Corsair Hydro Series H70 Water Cooling Kit
To be what seems like a mystical black art, water cooling gives most users chills to think of putting liquid in the PC as most are trained from small kids to keep liquid away. Those that have started to overcome the fear usually stop dead in their tracks when they watch the price tag climb. For the last few years companies have recognized the need for low cost, budget friendly kits. Corsair is one of those companies.
Way back in 2002 they designed and released their HydroCool 200 and followed up in 2006 with the Nautilus 500. Then last year they teamed up with Asetek and released the Hydro Series H50 to work with the LGA1366 and AM2/3 CPU's. As the end users got a hold of it people liked it, but they were tweaking it to squeeze every bit from the cooler. What most liked about the H50 was it cost less than $80, which is very close in price to most top end CPU water blocks for custom loops.
Now Corsair has released an updated version of the Hydro Series H50 called the H70. The H70 has a beefier radiator, redesigned pump and cold plate, and comes with two fans rather than one. The H70 also comes with a little price increase. The Hydro Series H70, model CWCH70, can be found for around $110; even then it is still cheaper than a custom loop which can easily be in excess of $200 for a simple CPU loop like Corsair's Hydro Series H70 does. The price is also very similar to what most H50 users ended up spending after buying a pair of matching fans for a push pull setup.
The new Hydro Series H70 still sports a single 120mm radiator but this time the radiator is thicker. It’s twice as thick as the radiator for the H50. The fans that are included in the H70 kit are 2000RPM fans pushing 61CFM at 31.5dBA. Corsair also includes inline resistors to cut the fan back to 1600RPM pushing 50CFM at 26dBA.
Corsair Hydro Series H70 CPU Water Cooler Features:
- Pre-filled, closed-loop system is easy to install
- Copper CPU cooling plate for maximum cooling performance
- Integrated pump and reservoir is sealed for zero maintenance and improved leakage protection
- Large, double-thick 120mm radiator for outstanding heat dissipation
- High-performance, twin 120mm fans offer outrageous airflow in push-pull configuration
- Included step-down adapters let you customize your fan speed for low noise or high performance.
Corsair Hydro Series H70 CPU Water Cooler Specifications:
- Model: CWCH70
- Cold Plate Material: Copper
- Fan Specs: 2 x 120mm, selectable 2000RPM or 1600RPM
- Radiator Material: Aluminum
- Tubing: Low-permeability for near-zero evaporation
- Warranty: 24 Months
Corsair Hydro Series H70 Retail Packing
The Corsair Hydro Series H70 CPU water cooler comes in a nice sturdy box for the retail market. The box art has a nice close up shot of the pump/cold plate with the Corsair logo. Then in the lower corner you can see the whole unit.
On the side are the specifications for the Hydro Series H70.
On the back is a listing of what’s in the box and a chart that shows a 20C improvement over the Intel Core i7 920 stock cooler.
Inside the kit is held in a cradle that looks to be made from recycled paper.
The H70 comes with a fair amount of documentation, and from the looks of it shares a lot in common with the H50.
All the accessory parts are in baggies.
Looking closer at the H70
With the Hydro Series H70 out of the box we can start getting a good look at it. The first thing that jumps out at you is the smaller pump/cold plate. The next is the radiator: same foot print, just thicker. The tubing from the radiator to the water block is shorter this time around as well. The H50 the tubing was about 11", the H70 it is 9". The power cable for the pump is nice and long though, it comes in at 12”. Now, how this will affect the installation of the H70? Well, we will see about that in the next section.
The top of the pump/cold plate Corsair has the ship sail logo.
The H70 has 90* swivel fittings that allow the pump/cold plate to have a decent range of motion. Putting the radiator in the top of a case could be doable depending how far the top of the case is away from the CPU socket.
The base comes with a liberal amount of thermal paste pre-applied.
Here we have the base all necked. It's not the most impressive looking surface, but it is flat.
Like the Hydro Series H50 the radiator can accommodate twin 120mm fans for a push/pull configuration. The radiator is just shy of 6" tall.
The width comes in at 4-7/8 inches.
The thickness is where the big change is. This time around the radiator is 48mm or 1.8 inches. For those not good with dimensions, the run of the mill 120mm fans are 25mm thick.
