Corsair Hydro Series H60 (2012 Edition) Liquid CPU Cooler Review

Corsair brings out a new 2012 edition H60 AIO liquid cooler for us to try out. Stick around and see everything that is new in the Hydro Series.

@chad_sebring
Published Mon, Dec 10 2012 4:30 AM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:01 PM CST
Rating: 94%Manufacturer: Corsair

Introduction

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VIEW GALLERY - 37 IMAGES

By now AIO liquid cooling is something even the novice builders are taking notice of and using more often. The reasons why are pretty evident. With many years of CoolIT and Asetek battling it out for supremacy in this market, all the kinks have been worked out, and more importantly performance has improved along the way as well. Then there are the added benefits that AIO coolers offer that no regular tower air cooler today can.

Most importantly these AIO coolers reduce the weight applied to the socket area of the motherboard from the top tier air coolers that weigh in at or over 1000 grams. The second major advantage these coolers have if you install them as the manufacturer would like you to is that cooler has a fresh source of cooled outside air to flow over the radiator instead of having to use the recycled chassis air flow.

Corsair has made strides along with the OEM AIO manufacturers. Starting initially with Asetek and the round head units we all associated with them, then jumping ship over to CoolIT for their features that to me set the CoolIT units a step above the older Asetek units. Mounting was the biggest reason to move, as thumbscrews are always easier than the locking ring malarkey that used to be associated with Asetek. The second reason they made the move was for the software end of the coolers with what was seen on the H80s and H100s of the last generation. This way they were able to tie the coolers into the Corsair Link subsystem giving users software control of their CPU cooling.

This time around, since Corsair just dropped the Air Series fans on us and considering how well they performed, it only makes sense to incorporate a version of them into this latest design. Not only that, but we get a more professional looking finished product with the new head units. That combined with a new magnetic mounting system to help aid the installation.

The new 2012 edition Corsair H60 high performance liquid CPU cooler is well worth a look to check out what's new, even if you don't like the AIO coolers. If history serves as any sort of an example, I would hope that this isn't just a new skin, but rather an AIO that can move its way up the charts like the third generation Asetek units did.

Specifications, Availability and Pricing

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First off I would like to address that there already was an H60 on the market, but what isn't shown on the specifications chart are the model numbers. The original H60 ran with the number CWCH60 and can be found just about everywhere for under $60. The H60 we are discussing today flies with a different flag, this time it says CW-9060007-WW just to sort out the confusion.

We are still dealing with a thin 28mm thick aluminum radiator. Connecting the new, better dressed head unit and the cold plate to the radiator are much thicker 15mm O.D. hoses for these new kits. Of course since we are dealing with a mixed metal loop, the liquid inside has anti-corrosive and anti-algal properties so that Corsair can seal the unit and assure users of at least five years of good service and guarantees exactly that.

I had a chance to review the Air Series of fans that the new Hydro Series coolers use as the basis for their design. While not exactly the same, because you don't have the interchangeable rings, and this time the fan blades are grey, but the SP120L fans used on the H60 will keep noise levels down to 30.85 dBA spinning at 2000 RPM. Even though the fan is only delivering 54 CFM of air flow, the 2.36mmH2O of static pressure assures that air is going to pass right through the tight fin arrangement of these radiators. Since we are covering the cooling capabilities, why not cover what we can cool with it, too? The hardware in the box will allow for anything Intel offers excluding LGA775 this time with the latest generation H60. On the AMD side of the coin this covers anything since Socket AM2 since that mounting has never changed since.

The newest releases of the Hydro Series are just hitting shelves as I write this. With that being said, you can also assume that the pickings for e-tailers are very slim, and it is. Looking around for them on my side of the pond, besides an EBay hit for a sale, you can currently get these directly from Corsair or through Newegg. The difference is $3 in the base price with Newegg listing this at $76.99 where Corsair wants $79.99. Either way, you are going to have to incorporate shipping, so location may make that $3 difference negligible.

From what I have seen over the last few years, the near $80 asking price is typical for an AIO with this size radiator. Now that you know what is new, and how much it is going to cost, let's get to the new 2012 edition H60 and see what it's all about.

Packaging

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With a new series of products comes new packaging. This time the Hydro Series H60 is packaged in a grey box with light blue and black splashes to accent the layout. The image here does give you an idea of the new H60, but the flatness of the head unit doesn't do justice for the actual product.

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On this longer side of the package, there is a logical explanation as to why one should make the move to water cooling their CPU. They cover the weight, the noise levels, and the obvious decision to keep that CPU you just bought as cool as possible so it will last longer, protecting the larger investment.

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This side is kept really simple with the H60 name over some wavy lines across the lower half of the panel with only the Corsair name and logo at the top to break up the grey.

