Corsair H110i GTX Performance Testing and Review

rubix_1011

Contributing Writer
Moderator
Corsair H110i GTX Watercooling Performance Testing

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I had the opportunity to put the Corsair H110i GTX closed loop liquid cooler through its paces on my watercooling test bench. This has allowed me a couple of very distinct advantages over CPU and case load testing using benchmark tools and tests, which, don’t get me wrong – are very beneficial from a real-world perspective. But I wanted to dig deeper on this cooler (like I do on all watercooling components) and actually find out specific heat loads and flow testing for a comprehensive set of quantitative results that can be compared on an apples-to-apples basis to other watercooling tests and reviews.


Overview

The Corsair H110i GTX is an all-in-one liquid cooler, which means that the system is factory sealed and should never need maintenance (i.e, coolant changes or tubing replacement). The pump is situated atop the CPU block, which is comprised of milled and polished copper and adorned with a pre-applied thermal paste. The CPU block/pump unit is covered by a plastic Corsair cover and has back-illuminated LEDs to light the 3-sail Corsair logo.
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The tubing is sleeved with black, braided nylon sleeving that runs the length of the tubing from the pump fittings to the radiator fittings. The radiator is a 2x140mm fan format, and this is the only sized set of fan mounts able to be mounted. Likewise, this also means that the radiator will only mount to a case with a 2x140mm set of fan mounts, as well, so make sure your case has the ability to support this cooler. There is not an option of mounting 120mm fans or mounting the radiator to 120mm case mounts.
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The radiator is aluminum and sports a fin/fold density of around 20 per inch. This means that it is considerably more restrictive than normal watercooling radiators that utilize a more common 9-12 FPI density. However, this allows the Corsair unit to potentially dissipate more heat due to the addition of these fins ‘wicking’ heat away from the radiator tubes that run the length of the radiator and allow for more surface area contact with air to dissipate the heat from the coolant inside. The radiator is rather thin by comparison (30mm) to most traditional watercooling radiators, as most are 35mm or greater. The actual radiator core itself is just around 22mm thick as the radiator bezel makes up the remainder of the overall width, and is meant to allow fans to be mounted as well as to protect the core inside.
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The H110i GTX pump is powered by a SATA power connector and also has a dual 3-pin fan tail for controlling the two 140mm SP140L fans (2300 RPM max) by connecting the PWM header to your motherboard’s CPU_FAN header. This allows the unit to monitor the CPU load temperatures and vary the fan speeds as needed. For my testing, I connected the fans to a fan controller to manually control the speed and cooling potential at each setting. A mini-USB connector located on the pump allows the unit to be connected to a USB header on your computer to allow Corsair’s Link software the ability to control and monitor your H110i GTX from your Windows desktop. Of course, there is the typical offering of mounting hardware and options for both Intel and AMD processors.
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Overall, the H110i GTX is a handsome looking cooler and the radiator size itself is larger than you probably expect until you have it in your hands. However, the unit as a whole is very lightweight, which tells me that the radiator is made of aluminum (obviously), has nominal LxWxH volume, and due to this smaller volume, it also has a reduced volume of coolant it can hold.

A Look Inside

At this point, the H110i GTX I am testing is still covered by warranty. What I am about to do (opening the unit) will permanently void this coverage, so be advised before attempting this on your own cooler. You will not be able to return/exchange the unit for any reason if the unit fails.
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There are 2 rubber caps covering the ends of the tubing and the nylon hose braid. With this rubber cap removed, I was able to simply slide the tubing off of the aluminum barbs on the radiator. I then carefully emptied the coolant of the unit into a beaker to see what overall volume it held. This is where I was surprised – the entire cooler only held around 150ml of a clear, (what I assume to be) glycol coolant.
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The tubing is black, rubberized, thick-walled tubing that is approximately 3/8” ID (inside diameter) and 5/8” OD (outside diameter) or, 10mm ID by 16mm OD. I like the braided sleeving, but the tubing itself is very rigid and has limited flexibility.

At this point, I modified the setup for my test bench. I connected the pump unit to my custom built reservoir and my King 7530 3.5 GPM (gallons per minute) flow meter to see what kind of flow performance the pump actually had. This has been one of the long-standing debates around these coolers – what the actual flow rate of the coolant is, and due to voiding of the warranty, not many people have actually wanted to find out.

The flow for this cooler is very low and didn’t even register against the float in my flow meter, which tells me the pump also operates at very low pressure. Given that this cooler is never meant to operate in a capacity more than the pump and radiator alone, this isn’t at all surprising to me. I removed the unit from the flow meter setup and decided to go with an old-fashioned flow rate test, falling back to a digital stopwatch and a 1 liter beaker. I timed five separate, one-minute intervals to ensure I was getting consistent readings.
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What I found was somewhat (but not completely) surprising. The pump consistently produced a flow rate result of 0.25 GPM (gallons per minute) or 0.95 LPM (liters per minute). For comparison, most of us in the watercooling community try to shoot for a flow rate goal of 1.0 GPM (3.785 LPM) in their custom loops. Another curious fact I noticed was the drop in flow rate when I raised the tubing end from being on-level to the pump to 18 inches above; flow rates dropped by almost 0.25 LPM – down to around 0.70 LPM (0.185 GPM).

