Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
Roughly a month ago, we were invited to a meeting with the Corsair team, where we were told of a new chassis, a new keyboard, and the latest CPU liquid cooler to come from their lab. As for the CPU cooler, we were told bluntly that the newest liquid cooler is an aesthetic play, where performance is supposed to be similar to the previous model, where a ton of Capellix RGB LEDs were added, backed with a newer version of iCUE, with many more new options available to users. That being said, when it was explained to us, we were not very excited. Still, then again, with a new CPU cooler test system in play, the Hydro Series of Corsair coolers may be able to impress rather than performing average at best!
Let's imagine that we know nothing but what we were shown in the meeting. What about this product will draw you towards it versus something more affordable, or grabbing a sealed loop CPU cooler from another manufacturer? Corsair would like us to say that the new high-performance RGB pump head is a good reason, but the thirty-three Capellix LEDs inside of it will attract many!
Instead of fans connecting directly to the pump, we now get an iCUE Commander Core, which not only offers fan and pump speed control but also RGB control for both the pump as well as the eight RGB LEDs in each of the ML120 Series fans that ship in the box. Corsair claims extreme performance, a Zero RPM mode, split flow copper cold plate, a low-noise centrifugal pump, various sized radiators in the series, and is easy to install.
However, what you are about to see is a real game-changer in our minds! Of course, or experience with Corsair AIOs has all been had by cooling Intel processors over the years, but if a cooler can get near the top of our charts, it matters none what it is cooling! With that in mind, be prepared to have your mind blown, not just with the aesthetic changes afoot, but also with the thermal performance and capable of handling business without a ton of noise involved in most scenarios! Without further ado, we bring to you the Corsair iCUE H150i Elite Capellix, which is the best AIO from Corsair we have seen to date!
The specifications we have were taken from the reviewer's guide, and it covers most of what you will need to know. We are now dealing with the CW-9060048-WW as the model number to the iCUE H150i Elite Capellix cooler, which boasts of low noise emanating from the pump, where Corsair says it is less than 20 dB(A), measured from a meter away. As Corsair calls it, the pump harness is to take software settings and apply it to the three PWM fans included in the box.
The pump's head is backed with multi-zone Capellix LEDs, thirty-three in total, with twenty-one zones of control! The cold plate at the bottom is made of copper and is 65mm square. What is not shown is the 61.5mm of the head unit, which applies to both width and depth, where the overall height is roughly 44mm tall, taller than any other Corsair pump head we have seen to date!
While we do get the radiator's dimensions, where we see its 397mm length, 120mm width, and 27mm thickness, there is no mention of its aluminum construction. We also see no fin count, but we counted 20 FPI on ours. We also noticed a lack of any information on the braid-covered tubing, which is around fifteen inches in length for both of them, from the swivel fittings on the pump to the radiator's barbs.
With a quick mention of iCUE support for the entire system, we move into the fan specifications. In our box is a trio of ML 120 PWM RGB fans, which are 120mm in diameter and 25mm thick, spinning on a magnetic levitation bearing. Each fan has eight RGB LEDs in the hub, which floods the blades and frame with RGB illumination. The range of speed starts at zero, since there is a zero-fan mode in iCUE, but can top out at 2400 RPM. At full speed, the ML120 sports an astounding 4.2 mmH2O of static pressure, but can also get into the 36 dB(A) range while doing so!
Support for the iCUE H150i Elite Capellix covers all of the current processors! AM4, sTR4, and sTRX4 are supported out of the box for AMD, while on the Intel side, there are 115X, 1200, and 2011(V3)/2066 support. The last bit in the chart covers the five-year warranty.
What is not shown is the cost! Even here, there is a tad bit of confusion. In the guide, we are told that the MSRP was set at $179.99, which is already top of the range for a 360mm radiator based AIO. However, since this is not available outside of Corsair, we went to them to verify the cost, see that the MSRP there is set to $189.99, and is currently the only place to buy this cooler. In the grand scheme of things, while pricey in general, $10 will not break the deal for those who desire the iCUE H150i Elite Capellix liquid cooler!
