When building a new PC you have several options available to you for choosing the right parts. One of the most important is cooling and you can stick with stock, upgrade air, choose water, or even do a custom loop. Air cooling is still popular but there is something about the look of watercooling and the performance it brings. Liquid cooling is more important than ever with the amount of heat that computers can generate, and custom liquid cooling loops will always reign supreme, but they are expensive and complicated. AIO (All In One) solutions offer easy installation and maintenance free watercooling for everyone.
Corsair is a major competitor and one the first companies to bring mainstream watercooling to everyone. Today we will be looking at their H115i and their HD140 RGB system fans. Let’s see if Corsair still has a major hold on performance with their AIO cooling solutions, Case fans and if they have anything new to offer system builders.
The specifications are as follows:
Why Choose Corsair?
The key to efficient cooling is maximizing surface area. Corsair was one of the first to industrialize on the AIO concept and over the years have perfected the design and have always made it easy to bring your system color scheme together. They brought sleeved tubing and RGB illumination to their products before it was even a popular selling point.
The HD140 RGB fans also add to your system with 12 independent mounted RGB LEDs and excellent air volume to keep your system running cool and performing well. Corsair has also added support for AM4 and is working hard to make all their coolers both AMD and INEL compliant. If you’re looking for a product with great software and stylish design, then Corsair is worth looking into. CorsairLink is software that brings all your Corsair components together that can easily be controlled. They just came out with the Corsair Commander Pro which brings, even more devices together.
The two products here are packaged very well like most Corsair products. The front showcases the product well and uses their standard yellow and black color scheme. The back of each package goes over important product features; like the performance specs. Let’s dive deeper into the product and see what comes with each item.
The H115i comes with the following items:
- H115i AIO cooler
- 2x SP140mm (Static Pressure) fans (A1425S12S-2)
- Mounting hardware and screw sets for Intel & AMD platforms (AM4 bracket for new Ryzen Platform NOT included)
- Manual & Warranty information
- USB Cable for Corsair Link
- Thermal Compound pre-applied
The H115i comes with everything you need to get started on INTEL. If you are looking to mount to AM4, You will need to order the bracket separately. It does support past AMD sockets as well.
The HD140mm Fans accessories are as follows:
- x2 HD140 RGB LED High-Performance 140mm PWM Fan
- x1 Fan RGB LED Controller
- x1 6 port RGB LED Hub
- x8 Mounting Screws
- User Manual
The HD140 Fans are a kit of 2x 140mm fans and can provide support for adding additional fans to the HUB. This kit comes with everything you need to get started and each HUB can hold up to six fans per hub. You also have to control the RGB lights from the included speed and color dial. The Commander Hub Pro adds the ability for Corsair link to control your RGB colors from the software as the main control point but is sold separately.
Design & Installation
The H115i is considered Corsair top contender from their AIO products. It’s factory sealed and has a large 280mm radiator for extreme cooling. Corsair link provides the ultimate control so you can monitor your temperatures, adjust cooling, and customize the RGB LED. I also love the design of the Corsair AIO coolers with the stylish sleeved cables and all black design make it easy to match ideally any system. I will be going over how to install the H115i and HD140 RGB fans to showcase how easy it can be to get your system up and running in minutes.
The HD140 RGB fans will bring the control and look you want for your new system. These fans offer quiet performance and vivid RGB illumination with customizable effects. Thier are 12 independent mounted RGB LEDs to the frame which are made to bring out your systems colors and can be fully customized with the included control dial. I am not going to install these on the H115i because I want to test and see how well each item works independently from each other.
The first thing I did for setting up the system is to take the two HD140mm RGB fans and install them to the case. I am using the Phantek Enthoo mATX Tempered Glass edition for this review. For an mATX case, it provides a lot of room for cable management and adds RGB illumination to the front.
Installing the fans is very easy and only requires you to take the fan mounting screws and secure the fans to your desired cases mounting points. For the Enthoo, I chose one for the front intake, one for exhaust in the rear, and I will mount the H115i and its fans as exhaust on the top of the case.