Thermal Test Setup and Methods

This CPU cooler is designed to only cool processors, so let’s move onto the thermal load testing.
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The lab setup for this set of individualized unit testing consists of an ATX power supply (A) powering the Corsair pump, my independent fan controller and the CrystalFontz CFA-633 (B) data collection board. The CFA-633 is connected to my laptop via USB and logs out the temperature sensor data every second. It also has the capability to monitor and report fan RPM, but for this test, I wanted static speed control of the Corsair SP140L fans, so I opted to use my Scythe Kaze Master fan controller (C). I am utilizing seven Dallas DS18B20 one-wire temperature sensors with a +/-0.5C accuracy range per second in waterproof stainless and rubber sleeves. Four of these sensors are utilized to monitor ambient air temperature, which will all be averaged together for greater accuracy.

Three sensors are used within the loop - one in the reservoir chamber and the remaining two sensors are mounted inside T-fittings (D) to allow the loop water to flow around the sensors in the direct line of the flow without disrupting flow rates or adding any additional restriction. These are also averaged for accuracy.

Inside the reservoir (E), I have two, 300 watt aquarium heaters that are connected to a single power strip. This is powered by an A/C variable transformer (F) and the dial on top allows me to alter the current supplied to the outlet, which is monitored with a Kill-A-Watt meter (G) that displays the live power draw on the outlet. By turning the dial on the A/C variable transformer, I can power the heaters to supply anywhere from 1 to 630 watts of heat to the reservoir, and therefore directly into the loop to simulate exact heat load scenarios.
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The cooler itself is then connected to the custom reservoir in a complete loop with some additional fittings and 3/8 inch ID tubing. The loop is tested using distilled water.
I decided to test what I felt to be fairly common points of thermal load testing: 95w, 130w, 150w, 175w, 200w, 225w, 250w and 300w.


Understanding TDP

Thermal design power, or TDP, is the manufactured design energy draw and heat output of a component in a PC – whether that is at stock speed or overclocked.

For more on TDP, please see the section in the Watercooling Lab Equipment page on understanding TDP.

For each of these load tests, the system was tested with fan settings of 1200 RPM, 1800 RPM and 2300 RPM (full speed). The reasons behind the heat load wattages I am testing is due to the typical CPU TDPs of both stock and overclocked processors that might typically be used. Also, when you start to establish the cooling performance curve, it doesn’t matter what CPU you use since I’m testing thermal load in watts. If a TDP falls between a testing point, the curve still maintains the expected output between two points.
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Here we see three distinct groupings of testing results – each grouping is the push and pull of the fan RPM chosen; 1200 RPM, 1800 RPM and full speed at 2300 RPM. In each grouping, notice that the ‘pull’ fans actually keep the loop just a bit cooler in most scenarios by an average of 0.5°C – 1.0°C. Corsair indicates in its documentation that the unit should be setup as an air intake, but it doesn’t specify that the unit necessarily should be in pull configuration. However, given that the unit is typically installed inside the case with the radiator mounted to the case fan mount locations, a pull setup is about the only way you can accomplish this. So, by default, Corsair coaxes you into this installation and you’d have to actually find different screws to assist in alternative mounting.

Considering that you’d typically not see a CPU overclock over 250 watts (let alone 300 watts), I simply wanted to continue the graph out to 300w as a way to show how the unit fared in the event it was used for graphics card mounting and cooling. It does offer some interesting data in terms of visual representation.


Understanding Temperature Delta (or DT)

In the world of cooling (especially watercooling), the term ‘Delta’ is used for determining the performance of the cooling solution in question. This is the temperature of the water in the loop as compared to the temperature of the ambient room air. This is important not to confuse these temperatures with your CPU reported temps in CoreTemp, SpeedFan, RealTemp, etc., as these readings are reported from the CPU die thermal sensors at any single second, but do not represent the actual coolant temps. The temperature of the loop water is the basis that we use for watercooling performance evaluation. For more information on understanding temperature delta (DT), please visit the section on temperature delta in the Watercooling Lab Equipment page.

It should also be noted that it is impossible to have a cooling delta that is equal to or less than zero with normal air or liquid cooling as you are using ambient air to cool the loop coolant, and the coolant itself can never be equal to, or lower than ambient (due to those pesky laws of physics). As you would expect, the lower the delta, the better the cooling performance.

