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Corsair's H100i Pro 240-mm closed-loop liquid CPU cooler reviewed

Going for the liquid-cooling hat trick

Earlier this year, Corsair announced its Hydro Pro series of closed-loop liquid coolers. Those heatsinks introduced a stylish new pump-head design kitted out with RGB LED lighting, and they tapped Corsair's exceptional ML-series fans for air-moving power at the radiator end. The first two heatsinks in that series covered two important bases: the H115i Pro for 280-mm radiator mounts, and the behemoth H150i Pro for cases with 360-mm radiator hardpoints.

The bread and butter of the closed-loop liquid-cooler market lies in smaller radiators, though, and 240-mm heat exchangers are the place to be for most builders with mid-towers and mainstream CPU sockets. Today, Corsair is rounding third and headed for home with the 240-mm H100i Pro.

Since the radiator size on this cooler is the only thing about it that's changed versus its larger cousins, we won't recap every detail of this new series of heatsinks here. If you want that in-depth look, have a gander at our review of the H115i Pro and H150i Pro now. Instead, we're going to concern ourselves with noise levels and cooling performance first and foremost.

There is one major change on the H100i Pro apart from its radiator size. The H100i's pair of Corsair ML120 fans can spin all the way up to 2400 RPM, compared to 1600 RPM from the ones included with the 360-mm heatsink. Both coolers have a 400-RPM minimum fan speed. You can't tell the low-speed and high-speed fans apart externally, though.

Past that, the H100i maintains the same simple mounting system, integrated fan controller, RGB LED illumination, and most everything else we liked about the first two Hydro Pro-series coolers. Let's see how it performs.

Our testing methods

Here are the specifications of our test system:

Processor Intel Core i7-6950X
Motherboard Gigabyte X99 Designare EX
Memory 32 GB (4x 8 GB) Crucial Ballistix Elite DDR4-2666
Graphics card Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1050 G1 Gaming
Storage Intel 750 Series 400 GB
Power supply Seasonic Prime Platinum 1000 W
OS Windows 10 Pro

Our thanks to Gigabyte, Intel, and Corsair for helping us to outfit our test systems with some of the finest hardware available. Aerocool provided the P7-L240 that will serve as the foil to the H100i Pro today, as well.

To test heatsink performance, we run the Blender "classroom" benchmark file three times in succession and report the maximum CPU package temperature observed in HWiNFO64. Blender is a demanding real-world workload that can still stress an overclock to failure. Prime95 Small FFTs generates a lot of heat, sure, but the heat and power consumption it generates are both far in excess of any real-world application we've ever observed.

Although our recent heatsink reviews have used Intel's massive Core i9-7980XE as a heat source, the fact that the latest Extreme Edition chip uses thermal interface material rather than solder under its heat spreader has bugged me while testing CPU coolers. We want our performance results to be limited as much as possible by the performance of the cooler under test, not the thermal transfer capability of a variable we can't control.

With that in mind, I set aside our X299 test rig in favor of the Core i7-6950X and its soldered heat spreader. At 4.4 GHz and 1.38 V, the ten Broadwell cores of the i7-6950X are still a formidable match for any cooler. We'll see whether the move to solder helps tease out any performance differences from these heatsinks.

The ambient temperature of our testing environment was maintained at 78° F, plus or minus roughly 1° F, over the course of each test by monitoring with a calibrated thermometer throughout.