It is the fan that is the noisiest component of each liquid cooling system in this review. Anyway, we checked out the pumps, too. We found them to be similar subjectively but the noise depends on the orientation of the pump and its operation. Right after you turn it on, the pump has air bubbles inside and produces a characteristic noise but quiets down in 1 or 2 minutes.
The products from Zalman and Thermaltake and the junior Corsair are equipped with identical pumps but the best one (in terms of noisiness) is in the Corsair H55 – 33.4 dBA. Next goes the Thermaltake with 34.2 dBA. The pumps of the Zalman systems are louder: 36.2 dBA with the LQ315 and 39.8 dBA with the LQ310. The Corsair H60 has the quietest pump whose noise is only 32.8 dBA according to our measurements.
We measured the noise level of each cooler’s fan throughout the entire speed range. The results are shown below:
As you can see, the five liquid cooling systems are similar to each other in terms of noise. It’s good that all of them are preferable to the Phanteks PH-TC14PE in this parameter, even though the latter is not a quiet air cooler itself. The Corsair Hydro H60 High Performance is the quietest, the high-quality Corsair SP120 fan proving its worth again. It is comfortable at speeds up to 1200 RPM. The Corsair Hydro H55 Quiet is similar in this respect. The two fans of the Zalman systems are also close to them in noisiness. Take note that, although the LQ310 and LQ315 have identical fans, their noise level is different due to variation between different samples of the same fan. The Thermaltake Water 2.0 Performer with two 120mm fans is the noisiest, remaining comfortable at speeds up to 1000 RPM.
Based on the same platform, the compact liquid cooling systems discussed in this review have a lot of things in common. As we've found out, they mostly differ in packaging, fans and price (the latter parameter doesn't vary much, though). Even their accessories differ in user manuals only. Could we expect them to differ much in performance? Of course, not. And that's exactly what we've got in our tests.
The Thermaltake Water 2.0 Performer with its two 120mm fans is the most efficient cooler we’ve tested today. However, it is the noisiest, too. This can only be justified by its low price. The Zalman LQ315 is second in performance. It is the only cooler in this review to have a thick radiator. It would certainly be the winner if it had a second fan. The Zalman LQ310 and the Corsair Hydro H60 High Performance share third place but the Hydro H60 has a remarkably quiet pump, so it is preferable over the Zalman system. And finally, the Corsair Hydro H55 Quiet is the least efficient of all, being perhaps the most simplistic of these systems in design.
Summing up this review, we have to remind you once again than none of these compact liquid cooling systems could surpass the best of air coolers. That’s why we cannot recommend purchasing, installing and using any of these systems over an efficient super air-cooler. Perhaps more advanced solutions will change our opinion. We’ll see in the next roundup.