Pure water is always a better cooling medium than coolants and additives when it comes to watercooling loops, but coolants are sometimes required to prevent corrosion between mixed metals such as copper and aluminum being present in the same liquid loop (such as the Corsair H110i GTX and most other closed loop coolers). However, coolants aren’t going to make a substantial difference in cooling properties, it is just notable that there is a technical difference, however small it may be. Still, once you get to the point of heat exchange at the radiator, you’re now performing radiator-to-ambient air exchange as you would in a normal air cooler. This is why water and liquid cooling is still technically air cooling, although the methods of transporting the heat energy and where it is exchanged with the ambient air is different. This is why you cannot cool lower than ambient room temperatures, as mentioned earlier.


Fan Noise Levels at Testing Levels

Fan noise is often a matter of personal perception, but we can measure the sound level output of the fans in a quantitative way: decibels. Measurement of sound using the decibel is a logarithmic factor, so as the value of the measured level increases, it increases as a steady multiplier. This means that every increase of 10dB means a doubling in perceived noise/sound level.
Using my digital decibel meter, I captured the noise levels at 0 RPM, 1200 RPM, 1800 RPM and 2300 RPM at a distance of one foot (30cm):
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Fans off shows a room ambient sound level at 32.1 dB. At 1200 RPM, things are mildly higher at 38.2 dB. But look at 1800 RPM , 55.4 dB and 2300 RPM, 64.2 dB – around 4-8 times as loud as ambient room noise levels. 30 dB is comparable to a quiet room or library while 60 dB is comparable to a normal speaking conversation. 70 dB is comparable to noise levels inside your car while driving at highway speeds.


Conclusion and Final Thoughts

The Corsair H110i GTX is a great looking cooler that offers an impressive radiator footprint and considerable cooling potential for almost every CPU cooling application, whether it’s at stock speeds or the heavily overclocked. It requires a bit more planning and a slightly higher difficulty level than installing an aftermarket heatsink with a backplate simply because you must also manage the routing of tubing and the mounting of the radiator. Outside of these items, it is a relatively simple DIY cooler project for most novice users to enthusiasts alike. Overall, I was impressed with the cooling ability of the H110i GTX radiator when utilized with good airflow, although this masks the bigger issue of the low-flowing pump as you immediately see cooling results slipping (higher delta) as you begin to dial fans back to quieter sound levels and lower speeds. Most people don’t realize that having two (2) 140mm fans running at 2300+ RPM are actually quite loud at 64+ dB, but this is where you are able to reach the maximum performance of the cooler. Lower speeds and sound levels directly relate to warmer temperatures as we saw earlier in the chart.

For the set it and forget it user, the H110i GTX is a decent cooler if you’re wanting to make a jump into the small, liquid cooler scene. Of course, there are other high-end air coolers that will still run you less money with similar performance, but this is about liquid, isn’t it? However, if you’re looking to get into water or liquid cooling with the potential to expand at a later date, there are other options relatively similar in design, but a bit more in cost depending on solution chosen. If you are of the first group, the H110i GTX is a solid choice and a handsome cooler, if you have the space to mount it. If you’re part of the second group, you likely will want to do more research to fit your future plans and long-term budget.
 
Nice work!

What decibel meter is that?

Looks like Dr Meter?

30bd is the lowest range it can record, correct?

When I did the cooling fan roundup some of the fans I tested were rated below 30db, that's why I bought a Dayton Audio OmniMic microphone so I could measure below 30db.

Unfortunately being able to hook it into my computer and use it through the computer turned out to be a challenge and by the time I had bought everything needed to use it on my desktop I had quite a bit of money invested in it.

Another lesson learned the hard way! :)

Of course if I ever need to measure a mouse fart, I now have the equipment to do it! :lol:
 

rubix_1011

Contributing Writer
Moderator
Given that most ambient rooms at even the more quiet levels are still around the low 30's in most instances, unless you have a recording studio, which I do not. I do like it though and it's pretty responsive and does allow for MIN/MAX cumulative reading, or just the real-time reading. If the time comes where I need something more, I'll get something better. I'm all about making sure I have good equipment for the tasks I'm performing, but as it stands, I've purchased my entire set of lab equipment over the past several weeks, so I'll make due for now.
 

Math Geek

Titan
Ambassador
i noticed you made a slight error in the interpretation of the decibel levels you observed.

you stated correctly that "This means that every increase of 10dB means a doubling in perceived noise/sound level." and then incorrectly interpreted this "But look at 1800 RPM , 55.4 dB and 2300 RPM, 64.2 dB" as "around 2-3 times as loud as ambient room noise levels"

ambient was around 32 db, so twice as loud would be 42 db and 52 db would be twice as loud as the 42 db (jump of 10 db is perceived as twice as loud). so 52 db would be twice as loud as the twice as loud 42 db over ambient sound or 4 times a loud. 62 db would again be twice as loud as the 52 db so it would be 8 times as loud as ambient.

therefore, the 2300 rpm and full speed fans are actually more than 4-8 times as loud as the ambient room sounds and not 2-3 times as loud.

i loved the write up either way.

i am not 100% sure how to use the numbers from the graph. i understand the heat input is supposed to mimic the tdp of the cpu being cooled. so do i read it right to assume that a 175w cpu at the slowest 1200 rpm would keep the cpu at just above 30 C? am i reading it right? and at a pretty quiet 38 db observed. just curious as this seems pretty good to me since that is twice the stock power draw of an i5-4690k, so a pretty good overclock of it is represented.
 

rubix_1011

Contributing Writer
Moderator
That makes more sense, I can make some corrections on that.