The model number of the included HD140mm fans is c0-9050069-ww. These fans are PWM controlled and range from 600-1350 rpm. You can expect quiet performance with the ultra-thin fan blades and extreme performance due to the high static pressure design.
The two fans include 12 independent controlled LEDs and 7 unique lighting modes. By using the included control dial you can customize an endless array of different modes to make your system stand out.
The HD140 fans come with an easy access 3-button controller. This controller allows you to cycle through lighting effects, fans speeds, and RGB colors. I ended up mounting the HUB to the rear of the case while putting the controller under the roof of the Enthoo. This kit comes with 2x fans but the HUB supports up to 6 individual fans.
The HUB is controlled by an SATA power connector from your PSU and the speed controller plugs directly into the hub to control your Fan speeds and RGB settings. Also, I want to point out the controller will not work with CorsairLink because there is no connection to the software through any USB cable. If you want complete control through the CorsairLink software, take a look and the Commander Pro. All the RGB effects and fan speed are controlled by the 3 button control dial.
The next step after I finished the fans is to install the H115i. You’re going to want to take out what you need at this point depending on your platform. I am installing the H115i using 115x and it will require the Intel bracket as well as the 115x spacers for the water block. Once you check the instructions and determine the appropriate parts, you can take the backplate and place it through the mounting holes on the motherboard. make sure when screwing in the spacers you do NOT over tighten because the screws that secure the water block will finish that process for you. If you over tighten you could snap or break the backplate or worse damage your motherboard or CPU.
The H115i comes with 2x 140mm fans with static pressure for delivering high turbulence with low noise. In order to install these, you will need the 8 screws or more depending on how you’re setting up the radiator. I’m only going to install the included fans, but if you’re going for push/pull you will want more screws. The included fans are labeled with model number A1425S12S-2 and you should expect some optimal performance for cooling and noise levels. I find it easier to install the fans before you mount the radiator, so you’re not so constricted inside of your case. I’m setting the fans to push air out the top through the radiator as exhaust.
For testing purposes, I am using the HD140mm fans separately but I imagine they would look fantastic put on the H115i and would really be a compelling selling point for future revisions. Computex is currently going on and there are upcoming RGB coolers from Corsair in the works for a future release.
Next, I like to take the radiator and carefully install that to the desired location. I say carefully because I have not yet put the water block on and I am letting that hang while I’m installing the radiator. I find it much easier to arrange the tubing and placement of the block once the radiator is secure. For my case I found the top to be the best position for the radiator as exhaust due to the front being set as intake. The fresh air from the front will help balance airflow out a bit. As heat rises, the top will exhaust hot air out the top and will really help reduce temperatures for my current setup.
The included radiator is 280mm that supports dual fans. You can set up push/pull if you like but out of the box comes with two 140mm fans. The key to dissipating more heat is a large surface area and the 280mm radiator gives you more cooling with its larger size. Compared to 240mm kits, the 280mm radiator will be able to dissipate more heat with a higher volume of airflow from the 140mm fans.
There are a few more things left to do to complete this setup. The TIM material is already pre-applied and doesn’t require any application for the first-time installation. You’re going to want to put the water block on your CPU and onto the risers that are connected to your backplate. To secure the water block to the risers you need the thumb screws included t for the Intel installation.
The included cold plate with the H115i is V2, which offers an improved design. It has been tweaked to operate more efficiently than the V1 versions Corsair has offered, and with less noise and lower temperatures.
Once the cold plate and water block are attached and secured to the backplate, you still have to connect all the cables to the right connectors. The water block requires that you connect the 3pin connector to either your CPU header or 4pin motherboard fan header. Typically most motherboards offer two CPU fan headers now or a PUMP header for this sort of device. Refer to your manual for what will work best for you. I typically tuck the rest of the cables coming out of the water block for the pump and fans behind the motherboard tray for neat cable management.
