Corsair Hydrocool 200

Our in-depth review of Corsair's new self-contained watercooling system. We tear it apart, cut it open, and show you what is inside that is so secret.

Introduction

Today, we finally bring you our review of the Hydrocool 200 stand alone external water cooling unit. I say آ“finallyآ” because this review has been in the works since March. HardOCP was actually the first review site to have the Hydrocool 200 in house for testing and we had hoped to bring you the debut review, but due to a number of setbacks and delays with Corsair's Hydrocool, this review can only now be published.

Watercooling has come a long way from the early days when it was considered by only a handful of enthusiasts as a viable cooling solution. Today, there are dozens of companies that cater to the continually expanding body of people that choose to water cool their computer. As a direct result of the growing demand for water cooling products, we have seen a number of well known companies expand their product line to include water cooling components or systems. Corsair, known for their top quality memory products, is one such company that has decided to venture into the world of water cooling.

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So what makes a leading memory manufacturer like Corsair think they can pull off a stand alone water cooling unit? To help answer that, letآ’s take a look at their Hydrocool 200 press release from March of this year:

From Corsair: Corsair Memory, Inc., an industry leader in ultra-performance DDR DRAM modules for gaming and overclocking applications, has announced the development of a new high efficiency external water cooling unit for performance computing enthusiasts. This product is designed to provide up to 200 Watts of cooling while significantly reducing fan noise. The first in a family of cooling products, the Hydrocool200 uses patented cooling technologies from Delphi Thermal Systems, the world's largest manufacturer of liquid-based cooling systems. Corsair, using Delphi's unsurpassed expertise in thermal physics, has engineered a feature-packed product that sets new standards in water cooling integration and performance.

The heart of the system is the copper cooling block which removes heat from the processor. Though very small and light, the block contains enhanced microchannel surface technology using Delphi-patented technology. The microchannels present a huge contact area between the liquid and metal, providing outstanding thermal efficiency.

The microprocessor-controlled unit offers a multitude of monitoring services, many of which are user definable. These monitoring services include alarms when temperature thresholds are reached and different cooling levels depending on temperature. The unit has a carrying handle and self sealing quick connectors for transportability without having to bleed the system when reconnecting.

The Hydrocool comes with retention brackets for both the P4 and K7 CPUs, as well as a visual flow meter to check water movement. The user can read the temperature of the cooling block from a large display on the front on the unit. The unit is also built for quiet operation; in normal circumstances the unit runs in a barely-audible "whisper mode". When the processing load demands more power, the Hydrocool automatically switches to "Turbo mode" for full cooling capabilities.

"Corsair is very pleased to be working with a world-renowned industry leader such as Delphi. PC enthusiasts worldwide are eager to move to this next level in thermal system performance." stated John Beekley, Corsair's Vice President of Marketing. "The result is one of the most advanced, and based on benchmarking, the highest performing liquid cooling systems on the market today," said Ray Johnson, Global Business Line Executive, Delphi Thermal Solutions.

From what we know of Delphi, they produce a wide range of automotive products that includes, but is not limited to, automotive cooling components. Combine that experience with the solid reputation Corsair has built over the last few years of manufacturing quality performance memory modules and you get a good idea of what we were expecting from their latest joint venture, the Hydrocool 200.

Having said that, is it simply a matter of two great companies putting their heads together to come up with one great product? We shall see. For this review we chose to compare the Hydrocool 200 to its chief competitor the Koolance EXOS.

Hydrocool 200 Basics:

Overall the look of the Hydrocool 200 is a fairly impressive. The unit is a black, sleek, shiny, rectangular box with a chrome handle and sports a custom front bezel emblazoned with the Corsair logo and a large LED readout. Closer inspection reveals that the black outer casing is actually made of a translucent black Plexiglas material with two large 120mm fan holes on either side of the unit.

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Below is a list of the components included in the Hydrocool 200 retail package.