So, to answer your question, this isn't just about 'will this keep the CPU at a specific temperature', because this graph represents the cooling delta of the cooler and the coolant inside vs. the ambient air temperatures. Ambient air temperature was 23C, so a liquid temp of 30.5C means a load delta of 7.5C at 175 watts. This cooler has the ability to maintain liquid temps at +7.5C of the ambient room temperature, but this is not the CPU die reported temps, such as from RealTemp, Core Temp or Speed Fan.

Delta performance simply represents the expected cooling ability of the cooler and can be extrapolated out as an estimate of what your water temps would be. So, if your ambient room temperature is 32C, the coolant temp would be expected around 39.5C.

Since heat absorption is much more efficient when there is a broader difference in temperatures (hot CPU, cooler water) you have the ability to maintain overall lower CPU load temps (Core Temp, Speed Fan, Real Temp). This is why watercooling loops with a 2C delta have the ability to support higher overclocks than a loop that has a 20C delta.
 

Math Geek

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Ambassador
sorry, i did not make my understanding of the delta clear. thanks for the clarifying. i do understand that the temps on the chart are based on the 23 C room temp but i guess i am not totally understanding of what the delta accomplishes.

as an unschooled techy looking at watercooling for the first time, is there some kind of method i can use to provide a decent guess as to the cpu temps i can expect from a given cooler by knowing it's delta numbers? i know roughly what my room temps will stay at as i live in a nicely a/c'ed house and i refuse to be warm at any time so my ac get's a good workout in the summer and my heat gets little work in the winter as i like it cold :)

i'm just thinking ahead as i plan on moving into this area over the holidays as an update to my main build. i am hoping i can get a basic idea what types of temps to expect from a given cooler if i know it's delta numbers. i'll be overclocking an i5-4690k manually to also reintroducing myself to this world after many years of avoiding it and don't want to just buy the most expensive cooler out there just cause i can afford it.

any thoughts on some kind of mental calculations i can do that will give me a decent idea of what to expect from a given cooler? are there any other numbers i need to be aware of to help me with such a performance guess?

edit: i still have these questions but noticed your sig with the link to a rather lengthy tutorial on watercoling. i'm gonna read this a couple times to see how many of my questions are already answered there. i don't want to be "that guy" who can't read for himself and wants all the answers tailored to me :D
 

rubix_1011

Contributing Writer
Moderator
There really isn't a number I can present to you because there are several factors that go into what your reported CPU load temp actually is, most notably, actual voltage and core speeds. There are also environmental factors that are difficult to control, such as thermal compound used and how it is applied and differences in actual CPUs manufactured.
 

Math Geek

Titan
Ambassador
that makes sense. too many variables that influence the end numbers to be able to generically represent the process. i can accept that. as a math person i certainly have run into many situations that were hard to quantify due to way too many variables out of my control.
 

rubix_1011

Contributing Writer
Moderator
Yes, exactly. The biggest trap people tend to fall into is just looking for a number in 'what temps will I see', but that's next to impossible since anything that isn't forcibly cooled or phase change is still bound by the principles of ambient air temperatures and cooling solution potential. The primary fact that ambient air temps change and directly impacts cooling potential is just one item; the rest are the intricacies of how your CPU is generating heat based on power draw, clock speeds and efficiency.

 
D

Deleted member 217926

Guest
Very nice review. :)

What are the better performing air coolers?

You should really start a new thread in the forum asking that question but among the top performers are the Noctua NH-D14 and D15 and the Phanteks TC-14. There are a few others comparable.
 
@ rubix_1011, You are going to do other AIOs as well aren't you, will they be all grouped into this one sticky?

Maybe you should change the main Title to cover more than just one AIO?

What progress has been made on getting a dedicated water cooling section?
 
This is one of the 1st detailed reviews on a CLC that I have seen, and very well done (martins being the benchmark to date). I won't repeat the decibel "times as loud" and other clarifications that have already been addressed. One of my disappointments in CLC reviews is that most reviews ignore some very basic issues that I think users will like to see addressed. Things I'd like to see as these type of reviews go forward:.

1. Eight times as loud as ambient ... It is intended that we sit in the same room with these things right :0 ?

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Here the H100i was shown to be about 12 times louder, not as compared to ambient background noise but as compared to a better performing air cooler under full load. The H110 does better than the H100 in this respect but just how far away (numbers included) they are from air coolers, which have better thermal performance should be a relevant topic in any review.

2. It was asked above about the better air coolers. The Noctua DH-15 and Cryorig R1 both outperform the CLC in the test above, the H100i was 8 times louder than the Cryorig 12 times the Noc. A teeny step down would be the Phantels PH-TC14-PE with the DH-14 and Silver Arrow just below that.