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The bottom of the box even houses quite a bit of information. On the left are the results of Corsair testing this cooler with an Intel 3770K CPU, while on the right is the list of compatibility. After a description saying this will fit in most cases with a 120mm fan opening in the rear, it finishes at the bottom with a list of what comes in the box.

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This smaller side of the packaging has the same offerings as the other side did, but this time there is a chart with the dimensions and specifications of the included SP120L fan.

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On the last panel to cover on the outside you are given a list of four features. This covers the advanced fan used, the larger tubing, an advanced cold plate and the magnetic mounting.

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When you get the top off of the box you are given all of the paperwork as it lies on the dense foam used to isolate the paper from the cooler, taking up the extra space.

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Under the dense foam is a recycled cardboard container that has separate compartments for all of the components. As an added measure to ensure the surfaces of the fan, the head unit, and the radiator, they are all packed inside of plastic bags.

Corsair H60 Liquid CPU Cooler (2012 Edition)

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The new head unit is much cleaner to look at than the older, flatter, matte finished tops of the older generation. This time you are given a high gloss top with angle incorporated to break up the basic square shape of the head unit. You also notice there seems to be only two screws holding the top on, that is because two screws are covered with magnetic discs.

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On the inlet and outlet side of the head unit, you can see that the fittings and the tubing have increased in diameter to allow for better liquid flow through the loop. You can also see by being able to lay them both flat, none of the flexibility has been lost with the increased dimensions of the parts.

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At the top you can see the three stranded wire leaving the head unit. Connecting this to the motherboard powers the pump only. To keep the pre-applied TIM in place and to protect the copper cold plate, there is a plastic cap shipped on it to do just that.

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Removing that cap allows us to look at the TIM applied to the base. On the left there is a bit rubbed off along with a couple of spots with debris on it. I always test with MX-2 so this is coming off anyways, but something that may need addressed so end-users can just go ahead and install it with this TIM in place.

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I cleaned the TIM off of the cold plate to set the razor against it to check out the trueness of the base. It is flat across in both directions, but you can see a distinct pattern on the base from the finishing treatment.

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Connecting the head unit to the radiator is a much larger tubing this time. While this will increase the flow, and you don't have to look at the corrugated plastic now, there is only 10.5 inches of length instead of the 12 inches of most AIO units.

Corsair H60 Liquid CPU Cooler (2012 Edition) Continued

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As the ends of the tubing are clamped to the plastic swivel fittings on the head unit, the same clamping system is used to attach the hoses to the aluminium barbs of this radiator.

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The design of the radiator hasn't changed much (if any) in this new 2012 edition. Corsair is still using the high fins per inch that we are used to seeing in most thin radiator AIO coolers.

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There is a sticker that shows the new part number for this cooler. While the bulkiest part of the radiator is 28mm thick, the fins surface is much closer to 20mm thick.

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The 120mm fan sent along with the new H60 is very reminiscent of the Air Series fans that are in almost every new build these days - this fan stands out alone from the series. With grey blades and the intake edge of the fan frame built in, this 4-pin PWM powered fan just needs to be attached so we can get testing underway.

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The SP120L draws 0.24 Amps at 12 Volts, and will spin fast enough to produce the levels we covered in the specifications.

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This isn't the way that Corsair suggests you install the fan, but it was much better for this image and for my open air testing. Since most of you will be using this in a chassis, Corsair recommends the fan on the other side of the radiator blowing into the chassis so that this gets cooler outside air through it.

Accessories and Documentation

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There are two top plates, both made of steel, then plated to fight corrosion while looking much better at the same time. This allows the magnets on the head unit to attract the top bracket to hold it in place for you during the install. The back plate is for LGA1155 and 1156 if you slide the nuts inward. If you have them all the way out they will allow you to use it with LGA1366.

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The rest of the kit includes all of what's pictured above. There are four thumbscrews to secure everything, two are used for AMD. The steel washers go with the fan screws on the left to space the fan, case, and screws so that they don't dig into the fins. In the middle, the longer set of risers is for most of the Intel sockets, while the shorter ones get used with LGA2011 only. That leaves the pair of AMD brackets that grab onto the factory plastic top component of an AMD socket.

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The manual to install the H60 is all done up. There is an image of the head unit behind the quick start guide naming and H60 High Performance Hydro CPU cooler at the bottom.

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Inside this are the instructions you will get throughout the installation process. Large renderings make following them very easy. With each page, they are multi-lingual with step by step instructions written out in six total languages.

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You also get the information covering the five year warranty, the red STOP notice we are all used to by now, and a product guide to show you what else Corsair has to offer you.

