Unless you've had your head in the sand of late you'll know that Corsair have not only moved away from traditional CPU air cooling, but have also been refreshing their "Hydro" Series of AIO water coolers. We've already taken a look at a cross section of the range back in January in the "Battle of the AIOs". What we didn't do back then was have a look at what could be thought of as Corsair's Entry level AIO water cooler. With the H60 costing just £60 it's price places it not only into the more affordable end of AIO water coolers but also into the same sort of territory as some of the larger Mid range traditional air cooling units. However unlike the larger air coolers the H60s diminutive size means that you're not going to have to worry quite so much about case compatibility and RAM encroachment. Indeed, with SFF and HTPC becoming more popular the H60 potentially offers the ability to cool an overclocked chip in a case where the fitting of a large tower just isn't an option.
However even if you haven't had your head in the sand it's not barn door obvious from the naming of the H60 that this unit replaces the older outgoing H60, as the two share the same name. Gentlemen, we give you the H60....Which replaces the H60...Eh? Fortunate then that retailers have taken things into their own hands are referring to this unit as the V2. Under the skin they are quite different, with the new unit sporting a revised block and pump, along with rubberised as opposed to corrugated tubing, and even a new fan for the Radiator.
|Fan Speed||2000RPM +/- 10%|
|Fan Static Pressure||2.36mm/h2O|
|Contact Plate Material||Copper|
|Intel Socket||LGA 775, 1155, 1156 1366, 2011,|
|AMD Socket||AM2, AM3, FM1, FM2|
Packaging and Contents.
The H60 comes in a relatively small box compared to some liquid coolers we've seen. Made from a stiff card the exterior of the box gives details of the unit inside, including the all important socket compatibility as well as an overview image of the H60 itself
Packaging wise it's nice to see a manufacturer move away from the more traditional "great slabs of polystyrene", favouring instead a more Eco friendly approach in the form of moulded egg box style recycled cardboard. It might look basic, it might even look a bit cheap but it does the job, and it helps save the planet, and with each of the components fitting into their pre moulded slot there's plenty of protection on offer.
Aside from the cooler you also get all the screws and brackets supplied to enable fitting to just about any Intel or AMD chip. Knowing that looks and detail are important Corsair have presented the brackets and the majority of the screws and bolts in a Gunmetal finish, which is a nice touch showing an attention to detail.
Assembly of the H60 is simplicity itself as we'll see when we come to the build section, but no doubt made easier by the clear and concise image based multi language instruction sheet.
Up Close: The Cooler
The H60 treads the now familiar AIO route of a radiator and fan attached to a combined pump/cold plate assembly. But as we know from looking at Air coolers, just because a cooler may look similar, or share an almost identical specification to another manufacturers unit there can often be significant margins between their levels of performance. The Pump/cold plate and Radiator of the H60 are connected via 2x30omm runs of flexible rubberised tubing, having a larger diameter than the older H60 and potentially offering better flow as well as greater flexibility and less propensity to kinking as the image below right shows.
Designed to accommodate a 120mm fan on either of it's surfaces the H60 comes with one of Corsair's 2000RPM fan units. The fan appears to be one of Corsair's SP120s, but with Green/Grey blades. With the SP series offering greater static pressure than their AF (Airflow) range it makes great sense for Corsair to choose this as the partner for the Radiator. The keen eyed amongst you will also pick up on the fact that the fan comes pre drilled for the fitting of 5mm LEDs should you wish to add in a little modding bling (but please don't as we quite like the rugged simplicity)
Taking the fan away now to enable a closer look at the Radiator we can see that unlike the H80i the H60 has a single width rad. Measuring just 120x152x27mm the Radiator is only a little bigger than a standard 120mm fan, the main differences being the end tank extensions.
The tubing attaches to the larger of the end tanks either side of the centre-line, and although little flexibility is offered here the tubing is quite pliant and should not cause any problems in being bent over the to CPU area in even the smallest of cases. Although only a single fan is supplied the radiator assembly does have threaded fan mounting holes on each side, which with the addition of the correctly threaded and correct length screws (available from Corsair) will enable you to configure a push pull set up should you so desire.
The cold plate/pump assembly looks almost identical the to both the H80i & H100i the H60 but does however lack the LED lighting behind the Corsair logo and the Corsair Link software which enables the setting of cooling profiles from the desktop. The cold plate comes coated in pre applied thermal paste with a protective plastic guard preventing the TIM getting smudged before you're ready for installation.