It also has a high fin count, 22-23 fins per inch. So, the more the CFM the better.
This time around Corsair is providing two 120mm fans rather than one. The fans themselves are rated at 2000RPM pushing 61CFM at 31.5dBA. Corsair also includes inline resistors to cut the fan back to 1600RPM pushing 50CFM at 26dBA.
Now at first glance the wires are a tad short, only 8”. This is not so good until you start tacking on the speed reducers and the Y adaptor. Then the overall length jumps to 14”. The fans use standard 3 pin connectors so getting extensions or hooking them up to a fan controller will be a snap.
Comparing the H50 to the H70
One of the questions that many consumers will have is how the new Corsair Hydro series H70 CPU water cooler compares to last year's Corsair Hydro H50 CPU water cooler. The Corsair H70 and H50 CPU coolers both fit on the rear of the case where a 120mm fan goes, but the differences between the two CPU water cooling kits is rather large. The Corsair H70 is pictured on the above left, and as you can see the radiator is much thicker, the water hoses are shorter, the base plate (water block and pump) is wider and thinner, and the power lead is longer, but not sleeved. As you can see the two coolers are very different, but let's take a closer look for those that are more curious as to what the differences are.
The Corsair Hydro Series H70 uses a 120mm radiator that is double the thickness of the radiator on the Corsair H50. The Corsair H70 radiator is 50mm thick versus the 25mm radiator in the H50. The increased thickness of the radiator, compared to the H50, means that the water cooling kit can hold more coolant and that it has great surface area.
The Corsair H50 has 12 'rows' on it that the coolant flows through versus 8 'rows' on the H70. The kicker here is that the Corsair H70 is twice as thick and the 'fin' count per square inch is higher in-between the coolant rows. The picture above gives you a glance at the radiators with the H50 sitting on top of the H70.
One of the key new features on the Corsair H70 water cooler is the low profile pump/cold-plate unit. Corsair has managed to stuff the water block and pump into a base that is just 1.125" thick, which is amazing. The old Corsair Hydro H50 had a base that was 2.25" thick, so Corsair was able to reduce the base thickness by exactly half. Corsair claims that the low-profile pump is high-performance and high-quality. The one negative on the Corsair H70 pump is that the 3-pin power header is not sleeved like on the 3-pin power header on the H50. The good news is that Corsair listened to community feedback and lengthened the power wire from 7" to 13" in length. This means that it should be easier to find a power header that is available on your motherboard or that you can route the wire through the back of your case for better wire management where you can connect it to a splitter or another power wire.
Not all the power cables were lengthened, though, as the fan power headers have greatly changed on the Corsair H70 CPU cooler. The fan header that comes with the Corsair H50 is twelve inches long, is sleeved and is of the 4-pin variety. The Corsair H70 uses a 3-pin fan header that is only 8.5" long and like the pump header it, too, is not sleeved. We mentioned on the previous page that the Corsair H70 comes with a splitter cable that is 3.5" long. If you used that adapter cable the overall length jumps to 12", which is identical to the Corsair H50 fan header length. At first glance it looked like Corsair reduced the cable length, but they really didn't. That means that the only real significant change is the move to non-sleeved cables and that the fans are 3-pin.
The last difference we noted by sitting the two coolers next to each other was the aesthetics of both base plates. When the H50 or H70 is installed into a case that has a window on it the base plate will be visible to anyone looking inside. The Corsair H50 base plate had the corsair logo silk screened onto the base plate with white paint. The new Corsair H70 has a thin metal plate affixed to the pump housing that has a nicer black finish with colored text and the Corsair logo made from metal. Since the logo is cut into the metal plate it catches light (like it did above) and looks much better and more refined than the original cooler.
Installing the H70
Corsair provides all that is needed to mount the H70 up to all the Intel LGA sockets and the AMD AM2/3 sockets.
The Hydro Series H70 also has new retention brackets from that of the Hydro Series H50 we tested last year. The top bracket is metal not plastic; the lower plate is still plastic. This time there is a universal mount for all the Intel LGA sockets and a separate mount for the AMD camp. With the H50 there was a different mount for each socket and LGA1156 was not in the mix.
The rest of the mounting gear consists of plastic adaptors for the top plates, barrel nuts, and sticky backed pads.