As far as packaging is concerned, the front of the box is full of high-end looks. While using black as the backdrop, the triangular-shaped pattern is a nice touch t5o dress things up. Along with the company name and logo at the top is a large image of the iCUE H150i Elite Capellix in all of its RGB illuminated goodness! We also can see that this is an extreme performance cooler, with iCUE support and many Capellix RGB LEDs included.
The yellow sides of the box have been toned down in brightness from previous samples we have looked at, and along with the name of the product and what it is, there is "SUPER CHILLED" in black text on this side of the box.
Both of the smaller panels of the packaging are identical. Sadly, no new information is available, as we again see the company name and logo, a much smaller image of the cooler, and its name and purpose.
The second longer side panel of the box keeps with the yellow backdrop, but this time is used to display the socket compatibility at the furthest left edge. While the bulk of the panel is blank, we find what is included in the box to the right, with company information, a notation of the warranty, and the product sticker with the model and serial numbers.
The back of the box goes back to black, this time with an image of the cooler, followed by smaller images, and a pair containing radiator measurements. Further to the right is a very condensed specifications list, while the bottom of the panel is used to highlight five features included in this cooler.
Upon opening the box, we found the cooler wrapping around the outside, as expected, but we also noticed there are many more goodies inside the box than we used to get! To keep the cooler in as good of shape as ours arrived in, there is a compartmentalized cardboard inner packaging. On top of that, each part is contained in a plastic bag of one form or another, to ensure nothing rubs against another part in transport to your door!
Corsair iCUE H150i Elite Capellix CPU Cooler
Fresh out of the box, we get our first look at the new head unit! The pump and cold plate are contained in plastic sections below the new top plate, made of clear plastic where the underside is painted to give the ring and the logo to expose the Capellix RGB LEDs inside the assembly. We also see a set of four screws holding the cover on the head unit, and it is not just for looks, as you can swap this cover for another found inside the box!
Typically, a Corsair head unit will top out where the lower section of this head unit is, but this time around, another component is stacked on top, which is used to house the lighting and the cover plates. We can also see the fill port set into the textured plastic sides of the head unit. We chose not to show the fittings, as they are the same 90° swivel fittings seen on previous models. However, you can see the wires emanating from the head unit's top side, which is not the typical cables we are used to seeing!
The head unit's wiring is a fat cable that terminates into a 22-pin connector, where only twelve pins are used. The thicker cable is twenty-four inches long, where the 3-pin fan connection used for RPM sensing is twelve inches in length. Keep in mind, using this setup will send the motherboard into an error mode, as it does not see a CPU cooler connected. You will need to disable monitoring to bypass the issue long term.
The head unit ships with Intel mounting hardware installed into it, but more important at the moment is the pre-applied thermal paste on the copper cold plate. We are pleased that there are no issues with the paste application, and we found no debris in it either.
Since we use MX-4 on all coolers, we removed the factory-applied paste to expose the cooler's base. In doing so, we see the lines form the machining process, and the cold plate is slightly convex. We also noticed no "special" screws to keep you out of the head unit, although there is no real reason to remove the cold plate, at least not until the warranty is up!
Skipping the image with the tubing and the tape measure to show off the fifteen inches of braided tubing, we moved right to the radiator. The radiator specifications were covered, but in this image, we can see the hexagonal covers where the tubing connects to the fittings found at both ends of the tubing. We also see the product sticker, and without an Asetek link on it, we then assume this is a CoolIt based design, but we could also be way off in this assessment.
On both sides of the radiator, Corsair tags them to ensure that, at a glance, it is easy to see who made the cooler. This is done with a chromed applique placed dead center of the length of the radiator. No matter how or where this AIO is installed, this logo will be visible.
Our 360mm radiator uses a high fin count, to the tune of twenty fins per inch, and typically, you will need monster fans to cool the coolant inside the system efficiently. Thankfully, Corsair did not skimp on the fans, and have delivered ML120 fans with a lot of RPM and an impressive static pressure rating!
Accessories and Documentation
As we start to pull out the hardware from the box, we first ran into the twenty-four long fan screws, the four knurled nuts to mount the cooler, twelve short fan screws to mount the radiator, and a set of twenty-four washers to use with either set of screws, depending on how it is mounted into the chassis.