For the purpose of the review we'll be mounting the H60 to the 2011 platform as this is the chip we now conduct all our testing on. The lack of a need for a back plate makes mounting to 2011 a much easier option for all coolers, but backplates aside it's hard to see how Corsair could have utilised a simpler mounting mechanism than the one they have chosen. Four bolts, threaded at each end screw into the motherboard (if you're using any other platform then they screw through to the backplate). The cold plate is then placed over the CPU with a mounting bracket being placed over the top of it, the slots at it's 4 corners being lined up with the protruding bolts you previously placed in the motherboard. Knurled thumb bolts are then tightened over the top of each thread and can be further tightened with a screw driver if desired. The fitting for AMD is similarly simple utilising the lever type mechanism that will be familiar to those with AMD chips. A novel innovation is the embedding of magnets into the corners of the cold plate assembly which serve to hold the mounting bracket in place as you screw it down. On the face of it this might seem like a bit of a gimmick, but believe us when we say it makes quite a difference to the fitting process, preventing as it does the bracket wandering off as you attempt to secure it with the knurled bolts
The instructions indicate that the H60 should be installed with the fan on intake, the idea being to pull in cool fresh air and have it exhausted by a roof fan. It's a simple enough job to install the fan the other way round to have it extracting in pull configuration, however, if you want to set things up for extract in push configuration you will have to be careful of the amount of clearance you have in your case between the rear fan area, the roof of the case and the expansion card rebate. Remembering that if you have the rad up against the interior of the case the end tanks increase it's footprint over that of a standard 120mm case fan. Once you've chosen your configuration, it's a simple matter of passing bolts through the case, a set of washers and the fan, leading them to holes in the 4 corners of the rad where they are tightened. Both the fan and the pump have fan headers, the pump having a 3 pin and the fan a 4 pin enabling PWM. For the purpose of testing we always attach to 12v straight out of the PSU, we would always advise wiring the pump straight to the PSU so you get a true 12v and not risk you motherboard slowing the pump down unnecessarily, we are happy to point out the pump makes little to no noise so running it at 12v isnt a problem.
We've installed the kit into our trusty Cooler Master "Test Trooper". The flexibility of the tubing and the rotating junctions where the tubing joins the Cold plate enable easy manipulation of the tubing route and should offer kink free installation Should your case provide the flexibility, it's entirely possible to mount the H60 in the place of a roof fan.
Intel i7 3960X
Stock@ 1.1v (undervolted)
4.0GHz @ 1.25v
4.4GHz @ 1.35v
4.6GHz @ 1.45v
Gigabyte X79 UD3
Corsair Vengeance LP Memory
Corsair HX850 V2
Corsair Force GT 60GB
Coolermaster Storm Trooper
As usual we'll be testing our coolers at varying levels of overclock and increasing levels of voltage. this in turn of course means increasing levels of heat which the coolers need to dissipate. To begin with we start with the undervolted stock speed. Why undervolted? well if you have things set on "Auto", you may well be using more volts than are actually required to run at the chosen frequency, for example our 3960s will run quite happily at just 1.1volts, solid as a rock, 24/7, and as such we use this as our starting point.
Continuity is very important in testing, and for this reason we keep as many of the potential variables as locked down as possible. We will be using OCCT in Linpack X64, AVX compatible with all logical cores tested and 90% free memory utilised. The test is set up to run automatically with just a few clicks to set it going. A 10 minute idle followed by 30 minutes of testing and a 5 minute cool down is the order of the day and brings the total test time per clock speed to 45 minutes. So as to remove subjectivity in determining whether a CPU has failed, OCCT is set to stop the test and register a fail should the max temp exceed 80 degrees. In testing we noted that if even just one of the cores exceeds 82 degrees OCCT halts the test and a fail is recorded.
Turning now to the 4GHz test we up the voltage to 1.25 volts, this is what is deemed normally as stock volts. Something we are always harping on about on the forums is AUTO does not mean stock volts, and normally if you overclocking with "auto" volts the motherboard will be upping the volts much more than needed if you were to do it manually. By whichever means it happens, upping the volts (especially from our 1.1v undervolt) does have a big impact on temps, with an average increase of 10-15 degrees seen in the results.
Upping the volts still further we achieve a stable 4.4GHz overclock at 1.35 Volts. It's here we start to separate the wheat from the chaff, with lesser coolers not able to disperse the increased heat effectively. Again we see an jump of 10 degrees or so from the figures at 4GHz. Both the H100 and the well respected D14 are creeping into the 70s here, indicating that only the cream of the crop will excell at this level
We were quite hopeful that the H60 would slip into the into the 4.6GHz club, but sadly this was not to be. Maxing out one of it's cores after 13 minutes, OCCT registered a fail of the test.
