Introduction, Specifications and Pricing
When it comes to sealed loops for CPU cooling, Asetek is the largest maker or distributor of these systems, but when it comes down to it, Corsair and AIOs are so closely related, it is almost the same as calling tissues Kleenex, or a soda a Coke. We have been around since the inception of the Hydro series of coolers, which happened very early in the game, right after CoolIT and Asetek stopped selling their own products and opened the doors for other manufacturers to take advantage of what they had built. Now Corsair did swap sides a couple of times with early Hydro coolers offering a round head unit, then they went to square ones, back to round ones, but this time around they have brought an all new look and feel to the Hydro series.
With what we have gathered, Corsair sort of took this last series releases as a no holds barred match against all other seal loop AIOs out there on the market. The issue with an AIO is that it has only four components to fiddle with to make improvements. There is the head unit with the pump and cold plate, and here we find an industry standard offered as we see nothing showing manufacturers are replacing either of those components. Next in line is the tubing. Thinner tubing will create more pressure as it is forced through it, but as you widen the ID of the tubing, you are able to move more coolant in the same amount of time, and is one thing that Corsair was sure to address. Then we run into the radiator, and again we see time and time again that we get the same FPI offerings and the same thicknesses, but Corsair did opt for the thicker radiator in this latest cooler. Then, of course, you have the fans, and here Corsair searched for a while and found some real power houses to pair up with this design.
Today, we are looking at the smallest offering in the new Hydro series lineup with the H80i GT. Not only does this system take full advantage of every opportunity given to them as a choice of how to improve things, being in the Hydro series with an "i" designation also means we get the full advantages of the Corsair Link software and within just a few clicks, you can have full control over fans, the pump, and even LED lighting since in this version the Corsair name on the head unit is backlit. Seeing what we have on the box, online, and with the testing behind us, we are sure that this H80i GT from Corsair will be turning some heads. Not only due to the sleek and new and improved styling all around this AIO, but more importantly for the massive boost in efficiency we see.
If you are on Corsair's website looking for more information about the H80i GT, when you click on the "Tech Specs" tab, this is the chart they will offer you. This bit explains that we get a five-year warranty on this cooler, which is a good start. It then tells us the cold plate is made of copper, that there are two fans, that the radiator is made of aluminum, and passing the compatibility, we see they make mention of the large diameter tubing used as well. Back to the compatibility, we see AMD is covered from AM2 forward, and for Intel we see LGA115x, LGA1366, and LGA2011 are all supported.
Now if you are to scroll all the way to the bottom of the main page, you are then shown this chart as the specifications. Here we see everything that comes in the box, from the cooler to the fans, on down to the hardware and pre-applied thermal paste. We are then told that this radiator is 154mm tall, 123mm wide, and is 49mm in thickness. The included fans are 120mm fans that are 25mm thick, and offers speeds of 2435 RPM, delivering 70.69CFM and an astonishing 4.65mmH20 of pressure. It is easy to see with this H80i GT, that while compact compared to other sealed loop offerings, Corsair definitely splurged where at all possible to bring forth a serious contender for your hard earned dollars.
Speaking of hard earned dollars, just what sort of cost does all of this new, bigger and better cooler cost? The truth is that while many would think that with all the additional effort that went into this design, there would also be a considerable price hike, but that just isn't true. While Corsair released the H80i GT with an MSRP of $109.99, we found that at this time you don't have to even pay that much. Right now on Amazon, you can find the cooler listed for $91 with free shipping.
For comparable pricing to what a top tier air cooler would cost, and much less than most coolers of this nature cost at their time of release, if ever there was a time to jump on the Corsair AIO bandwagon, this is it; and when you see the charts, you too will easily see the bang for the buck that this cooler has to offer.
On what is the top of the box, we find Corsair offers a large image of the H80i GT on it with the cooler name large and in charge near the bottom in blue and grey. We also see notation to the Link, the two fans, and the five-year warranty at the bottom.
While this side panel goes mostly unused, Corsair wants to be sure that from any angle you may walk up on this box, that blue and grey combo grabs your eyes and makes you want to pick it up and see what this H80i GT is all about.
One of the longer sides of the box covers two things. Here we see a list of five features that are repeated in five more languages. The same can also be said for the lower section where they cover the customizable performance with the use of Corsair Link.
On this taller side panel, we see that Corsair gives not only the socket compatibility that this cooler will fit, but also goes into detail as to the specific processors as well. They also mention that you will need an empty USB 2.0 header on your motherboard and a free download to take advantage of the Link features and controls.
The last side panel of the box doesn't have much to offer as far as amount, but they do take the time to list the boxes contents, so that when you open it up you can easily tell if anything is missing.
The bottom of the box has a ton to offer customers. It covers the included fans, that it uses and improved cold plate, extra thick radiator, and all this before they show results of some in house testing. There are a couple dimensional drawings at the bottom, a list of specification to the right, and again information about Corsair Link at the bottom.