In each of the top rings there are slots; in these slots different adaptors are put in depending on the socket you have. The single hole adaptor is for the AMD and Intel LGA775 sockets. The double hole is for the Intel LGA1156 and 1366 sockets. These just snap into the slots in the top ring.
The barrel nuts go in the backing plate. They sit in pockets and with the flats on them you don't need any wrenches.
With the retention plates in place and loosely attached then you can put the board back in the case. Then install the pump/cold plate on the processor, then the radiator and fans on the back of the case. Sounds harder than it really is, and if you have a smallish case get a buddy to hold the radiator for you while you put the pump/cold plate in place. It can be done, but it is easier with a third hand to keep it from sliding into something that it shouldn't or scratching up the side of your case.
Here we have the H70 installed into the system. Now, before you fire up the email to tell me I have the fans installed backwards, it is true, I do. Yes, Corsair says for best performance install the fans as intake rather than exhaust (like I have it). I did it this way for two reasons: one, force of habit. The second reason is I will be testing it both ways.
The wires for the fans and pump are more than long enough to get to where they needed to go for my motherboard. Actually, with the inline fan speed reducers the Y splitter the cable is a little long but was easily tucked out of the way. Same for the pump power wire. The hoses were just right -- no kinking or twisting -- for a nice flow.
Looking straight into the side of the radiator you can get a real feel for the space the H70 takes up. For both fans the distance off the back of the case is 3.8 inches.
The Legit Reviews Core i7 Test System
Here are the parts that make up the Legit Reviews Core i7 test system:
|Intel Test Platform|
|Processor||Intel Core i7 920||Click Here|
|Motherboard||Intel DX58SO||Click Here|
|Memory||Kingston DDR3 3GB 1333MHz ValueRAM||Click Here|
|Video Card||ATI X1950 XTX||Click Here|
|Hard Drive||Western Digital 250gb SATA||Click Here|
|Power Supply||PC&C Silencer 750 Quad||Click Here|
|Chassis||Ultra M998||Click Here|
|Operating System||Windows Vista Ultimate (64bit)||Click Here|
To test the coolers I ran them on our Intel Core i7 test platform, which was then set to run at both default and overclocked settings. As a baseline all coolers will be compared to the retail boxed Intel cooler.
The previous coolers tested are:
- Asus Triton 81
- Cogage True Spirit
- Cooler Master V6GT
- Cooler Master V8
- Cooler Master V10
- Coolink Corator DS
- CoolIT ECO A.L.C.
- Corsair Hydro Series H50
- Noctua NH-C12P
- Noctua NH-D14
- Noctua NH-U12P
- Noctua NH-U12P SE2
- Scythe Mugen2
- Scythe Yasya
- Spire TherMax II
- Stock Intel
- Swiftech Apogee GTZ
- Swiftech Apogee XT
- Thermalright Ultra 120 eXtreme 1366
- Thermalright Venomous X
- Thermaltake ISGC-300
- Thermaltake ISGC-400
- Thermaltake SpinQ
- Titan Fenrir
- Xtreme Gear HP-1216B
- Vigor Monsoon III LT
- Zalman 10X Extreme
- Zalman CNPS10X Performa
All of the temperatures were obtained by using Core Temp v0.99.3 after the system sat at idle for 30 minutes and then again under 100% load while running Prime95 (64bit) v25.8 for 30 minutes using the blended test. The room temperature was kept a constant 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22C) for all benchmarking. All of the coolers were tested with Arctic Silver Lumiere as the thermal interface material.
With the system running at stock speeds, the Hydro Series H70 with the fans on high did rather well coming in at 55.75*C, one degree behind the Cooler Master V6GT. Also the difference between fans in exhaust and intake orientation was only 0.25*C. With the fans in low speed mode they were quieter, but the system ran a little warmer coming in at 57.5*C set for intake and 58*C set for exhaust. Roughly a two degree difference from high to low.
With the system overclocked to 3.5GHz the heat climbs. With the fans on high the Hydro Series H70 still only differs 0.25 degree between set for intake or exhaust. Coming in at 64.5*C the H70 was 2.25 degrees behind the top cooler the Noctua NH-D14. Again, on the low speed setting the H70 dropped back in the pack a little but still only about a one degree difference from high to low.