3. I have a concern about the "should never need maintenance". As an analogy I will use the Bic Style razor where you "never have to change blades".... because you throw them away. In the first place we have mixed metals which violates the 1st rule of PC water cooling. For those interested in the science (and seeing the pics), they can read this:

https://martinsliquidlab.wordpress.com/2012/01/24/corrosion-explored/

In the second place, one can use corrosion bacterial / algae inhibitors to inhibit such action but they are subject to reduced effectiveness over time. Most water coolers flush and replace between 12 and 24 months (18 oft recommended). In professional applications (i.e. power generation), the coolant is sampled, tested and adjusted every 90 days. The effectiveness of these agents might be expected to last 18 - 24 months and without them I wouldn't expect the corrosion to start to have a serious impact on watertight integrity (see pics at above link) for a period of similar length. So like the Bic Disposable Razor, I think of it as a "disposable" component, not something I would take and use again after retiring the original PC it was installed in 3 - 4 years ago. With a radiator, or block (assuming mounts works) I have no such concern.

4. The high fpi radiator also means that a) it needs higher rpm fans which is the main reason the units are so loud. Traditional rads are usually 30, 46 and 60mm thick. The 30mm ones at more typical fpi do outperform these rads at typical fpi's. The Swiftech H220-X does outperform the same size H100i and the H240-X outperforms the H110 at lower rpms and lower fpi. Would be great to know whether the more capable pump or the copper radiator in the OLC is responsible.

5. One of the major shortcomings of CLCs remains the weak pumps. Be nice to know how the radiator on the H100 did with a more capable pump.

6. The part about "Of course, there are other high-end air coolers that will still run you less money with similar performance, but this is about liquid, isn’t it?" The question is should it be ? If the air cooler is 1/12th as loud, outperforms the liquid one and is substantially cheaper, what is the reasoning ? There are reasons for doing liquid cooling, increased performance being less relevant in recent years but aesthetics and sound reduction are both very valid reasons. The latter isn't going to come via CLC.,

6. The fact that OLCs are made out of all copper / brass, can be flushed and cleaned w/ inhibitors refreshed, as well as the ability to add more components AND have no qualms about installing in a 2nd or 3rd system over the years. These would be welcome topics / criteria when comparing pricing in future reviews. With the H110 GTX CLC at $140 being compared say with the Swiftech H240-X at $150 ... for $10 you get:

a) no mixed metals
b) ability to change coolant w/o voiding warranty if you desire
c) Pump is 5 times as powerful
d) Less than 1/4th as loud
e) thermal advantage of copper rads
f) included reservoir for level monitoring gives indication of any leakage
g) You can add GPUs, MoBo Blocks, additional rads and pump will handle it.

For your next project, I'd love to see a smackdown between the Swiftech and EK Predator lines.

 

rubix_1011

Contributing Writer
Moderator
5. One of the major shortcomings of CLCs remains the weak pumps. Be nice to know how the radiator on the H100 did with a more capable pump.

This can definitely be arranged.

For your next project, I'd love to see a smackdown between the Swiftech and EK Predator lines.

EK Predator and Swiftech H220-X will be done next as I get them.
 

rubix_1011

Contributing Writer
Moderator
While I'm waiting on the EK and Swiftech, I can do some delta tests against different flows using the H110i radiator, even modest ones - like 0.50 GPM and 0.75 GPM...maybe 1.0 GPM along with the same fan speeds (1200, 1800, 2300 RPM).

Maybe this can act as a decent comparison if the pump were able to push more than 0.25 GPM worth of flow. I can also check out the pressure drop on the radiator if we're going to give this 'supplementary' set of data a go.
 
Honestly that data is irrelevant as there are aluminum radiators you can independently buy relatively the same size and this is not even an expandable AIO anyway, the AIO comparison is really about performance vs performance vs performance between the 3 you are intending to test.

Anyone going to spend that much money on an AIO to tear it apart, loose the warranty just to use a different pump is IMO an idiot, when they could have just bought the components independently, because testing that scenario with all due respect, requires an independent water block to be accurate.

It really doesn't matter how much pump you use on that rad it is still only capable of so much.

It is a total waste of time to accrue useless data.

But it is your time to waste, but at least keep in mind there are a lot of us watching what you are doing so please don't waste our time as well.
 

rubix_1011

Contributing Writer
Moderator
Ideally, yes. My intent was to point out the performance possibilities if the pump being used actually were engineered to perform better than it does. I realize that this is a moot point to just about everyone and the people who would most benefit (Corsair, for example) really don't care due to the sheer volume they sell of these coolers.

