Top positive review
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***BE WARNED OF HOW YOU INSTALL IT***
on 26 July 2013
So I installed this fantastic cooler on my new Corsair 650d case, a Z77 Sabertooth housing a i3770k processor running at 3.5ghz. New build, hadn't even installed Windows 7 yet.
It should be noted, that I replaced the stock H100i fans with 2 Corsair SP 120mm fans, "quiet" editions, designed to push air through radiators.
I OC'd the CPU to 4.5ghz via the bios straight away, Windows loaded. Good, no voltage problems then.
Checked the idle temps, they were running at around 35-40c with my CPU OC'd to 4.5ghz. Okay, fine I guessed. Seen higher.
Under full load, after an hour or so of Battlefield 3, I minimized to desktop and checked CPU-Z to see the CPU temps. 80-85c. Wow, that's hot. But hey, I'm OCing.
Turns out, that's actually FAR too hot.
Hmm, problem then. I uninstalled the H100i and looked at the CPU. Only about 3/4 of the CPU was covered in the thermal compound that comes with the H100i pre-applied. That's...weird.
I checked online, and apparently the mounting bracket, although completely symmetrical, HAS JUST ONE WAY TO BE INSTALLED on the back of the motherboard. It has 2 notches that have to be oriented upward. Because the backplate is symmetrical and fits at whatever orientation you want, you never assume you've installed it incorrectly.
This is the single, most common error H100i users make.
I re-oriented the backplate and installed the H100i again, AND swapped the SP fans to the stock ones as, apparently, they run cooler if louder.
Fired her up, checked the idle temps after leaving Windows running for about 10 minutes while I had some lunch.
Idling was now 20-25c across the 4 cores. Played Battlefield 3 for an hour again, same settings, same overclocked as earlier, max temp reached was 63c, the other cores at 59-62c. MASSIVE difference.
Turns out then, that because I orientated the backplate incorrectly, the CPU block fited, BUT, I wasn't getting full, flush contact over the CPU. So my temps went higher than they should have been.
I'm going to wipe away the stock paste and replace it with some Arctic MX-2 paste I just recieved, and I assume it will drop the temps a few more degrees. Because as we should all know - lower temps = more overclocking potential as well as longer component life expectancy.
The radiator, fans and CPU block are easy to install. It's all pre-sealed and liquid filled already, never leaks so don't worry. It's one whole unit, so the radiator, pipes and CPU block are all attached already. You just have to attach the backplate to your motherboard (if you can't access the back of your motherboard via your case, INSTALL THIS BEFORE INSTALLING THE MOTHERBOARD otherwise you have to take the motherboard out), screw in the fans, screw the radiator to the case's ceiling, attach the 2 fans to the adaptor, connect that to the block, connect the included mini-usb to the block and to the motherboard for the software to work, and connect the CPU fan connector to the motherboard, and you're done.
You have to hold the backplate in place as you screw in the mounting screws for the plate that attaches to the CPU block, which you then tighten into place using 4 nice and chunky thumb screws, so it can initially be a bit of a fiddling pain to get the screws into place. More annoying is holding the CPU block in place so you don't smudge the compound around too much when putting the thumb screws on.
Also, for some reason, the stock fans don't have arrows on them to show air movement/direction. I had to refer to my SP fans from Corsair to conclude that if the Corsair logo is facing you, the air is moved away from you.
The stock fans are surprisingly loud under max RPMs. And my PC sounded like a jet taking off when I installed them.
But the H100i comes with incredibly easy to use software that you can control the colour of the CPU block logo, see the CPU temps and voltage, but most importantly, the fan speeds. They were set to max because the SP fans were so quiet, so I set the software to have then running as fast at they could. I changed the setting to "performance" so the fans would throttle up and down when needed, and they instantly went from around 2000 RPM to about 1300, and quietened right down.
I do wear headphones while gaming so don't hear the fans, but taking my headphones off under full load...yeah, the stock fans could be quieter But CPUs are confirmed to run cooler on the stock fans, so it's a sacrifice I'm willing to have.
When I apply the thermal paste, I'll give the fans a run again and see what the temps do. I'll then note them and swap the stock fans for the SP ones I have so they run quieter, and see what the temps do then. Find a balance somehow.
The manual is kind of useless. It just says, for example, "install the fans" with an image. What orientation?
"Connect the backplate and use the screws to secure." Well, it's for AMD AND Intel chips, each requires a different screw type that comes with the H100i. Which type do I use? I'll use this type. Nope, wrong, that's the AMD ones after trying to mount the block and realizing the screws were too short.
Just unnecessary frustration.
Also, the fan connector/adapter you attach to the block that runs the radiator fans is a little flimsy, and hard to install as you can't see the top of the block if your motherboard is in the case (why wouldn't it be if you're installing the radiator?).
So a little finicky to install with slightly dumb instructions but does tell you all you need to do, just not how sometimes, stock fans are slightly too loud under full load but then I am OCing an Ivy Bridge chip, so it's going to get hot.
Incredible cooling with a solid, well-made feel.
Worth the purchase.