I am sure everyone is familiar with Corsair and their line of memory kits, power supplies and now SSD’s, but what may need a little introduction is cooling. Corsair has dabbled in cooling on occasion; the Corsair Nautilus comes to mind as one of the earlier products and they now have two Air Coolers after the press release from Computex 2010. Corsair’s has always held a very positive reputation among the enthusiast community and for this any product they introduce receives a lot of attention and scrutiny. The H50 has certainly received a heavy share of scrutiny since the product is targeted at the air cooling market, but is essentially a water cooling kit. You can only imagine the debate–if you have not been reading it for yourself– as the purists of the water cooling segment have been very unforgiving of kits in the past. I am of the opinion that while the H50 does use water cooling, the product is targeted at the high-end air cooling segment and not to the water coolers that have triple radiators and planned loops. Moreover, because of this opinion, the testing for the H50 will be a slight alteration of our Air Cooling test procedure. In following tradition, let us cover the specs before we get into testing and thermal performance.
Unboxing the H50 you find everything stored and protected the radiator has a thick cardboard shield over it, which was nice to see. The H50 comes ready for all recent Intel (LGA775, LGA1156 and LGA1336) and AMD (AM2, AM2+, AM3) sockets, with separate Intel and AMD backplates and mount collars. Once the H50 is fully out of the box, your eyes immediately go towards the block with integrated pump. The pump is powered from a standard 3pin fan header, which comes from the base with the inlet and outlet. The outer shell of the pump has notches that extend out laterally; we will use these later for mounting. Of course, on the bottom we find the copper where Corsair has given a generous application of thermal grease. I did not run into any contact problems with the ten screws outlining the base, they seem to be out far enough even on the 1366 processors.
Running from the pump/block base to the radiator is 12″ of 3/8″ OD ridged tubing (I am guessing 1/4″ ID), which is surprisingly flexible compared to what I expected. Before we move on the radiator, we need some dimensions on the pump head and block, which measures in at 57x72x72mm (HxWxD)if it were mounted to the chip. Radiator dimensions are 151x120x27mm (HxWxD), with 11 tubes (2-pass/U-flow) and 20FPI sandwiched in between. Besides the pump, the radiator is where my initial interests were–but I am a radiator junkie anyhow, I will hold my comments on the radiator for later, no need to interrupt the show– as I had already seen detailed photos of the block but nothing descriptive on the radiator. Corsair has confirmed the radiator is aluminum, would have liked to see copper and brass but I see the production reasons why aluminum was chosen. The coolant flowing through the tubes is a mix of de-ionized water and propylene glycol to inhibit corrosion of the copper block with the aluminum radiator. Corsair includes 1.25″ screws as well as 3/8″ screws so you have the choice of mounting the H50 flush to the case or want to put the fan in between. However, Corsair recommends pulling air into the radiator from outside the case to which we recommend as well. You always want to use the coolest air possible, let the warmer case air get exhausted somewhere else. However, we stray from Corsair’s recommendation on fan orientation as Corsair suggests a push configuration and as you will see, our pull results were much better than push.
Mounting the H50 is a bit more involved than your standard air cooler, but we have two different pieces to secure now. The backplate and mount ring setup that stay on the board and let you remove the pump, block and radiator leaving the mount hardware in place (photo when we get to page three). Prep your motherboard with the backplate but placing the PEM nuts in the appropriate holes, but before you start grabbing screws the Intel and AMD backplates use slightly different threading. We snapped this photo to help here, Intel uses the screws on the left and AMD on the right. With the proper screws at the ready, push 4 of the plastic standoffs through the mount collar holes and start threading the screws through. Once you have the screws started, align the mount collar to the PEM nuts you pushed into the backplate earlier and finish threading the screws in. I left the mount collar loose, to give me some wiggle room for setting the block/pump head. Since the H50 comes with pre-applied Shin-Etsu thermal paste, your first mount requires no TIM application… mount that motherboard in your case, and secure the radiator into the position you have selected. Now take the pump/block head, turn it slightly counter clockwise and slide it into the mount collar. With contact to the chip, pick up the mount collar turning the pump head clockwise slightly so the hooks of the mount collar grab on to the extensions from the pump/block head. With the hooks in, secure the four screws on the mount collar, plug in the pump 3pin connector to any fan header or controller and repeat with the fan(s) on the radiator and you are ready to roll. See, a bit more involved but I really like the hook mechanism with the mount collar and pump head.
The H50 is definitely different from your standard heat pipe and fin tower cooler, but essentially works much the same… the radiator is your fin tower and the heat pipes are tubing. However, the integrated kit approach is growing on me.
This time around, all of the photos were snapped before any testing commenced. I included the standard FPI shot from our radiator reviews, felt it was only fitting. In addition, the shot of the block surprised me with just how many screws line the perimeter of the block and the pump head. Take your time and soak in the photos, Test Methodology and Specification wait on the next page…