The Test System and Thermal Results
Testing for the CPU coolers is done with the use of RealTemp to ascertain temperatures, Intel Burn Test to deliver the load to the CPU and CPU-Z to verify the CPU speed and the voltage being used in Windows. All of the testing is done with an ambient temperature of 24.5-25°C and humidity is maintained to 35% sometimes less.
For the "stock" runs, it's more of a plug and play setup where the PWM of the motherboard is in control of the fans speeds for both the idle and load results. Speed Step is active and the processor idles at 1600 MHz and loads at 3500 MHz for the stock settings. I also set the memory to run at 1600 MHz for stock. As for the overclocked runs, I load the CPU at 4.5 GHz and idle results are obtained with 7.5V to the fans while the load run is set to deliver 12V to the fans. This allows me to gauge the lowest and highest fan ratings for my charts.
You will also see that the charts have been slightly adjusted. From now on I will mention the idle temperatures if there is something worth noting other than an average of twenty-five to twenty-seven degrees as the PWM controls and SpeedStep allow for almost ambient results in most instances. What you are now getting is a stock speed loaded temperature chart and an overclocked loaded temperature chart. To clean up the audio results, I also removed all of the fans that aren't on the thermal charts. If you want to compare those results to new coolers, the old chart is still available in the older reviews.
With the larger radiator, I actually expected a little better from the H90. It gets beat slightly by the Tt Water2.0 Performer and even by the earlier H60 (2013). This is with the motherboard still in control of the fan speeds, and they topped out 1021 RPM for this test, and that speed does help to explain a bit of the thermal increase in lieu of noise levels making your ears bleed like other units do.
The Hydro Series H90 does an admirable job, but again is slightly bested by the Performer and H60. While I don't know what I was really expecting out of this unit, I would have liked to have seen a 140mm solution capable of beating out a 120mm solution similar in design to it. At this time I was also watching the fan speed to be sure we were in spec, and the fan was turning at 1480 RPM. For both tests, the head unit was powered with 12V and the pump was spinning at 1474 RPM the whole time.