I, for one, see this as beneficial to those of us that try to quantify the reasons against closed loop coolers - mainly the insufficient pumps they use. By having performance data to represent the actual pump vs. even a marginally better pump, you can define the shortcomings of the overall cooler with a chart comparison. I apologize if this is wasting your time, but from my point of view, it is about education and knowing the following:

1) Why a closed loop cooler is sold 'cheaply'
2) Actual cooler performance vs. potential cooler performance, aka understanding how pump performance impacts delta which impacts cooling
3) Potentially allowing community exposure and understanding of what is on the market

But, in the end, I suppose it comes down to whether Joe User wishes to take the time to make an informed purchasing decision on a closed loop cooler or not.

And......how many times have we seen those Frankenstein loops where someone took an H50 and added a GPU?
 
[quotemsg=16856922,0,116659]1) Why a closed loop cooler is sold 'cheaply'
2) Actual cooler performance vs. potential cooler performance, aka understanding how pump performance impacts delta which impacts cooling
3) Potentially allowing community exposure and understanding of what is on the market

But, in the end, I suppose it comes down to whether Joe User wishes to take the time to make an informed purchasing decision on a closed loop cooler or not.

And......how many times have we seen those Frankenstein loops where someone took an H50 and added a GPU?[/quotemsg]

Regarding 1) #1 Manufacturing cost vs company profit of sales.
#2 Convenience of mounting and eliminating location of pump and reservoir problems.
#3 KISS = (Keep It Simple Stupid) So even the most Novice of users can get it mounted.
#4 Cheaper Heat Pipe Air Cooler competition.

Regarding 2) Delta matters to a custom loop coolers build, when knowing TDP helps make the right decision, in their purchasing vs their needs for the purchase to cover. Delta is not a personally controllable aspect regarding a sealed system AIO cooler, (It handles the delta it is designed to handle!), nor IMO should it be tested in those regards at the expense of product warranty loss, so that additional information is totally irrelevant.

Regarding 3) That's a good thing and you are doing that with the initial review, (but disassembling a non expandable AIO was not necessary) but as with many things if you go too far you loose your audience! How many times have you yourself skimmed through a review looking for what you are interested in, you cannot honestly say you have read every single word of every review. We have members here that won't even read a sticky, when it is right there for them, think about that.

[quotemsg=16856922,0,116659]But, in the end, I suppose it comes down to whether Joe User wishes to take the time to make an informed purchasing decision on a closed loop cooler or not.

And......how many times have we seen those Frankenstein loops where someone took an H50 and added a GPU? [/quotemsg]

An informed purchasing decision you have already completed, and I'm looking forward to your continued reviews of the other AIOs you've mentioned, but Frankensteining an AIO is normally done by someone that cannot afford to do it right.

You really did not have to take the cooler apart since it is not expandable and toss the warranty in the trash, no one is going to do that, and other reviewers that have covered the H110i have not done that, because it is not an expandable cooler.

I personally am interested in what can this thing do out of the box vs it's competition, but that being in regards of being tested against various CPUs and the overclock load potential of each cooler, this is after all, the Overclocking Section of Toms Hardware?

If it is an expandable AIO great, but maybe the expandable lines should be tested in their own category, because there is no warranty loss in expanding it.

Plus the Swiftech and the EK both come with more powerful pumps, why do they come with more powerful pumps?

Because they are expandable!

Note: I am not trying to offend you, I highly respect you and I commend your efforts! When you leave a thread like this open for comments, don't be shocked when you get them, use those as input to make your presentation better, weed through it all, keep what you want and delete the rest.

I've already asked this once, Since your intention is to also cover the Swiftech and EK, will you be making an independent sticky for each or combining it all into one sticky?



 

rubix_1011

Contributing Writer
Moderator
The reason I opened the H110i was so that I could control the exact heat load being tested. Every review of these coolers is simply someone mounting it and running benchmark software and recording their reported temps, but that really doesn't apply to everyone because the CPU load used is different in each test based on what processor and how it was overclocked. Yes, you get to see a nice temperature bar graph, but then again, it's misrepresentation of what a cooler is actually doing. We might actually be told what someone's bench i7 is overclocked to and at what voltages, but then again, maybe we won't.

The easy way is to do the above - mount the cooler, run some benchmarks and make a chart. I am trying to get our audiences to get beyond the simplicity of 'just tell me how cool my CPU will be using the cooler' because that isn't understanding what they need to know in order to make an educated judgement. If we don't make an attempt to change the culture of the community we cannot continue to blame it for not having an understanding of why something IS in the first place.

I'm always open to comments and feedback - if I wasn't that would be pretty arrogant and one-sided when it comes to presenting the data in these tests. Of anyone on these forums, I fully expect you to challenge me on my methodologies and presentation.

I personally am interested in what can this thing do out of the box vs it's competition, but that being in regards of being tested against various CPUs and the overclock load potential of each cooler, this is after all, the Overclocking Section of Toms Hardware?