Case Feature Set

Standard Equipment

- Hydrocool 200 unit

- Waterblock

- Retention mechanisms ( AMD & Intel )

- Hose clamps

- Quick-connect fittings

- Thermal compound

- Two 5ft آ¼" inside diameter hoses

- Interface cable between the PC and cooling unit

- 1 bottle antifreeze, 300ml.

- Controller card

- User manual and quick installation guide

Features

- Dual Mode Operation

- Two Stage Alarm

- Fآ؛ and Cآ؛ Temperature Read Out

- Two-Way Self Seal Quick Connect fittings

- Flow Meter

- Low fluid alarm

- Self Healing Safety Fuses

- Diagnostic Mode

Dimensions

- Waterblock (WxHxD) 2" x 2" x آ¼"

- External cooling unit (WxHxD) 6" x 6" x 14"

Components & Features:

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Looking at a head on view of the Hydrocool 200 you can see the buttons that select Celsius or Fahrenheit temperature read out just to the right of the large LED display. The button to the left allows you to set the unit and the large red button located below the LED is for manual turbo operation.

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The rear of the unit has two self-sealing quick connect fittings as well as the header for the interface cable. If these fittings look familiar, it would be because the fitting half shown is the same quick connect fitting used on the Koolance EXOS. There is a difference in the male side of the fitting though. Both the male and female fitting halves on the Hydrocool unit are self-sealing; not just the reservoir side like on the Koolance EXOS. This means that if you uncouple the Hydrocool fitting while there is water in the system, minimal amounts will be lost for the reservoir side and the hose side, instead of the hose emptying.

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There are two large 120mm holes on either side of the unit. On the intake side of the Hydrocool 200 there is a 120mm hole with a chrome fan grill. The exhaust side is an identical hole on the far side of the unit that houses the fan & radiator assembly. Oddly enough there is no fan filter used on the intake allowing for not only dust to enter your system, but anything small enough to fit between the fan grill to enter.

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This can easily be corrected by installing your own fan filter which will prevent the inside of your system from become caked with dust in a very short amount of time and we highly recommend this be done. The fan filters pictured here are widely available and are inexpensive. Incidentally we think our grills look a whole lot better on the Hydrocool 200 than the original chrome fan grills, but that is of course personal taste.

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The nickel-plated waterblock is easily the smallest retail water block I have ever seen. The block itself is a mere 2 inches by 2 inches and a آ¼ inch tall. You will also note that the temperature sending unit is basically a piece of tubing soldered to the top of the block with a sensor held in place by epoxy. The temperature displayed on the front of the Hydrocool 200 will be what is measured from here, and not actual CPU temperature.

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The Hydrocool 200 comes with both Pentium 4 and AMD retention mechanisms. The Pentium 4 Socket 478 unit is a sturdy looking polished aluminum piece that fits over the waterblock. The drawback to this style of hold down device is the fact that the water tubes must be threaded through the unit before it can be installed. Another drawback is the fact that it requires both hands to correctly install the hold down clamps to the aluminum bracket. Because of this, the system is best lying on its side while this is done if not you will push your system in circles or push it over.

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The AMD Socket A hold down device is much easier to install and can be done with one hand. The only negatives about this clamp is that it too needs to be installed before the hoses are connected to the Hydrocool 200 base and the clamp just feels and looks very flimsy especially compared to the Koolance EXOS waterblock retention mechanism.

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The controller card and interface cable are pretty standard fare. The controller card fits into an open PCI slot in the back of your case, the hose to the water block is threaded through the two holes in the card and then the two provided quick connect fittings are then attached to the ends of the hose and fastened with the provided clamps. The controller cable supplied by Corsair is a bit more professional looking than what comes with the Koolance EXOS as it resembles a more standard type of VGA or Serial cable. Coolant additive is included with the Hydrocool 200 in the form of a 300ml bottle that holds enough concentrated anti-freeze for fill your system twice ( 150ml per application ).

Hydrocool In Action

Here are a few photos of what the Corsair Hydrocool 200 looks like in action.

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