With the heat really cranked up we have the system running at 3.8GHz. With the fans set up for intake the Hydro Series H70 dumped massive amounts of heat into the case. The M998 case I have for the test bench just could not get the heat out as fast as the fans were dumping it in. With it set for intake the temps sat at a toasty 79.25*C. With the fans switched around for exhaust it's a way different story. The temps were at a very nice 74.5*C. It's two degrees cooler than the massive Noctua NH-D14, but 17 degrees warmer than our custom water loop with a Swiftech Apogee XT. Then again, the Hydro Series H70 cost 1/3 that of our custom loop.
Conclusion and Final Thoughts
The improvements Corsair has made for the Hydro Series with the H70 over the H50 were noticeable in its performance. The bigger radiator and dual fans have made a world of difference. The new size could very well be an issue for most with small cases.
One thing I noticed in the time I have spent so far with the Hydro Series H70: air flow is key. The case I used for the test bench only has a single 120mm fan in the front of the case -- no side or top exhaust. This wasn't very noticeable until I had the system really overclocked and H70 set up as intake fans. The side panel of the case was physically warm, so all the heat released from the radiator was filling the case and affecting the rest of the system. Yes, I was bringing the cool air into the cooler, but I was dumping the heat into a case that couldn’t get it out as fast as it going in. So if you run with the intake configuration you will need a fan setup that can get the air out. The same goes for running the exhaust configuration. To get the intake performance you need a case that can feed the cool air needed for the Hydro Series H70 to perform well. Another factor in the performance is the fans themselves.
The high fin count on the radiator means the Hydro Series H70, like the H50, will love air flow. The more CFM you can throw at it the better. We plan on testing the Hydro Series H70 with other fans like we did with the H50, but for now since the H70 comes with two fans and speed reducers we went with the “as purchased” arrangement to see how it did. The H70 did very well, but I believe it has some more to give.
Of the kit coolers I have tested over the years in our test system case the Hydro Series H70 is by far the best performing of the bunch and does it without having to buy extra to get the job done. Now the stock fans are not the quietest fans on the market, but are by no means the loudest and in low speed mode are not too bad.
Looking at the extreme end of the testing with the system at 3.8GHz, the Hydro Series H70 was a fair bit warmer than our custom water loop, but to get that extra performance the cost was almost 2.5-3 times that of the H70. The Hydro Series H70 costs around $110; just the Swiftech Apogee XT water block we have in our custom loop cost $75 then you have the tubing, fittings, pump, radiator, reservoir and fans. So spending $250 or more is not too hard. This also doesn't include the work involved with a custom loop, either. The H70 installed in less than 15 minutes with no hose cutting, loop bleeding or leak checking, all of which are things that take way longer than 15 minutes to do. There is also no maintenance with the H70, either, like you would have with the custom loop.
This time Corsair shortened the hoses and the fan power wires. I didn't encounter any issues with this, and actually I think it made installing it easier. Where the shorter lines may cause issues is in cases where the end user wants to put the radiator in the top of a tall case. If there is a lot of space between the CPU and the case top it may not reach. The fan wires looked to be way too short to be useful until I started adding in the reducers and the Y adapter. That puts a fair amount of length back onto the fan cables. Reaching a fan header should not be an issue.
When it comes to the testing I have the Hydro Series H70 CWCH70 as the king of the kit coolers. Coming in at $103 shipped for the H70 it's a good $20 more than its predecessor the Hydro Series H50 and the CooliT ECO A.L.C., but the H70 outperformed them by a fair amount as well.
The Corsair Hydro Series H70 CPU water cooler is a very nice self-contained water cooling kit that is easy to install and requires no maintenance. The Corsair H70 (Part number CWCH70) was also able to perform significantly better than the Corsair H50 for just a slightly higher price tag. By the time you figure in the better cooling performance, improved appearance and the two year limited warranty, you have a water cooler that is hard to pass up. The Corsair Hydro Series H70 is the real deal and something you don't need to think twice about before purchasing.
Legit Bottom Line: Corsair Hydro Series has come a long way and the Hydro Series H70 CWCH70 is the new king of the kit water coolers; and at $103 it’s a little more than high-end air, but nowhere near as bad as a full-on custom water cooling loop.