In another bag is the Intel mounting hardware. On the left are the four LGA 115X/1200 standoffs, there is the isolated backplate for both of those sockets, and in the bag to the right are the LGA 2011(V3)/2066 standoffs that mount directly to the socket.
Corsair also takes care of AMD users with a pair of bracket setups to get the iCUE H150i Elite Capellix mounted. On the left is the pair of brackets that lock into the head unit and the tabs that lock to the factory AM4 socket hardware. For those pondering this cooler on a ThreadRipper based system, we find that hardware to the right in this image.
We have the iCUE Commander Core hub, which allows the head unit to connect to the right edge via the 22-pin connector, but it also sports six channels for RGB control and another six channels for fan control. On the left end is a 2-pin connection for temperature reading, and is also where the power and USB leads stem from.
The iCUE Commander Core has the 9-pin USB 2.0 cable for communications with the rest of the system and a SATA power connector. To attach the Core to the chassis, once the location for connectivity is established, you are offered a pair of double-sided foam tape to securely mount the iCUE Commander Core to any material inside of the chassis.
If you were not a fan of the black cap that ships on the head unit, and would rather see all of the Capellix RGB goodness on offer, you may want to opt to use the clear cap instead. To do so, you will need the provided plastic Allen wrench to remove the four screws. If there is one fault with anything in the kit, it was the call to use plastic for the wrench, as it twists quite a bit before it has enough strength to break the screws loose!
The three fans inside the box are ML120 fans with black frames and white plastic hubs and blades. The hubs house eight RGB LEDs, controlled with a separate 18-inch lead. Powering the fans is another 18-inch lead that terminates in a 4-pin PWM connector. As for what can be found on the sticker behind the hub, all we see is the 0.225A of power draw, which is sipping power considering the speed, pressure, and CFM these fans deliver!
The manual everything inside of it that one might need to know. There is a parts list explaining what is needed where, followed by mounting instructions for each socket type. Beyond that, there is also a wiring guide to ensure the system is connected properly to the iCUE Commander Core, and again, it is connected properly to the system it cools. Corsair left very little to the imagination here! The warranty guide covers all of the dos and don'ts for the cooler and a list of what is covered by Corsair, and for five years from the date of purchase.
Installation and Finished Product
When it comes to installing it to our AM4 based system, we must leave the factory backplate in place for the installation process.
We are also shown to leave the factory top brackets in place with the AM4 installation of the iCUE H150i Elite Capellix. Since the hardware uses the loops at the head unit's top and bottom, they need to mount to the factory tabs to secure it to the CPU HIS.
After a bit of fiddling around to hold the loops over the tabs on the brackets, and securing the AMD mounting brackets to the head unit, we grabbed a pair of knurled nuts to lock it into place, screwing them down until we ran out of threads. Being an AIO, it clears everything around the socket, and we can see the fittings are well away from the RAM as well!
To give you a sense of this new head unit's height, we did take a peek of it from over the top of the RAM. Where many will sit roughly at the halfway point where the separation line is seen, the Elite Capellix version needs more room for all of that lighting, so overall height is much taller than we are used to, but a non-issue in a standard installation.
As we removed the head unit's black top cover, we also noticed that the top portion of the head unit was very loose. Our inquisitive mind made us jiggle it a bit, which allowed us to separate the two sections. What we see is that there is an 8-pin connector to control the thirty-three Capellix RGB LEDs, and we can also see that the long screws used to hold the top cover licks into the base of the head unit to create a solid and secure one-piece feel.
With everything installed the way we want it to be, we see that there is a lot of radiator across the top of our test bench, plenty of tubing to make a gentle bend to the CPU, and we love the clear cap on top of the Capellix RGB LED diffuser plate. We will see much more of the LEDs with this cover than the logo and thin ring of the default cover! We also like the new cabling, and that it comes from the top of the head unit, which cleans up the wiring considerably compared to older setups!
