Corsair Hydro H90 & H110 CPU Coolers Review

Author: AkG
Date: March 5, 2013
Product Name: H90 & H110
Part Number: CW-9060014-WW & CW-9060013-WW
Warranty: 5 Years
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A Closer Look at the H90

Unlike most of Corsair’s high performance All In One’s, the H90 comes in a rather low key box which is very similar to the that of the H55. It is packed with information that will help educate first time consumers on exactly what this cooler has to offer.

The H90 resides inside a sturdy cardboard protector with a foam topper layer. This protection scheme is effective at reducing the chances of it being damaged in transit.

The accessories which accompany the H90 are almost identical to the H55 and other Asetek built sealed water cooling devices we have recently looked at. This includes all of the components required for quick and relatively easy mounting on both AMD and Intel motherboards. Like the Corsair H55 and NZXT Kraken series, every one of these components is built to exceedingly high quality standards so longevity shouldn’t be a concern.

On a cursory glance the 140mm H90 bears a striking resemblance to the NZXT Kraken X40 which isn’t a surprise since both are manufactured by Asetek. Further scrutiny reveals these similarities continue and are more than just ‘skin deep’.

The radiator – just like the X40’s - has 13 water channels and uses a moderately low 20s folds per inch. Even the depth of the H90’s radiator - ~27mm – is for all intents and purposes the same as NZXT’s design. In fact, the only thing which will likely differentiate the two coolers will be the fans.

In comparison to the H80i, H90 should provide better performance since its radiator boasts ~36% more surface area of that of a standard 120mm unit. If Corsair has to play follow the leader with the H90’s radiator, at least they picked a solid design to use.

There are quite a few positive aspects of using the same radiator as NZXT rather than CoolIT’s standard design since it offers more surface area and slightly less restrictive flow constraints. However, the H90’s standard 3/8” tubing just can’t compete with the 9/16” piping found on some of Corsair’s other units. It does however utilize the newer highly malleable rubber type compound material rather than an inflexible FEP design, making for a much easiler installation process.

Even though the tubing and radiator are nearly identical to the NZXT X40’s, Corsair has not simply produced a clone here. In some ways, Corsair would have been much better off doing precisely this as the areas in which they have taken a different approach are not necessarily to the H90’s benefit.

The largest difference between the extremely versatile Kraken X40 and the Corsair H90 is the waterblock itself. Both use the same general internal design but Corsair made the decision exclude Asetek’s ‘optional’ fan controller features. In fact, even though its design is quite elegant, this rather expensive Hydro-series cooler will have to rely upon your motherboard’s built in fan controller as it has no abilities of its own.

Corsair states this was done because the Asetek USB controller hardware is incompatible with their Corsair LINK software. However, Asetek does offer a software solution of their own and it would not have been difficult to ‘reskin’ it like NZXT did and release it solely for the H90 and H110.

Luckily, the base’s quality and finishing is every bit as good as NZXT’s and is everything we have come to expect from Asetek built units.

Since Corsair didn’t see the need to include Asetek’s optional fan controller they had to make some adjustments to the fan itself in order to ensure optimal airflow for all circumstances. As a result the decision was made to use a low-RPM sleeve bearing unit which may be quiet but is much less capable than the H80i’s SP120L, let alone the high performance FX 140LB which accompanies NZXT’s Kraken X40. At 1500RPM it can move 94CFM of air while retaining a constant static pressure of 1.64mm which should be adequate for most scenarios but its bearing design may impact longevity.

When taken as a whole the H90’s design is a lot more controversial than the NZXT 40’s, but at least Corsair cannot be accused of simply copying anyone else’s design. The H90 may have a similar hardware foundation but it really has taken a radically different approach to things.

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