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Review: Corsair Hydro H60 CPU Cooler (Rev.2)

Written on January 24, 2013 by Matt Bach
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Introduction

Closed-loop liquid cooling units are a great way to get exceptional cooling without the hassle and risk of traditional full-system liquid cooling. One of these coolers, the Corsair H60, has served us very well in our Puget Hydro CL3 liquid cooling systems. As happens with most computer hardware, Corsair has recently created a new revision with an aim at further improving the H60. One thing we want to be clear on is that although we are adding "Rev.2" to the product name, Corsair is not actually changing the name from "Corsair Hydro H60". This means that unless you look at the part number or pictures, there is no way to tell the original version apart from the new one.

Corsair Hydro H60 Rev. 2 Corsair Hydro H60 Original
New Corsair Hydro H60 Original Corsair Hydro H60

That detail aside, the new revision has a number of changes which combined should add up to an overall increase in performance.

Physical Changes

The most noticeable change to the H60 is the move to much larger diameter rubber tubing to aid in efficiently transferring the heat from the CPU to the radiator. The radiator itself has not been changed much, but the included fan has been upgraded to a newer model. In the next section, we will be testing this fan to see if it is an improvement over the original fan.

Corsair Hydro H60 Tubing Corsair Hydro H60 Radiator
Larger diameter tubing Radiator is relatively unchanged

Beyond the visual move to a shiny black cover, the pump unit has also received some less noticeable, but very important upgrades. The mounting system uses the same concept as the original, although the mounting bracket fits over the top of the pump rather than being held in place with screws. There is even a pair of small magnets to hold the bracket onto the pump unit, which makes it easy to install even though it is in actuality two separate pieces. These are small details, but combined really help make it easier to work with.

Corsair Hydro H60 Pump Corsair Hydro H60 Mounting
Mounting is similar, but no longer uses screws to secure the mounting bracket to the pump

We do not have any specs for the pump itself, but it has received at least some improvements. The PCB is much larger, and although it makes the pump look bigger as well, the pump is actually about the same size. It has, however, been moved to be closer to center of the CPU. The pump on the new revision is slightly louder than the original, but once the unit is installed into a chassis, the difference should not be detectable. The copper heat transfer plate below the pump has not changed, although the screws have been changed to more standard Philips head screws.

Corsair Hydro H60 Pump Internal Corsair Hydro H60 Heat Transfer Plate
Pump has been moved and the PCB redesigned Heat transfer plate remains unchanged

 

Fan Performance

Corsair does not have published specs for the original H60 fan, so the only way to tell if the new fan is better than the original is for us to do our own testing. Our first test is a simple reading of the fan RPM using a tachometer. A Zalman Fan Mate was used to set the fan speed to 25, 50, 75 and 100 percent of the fan's maximum speed.

Corsair Hydro H60 Fan Speed

This test shows that the new fan spins faster, but that does not necessarily mean that it has better airflow or is any louder. 

To compare the airflow of the new fan against the original H60 fan, we used an anemometer (Extech AN100) with a custom adapter to adapt from 120mm fan to the smaller 80mm diameter of the anemometer sensor. The adapter is 200mm long, giving us a smooth, gradual slope from the 120mm side to the 80mm side. Using this type of adapter means that our CFM readings will be lower than the manufacturer's specifications - which are taken in an open-air environment - but should do a good job at giving us comparison readings. We will also repeat the test with the original H60 radiator installed onto the exhaust side of the fan to give us an idea of how each fan performs when installed onto a radiator.

Corsair Hydro H60 Fan AirflowCorsair Hydro H60 Fan Airflow w/ Radiator

Interestingly, the original H60 fan has better unrestricted airflow, but the new fan does better when installed onto the radiator. This indicates that the new fan has better static pressure which makes it better for cooling systems like the Corsair H60. 

This leaves noise levels as the final comparison point. To test both fans, our dBa meter was placed at a distance of two inches at a 90 degree angle from the side of the fan. This is much closer than dBa readings are normally taken at, but we expect the difference between the two fans to be very small so we would rather have slightly exaggerated results. Because of this, our measurements will be in no way comparable to the manufacturer's specifications of noise. The ambient noise level during our testing was 27 dBa.

Corsair Hydro H60 Fan Noise

Our noise measurements show that the design of the new fan is a bit better than the original fan. Even though it is spinning at a higher RPM and has a higher static pressure, it is still quieter than the original fan. This is great as it means that with the exception of unrestricted airflow (which this fan should never really be used for), the new fan is all around better than the original.

Thermal Performance

We tested both the original Corsair H60 as well as the new revision using the hardware listed below:


Both coolers were tested with the original H60 fan (CF12S25M12AP), the new H60 fan (31-000403), as well as a Scythe Slip Steam 1300 RPM fan which will act as a baseline. We also tested using the new H60 fan running at 12V (dynamic fan throttling disabled). This should give us a clear idea of how the new revision compares to the original Corsair H60 across a range of fans.

Corsair Hydro H60 Idle TemperatureCorsair Hydro H60 Load Temperature

While the idle results shows the original H60 as performing better, the much more important load results clearly show the new revision having a cooling advantage over the original. In fact, if you compare the original H60 with the old fan (CF12S25M12AP) against the new H60 and the new fan (31-000408), the new revision has a 2 °C cooling advantage over the original. While 2 °C is not huge, it is certainly noteworthy.

The last remaining portion of testing is to see if the fan is spinning any faster (and thus louder) with the new revision.

Corsair Hydro H60 Idle Fan SpeedCorsair Hydro H60 Load Fan Speed

Our testing showed some fluctuations in fan RPMs, but overall the differences are minor enough to attribute to normal testing fluctuations. The only one that showed a large variance was at idle with the Slip Stream 1300RPM fan. However, in our experience, when a fan is running at very low RPMs, the fan speed is very inconsistent. So even though 190 RPM would normally be outside of normal testing variations, in this case it is acceptable.

To summarize our fan speed results, the new revision does not require higher RPMs, and is thus no louder than the original H60. Once you factor in that the included fan is quieter than the original fan, the new revision is actually a little quieter than the original.

Conclusion

In addition to having a better overall build quality, the new revision of the Corsair H60 is easier to install and has better performance than its predecessor. With the included fan, the new revision should produce CPU temperatures roughly 2 °C lower than the original. The new fan has also been upgraded to one that is quieter, yet moves more air through the radiator; so the new version is also a bit quieter.

This means that in every aspect we tested, the new revision of the Corsair Hydro H60 is an improvement over the original. The only negative thing we can say about this product is that Corsair did not change the cooler's name - even to add a revision number - which may lead to some confusion for those looking specifically for the newer revision.

Corsair Hydro H60 Installed 1 Corsair Hydro H60 Installed 2 Corsair Hydro H60 Installed 3

 

Tags: Review, Cooling, Performance, Temperature, Noise, Review