Software

Impressively, this new set of contenders boast both fan control software and even, in the case of Corsair's H80i and H100i, upgradable firmware. The Prolimatech Megahalems and Noctua NH-D14 may be big, beefy air coolers, but they don't include those kinds of goodies (though there's something to be said for not having to futz with hardware). The H80i and H100i along with NZXT's Kraken coolers all plug into one of the spare USB 2.0 headers on your motherboard to interface with the rest of your system, and require drivers and software to be installed for you to take full advantage of them. This may seem like a nuisance at first, but it does allow for pretty detailed and specific control.

Corsair Link

Of the two software solutions on hand, Corsair's Corsair Link software is definitely more mature. I've actually been familiarizing myself with it over the past year, both in my home desktop and in my case testbed, and while it's far from perfect (fan control of third party fans has proven to be a substantial hurdle), there's a lot to recommend it.

The screenshot above is from my home system, but it's a good indicator of how well Corsair Link can work. Corsair's software can provide basic HWMonitor-level monitoring for system components, while an "i" series PSU like the AX1200i can have its individual rails monitored as well as its fan controlled. Individual fan control options for the H80i and H100i include the three presets I tested with (Quiet, Balanced, and Performance) along with fixed percentage and RPM, or you can even manually set your own cooling curve. You can also use the Corsair Link to configure the LED lighting of the waterblock.

Where you benefit from Corsair Link is really in buying into the whole ecosystem that Corsair is assembling. While the individual Corsair Link box concept never seemed to quite get off the ground, a unified Corsair Link ecosystem that runs at the component level looks to be a more promising route. The H80i and H100i waterblocks both include an additional connector input for other Corsair Link-enabled accessories, making them ideal companions for Corsair's fan controller, LED lighting kit, or especially an "i" series power supply.

Kraken Control

While Corsair Link is pretty robust, Kraken Control still feels very fresh and obviously has some kinks that need to be worked out.

The software is certainly stable and features a programmable fan curve just like Corsair Link, but the fan control is handled entirely by percentage as opposed to also being RPM-configurable. It's also more confusing to work with in some ways, and when the fan is running silently the software actually reports it as being at 0 RPM. Like Corsair Link, NZXT's software lets you control the lighting of the waterblock.

Kraken Control definitely still needs work, but where it scores big is its simplicity. Corsair Link may be robust, but it's also a big program and sometimes it feels a little sluggish. Kraken isn't too much snappier, but it's much simpler to use once you get the hang of it. NZXT doesn't have a whole ecosystem of components to incorporate like Corsair does, and the software is serviceable. The main drawbacks are its relative youth and the open source hardware monitor that has to run separately alongside it, software which really should just be integrated in the first place.

Ease of Installation Testing Methodology
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  • schulmaster - Friday, December 28, 2012 - link

    The most aberrant result of this review, at least in my opinion, is how the H80 and H100 compare. Presumably similar 120mm Fans, but differing by a significant factor in cooling area, the H100 should not be performing at H80 levels under load, let alone below.
    Here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8HsjgtMzEg

    Linus runs a test series, with the variable of 120mm Fan quality removed, using top-of-the -line cooling on all contenders; and the h100 unsurprisingly performs 15+ degrees better than the H80 under OC load. I don't know wherein the testing parameters, on either side, emerged the resulting discrepancy of this magnitude. However, I would diversify the bonds of my research before discounting the H100 as a pragmatic enthusiast cooling solution. Perhaps Linus' using of a real- world-esque environment, ie only average cable management in a closed chassis contributed?
    Reply
  • Foeketijn - Friday, December 28, 2012 - link

    For all the people who may be too enthusiastic about high end air coolers.
    These things are harder to compare than you might think, in all the reviews I've seen it's all about the temp delta /Noise ratio. Funny thing is, a watercooler throws it's heat right out your case while a lot of warmth of your air cooler is circulated back to cool your heat-generator with preheated air. That's probably why almost every watercooler review has some comment about "why you should go for an similarly priced air cooler" and that being followed up by an actual owner of an watercooler (probably "closed loop" since the few DIY watercooler owners really understand the amount variables in hand) countering with his or her trial and having much better real life results.

    A disadvantage is that the radiator blocks the airflow. So without the different fan in the equation there is less air going through your case. How much this shall impact the performance is strongly dependent on how much heat is being blocked (or how much heat is being produced not including the CPU and how much airflow is left)

    Bottom line, comparing an watercooler (an air cooler with water as an heat transporting medium ; ) ) with an air cooler is almost impossible without testing several case builds and probably a really vague conclusion.