The included two fans connect to the two fan headers that come out of the water block. This allows CorsairLink to work with the connected fans from those two specific connectors. If you’re adding more fans though you will either need the Commander Pro or use a motherboard header for the additional fans because there are only two connections available. Commander Pro will allow anything connected to that to communicate with CorsairLink.
You will then want to connect the SATA power coming from the water block to power the pump and everything else. This can easily be routed behind your motherboard tray for the good cable management. The SATA power also makes it possible for the RGB LEDs to function and light up the Corsair logo.
The block itself was designed to be compatible with CorsairLink. The last step for the H115i is connecting the USB connection to the USB header on your motherboard. The USB connection allows the fans, pump, and RGB to be controlled through CorsairLink. Without the USB cable, the software couldn’t communicate with the included hardware. Once I have finished with setting everything up I like to work with cable management and tidy up any loose cables. This is necessary so you have no obstacles in the way of your direct airflow. At this point, you should be finished setting up the H115i and any additional fans for your system.
For testing, I did install the cooler in both a case for installation and then for the remainder of testing used my test bench.
To test the performance of the H115i and HD140 fans, I will be testing cooling and noise. I will be running Aida64 Extreme for load performance, and for idle just sitting on my desktop with no application load. The load performance will consist of max RPM of fans, and idle represent lowest RPM setting for fans. I will also compare this Cooler to Masterliquid 240 and see how these two coolers can show their differences from radiator size. Please, know that testing can vary from setup to setup, so don’t expect the same results. Even similar hardware ran here could show variable differences.
For noise testing, I used a high gain microphone. I want to explain a few things about noise testing, and this unit in particular.
First: Testing noise levels can be difficult. First, don’t expect the same levels even with similar hardware. There are too many differences and variables that go into sound testing. You have to account for background noise and other sounds in the environment.
Second: I am one reviewer, and am not a professional sound studio. I am not testing these items in perfect conditions. I do not have an anechoic sound chamber in my test studio.
For temperature testing, I will be using two tools. The first tool is an IRT207 infrared thermometer and the second is a very special tool called the FLIRONE! This tool is fantastic because it will allow tech enthusiasts and reviewers to show visual results for thermal testing. It is a next generation thermal camera that works with iOS and Android devices. If you want to buy one look here.
My test bench is as follows:
- ViewSonic XG2703-GS Monitor
- Motherboard- ASRock z270m Extreme 4
- CPU: Intel Core I7 6700K
- Network Card- Netgear AC 1200 USB
- Cooler- Cooler Master Masterliquid 240 vs H115i
- Memory- Corsair LPX DDR4 3000 MHz
- Video Card: Nvidia GTX 1060
- Storage- MyDigital SSD BPX 480 GB NVMe x2 RAID 0 Drives (Boot)
- Power Supply- Corsair RM650X
- OS: Windows 10 x64 Pro
- Mouse- Logitech G403 Wireless Gaming Mouse
- Keyboard- Logitech G413
- Headphones- Logitech G533 7.1 Surround Sound Wireless Headset
The CPU was overclocked to 4.6 GHz for benchmark purposes. Corsair does provide CorsairLink for controlling the pump and the two included fans. You can control the fan curves, and PWM features through CorsairLink or motherboard your software.
CorsairLink is all about complete control. This software is a major selling point for the Corsair AIO kits. As far as I can tell not every kit is compatible but if an “i” is on the end of the product name then it seems to have been compatible and comes with the USB connection required. It offers easy access to your system’s hardware and allows you to adjust any compatible Corsair device. The software has been updated a number of times to include new features like RGB. What’s important for the H115i is it allows you to set fan curves, choose pre-defined performance profiles, and change your RGB LEDs color on the water block. You can even monitor certain PSUs from Corsair and now their new RGB memory can also be controlled from CorsairLink.
The max fan noise of the H115i and HD140 fans is kind of loud and you will see from noise testing that performance is really good but at the cost of noise. It would behoove most people to create a custom fan curve or used the balanced profile in CorsaiLink. The HD140 fans are controlled separately from their speed dial and also can be set to quieter levels.