Just so that you have a generic idea of the capabilities of the RGB lighting the Capellix RGB LEDs offer, we snapped this image from the default settings, without software involved at this point. The lighting defaults to an RGB Rainbow, both in the fan hubs and at the top of the head unit. In obtaining this image, we noticed the fan startup is delayed a bit. As it attempts to complete the POST process, our LEDs turned red to signify an issue, which is based on the fact that there is no CPU fan connected as far as the motherboard sensing is concerned.
After downloading and installing the latest iCUE software, we opened it to expose the newest additions in the Home tab of it. Not only do we see the H150i Elite Capellix listed as a controllable device, but this is the first time we have seen that now iCUE recognizes and can control the ASUS motherboard and GPOU we have installed so that all of the RGB lighting can be synced with a single software suite. This is a huge plus for any Corsair user, as it eliminates software conflicts and is finally a one-stop-shop for all things RGB LED in your system!
By clicking on the H150i icon from the previous image, we are dumped into the cooler's controls. More specifically, as it sits, this is where you can go with the default profile and start changing things, or you can leave the default profile alone, and by clicking on the "+," you can add as many custom profiles to change as desired. To the right, we can see the fans and pump speeds and them being set to QUIET mode out of the box. There is a live view of the RGB head unit display, and to the right is the coolant temperature inside the loop.
Under the lighting setup tab, we begin to gain control of the lighting. While the pump shows with no lighting currently, it is because this tab addresses the fan only. As you can see, each fan shows a different color to ensure you have them connected to the Commander Core in the proper order, as well as being able to select the fan type, or like us, use the auto-detect method, which worked flawlessly!
Lighting effects are the next option, and we are just touching the tip of the iceberg with what we are showing. While we show all of the predefined, custom, and lighting link options, with twenty-one zones and thirty-three RGB LEDs in the head unit alone, there are options to control them all to the finest detail. The same can be said for the fans, but to the tune of eight RGB LEDs, but each fan can be individually controlled.
The performance tab addresses fan speed and pump speed options. By clicking on Quiet, Balanced, Extreme, or Zero RPM, you then go to the right and click on the fans or pump, although the pump can only be set to Quiet, Balanced, or Extreme. You also have the option to change the fan curves, put the fans to 100% speed, but to maximize the pump to deliver 0.82 l/h; you will need it to be set to the Extreme setting.
The graphing tab allows you to monitor fan speed, pump speed, and even coolant temperatures. Click on one of the items in the window above, and with the dropdown menu above the chart, you can select the polling rate of the graph.
Our notifications tab was blank at this time, so we moved on to the settings tab at the top of the main menu. Doing so allows us to control the brightness of the LEDs, limit the software control, check for firmware updates, and run a port detection to verify that the Commander Core is connected to the H150i Elite Capellix. At the bottom, one can change the language, change the thermal scale, restart iCUE, enable options, log, clear logs, and even check for software updates.
Test System Setup, Thermal Tests, and Noise Results
Chad's CPU Cooler Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII HERO [Wi-Fi] (AMD X570) - Buy from Amazon
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600X - Buy from Amazon
- Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 4000MHz 4X8GB
- Graphics Card: ASUS GeForce RTX 2060 6GB OC - Buy from Amazon
- Storage: Galax HOF Pro M.2 1TB SSD
- Case: Hydra Bench Standard
- Power Supply: ASUS ROG Thor 850W - Buy from Amazon
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64-bit - Buy from Amazon
- Software: AMD Ryzen Master, AIDA64 Engineer 6.25.5400, and CPU-z 1.92.0 x64
To see our testing methodology and to find out what goes into making our charts, please refer to our 2020 CPU Cooler Testing and Methodology article for more information.
With quiet mode enabled in iCUE, the H150i Elite Capellix falls into tenth place overall with a 60.9-degree average of the package and a peak temperature of 62-degrees. In balanced mode, the H150i Elite Capellix jumps to fourth place with a temperature of 58.7-degrees, tying the CNPS20X, and peaking-out at 60-degrees. The last option, extreme, while running the CPU at stock, delivered the first-place result with temperatures at 54.1-degrees, with a max temperature of 60-degrees here.