The inner packaging has not changed, as we find a compartmentalized inner layer that keeps all the components in specific sections. Everything is either wrapped in cardboard or plastic to also help protect the cooler more, and just in case there is a layer of foam that covers all of this, allowing this H80iGT to arrive in terrific condition.
Corsair H80i GT CPU Cooler
Starting with the head unit, we find a new design yet again, with an octagonal shape and angled section surrounding the backlit Corsair logo in the silver section in the middle. We can also see that the Intel hardware comes pre-installed to it.
Part of the reason the last image was so off angled, is that with this design, rotatable fittings are done away with, in favor of two very thick tubes coming out of the top of the head unit, and rather than to leave them rubber, there is cloth sleeve applied to them to dress it up very nicely.
As the silver section that holds the Corsair logo on top rounds the side of the cooler and stops, we find that this is where two leads come out of the head unit. One of them is a three pin lead to power the pump, and the other is a four pin lead with a pair of fan power plugs at the end of it.
On what will be the bottom edge as installed on the motherboard, there is a mini-USB port found on this head unit, and is used for the Corsair Link cable. This is optional, but with it offering what it does, it is well worth the effort to run the cable.
Under the head unit, we find that there is a snap on plastic protector that keeps that pre-applied paste in good shape and free of debris. Also, there is not a removable lock ring on this unit, to swap the mounting bracket, you twist the bracket and keys align with the slots to allow it to come off.
Removing the paste, we see that the base of the H80i GT shows defined milling marks. These marks are concentric circles, and nearest the center it is higher than at the edges.
Moving down the tubing from the head unit, we see that the pump power lead is ten inches long, while the fan power lead is eleven to twelve inches long. We can also see that from the top of the head unit to the front edge of the radiator, we have fifteen inches of room to get this mounted.
We already know that this radiator is 49mm in thickness, which we do appreciate, but we really do like the way Corsair matches the sides of the radiator to the head unit with the silver stripe and octagonal shape surrounding their name and sails.
At the end of the radiator, we find two stickers. The top number is the UPC for the radiator at the manufacturer. The lower sticker is the one specific to Corsair where it tells us the model of the cooler along with the voltage and wattage requirements.
Our last view of the kit is head long into the fins of this radiator. It may be thick, but this design keeps with the 21 to 23FPI depending on the location of the fins counted. This can be overcome, but takes some serious pressure, and with the specs for the chosen fans, this should be an easy task for them to cool.
Accessories and Documentation
Part of the kit inside of one very large bag of hardware, we find this AMD top bracket, and the Intel LGA1366 and LGA115X back plate. For AMD users, you will need to twist the Intel bracket off the head unit and replace it with this one, and you will also need the stock AMD bracket as well.
This time we got the rest of the mounting hardware together. At the top are the nuts that secures the head unit onto the top of one of the sets of standoffs below them. At the left, we have the LGA2011 standoffs, black AMD ones in the middle, and LGA115x standoffs to the right.
Since this thick single radiator is cooled with a pair of fans, Corsair ships a full set of either long screws, along with a set of eight washers to get the fans mounted to the radiator, as well as through the chassis of choice.
Here we have the pair of high torque, SP120L PWM fans. The grey blades sort of go along with the silver, and both are 4-pin powered. For the Corsair Link to control these, you must use the lead from the head unit to power these.
Then you have to have the Corsair Link cable to make the software work, and here is ours. At either end of an eighteen inch long rubberized black cable, we get a USB 2.0 connection to make to the motherboard, and the male mini-USB connection goes into the head unit.
You are also provided with full detailed instructions on how to assemble, install, and connect the H80i GT and where to go for the download of the software. They also included a warranty insert that explains what is covered under the terms of their five-year warranty.
Installation and Finished Product
The back plate is pretty simple. Being made of plastic, there is no need for isolation materials, and all we had to do was to slide the studs into the inside and put it into the holes around the socket.
After flipping the motherboard over, we grabbed the four Intel LGA115x standoffs and sent them in until the threads stopped. At this time, the back plate and standoffs may still be loose and move around a bit, but that is fine.
When mounting the head unit to the motherboard with the large nuts at each corner, we find this to offer the strongest mounting pressure we have ever seen on a Hydro series cooler. Also while we are here, we powered the pump via the CPU FAN header, ran the fan power lead to the radiator, and were also sure to connect and route the Corsair Link cable.
With the amount of Link cable provided, it is easy enough to just wrap it behind the motherboard tray. If you do not have that option, there is still plenty of cable to route it down the right side of the motherboard and still keep things clean and tidy.
With everything now connected, we stepped back a bit to see both the head unit and the radiator with its fans on all in the same frame to give you a better idea of just how much room you will have to get to the top of the chassis, or the rear exhaust, maybe even to the front of some cases.
