With the exception of only one out of the nine liquid cooling systems we’ve covered in our bipartite roundup, we cannot recommend any of them as an alternative to best air coolers out there such as Noctua NH-D14, Thermalright Archon, Silver Arrow, and Phanteks PH-TC14P?. The junior products (discussed in the first part of our roundup) can only compete with them in terms of price but not in performance or noise level. The mainstream products discussed today – Zalman LQ320, Thermaltake Water 2.0 Pro and Corsair Hydro H80i High Performance – look better, yet hardly justify their price. It’s not enough for a liquid cooling system to be just a little more expensive and a little more efficient than an air cooler. Anyway, we want to note that the Thermaltake Water 2.0 Pro and Zalman LQ320 deliver high performance in their standard configurations whereas the Corsair H80i features high-quality fans and functional software.
As you may have already guessed, it is the Corsair Hydro H100i Extreme Performance that makes an exception. Priced at $10-20 higher than its opponents (except for the Phanteks), it ensures much better cooling at a lower level of noise. The Corsair H100i was superior at both CPU frequencies. Moreover, it was the only one to cope with our CPU at 4.625 GHz and 1.49 volts. It will be perfect for overclockers who care about noise, especially if you install four 120mm fans supported by the H100i. Thus, the Corsair Hydro H100i Extreme Performance will make a good choice if you do not want to assemble your liquid system components separately or spend twice as much money for ready-made top-end kits like Swiftech H2O-320 Edge HD or EK-Supermacy KIT H3O 360 HFX.
That said, we are proud to award Corsair Hydro H100i Extreme Performance our Recommended Buy title:
In our next reviews we will discuss more ready-made liquid cooling systems including NZXT’s Kraken X60 and Kraken X40 along with Swiftech’s highly interesting H220 model.