With our all-core overclock applied, quiet mode falls further down the list to 69.2-degrees, with a spike at 79-degrees. Enabling balanced mode takes the H150i Elite Capellix into fourth place again, with a 63.6-degree result, while the max temperature is 74-degrees now. Extreme mode tops the chart once again with a 60.7-degree result, tying the Galahad, with the peak temperature being 71-degrees this time.
To obtain our results for this chart, we manually set the fans to run at 100% power to get the most they can offer, and the pump is set to extreme now, wherein previous tests, we matched the pump mode to the fans. We find that Corsair leaves just 1.4-degrees in the tank, moving from extreme to manually setting the fans. In doing so, we saw a 59.3-degree result, with a maximum temperature of 68-degrees this time around.
Noise Level Results
As we ran the various tests for our stock clock thermal charts, we also recorded each software setting's noise levels and fan speeds. The quiet mode has the fans spinning at 491 RPM with the noise level at 24 dB. Balanced mode spun the fans at 710 RPM at max, but the noise level stays low at 26 dB. However, with extreme mode enabled, the fans topped out at 1670 RPM, but the sound level jumps to 58 dB!
Running tests with the overclock applied, the fans in quiet mode did not increase in speed, resulting in 24 dB. The balanced mode showed the same thing when it came to fan speed, which kept the 26 dB sound level. The fans ran slower when testing with extreme settings, just 1600 RPM, which reduced the dB rating one tick to 57.
Manually applying all of the power possible to the fans for this test, we found them to top out at 2380 RPM, which falls into the 2400 RPM max that the specifications mentioned. At this time, we take on another level of noise production, where the meter showed us 70 dB of noise coming from the exhaust side of the radiator, at a foot away!
Many of the previous solutions from Corsair to hit our lab for testing have floundered in thermal results, leaving us with little choice but to remove points from the awards with a heavy hand. However, with what we have seen with the H150i Elite Capellix, with chart-topping results in extreme mode, and top-five finishes in balanced mode, sways our perspective of what to expect when it comes to the new Corsair sealed AIOs! So much comes in the box, which you are left wanting nothing when it is all installed and ready to run!
Mounting the cooler is as easy as any other; we love the length of all of the leads from the various components, which makes the installation of the cooler and the Commander Core possible in as many instances as possible while being able to hide everything but the shortest of runs to wire management holes. We also love swap covers on the head unit, taking what looks damn nice with the black cover, to "OMG that's a ton of RGB" with the clear cover installed!
We love that Corsair can take on many of the prominent coolers without the need to go past balanced mode, which keeps the noise levels as low as possible. If not for the sheer amount of light from the fifty-seven total RGB LEDs in this system, one might forget there is such a beastly cooler in the system at all! For those looking for the best results possible, opting for the extreme mode is more than enough, with less than two-degrees left on the table, and without the need for earplugs at that insane 70 dB rating, we got running the fans at full speed! We will admit, Corsair has delivered the complete package when it comes to what our H150i Elite Capellix cooler has to offer.
To make it even better, the depth of control and all of the options at hand using iCUE is astounding. What makes it a step above is the inclusion of motherboard and GPU lighting control! Anything RGB can be controlled with iCUE, so you no longer have to mess with multiple software suites, and there is the fact that the flow of colors in certain modes is synced so much better than was possible for us before Corsair stepped up their game!
There is no way of wording things to lighten the fact that this AIO is nearly $200, but if you are willing to fork out the cash to the tune of $189.99, we feel you are getting one of the best performing sealed loop systems on the market, with by far, the best feature set available on the market today! Part of that cost is buying into the Corsair environment of iCUE, but even there, they upped the ante and have added value that may not be apparent at first glance.
If not for the inclusion of a plastic wrench for removal and installation of the optional pump covers and extreme pricing, we would be giving Corsair a perfect score for their effort in designing and producing one of the best CPU coolers on the market in this iCUE H150i Elite Capellix Extreme Performance 360mm RGB Liquid CPU Cooler. For those in need of something new, we strongly urge you to look at these new AIOs!
The Bottom Line
Corsair has swayed us from thinking its coolers were not up to snuff with the release of the iCUE H150i Elite Capellix! Not only is it a strong performer, it is the most feature rich AIO we have seen to date! Even with the higher asking price, we still feel it is well worth considering!