If you're in the market for an AIO water cooler and have been shopping around you'll be aware there are quite a few to choose from, in fact, we suspect it won't be too long before the selection becomes as saturated and bewildering as that of the air cooler market. Of course like the Air cooler market there will be a great many run-of-the-mill units, those that are nothing special and are perhaps best avoided. But then there will also be those that stand apart from the crowd, those that stick their heads up just that little bit higher, in short, "The Guduns". Our job then is to help you, the consumer sort the wheat from the chaff, to help you spend your well earned dosh in the best possible place. Is the H60 one of those places?
Focussing first on build quality and aesthetics neither disappoint, far from it in fact, the high gloss black capping to the pump/cold plate assembly can't help but draw the lecherous eye towards it. OK so it doesn't have the bling of the H80i or H100i with the light up Corsair logo, but as the image at the top of this page shows, it is, none the less, elegant in it's simplicity. To continue the lecherous eye theme, if the H80i is the supermodel with all the jewels and glitz, the H60 is the pretty girl next door in the simple little black dress.
The quality of the work and the assembly is as high as we now come to expect from Corsair. There are no faults, marks or blemishes to be found anywhere on the cold plate, tubing, radiator or fan. The box and packaging, although simple and "Eco" in their nature appear to have done a good job of protecting their ward.
You'd think fitting an AIO water cooler into a PC would be a complex affair, and indeed in some cases it can be However, the job of fitting the H60 is one of the simplest we've ever come across. Having fitted Bob knows how many coolers over the years it's a joy to find a unit that is as simple as this, and that's for both Intel and AMD CPUs. Yes guys, a simple AMD fitting!!!! The Radiator and fan attach to the rear of the case by means of 4 bolts and washers with the cold plate simply bolting down to the motherboard via 4 double ended bolts inserted into the motherboard (for 2011) or through to a back plate (for everything else) and a cover plate dependant upon your CPU. The cover plate is held in place during fitting by small magnets housed in the corners of the cold plate/pump assembly. A genius little idea which ensures everything stays where it's meant to during the fitting process. As the cold plate assembly doesn't even begin to come close to the sort of dimensions you're going to encounter with a traditional tower cooler, you're not going to have to worry about RAM encroachment so you can feel free to pair it up with RAM of gargantuan proportions.
The fan that comes with the H60 is based on the popular SP120 series but without the interchangeable rings. When run at the full 12volts that we undertake all our testing on it has to be said at 2000RPM and 30dB(A) it's not exactly quiet. That said it's nothing unusual for the fans on single rad AIO water-cooling units to be nosier than their air cooling counterparts. Attaching the fan to a PWM header should see things kept nice and tranquil while you're bimbling about on the web, with the speed and the noise ramping up as you place greater demands on the system. Although we favor the fixed speed approach with a fan speed reducer just because we prefer to keep things quiet over letting the motherboard decide when it needs the fan running at max speed!
From a performance perspective the H60 deports itself well. sailing through the stock and 4.0GHz tests as you would expect. With the volts teased up to 1.35v for the 4.4GHz test the H60 is still able to keep the max well under the critical fail point of 80 degrees with an average max temp of just 70.5 degrees, bettering all but the NH-D14 air cooler and coming within striking distance of the H90. We were perhaps a little hopeful that it might make it through the extreme 4.6GHz test but our hopes were dashed when OCCT registered a fail 13 minutes into the run. The beady eyed amongst you might have noticed from the images back on page 2 that the H60 comes with pre applied TIM. Those of you that are beady eyed and are also paying attention might then be wondering whether we tested with this or our usual NT-H1 TIM. Rest assured that as with all our heat sink testing, the figs you see in the graphs were obtained with the NT-H1. Knowing that you're an inquisitive lot, and just in case you were to ask whether it makes much of a difference we did also test with the pre applied TIM and found the readings to be on average 2 degrees higher across the board.
So what of the competition? Well aside from the outgoing last generation H60 model which can still be had for £40, at just £60 the H60 represents one of the cheapest ways into AIO water cooling. There are a few other units out there in the same bracket however and choice is never a bad thing. Corsair's own H90, sporting a single 140mm fan can be had for £70, but as it's performance is only just a little better than the H60 and as not all cases can take a 140mm fan in the rear exhaust position can make things a little complicated. Also in the mix at this price bracket are more air coolers than it's comfortable to imagine. Some of them good, and most of them massive, that size will bring temps that will beat the H60 easily but will also fill your case and limit your ram choices. Now we're not saying buy this and not a traditional air cooler, that's not our place. What we are saying though is that if you have got £60 to spend on cooling, you're up for a bit of overclocking fun, you fancy a bit of a dip into water cooling and you like your case to look open clean and sexy, then you owe it to yourself to have a bit of a gander at the Corsair H60.
Thanks to Corsair for sending the H60 in for review, you can discuss your thoughts in the OC3D Forums.