Installation and Finished Product

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Since I have an 1155 motherboard, all I had to do was slide the four nuts all the way inward, and set it into the holes of the socket. There is a plastic liner on the opposite side to isolate the plate from the board, and you can see it will only fit my socket one way since the cutouts are only on the one side.

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With the back plate in place you take the longer risers and install them, screwing them in until the threads stop. As you can see this system doesn't even make contact with the top surface of the motherboard. This is when I realized I had them upside down. So I switched it out really quick to get the other end facing down that is threaded all the way to the thicker portion.

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If you have them backwards, when you go to set the head unit and screw down the thumbscrews, you will find they bottom out without any pressure on the CPU. That one little mistake can drastically affect performance!

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I have the back drop really close to the radiator, but it is only to block the mess behind the testing area. As you can see, since I am testing with an open air chassis, any way I would install the fan, I am getting cooler ambient air through the radiator. Now since we have it all connected and ready, it is time for the testing to commence.

The Test System and Thermal Results

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I would first like to thank HIS, GIGABYTE , InWin and AVADirect for supplying products for me to test with.

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 24.5-25C 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 1600MHz and loads at 3500MHz for the stock settings. I also set the memory to run at 1600MHz for stock. As for the overclocked runs, I load the CPU at 4.5GHz 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.

For this specific test I connected the pump power lead to the PWR fan header on my motherboard so that the pump always was spinning at its fastest, with the only changes being in the fan speed. At this power level the H60 head unit's pump is spinning at 4500 RPM. The SP120L fan was then connected to the CPU fan header so that I could have control of the fan speeds.

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As the stock clocks sit idle and the motherboards PWM having control of the fan we got 27C with the fans spinning at 1168 RPM. Once the overclock was applied and the fan running at full speed we were able to get down to 26C at that stage.

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With the stock clocks applied and IBT running strong, the temperature got up to 48C, tying with the Thermaltake Performer. Once I reapplied the overclock to the processor and let IBT do its thing, I found the highest temperature I hit was 69C, just slightly edging out that Tt unit.

Noise Level Results

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At an idle the fans run from 900 to around 1100 RPM as it adjusts to the minor increases in temperature while things get shuffled around in the background processes. Even so I got an average reading of 30dB of noise behind the radiator at 12 inches away.

Outside of that first foot or outside of a case, you aren't likely to hear it at all at this stage of the game.

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With the overclock applied and twelve volts running to the fan, the level of noise does jump up a bit, but it's nothing to be worried about. With a reading of 54 dB at this point I would hope you were playing a game to induce this level of stress and then the games audio will cover the noise of the H60.

Final Thoughts

The new 2012 edition Hydro Series H60 from Corsair offers a lot of things to like. There is the redesigned exterior of the head unit, there is the redesign on the cold plate and the amount of flow they have in these new units. There is even the better SP120L fan that not only handles business, but is a much more attractive solution than Corsair's previous offerings.

Topping it all off, you get really good results with low temperatures, and unless you were stress testing like I do, you should never get near that 54 dB rating unless it is the middle of summer and you have no air conditioner - you get the idea. I didn't even get to the magnets on the head unit that act as an extra hand while you hold the head unit in one hand and try to apply the thumbscrews. Without the gently grasp of the magnets, I could see the top plate flopping around and making things a lot tougher to do without them being there.

To help get the performance we are seeing here, even the second generation pumps, I don't think would really increase the flow even with the use of larger diameter tubing. This makes me think that not only were the plate, fittings and tubing all slightly changed, I think the pump inside also got some tweaking for these new units. If I did have to pick out one thing about this cooler that seemed a little off, it was the reduction in the length of the tubing. While you should still be able to install this in the back of a chassis, you may not be able to hang it in the bays or make it to the top in taller cases. I know 2.5" per tube goes a long way for stretching the amount of tubes you can get from a roll, but this does limit things that were cool about the AIOs with longer tubing on them, like hiding the AIO in the bays.

Considering how well the new H60 did in both the thermals as well as the acoustic testing, on top of the fact that we aren't hanging the 1000 gram contenders that may perform slightly better, the H60 should fit really well in today's market. Considering the Silver Arrow we just tested did rather well, it was $100. Even with more comparable solutions like the Water2.0 series, when they released they were right along these lines.

So, considering that the new H60 this capable, I don't think the near $80 price point is out of line in the slightest. Corsair made the right move to re-do this lineup and take top honors in AIO cooling with this product.

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Chad joined the TweakTown team in 2009 and has since reviewed 100s of new techy items. After a year of gaming, Chad caught the OC bug. With overclocking comes the need for better cooling, and Chad has had many air and water setups. With a few years of abusing computer parts, he decided to take his chances and try to get a review job. As an avid overclocker, Chad is always looking for the next leg up in RAM, cooling, as well as peripherals.

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