Over the past couple of years or so, we gearheads have transitioned from membrane keyboards to mechanical ones; from mechanical hard drives to SSDs; and from air-cooling our CPUs to using closed liquid loops. All favorable moves, though the latter group suffers from a lack of variety. You can get radiators in 120mm, 240mm, and 280mm sizes, but they’re almost all painted plain black with black tubing, although some include the small style concession of a glowing logo on the pump housing. Part of this has to do with just a handful of companies designing coolers for a large number of brands. This plainness may be a drag in a tricked-out rig, but in the case of the Corsair H105, we’ve discovered that a lack of fanciness can be an advantage.
Corsair’s H105 radiator is thicker than usual (38mm instead of 27mm), and there’s a silver ring on the top of the pump that can be switched out for a red or blue one. But it’s not reinventing any wheels. Its tubing isn’t thick, and its pump isn’t very large. But you’ll notice how easily it installs in your system. There’s just one basic fan cable for the pump, which you can plug into any header on the motherboard, or directly into the power supply with a Molex adapter. The pump has two speeds: on and off. The fans use PWM control, so they’ll spin up and down smoothly, according to temperature readings. Just attach them to the bundled standard splitter cable, then connect that to the motherboard’s CPU fan header. And there’s no software this time; you just use your motherboard’s fan controls instead.
Since this pump does not offer variable speeds, it can be plugged directly into the power supply for maximum effectiveness.
Our test bed’s Rampage IV Extreme motherboard has Windows-based software called “Fan Xpert” that intelligently controls fan speeds. We ran our torture test with the H105’s fans set to “Quiet” in Fan Xpert, and got a pretty respectable 70 Celsius. When pushed to “Turbo” mode, the fans spun up to about 2,000rpm and lowered CPU temps to 65C. These aren’t the lowest temperatures we’ve seen, but they’re still pretty respectable, and the H105’s noise levels were surprisingly good. However, we couldn’t get a clear picture of how much the thickness of the radiator compensated for the modest diameter of the tubing and size of the pump. Those two properties seem to give the Cooler Master Glacer 240L and Nepton 280L an edge. But at press time, the H105 cost less at most stores than the Glacer (we suspect partly because the Glacer is an expandable system), and the Nepton has a 280mm cooler that doesn’t fit in a lot of cases.
If you want a liquid-cooling system with a 240mm radiator, and you don’t care about expandability, then the ease of installation, ease of use, and manageable noise levels of the H105 make it hard to beat for the price. And like all Corsair liquid coolers, it gets a five-year warranty, whereas the competition usually gives you two or three years of coverage. On the other hand, the radiator’s extra 11mm of thickness makes it too large for certain cases. Corsair says that the cooler is compatible with “the vast majority” of chassis, but its list leaves off a number of seemingly workable cases of its own, such as the Carbide 500R and the Graphite 600T. If you can spend more money, there are slightly better coolers out there, but the H105 is a well-rounded package.
Our zero point notebook is an Alienware 14 with a 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-4700MQ, 16GB DDR3/1600, 256GB mSATA SSD, 750GB 5,400rpm HDD, a GeForce GTX 765M, and Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. BioShock Infinite tested at 1920x1080 at Ultra DX11 settings; Metro Last Light tested at 1920x1080 at DX11 medium quality settings with PhysX disabled.