This is why I chose to use thermal load tests rated in watts and not simply CPU X vs CPU Y - for one thing, I don't have several processors at my disposal to conduct these tests. But, I do have the ability to make a reader understand how I am testing based on the output of any CPU being overclocked and the load it should be producing. This is why testing at 95w, 130w and so on is relevant - they are stock TDPs of i7 CPUs. Linear load increases provide a very nice curve that lends itself to simple math in order for anyone to know where their CPU load and cooling potential lies on a graph. So, by doing this, I effectively have the ability to relate any CPU load to any point on the graph. Of course, I'm always open to suggestions, so let me know if there are other possibilities you think I should try.

I've already asked this once, Since your intention is to also cover the Swiftech and EK, will you be making an independent sticky for each or combining it all into one sticky?

Each one will be its own write up and there will be an index [eventually] that links to all reviews and a centralized master sticky. I will also provide the results there as well, so there is a centralized location to access all information.
 
[quotemsg=16834196,0,116659]
EK Predator and Swiftech H220-X will be done next as I get them.[/quotemsg]

That's a good head to head match with both being 2 x 120

The Predator 360 versus H240-X would put a 3 x 120 against a 2 x 140 which would also be interesting. The H240-X topped the TT Water 3 Ultimate by 4C while being half as loud. Please address whether the hoses on the Predator can be removed at the "other ends" , aside from the QD fitting.

While I'm waiting on the EK and Swiftech, I can do some delta tests against different flows using the H110i radiator, even modest ones - like 0.50 GPM and 0.75 GPM...maybe 1.0 GPM along with the same fan speeds (1200, 1800, 2300 RPM).

Maybe this can act as a decent comparison if the pump were able to push more than 0.25 GPM worth of flow. I can also check out the pressure drop on the radiator if we're going to give this 'supplementary' set of data a go.

I'd suggest a Swiftech 35x2 for your test bed .... gives oodles of head and well over any needed gpm


Honestly that data is irrelevant as there are aluminum radiators you can independently buy relatively the same size and this is not even an expandable AIO anyway, the AIO comparison is really about performance vs performance vs performance between the 3 you are intending to test.

Yes, it's irrelevant from a purchase design standpoint, if it mixes aluminum and copper in the same loop, it's automatically on my "do not buy list"..... tho I am not opposed to nickel plated or properly anodized blocks.... plated GFX card blocks do well when manufactured properly as to anodized MoBo blocks, tho I would prefer copper.

But the nerd in me is curious as to why CLCs perform so poorly. Is it inadequate pump flow ? Is it the rad material ? As for the other 2 of the 3 units discussed, AIOs is a difficult term as it includes both CLCs and OLCs. The Corsair's are CLCs but the other two are OLCs and have copper radiators. You can also can take them apart or add components w/o voiding the warranty. The manufacturers sell the parts needed to do so as accessories.

A lot of people buy the H100i with the intent to add $60 of Noctua fans to make it quieter. To me, that's not a wise decision as, while it does get quieter, w/o the 2700 rpm fans to push air thru the radiator, performance goes sharply south. And for the $170, you could have a two air coolers which kick the modified H100i's tail, or a H240-X with money to spare. So I agree putting a better pump on a H100i or H110 is a bad idea. The nice thing about the H240-X tho is it already comes with a custom loop quality pump..... but it's nice knowing that, unlike Corsair, you can replace the pump. Or if you were to greatly expand the loop to the point where you would want a 2nd one, ya don't have to toss the H240-X away...tho I am thinking if you were doing that, you'd prolly want a 420 on top and, so far, Swiftech doesn't want to "go there".

I , for one, see this as beneficial to those of us that try to quantify the reasons against closed loop coolers - mainly the insufficient pumps they use. By having performance data to represent the actual pump vs. even a marginally better pump, you can define the shortcomings of the overall cooler with a chart comparison. I apologize if this is wasting your time, but from my point of view, it is about education ....

I think Richard Freyman said it best .....

Science is like sex: sometimes something useful comes out, but that is not the reason we are doing it.

Regarding 1) #1 Manufacturing cost vs company profit of sales.
#2 Convenience of mounting and eliminating location of pump and reservoir problems.
#3 KISS = (Keep It Simple Stupid) So even the most Novice of users can get it mounted.
#4 Cheaper Heat Pipe Air Cooler competition.

The Swiftech (and EK) units give you the same mounting ease, have been described in reviews as the easiest AIO the reviewer had done to that date making just if not easier for novices. The H220-X is just $10 more than the H110 GTX and both have a nice spread down to the better air coolers. To properly address these coolers, I think we have to differentiate between CLCs (aluminum rads, inadequate pumps, mixed metals, no expansion, no reservoir, no coolant changes allowed) with OLCs which have none of those limitations.

The reason I opened the H110i was so that I could control the exact heat load being tested. Every review of these coolers is simply someone mounting it and running benchmark software and recording their reported temps, but that really doesn't apply to everyone because the CPU load used is different in each test based on what processor and how it was overclocked. Yes, you get to see a nice temperature bar graph, but then again, it's misrepresentation of what a cooler is actually doing. We might actually be told what someone's bench i7 is overclocked to and at what voltages, but then again, maybe we won't.

