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The Corsair Hydro H80 self contained watercooling system is about the 700th thermal solution review we've undertaken at Frostytech.com. Based on 13 years hands on experience testing hundreds of heatsinks, I think you can take stock in our comments when we criticize the H80's few deficiencies as equally as when we laud its attributes. For while the Corsair Hydro H80 does perform exceptionally well, it ain't perfect.
Self contained watercooling systems have come a long way from the custom built liquid cooling systems enthusiasts once created from scratch, using scavenged motorcycle heat exchangers, surplus medical tubing, assorted plumbing fittings, fish pumps and home brewed copper water blocks. Nowadays you don't need to worry about pump head pressure, when to add anti-bacterial solution to the ethylene glycol or deal with the headaches of evaporation by osmosis and dissimilar metal corrosion gumming up the pipes. Hell, half the specs we used to judge liquid cooling systems by aren't even reported by manufacturers anymore!
The upshot is that industry has engineered out many of the issues that once made PC watercooling an expensive and challenging task for the overclocker and enthusiast. Thankfully, thermal performance, noise and ease of installation have largely been standardized into submission as well. The majority of self-contained liquid cooling systems on the market right now are manufactured by three companies; Coolit Systems, Asetek and AVC. The Corsair Hydro H80 is made by CoolIT Systems out of Calgary, Canada.
Corsair's Hydro H80 is a no fuss, no mess CPU liquid cooling solution that installs with ease onto Intel socket LGA2011/1366/1155/1156/775 and AMD socket AM3/AM2/FM1 processors. The unit consists of two parts, a 12v DC pump head with integrated reservoir and thin skived copper waterblock, and the fluid-to-air aluminum heat exchanger.
The whole system ships fully assembled, pre-filled with a distilled water/propylene glycol/anti-bacterial coolant and is pre-plumbed. The small square pump/waterblock is connected by 24cm of black flexible FEP tubing to a 154x120x45mm aluminum liquid-to-air heat exchanger. Two 120mm fans are supplied with the system and rotate at 2600-1300RPM to move the air through the heat exchanger. Retail price for this system is on the order of $115 USD/CDN, all you have to provide is a rear 120mm mounting hole in your PC case.
The CPU Block
The Pump Head / Water Block is contained in a 68x68x39mm box that mounts on to the processor. An illuminated button gives several steps of fan speed control button as indicated by the white LED illuminated icons. According to the specs, the pump operates at 2100RPM with a flow rate of 2L/min. Pump head pressure is pegged at 112cm H2O and has the motor at 50K hrs MTBF (mean time before failure). The pump is very quiet in operation.
Inside Corsair's Hydro H80 pump head / waterblock is some circuitry for the pump, a couple fan power connections, the Corsair LINK connection, a thermistor, some LED lights and last but not least a thin micro-skived copper water block. The two FEP hoses that come off the Hydro H80 waterblock are 8mm (O.D.) and connect with swivel joints. The swivels make it a lot easier for users to get the semi-ridged hoses pointed in the right general direction.
CPU-to-Fluid Heat Exchanger
At the base of the pump head assembly is a thin micro-skived copper CPU waterblock (shown below, as removed). This bit of thin copper conducts heat away from the CPU while on the opposite side coolant impinges the densely packed fins and picks up heat energy from the metal. The fluid enters the fins along the center line (marked in blue) and travels between the fins outwards towards troughs that collect the heated coolant before the pump moves it to the liquid-to-air heat exchanger. The skived fin area measures ~30x30x5mm in size, the copper plate is ~1-2mm thick.
Resting on top of the skived copper fins and directing fluid flow, is a soft white silicone pad with a narrow slot down the middle. This gasket directs coolant from the pump into the fluid heat exchanger and then forces the liquid to flow between the ~5mm high skived copper fins. Since the tops of the fins are flush with the silicone, coolant must pass between the fins to reach the opposite side so there is a high degree of copper surface area in contact with coolant. It's an efficient design given the small volume of coolant used.
Provided no contaminants or corrosion block off the closely spaced skived copper fins, this arrangement makes the waterblock of the Hydro H80 very efficient while coolant is flowing. Like most watercooling systems, there's very little ability to regulate the heat if the pump fails or accidentally looses power.
Coolant passes through these very narrow fins at a rate of ~2L/min. Next up, Frostytech outlines a few of the problems we encountered with this self-contained liquid cooling solution. First though, a look at the heat exchanger and special tubing it uses....
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