I tested the above using an average background level. I would take my lowest and highest dB reading and take the average of that.There are a few important things to take away from the benchmarks above. First off, it’s no surprise the H115i on 100% load is that loud because it sounds like a jet engine taking off. This isn’t a mock towards the H115i because at those levels heat is dissipated rather quickly and the temps are outstanding but at the cost of noise. I also want to point out that across the board the idle temps are about the same and seem kind of loud. I’m on an open test bench and also have other system noises and background noise contributing to those levels. Also, you have the pump and other fans from the H115i running as well. You have to remember that 50dB is equivalent to a noise level of a normal conversation.
The interesting thing is under load the fans running at 100% the differences in performance. The MaserLiquid 240 doesn’t get as high rpm as the H115i’s, and the H115i can get fan RPM speeds a little over 2000 RPM. My recommendation for a decent balance is setting the limit to 1500 RPM.
For the HD140 fans, Corsair lists a noise level of 18-26.6dBA and probably used special testing to obtain the actual noise levels. The fan speeds for the HD140 fans can range from 600-1350 +/- 10%. The +/- 10% really applied to almost all fans because not every single fan motor is made alike. SO there are ranges that keep these items within specification. The HD140 fans also are quieter on load because their max RPM is much lower than either of the two AIO kits fans.
The above temperatures are stock speeds of CPU while testing ADIA 64 and the 100% load is the overclocked 4.6GHz while testing. The H115i with the higher RPM is going to have better temperatures but at a really loud noise level, and I would suggest sacrificing some of that to balance out the noise. You can probably get a decent curve where your happy and still maintain decent temperatures depending on your CPU.
The HD140 RGB fans contributed to the overall system temperatures and that was what was recorded for those to be effective. I will include FLIR ONE images below to really show how effective the airflow was on my test bench. Having an open air test bench does loose some air volume but also contributes to overall cooler system temperatures from its open design. The gap will be closer for the HD140 fans because the fans are PWM and also controlled via the speed dial switch that’s included. I just found the middle balance of what worked for my me and my tolerance.
You can see above a real world example of how well the fans and radiator are doing its job. The FLIR ONE does a fantastic job measuring surface area and how hot each component gets. The Radiator and CPU block which are the coolest seems to be doing a great job keeping the CPU cool, you can tell this because look at the VRM and area around the CPU block which is still very warm. The white spots are considered the hottest points while coolest sections are the darker colors like purple. You can see the warmest section around the CPU block on load measured 46.1
The white spots are considered the hottest points while coolest sections are the darker colors like purple. You can see the warmest section around the CPU block on load measured 46.1°C and rose to around 68°C which is around the temps we saw from AIDIA64. The radiator and fan temps were during a normal gaming session and not under AIDIA64 load like the last image. The last image was the temp surrounding the CPU and VRM heatsink of my motherboard.
The H115i is one of the best AIO coolers you can get with a large 280mm radiator and even offers control over CorsairLink. I absolutely love the design with the sleeved tubing and RGB illumination. What would be an improvement to the overall design would illuminating the Corsair logo on the radiator as well. With Computex here, Corsair has listed a bunch of new products with RGB lighting coming out in soon. There are some issues with noise at 100% load due to the high RPM fan speed, but this can be easily fixed with a fan curve.
The HD140mm fans offer the best RGB lighting I’ve seen currently. There are the 12 independent RGB LEDs and with the control dial, you can set fan speeds, RGB lighting, and effects. Playing with the effects is the best part because Corsair includes quite a few to customize your system.
I highly recommend the H115i and Corsair HD140mm RGB fans if you are looking for top of the line cooling and fun colors for your PC. The RGB fans are going to allow complete color coordination or just whacky colors and patterns. RGB is the current trend so syncing your RGB devices together will become more popular as more companies adopt it. You can buy both the Corsair H115i for $139.99 here and the Corsair HD140 RGB fans here on Amazon.