- First Look
At first glance, as you pull the package out the box, you realize how nice and sleek the HydroCool unit looks with its all black finish and stylish handle on top for easy transportation - initially it looks like something that could be very easy to setup due to its small amount of inlets/outlets valves.
Moving around to the back you see a port for the provided cable as well and two holes for the tubing to be inserted into. Inside the package you notice the water block which looks very simple and small which leads you to believe that it may not work too well. Along with the water block, everything is included which is required to get started - retention clips, tubing, funnel, etc.
- Temp Monitoring
One feature that is always excellent to have is the ability to easily determine the temperature of your devices. This can be done with such products as the Digidoc 5 or LCD probe monitors. Fortunately, though, to save the extra expense of these third party devices, Corsair has included the ability to see the temperature on the outside surface of the HydroCool main unit.
While this was an excellent idea, it is let down by poor placement of the probe. The problem with the placement of the probe is that it has been placed directly on top of the water block which provides you a far from accurate reading of the processor, making it virtually pointless including in the first place. For accurate temperature readouts, the probe should have been placed closer to the processor core, better still physically touching one side of the core wall or even core itself. We will have a look at how much this differs from the actual processor temperature a little later in our benchmarks with software in Windows.
One very cool feature of the Corsair Hydrocool is the two stage alarm which is something that we do see on pre-built water cooling systems with visual displays whereas we don't usually on DIY systems. Corsair have chosen to use a two stage system which works the following way: When the water block hits the first temperature (in this case, 50c - but you can adjust the temperature range) an alarm sounds, if your computer continues to rise to 55c your computer will then shut down to prevent any harm to your computer in case of a leak which should never be ruled out as possibly happening.
Another alarm which is built within the Hydrocool is a low water level warning. When the water level hits a certain level, an alarm will sound, if for some reason the water leaked on your system an alarm will sound to let you know. If this happens, your temperature will raise and the alarms will go off and system will shut down once temperatures reach 55c.
Editors Note - You will not miss the alarm siren - trust me, even with music pumping during testing, the HydroCool was able to make itself heard (probably a little too much) when the alarm sounded when water was first circulating through the system.
- Flow Meter
Another feature that comes standard with the Hydrocool is its flow meter - a feature which does not come with the Exos but is an option with Innovatec's kit. You shouldn't be able to see the water flowing through the system and if you do, it means you have air bubbles which is something that really shouldn't happen with systems using a reservoir. Water goes through the flow meter and causes a wheel to spin letting you know that water is going through the system. If the wheel stops spinning, obviously you have little or no water flowing through the system, which should be a cause for concern if it ever happens to you.
Flow meters can also be purchased separately for your own water cooling kit and sometimes gives you the option to plug them into your motherboard and monitor the speed of the wheel, while this option isn't supported with the Hydrocool 200. Due to the wheel being illuminated, you can easily see that it's spinning or not in the case if you run into water flow problems.