by William Kelley on September 8, 2010 in Cooling
When Corsair released its H50 CPU cooler last year, it impressed all of the critics – including us. So much so, that we even have multiple units in our lab for our test beds. It was with great interest when the H70 was released, then, as it improves on the previous design in numerous ways. But is it enough to compete with current competition?
As the heat of the summer season begins to die down, we are drawn to the topic of cooling like moths to a bug light. While the lucky few (like me) have a finished basement to house all my PC gear so that it lives in a luxurious 68°F paradise year round, most people are forced to sweat right along with their PC.
One thing is for certain, that the diehard enthusiast does not want to scale back their overclock one single MHz no matter the cost to their comfort level. So, it is more important than ever to find the best possible cooler available.
Air cooling has long held the crown of the best bang for the buck and it’s been for a very good reason. Early all-in-one water cooling kits were hardly able to handle a single core stock speed processor, never mind an overclocked one. Custom built water cooling has long been more efficient but at a far greater cost and at an even higher danger level. Let’s face it, there is just no way anyone in their right mind is going to spend $100+ on a pre-built water cooling device that cannot compete with an air cooling heat sink for ½ the price .
Luckily for all of us, there are companies such as Thermaltake, CoolIT and Corsair (just to name a few) which have stepped up to the plate and have finally delivered some knock-out products at competitive levels. With each release we have seen them all come closer and closer to being able to compete head-to-head with the best of the air cooling world. There was a time I was certain this was not going to happen, but I am glad to say I was wrong as we now have quite the range to choose from.
Before I get into the meat of the article, I do have one bone of contention to deal with and that is with the opinion that these all-in-one kits are not real water cooling. Let me state this clear and loud just for the record: HOGWASH! They use liquid for cooling so that point is covered. They use some form of metal block mounted to the CPU for heat transfer and they also have a pump to circulate the coolant.
Those of you that insist you must build your own custom loop for it to be “real”, please do us all a favor and get down off the soapbox and actually look into how effective this form of cooling is and how it is an excellent alternative to pure air. I don’t mean to sound judgmental on this subject, but this is definitely something I wanted to clear up.
Corsair has only been in the cooling game for a few short years but the strides it has made have been big. The learning curve has been short and sweet and so far the consumer has been the benefactor. The company’s H50 was a huge success and for a very good reason… it worked very well and for a very good price. Just over a year ago, we gave our impression of the H50, and today, we use three of them in our own test benches. Now, it is time to take a look at the latest incarnation, the H70. Sporting an all new design, nothing carries over from the original. From the larger radiator to the thinner pump to the dual fans, we get a whole new creature to feed on the heat.
Once you get everything unpacked from the box and laid out on the bench you can see that there is a new style mounting system for the H70. I also would like to point out that Corsair uses-paper based packaging materials which are more recycle-friendly than Styrofoam. That aside, you get everything you need for all the major sockets.
The actual hardware is interchangeable between the different sockets so there is little extra leftover which is kind of nice. It almost seems wasteful that you get specific hardware for each socket with most coolers, so this type of ingenuity is welcome. You also get various fan power wiring options with a splitter and a couple of speed reducing diode adapters.
There are only two pump/water block retention brackets for mounting the block. The Intel bracket is able to handle all 3 sockets while the AMD bracket needs only one configuration to do the job. The back plates are made of plastic while the actual retention bracket is made of metal
The two included 120mm fans run at 2000 RPM with 62 CFM of air moving power. While they are a touch on the noisy side, the included step down adapters will drop their speed to a more ear friendly 1600 RPM while only dropping the airflow to just over 50 CFM.
A side view of the rad/block/pump assembly shows just how large the radiator has grown while the CPU block/pump has shrunk dramatically. The tubing is still a touch more rigid than I like, but it can be bent at strong angles without issue as long as due care is taken.
The mating surface of the block comes with pre-applied thermal paste and has a nice finish. While I prefer a small tube of thermal paste to be included, it is also very convenient as the factory applied paste is not too thick and will make everything mate nicely.
Taking a closer look at the side of the CPU block/pump you see just how much thinner the new design is. I am very impressed that Corsair was able to maintain the efficiency while cutting the size by well over a ½.
Looking at the radiator itself, we see that Corsair has chosen a tight fin design which does require the fans to have a higher static pressure (which equals more noise). There is a lot of cooling power packed into this radiator.
Once you get the CPU bracketry assembled you can enjoy the simplicity of the design and just how easy they are to assemble. As long as you follow the directions (which I did the second time I put it together) everything goes smooth as butter.
The back plate is also just as simple to assemble and within seconds you are ready to position it on the backside of your motherboard. The orientation was slightly off center for my S1156 board so once I convinced my brain this was OK, then I was off to the races.
Up to now, I did find the bracketry somewhat of a challenge to assemble, but as stated earlier, as long as you follow the included directions (which have very large clear pictures) you should have no issues with the process. And again, I cannot state how much I like the way multiple sockets are covered with less waste.