Corsair Hydro Series H90 42

Corsair Hydro Series H90 Review

Value & Conclusion »


Test System

Test System
Processor:Intel Core i7-3960X ES @ 3.6 GHz & 4.1 GHz OC
(Sandy Bridge-E)
Motherboard:ASRock Fatal1ty Champion
Intel X79
Memory:4x 4096 MB G.Skill Ripjaws Z F3-17000CL9Q
@ 2133 MHz 9-11-10-28
Video Card:AMD Radeon HD 5450 1 GB
Harddisk:OCZ Vertex Plus R2 60GB SATA II SSD
Power Supply:NZXT HALE82-650-M 650W
Software:Windows 7 64-bit Service Pack 1
TIM:Arctic Ceramique 2

All testing is done at a room temperature of 20°C (68°F), with a 1°C margin of error. The coolers are tested with Turbo, EIST, and C1E enabled, which will allow the CPU to clock down to a low 1.6 GHz while idle, or clock up to proper speeds under stock and overclocked conditions. With the use of XMP, the Intel i7 3960X ES chip I used for testing runs at 3.6 GHz under stock load. Overclocked, the chip is set to 4.1 GHz at 1.225 volt. During all these tests, fan speeds are set to run at 100% in the BIOS, with temperatures being recorded by AIDA64.

The idle test will consist of the CPU sitting idle at the desktop for 15 minutes. This will allow for a stable temperature reading that will be recorded at the end of those 15 minutes.

AIDA64 and its CPU stability test represent a typical multithreaded user load. It is run for 15 minutes before the highest reading during the test is recorded and taken as the result. This test lets enthusiasts know what temperatures they can expect to see with games and applications.

Prime95 is the multithreaded stress test I will use to find the cooler's temperatures at maximum load. This is done by using the "In-place large FFTs" setting to truly stress the cooler's ability at keeping temperatures in check. The test is run for 15 minutes, and the highest recorded temperature is used as the result.

Fan noise testing is done at 20%, 50%, and 100% settings, and the dBA level is recorded by a Pyle PSPL25 sound pressure level meter at a distance of 30 cm. Fan RPM results are taken at the same 20%, 50%, and 100% settings.


At idle, the Corsair Hydro Series H90 leads the pack by a single 1°C. When fully overclocked, idle temperature climbed by 4°C, which nets the cooler the second spot, tied with the Noctua NH-C14.

Typical Load

During the typical load test, we see the Corsair Hydro Series H90 fall behind the Hydro Series H100 by 2°C at stock and 1°C with the overclock.

Max Load

Under stock settings, the Hydro Series H90 falls behind the competition, but that changes once overclocking takes place: the H90 managed a solid 15°C lead over the Noctua cooler and finished just 3°C behind the H100. Such cooling performance is impressive considering a single 140 mm fan and radiator is used.

Fan Noise

As can been seen by the fan noise and speed charts, the Corsair Hydro Series H90 has fans that are not the quietest of the bunch at 20% or 50%, but they make up for it when set to 100%. With a max RPM of 1505 on the fan and a sound level of just 46 dBA between pump and fan, the cooler's acoustic performance is simply fantastic when considering its cooling performance.
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