing to 70c the second I put any load on it, obviously chocking this up to the CPU Cooler not being installed correctly, I proceeded to shut down the system and re-install it.
Now that I reseated it, it appears to be running smoothly. I can’t fault Corsair for the fans not spinning, I can’t fault them for the Block not being situated correctly the first time. What I can fault them for though, was making the installation so damn hard.
For testing the Corsair H80, I ran it on the new AMD FX-6200 at clock speeds ranging from the stock 3.8Ghz to 4.2Ghz. The benchmarking process I decided to go with is Prime95 running six threads at maximum heat output. Just to add a bit more stress onto the CPU while Prime95 is running, I also ran an uncompressed 720P Video.
All the results were recorded with AIDA64 Extreme Edition (I highly recommend this program).
Running at 3.8Ghz and 4.0Ghz is not a problem for the H80, even at the lowest speed setting, which is silent. Once we hit 4.2Ghz, we begin to realize that the Low Speed Setting is beginning to let the temperatures start to creep up.
Switching to the Medium setting offers a substantial cool down on the CPU and Cores. Bumping the speed all the way up to high is absolutely not recommended. Not only does it only offer minimal increase in cooling performance, but the fans sound like leaf blowers when set to high.
Well the ride getting here was a bit bumpy, but I would say in the end that it was a journey worth taking. The Corsair H80 offers excellent cooling performance in an affordable price range (if you’re looking at Water Cooling). The installation of the water block was a nightmare, but other than that, the system has been flawless.
If you’re looking to make that jump to water cooling, this is definitely the way to go. With the system being entirely self-contained, and having everything you need included, this is an excellent water cooling setup.
If I was to offer some advice to Corsair, I would tell them that the installation system could use some reworking (even if that means including your own version of an AMD back-plate), and that the fans on high are just way to loud for regular usage. Overall this is an excellent product that should not be overlooked for those of you looking to get a new CPU Cooler.
A quick explanation of the award system. We have the main award category with three awards; Bronze (Good Overall Product), Silver (Great Overall Product), and Gold (Excellent/Near Perfect Overall Product) as the highest. Then we have two different Sub-Categories, Internal Hardware Awards for performance; Yellow (Low-End Performer), Orange (Mid-Range Performer), and Red (High-End Performer) as the highest. The third and final Sub-Category is for both Internal Hardware and External Peripherals; Black (Enthusiast/Gamer Qualities), Blue (Exceptional Build and Design), Green (Terrific Dollar To Performance Ratio), White (Innovative But Flawed)
- Cooling Performance is Excellent
- On Medium The Fans Offer Great Value For The Standard Setup
- Not Going To Find Any Better Coolers In This Price Range
- The Build Quality Of The Entire Setup Is Great
- Installation Is A Nightmare
- On High The Fans Offer Little Increase In Performance, While Becoming Unbearably Loud
If you are ready to join the Water Cooling Revolution, you may do so here.