Although 280mm radiators and 140mm fans are becoming all the rage in closed-loop coolers, Corsair is showing that we shouldn’t count out 240mm rads just yet. The H100i cools admirably, installs relatively easily, and inspires confidence in its longevity. What more can a gearhead ask for?
You can control the “i” variant of the H100i from within Windows, using Corsair’s free “Link” software.
Well, it was not all wine and roses at first: The pump was pretty noisy. We had to Google around for a solution, then Google some more for a direct link to a firmware update, which we could not find on the H100i’s product page. However, the firmware updated quickly (didn’t even require a reboot), and the pump’s noise went down to a low murmur and stayed there. There was no CD for the “Corsair Link” fan-control software, though, so more Internet foraging was required.
On the bright side, the H100i has one of the easiest installs we’ve encountered. There is a minimum of widgets to snap together, which lowers the frustration level (and saves you from having to scour your carpet when you drop something tiny). You put a bracket underneath the motherboard, hold it there with a few provided screws, and lower the heatsink onto the screws, which connect to another bracket that you slapped onto the heatsink. Then, secure the heatsink bracket to the motherboard bracket with another set of screws. And if you’re using an LGA2011 motherboard, you don’t even use the first bracket. Even a caveman could do it! The cooler is intelligent, with similar functionality to the Kick Ass award–winning H80i we reviewed earlier this year.
We recently switched our CPU-cooling test-bed case from a Thermaltake Level 10 GT to a spacious Corsair 900D, by the way, so our performance here can’t be directly compared to previous results. How do you judge the H100i, then? Well, we also installed the ever-popular Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo air cooler for comparison. With our Core i7-3960X running overclocked to a little over 4.1GHz on all cores, the H100i performed better on Quiet mode than the 212 Evo did on Performance. That’s pretty excellent cooling prowess—and you could add two more fans to the radiator (provided they fit in your case).
That helps excuse the fact that the H100i creates nearly intolerable noise when set to Performance mode, since it looks like you won’t need to run the fans that hard most of the time, as long as your case has good airflow. We should note, however, that the pump requires a SATA power connection. Not a deal-breaker, but neat-freaks might have trouble threading this cable that close to their CPU and still keeping everything tidy. You’ll probably want to use an extension cable or give the pump its own line since the distance between the CPU and most drive cages is usually too great to use a single cable for both locations.
Despite its quirks, though, the H100i is a highly respectable piece of gear. The firmware and cabling issues are not difficult or tedious to resolve, and the build quality is worthy of a 5-year warranty (the longest of any brand of closed-loop liquid cooler).
Can get noisy; needs firmware update; cabling caveat.
H100i Quiet Mode
H100i Performance Mode
212 Evo Quiet Mode
212 Evo Performance Mode
Load - Ambient
All temperatures in degrees Celsius. Best scores are bolded. All tests performed with an Intel Core i7-3960X at 4.1GHz, on an Asus Rampage IV Extreme motherboard, in a Corsair 900D with stock fans set to Standard..