    That being said, this is the right website for such an endeavor! An while I'm at it, I support the comments about missing some feedback about rotor noise and the 30 db floorlevel of the sound-o-meter. Great review tho, when you want to decide which CLWC to buy.
    Reply
  • Khenglish - Friday, December 28, 2012 - link

    What were the fan speeds with the thicker radiators? The 38mm rads will need either push-pull or have high rpm fans to push the air through.

    I would have liked to have seen performance with the IHS removed. Someone who decides to go with a water cooling setup is more likely to remove the IHS. It's well known that IVB has CPU die - IHS connection issues, and the variance between IHS quality among IVB's makes it difficult for people to compare their results to yours. Even with a good IHS, removing it still makes a big difference. The thermal resistance drop makes a big difference, especially when pushing the voltage and clocks. I lost ~5C when I removed the IHS from my 580 (1.25V). An IVB's gains should be even larger.

    Your results are pretty terrible for liquid cooling setups, and it would be nice to know how much of that was due to the IHS, or if these liquid cooling setups just aren't very good.
    Reply
  • riottime - Saturday, December 29, 2012 - link

    i had placed 2 orders for the corsair h55 on newegg when this article appeared. :)

    they just arrived yesterday. i put one on my tuban 1090t amd system (stock speed) and i5 3550 intel system (also stock speed). i got them mainly to reduce the system noise not to overclock my processors with. so far they're doing just that i'm happy to report. :P

    the manual/instruction that comes with it is atrocious. i recommend going on youtube and search for 'corsair h55 install' before you start installing it on your system.
    Reply
  • TekDemon - Sunday, December 30, 2012 - link

    I think you guys might have to check the mounting and test again because the H80i definitely shouldn't be outperforming the H100i assuming the H100i isn't defective. I mean, your own H100 vs H80 review has the H100 clearly winning and they're the same coolers minus the link.

    I honestly would suggest double checking your mounting and testing with a higher heat load since a i7 @ 4.4Ghz and 1.4V hardly really shows the benefits of an H100. I would point out that in your previous review the CPU was clocked at 4.8Ghz. If the H80i still manages to beat the H100i then either Corsair has upgraded the fan setup on the H80i such that the push-pull is managing to beat out the H100's stock 2 fan configuration or there's just something wrong with your H100i.

    I would also point out that the H100i can be upgraded to a 4-fan configuration while the H80i is maxed out in it's stock configuration, I have an internally mounted H100 (non-i) with 4 fans on it and it's probably about as high performing as you can get with an all internal compact setup.
    Reply
  • Reservoir_Dog - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    Cannot understand the temp results, i mean, whats, 4.5 under load?
    4.5 deg celcius??
    With the H80i and a 2600K @ 4.2 ghz i get 60 deg celcius with the same test
    So is it too hot then?
    Reply
  • chesbrougha - Thursday, March 7, 2013 - link

    I have an X40 and it is not cutting it with a 3930k. I am thinking that it might be because I can't figure out how to change the profile as there is no mac software (install windows then change back to mac??). Anyone have any ideas?

    I am thinking about changing to the H100i but think I will run into the same issues
    Reply
  • soulcipher - Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - link

    Apologies for digging up an old thread, however I joined as I wanted to share my experience with the product and the company. I'll be blunt and to the point. I am using NZXT X40.

    The company lie about case compatibility. Their head of Tech Support has stated in an email to me they do not test these on any cases but their own. This makes their compatibility list totally false as I found out a few months ago. I am using an X40.

    I have a Corsair Carbide 500R and their compat guide states rear placement. Their head of tech stated in an email to me he had the case in front of him, and it fits fine. It took me sending him a video and photos to admit he had 'got it wrong' and that it doesnt fit. They have offered no compensation, and advised me to chop my case up to make it fit. I based my purchase of my current case on the statements NZXT made regarding the compatibility. When I first got it, I assumed I was doing something wrong and dumped it elsewhere in the case. However for top placement, it doesn't provide effective enough cooling, it needs rear placement with ideally, a push/pull config, so when I went back and revisited this notion, I contacted NZXT regarding to see what was going on.

    Disgusting customer service, and would most definitely never buy NZXT products again. For anyone saying i'm lying, i'll happily disclose the emails. The product works, its quiet and does an ok job at keeping the CPU cool, but they have lied about it being compatible and offer nothing to compensate for making people out of pocket from their false guidance.
    Reply

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