While we will be rotating the chassis through the various tests, we went with the radiator above the head unit. As you can tell, we are quite a ways away from the CPU, and there is still plenty of tubing to get us even further if need be.
We also snapped an image of the H80i GT under power to show you only one of the 16.8 million color choices that this can display. Not only will it keep a solid color, it also has the ability to change the color from blue to red based on the coolant temperature.
Corsair Link Software
We did jump ahead a bit here, as when the Link software is opened, all of the temperatures and indicators are listed in the left column, but they need to be moved over the image of the chassis before you can make adjustments. The background can be changed quite a few Corsair cases, and even has the option to upload your PC image, so you can label everything you see. Once the icons are placed, hover over a fan, pump, or the LED icon and right click to get the new menu.
By highlighting and opening the menu for the pump control, we can see that it is currently in Performance mode by default and is running just shy of 3000 RPM. There is a drop down box to select various modes and ways to control the speed, but we did not capture those options at this time.
Now highlighting the fan controls, the menu to the right looks much the same. Currently the fan is in Quiet mode and is seen on the tachometer under 1000RPM. We can see this time that the drop down box is opened, and these are the same options found under the pump controls as well.
You can also highlight the LED icon and get the menu to control that. Here you can adjust the sliders, direct enter RGB codes, and even change from normal colors to then use the Temperature mode that will visually show you the coolant temperature with the change from blue at its coldest to red as it warms up.
Test System Setup, Thermal Tests and Noise Results
Test System Setup
To see our testing methodology and to find out what goes into making our charts, please refer to our CPU Cooler Testing and Methodology article for that information.
We decided to test this cooler in two ways, a full round in Quiet mode, and another with Performance mode set. In Quiet mode, we find the H80i GT comes in with a respectable 52.25 degrees, right in the mix. However, if you can handle the noise, in performance mode, the H80i GT is capable of topping the charts at 46 degrees, but that result is extreme and does not directly compare to the rest of the results, but is still damn impressive.
We did the same with the overclocked settings, and found that even with the Quiet mode active, the H80iGT comes in averaging 68 degrees and coming into eleventh place in the chart. Allowing the fans to spin at their best, we see the H80i GT jumps into third position now, amongst custom water loops, besting all but one other AIO.
Noise Level Results
At isle in Quiet mode, we found the fans to spin at 840 RPM, delivering only 26 dB of noise to the office a foot away from the second fan. Now when it came to running the test above at stock, the fans did increase and stay nearer to 1000RPM, but the noise level only increased slightly at that point.
Letting the fans spin at 2220RPM, we found the noise level drastically went up. From near silent operation as Quiet Mode would suggest, we now have gotten up to 57dB of noise, but even though this is loud, the performance shows its worth.
At first we had assumptions that this was just another dressed up refresh, that was until we looked deeper at the specifications when we were asked to review this, once this cooler is in your hands, you start to get a real sense for what all has gone on with this latest release of Hydro coolers from Corsair. With mention of a new cold plate design, and the first time we are seeing this head unit, we know there are some benefits to be found there. Opting for much larger diameter tubing allows for better circulation as the amount of coolant passing back and forth is not hindered there. Dressing them up with braided sleeving, even using a thicker radiator with two turbines for fans, each and every aspect of this cooler was tended to not only for performance, but for some much needed aesthetic appeal too.
With everything in place, and venturing through the Corsair Link software, there is so much more that can be done that we did not have time to address. Allowing the user to control every aspect of the cooler, and even if you do not own a Corsair chassis and do not like the stock images, we really dig that you can upload an image of your actual PC, and apply the sensors and icons right where they are in your specific build for easier reference.
The thing is that just looking at the Quiet mode performance, Corsair would have nothing to worry about and happily sell the pants off of these coolers. The reality is that we can still kick it over to Performance mode, and damn near overtake the Tt Water 3.0 Ultimate, that requires a 360mm radiator to outdo the H80i GT. Screw the noise that this thing will produce in this scenario, nobody else with a single 120mm radiator AIO can claim that have anything on Corsair at the moment.
With everything going for the H80i GT, the only thing that could stop such a brilliant design would be to come out on the shelves overpriced. That is just not the case with this cooler at all though. While you will find the cooler around for the $109.99 MSRP, we always like to find the best deal out there to get the best bang for our buck, and finding this cooler available right now for $91 and no shipping cost just makes the deal that much sweeter. The Corsair H80i GT took on a ton of air coolers, many other AIOs, and even custom loops to take a very strong third place overall. Considering the size of the H80i GT, that is saying much more than we can if we had four more pages to carry on about how impressive the H80i GT really is.
|Quality including Design and Build||98%|
|Bundle and Packaging||96%|
|Value for Money||98%|
The Bottom Line: The Hydro H80i GT is a truly impressive bit of kit! For a single thick 120mm based AIO to take on the competition, and blow most of them away, really proves that Corsair is staying ahead of the game and delivering terrific sealed loop systems.
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