There's no shame in releasing a 'whiteboxed' liquid cooling solution under the Corsair brand, particularly if that liquid cooling solution has the pedigree that comes from being Asetek designed and built. Asetek can trace its history back to the well known VapoChill phase-change cooler that (circa 2003) propelled CPU overclocking light years forward. In any case, this self-contained liquid cooling system that Frostytech is testing is known in OEM circles as the Asetek 550LC model. Corsair call it the Hydro H50.
What you get for plunking down $80 on the Corsair H50 is a no fuss no muss, lower noise CPU thermal solution that installs with the relative ease of a regular CPU heatsink. The H50 liquid cooling system arrives fully assembled, pre-filled with a distilled water/propylene glycol coolant and is pre-plumbed. That drop-in-place readiness is what makes the Corsair H50 a nice way to get into watercooling, just like the Coolit Domino ALC and AVC Hercules systems.
Why watercooling? Well it's generally considered to be an effective means of quietly cooling a PC or HTPC system because it allows heat to be pumped to a centralized heat exchanger, cooled by a single quiet fan. Ideally, all the heat is exhausted to the outside of the PC case so internal temperatures remain cool. Make no mistake though, watercooling is not inherently superior to a good heatpipe based tower heatsink.
The Corsair Hydro H50 is compatible with AMD socket AM2/AM2+/AM3 and Intel socket 775/1366 processors. At the time of this review, LGA1156 chips were not supported, nor are older socket 754/939/940 AMD platforms. Retail price for this system is on the order of $80 USD/CDN.
Corsair's Hydro H50 self-contained liquid cooling system consists of two parts, a 12v DC pump with integrated reservoir and thin unplated skived copper waterblock, and the fluid-to-air aluminum heat exchanger.
The Corsair H50 is ready to go out of the box, the user need only install the waterblock onto the CPU and mount the radiator and 120mm fan to the back of the PC chassis. Please note: Your computer case MUST have mounting holes for a rear 120mm exhaust fan or the H50 cannot be properly installed. Curiously, Corsair recommend installing the fan and heat exchanger with the fan drawing cool air into the case, not exhausting out. Be careful to balance air intake so the computer case does not pressurize and cause air flow to drop!!
Set within the base of the water pump assembly that mounts onto the processor is the fluid heat exchanger (pictured above). The fin area of the CPU fluid heat exchanger measures ~30x30x5mm in size. This is basically a thin-fin skived copper plate about 1mm thick. With the plastic cap in place (below), we can more clearly see how coolant enters the fluid heat exchanger and is directed from one side of the ~5mm tall skived copper fins to the other. Since the top of the copper fins are flush with the plastic, coolant must pass through them to reach the opposite side, thus ensuring a high degree of copper surface area is in contact with flowing coolant.
Provided no contaminants or corrosion blocks off the closely spaced skived copper fins, this arrangement should make it very efficient in conducting heat from the CPU to the distilled water/propylene glycol being circulated by the integrated 12vDC pump.
The limiting factors would seem to be the fluid flow rate (specs are not given) and the efficiency of the air-to-water aluminum heat exchanger.
The pump head and waterblock are contained in a 56mm tall x 72mm diameter black plastic cylinder that mounts onto the CPU with the aid of a twist-lock joint in the plastic spring-tensioned mounting brackets (shown above prior to engagement). Brackets for Intel socket 775, socket 1366 and AMD socket AM2 are supplied.
If we remove the plastic cap we can the driver electronics for the 12vDC integrated water pump. The 12V DC pump is quite small, the bearing type is not specified by Corsair but lifespan is rated for 50,000 MTBF.
The aluminum radiator is connected to the waterblock/pump head by a 26cm length of what we believe to be Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene (FEP) or Perfluoroalkoxy (PFA) plastic tubing. The Corsair spec sheet is vague on this point, only specifying 'low evaporation tubing'. The black plastic corrugated tubing is 11mm in diameter and its max bend radius is 22mm. The tubing is pretty stiff and fairly kink resistant. While the barbs on the radiator are metal, those on the pump head are plastic - take care when installing the unit so there is no chance of a barb being snapped off.
A 120mm PWM fan operates at speeds of between 1700RPM and 1000RPM to move air through the aluminum heat exchanger.
The Corsair Hydro H50 is compatible
with both Intel and AMD processors. It ships with three motherboard brackets that engage with supplied metal
support plates to accommodate Intel socket 775, Intel socket 1366 and AMD socket AM2/AM3
A good set of printed instructions describes the correct order for engaging the waterblock head
with the motherboard retention bracket, and tightening the spring tensioned screws. The waterblock engages with the
bracket with a short twist. This heatsink will be tested on FrostyTech's Intel
LGA775/1156 and AMD version of the Mk.II synthetic thermal temperature test platform,
and compared against a hundred reference LGA775 and AMD heatsinks. The whole test
methodology is outlined in detail
here if you'd like to know what equipment is used, and the parameters under
which the tests are conducted.
A good set of printed instructions describes the correct order for engaging the waterblock head with the motherboard retention bracket, and tightening the spring tensioned screws. The waterblock engages with the bracket with a short twist.
This heatsink will be tested on FrostyTech's Intel LGA775/1156 and AMD version of the Mk.II synthetic thermal temperature test platform, and compared against a hundred reference LGA775 and AMD heatsinks. The whole test methodology is outlined in detail here if you'd like to know what equipment is used, and the parameters under which the tests are conducted.