And this was much appreciated.... I agree, any scientific test should remove as many variables as possible. When I am calculating heat loads, knowing exactly how many watts was being put into the system is a valuable piece of data.

I am trying to get our audiences to get beyond the simplicity of 'just tell me how cool my CPU will be using the cooler' because that isn't understanding what they need to know in order to make an educated judgement. If we don't make an attempt to change the culture of the community we cannot continue to blame it for not having an understanding of why something IS in the first place.

Up to this point in time, THG is not the place peeps went for water cooling advice / custom loop discussions and testing. ExtremeRigs, XtremeSystems, Overclock.net, MartisLiquidLab are the typical "go to" sources. THG tends to attract a more populist audience, and that audience feels comfortable moving from an air cooler to a CLC as from an install standpoint, it's not much different. But in the past, for whatever reason, THG never really drove home the point that CLCs just do not perform as well as cheaper air coolers. And the advent of OLCs brings a whole new category to the table.

Yes, when used with extreme speed fans CLCs can perform better thermally then the more moderately priced air coolers but the casual THG reader sees 68 dbA and this doesn't register as "vacuum cleaner like". Just like we see posts daily entitled "rate my new build" where the user has chosen the most expensive part available for each component, the mindset is that if it costs more, it must perform better. Saying "it just isn't so" doesn't have the same impact to the reader, I think, than explaining "why it isn't so". It is important to note that Corsair doesn't list the pump specs on the box or product data.... intentionally so.

For example, if you look at the bit-tech roundup reviews on the GTX 970. Not only did they do performance testing but they also did a complete tear down and commented on chokes, VRMs, memory, VRM cooling heat pipe size, etc. So when we read reviews and we notice that two models break 1500 boost clock in almost every review, we can't hep but wonder "Is this just the silicon lottery ? ... is it 1 or 2 manufacturers doing a better job of hand picking what they send out ? ... but when ya read about the quality of the components used on the PCB and see a direct correlation between component quality / cooling efforts and performance it drives home that there are in fact reasons why one model is doing better than another. That's what you are doing here.

If reviewers start writing that ... "The H110 GTX suffered from low pump flow but the performance greatly improved when flow was brought to 0.75 gpm and then tapered off rapidly", I would think a wise manufacturer would respond and invest another $3 in the pump quality.

If reviewers start writing that ... "The H110 GTX aluminum 20x fpi rad delivered adequate performance but was noisy and under performed compared to .... switching to a 12 fpi rad did result in slightly decreased performance but noise dropped to 1/8th of what it was with the included rad" I would think a wise manufacturer would respond and consider a model with lower fpi / lower fan speed and maybe even a copper rad.

It's not as good as Richard Freyman's quoate but even ancient history has some sage advise for us ....

“Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime”

So yes, I most appreciate the extra effort, many folks don't want to be told what to buy, many want to understand why I want to choose one product over another.... of course many folks don't wanna bother reading the why's and just want to read the conclusion ... that's what the scroll wheel is for :) . Tho you might want to consider the 'executive summary" approach ... Put a short synopsis right at the beginning of the article and follow with the details allowing folks to stop reading at that point.

I'll close w/ some variations on the above quaote

“Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you will not have to listen to his incessant whining about how hungry he is.”—Author unknown

“Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you can sell him fishing equipment.”—Author unknown

“Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Unless he doesn't like sushi—then you also have to teach him to cook.”—Auren Hoffman, Herald Philosopher

“Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish, and he will sit in the boat and drink beer all day.”—OldFox

“Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to sell fish and he eats steak.”—Author unknown
 

rubix_1011

Contributing Writer
Moderator
The Predator 360 versus H240-X would put a 3 x 120 against a 2 x 140 which would also be interesting. The H240-X topped the TT Water 3 Ultimate by 4C while being half as loud. Please address whether the hoses on the Predator can be removed at the "other ends" , aside from the QD fitting.

This is high my on my 'usability' checklist for this guy.

I'd suggest a Swiftech 35x2 for your test bed .... gives oodles of head and well over any needed gpm

I already have both an extra DDC and D5, and contemplating picking up an Iwaki RD-30 for any heavy lifting.
 

Math Geek

Titan
Ambassador
I personally always prefer the theory over the application. my math degrees are in theoretical math for this reason. i can easily pick up a book and see what formula goes where myself. but to fully understand where the formula comes from and how it developed and be able to modify it on my own for a different use is where the true magic is for me.

so i appreciated and completely ate up the info in the review and the associated chart. from my previous posts it should be clear how quickly the data was to grasp and use for my own purposes. knowing the thermal load from the graph let me estimate various cpu's and various overclocks since i know these power draws. had it simply been a single cpu overclocked at temps reported, then i would be left wondering what other cpu's might do, this way i can make a decent guess myself for any cpu. i can appreciate the other opinions but i for one loved the way it was done and look forward to reading other such reviews. the more i learn about every little part of the puzzle, there more i will be able to master this aspect of the pc world as i have other areas. :D