Corsair H80 High Perf. Liquid CPU Cooler Review

Today we are reviewing the Corsair Hydro Series™ H80 High Performance Liquid CPU Cooler. This cooler may look very familiar in that it is a step down from the flagship Corsair H100, but still carries much of the same DNA. Basically the H80 is about $10 less expensive with a lot less radiator to worry about.

Introduction

Today is the second of the two articles covering Corsair's newest water cooling units. When we looked at the new flagship H100 Extreme Performance Liquid CPU Cooler we were extremely impressed by the level of performance it offered over its closest competitors. Today's unit is an update to Corsair's previous flagship water cooler, the H70 High-Performance Hydro CPU Cooler. With a redesigned water block and fan management, Corsair is trying to further simplify the use of water to cool your CPU. Where the H100 may be too big for mid-size to smaller cases, the Hydro Series™ H80 High Performance Liquid CPU Cooler will be a lot easier to fit. This is a good start for the H80 and Corsair. Let's see exactly what the H80 has to offer and if it'ss worthy of your hard earned money.

Article Image

System Setup

Today's testing takes place on our [H]ard platform. The test bed consists of the GIGABYTE X58-Extreme motherboard, six gigabytes of Corsair DDR3 RAM and the Intel Core i7 920.

Article Image

Test Methods

CPU

In keeping with the spirit of the [H] we are once again doing hardware testing of all heat sinks. This means milling a very small path into an expensive CPU to place our thermocouple into. This is by far the best way to test coolers and the only way here at the [H]ardOCP.

Article Image Article Image Article Image

Temperatures for the CPU will continue to be measured using our Sperry Digital 4 Point thermometer.

GPU

For this article the GPU will be kept at stock speed to keep any excess heat away from the CPU that could impact the results. In 2D mode the 9500 GT generates very little heat and to further isolate it from the rest of the system we will install it in the secondary PCIE slot.

Thermal Paste

Noctua's NT-H1 thermal paste was selected as the paste of choice for a few key reasons. The thermal paste has been shown to provide excellent thermal conductivity allowing the heat sinks to better do their job. There is no observed curing time. That is, performance does not get any better over time. Any curing time could have introduced variables into the equation causing at best dubious results and at worst unreliable ones. Our channel milled CPU also requires a compound that is more viscous so the mating compound will not seep into the channel and run off.

Temperatures

Ambient temperature will be kept at 25C for the duration of the tests and measured with a MicroTemp EXP non-contact infrared thermometer and cross referenced with the Sperry Digital 4 Point thermometer. Any variance greater then 0.2C will halt the testing until temperatures return within spec for fifteen minutes.

Since we are dealing with water cooling we will allow extra time for each test to give the water in the loop enough time to reach equilibrium.

Idle

Idle temperatures will be recorded after a twenty-five minute period of inactivity. Any fluctuation during the last sixty seconds will reset the timer for an additional five minutes.

Load

Load temperatures will be recorded after a twenty-five minute period of 100% load. To obtain this load we will be using Prime95 v25.3 set to blend mode. In this way we can heat up the CPU as well as the memory controller which is now integrated into the die. Any fluctuation during the last sixty seconds will reset the timer for an additional five minutes.

Sound

Sound levels will be measured with a Reliability Direct AR824 sound meter from a distance of four feet away. With everything turned off and the room completely silent the meter registered a sound level of 38dB(A). This is a very quiet room where a simple pin drop could be heard. All sound measurements are recorded in the very late evening to further reduce any ambient noise.