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H150i Elite LCD Cooler: First Impressions


Parmenedes
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Preface:

My first one arrived BADLY damaged.  It looked like someone had kicked that crap out of the UPS box.  Giant hole in the outer (UPS) box as well as the actual Corsair box, which was also ripped and shredded  on the inside - I could see the actual radiator and parts just by standing on my front porch and looking through the holes in the outer box, the inner box, and the packaging inside the inner box.  I immediately RMA'd it without even opening it, as I'm not about to put something with liquid inside my pc that has been that traumatized.  The new one arrived yesterday, and I started the install.  One of the thumbscrews in my 5000d case (in the front fan frame) snapped in two without any undo pressure being put on it.  I was barely able to get the broken piece out with some needle nose plyers (thankfully), and Corsair is sending me a new fan frame.  So while I appreciate the good-as-usual customer service from Corsair, the purchase and install got off on the wrong foot right off the bat.

 

 

Now for the product itself.

Pros:

The screen definitely looks awesome.

I LOVE the new ML fans and am grateful that they are available for purchase separately (in theory at least) .

 

Cons:

The tubes are way too short.  It's basically impossible to mount this in the front of a case with tubes down unless you have a very small case and/or no GPU.

It is pretty expensive.

iCue appears to be using more cpu cycles than it did before the install.  I kind of expected this since the same thing happened with the nexus.  As I understand it, it's because the screen is probably using the cpu instead of the gpu to display stuff.  I don't know this for sure, but that does seem to be what was going on with the nexus, which was one (out of several) reasons I returned that product.  As a result, I was kind of expecting this to happen this time though and was ready to bite the bullet with it for the cooler.

 

 

Details:

 

I bought this product basically for two reasons: the cool screen and because I wanted to swap out my 280mm rad for a 360.  I wanted to do the swap because I had a 280mm rad in the top of my 5000d airflow as exhaust, and I essentially wanted to fit 3 120mm fans there instead so there wouldn't be giant holes in the top of my pc case where dust could enter the machine.

Which brings me to my biggest criticism of this cooler:

The tubes are far too short (for my situation at least).  My aforementioned plan didn't work out at all because I ended up having to mount the new radiator tubes up, which was a big disappointment - partly since it meant I couldn't fit a third fan in the top, and partly because tubes-down is the better way to go.  Tubes-up isn't the end of the world (it's definitely not as bad as having the pump be the highest point in the loop), but it's also not ideal.  I was pretty surprised that a CPU rad made by Corsair didn't have enough tube length to mount it tubes-down in the front of a very popular Corsair case, especially since it says right there on Corsair's website (copy/pasted):

What are ideal ways to mount the radiator?

Radiator mounted at the front with the tube side at the bottom

Full disclosure: they do also mention that another option is to mount it at the top of the machine, but since the cpu never gets as hot as the GPU, I wanted to mount my gpu rad at the top as exhaust so there wasn't as much hot air blowing into my pc.  After testing various configurations over the years, that seems to result in lower temps overall for me, especially in this case, perhaps partly because the gpu rad doesn't need to suck air through a filter when it's set up as exhaust, along with the extra side fans blowing cool air into the pc, resulting in more cool airflow through the gpu rad.  Cooling can be a bit mysterious sometimes, as every pc case and situation is different and you never really know what is going to result in the best temps for you until you try some different configurations in your own case.  But I digress.

The point is that a corsair radiator won't fit in a very popular corsair case (the 5000d airflow) at the front with tubes down, possibly unless you don't have a GPU (and even then I kind of doubt it would work in that case).  But nearly everyone who would purchase this product almost certainly is going to also have a GPU regardless.  I'd bet good money that people would have the same problem with the 4000d, but possibly not with some of the smaller form-factor cases.  Of course, many of those might not fit 360mm rads in the front to begin with, and even if they did I think the presence of a GPU would still make it impossible... just an admittedly untested theory based on observations).   I realize that getting the tube length right in an AIO is tricky, as in smaller cases long tubes might be hard to fit and deal with without getting in the way, and in larger cases, short tubes simply won't reach at all.  A simple solution (from a mere peasant's perspective) would be to provide an option for two different tube lengths when purchasing these AIO's.

At any rate, this meant my second reason for purchasing this product was null and void.  But even so, I'm still relatively happy with the product.  The screen does look very cool, but there's some room for improvement with respect to controlling it.  When I went into iCue to set it up, I was concerned at first because there wasn't an option to display the GPU temperature, which is the main thing I wanted it to display.  I figured that was probably just an oversite that would be fixed with a software and/or firmware update, and sure enough, an iCue update that was already available fixed that problem.  The controls for the screen still *definitely* need some work, but I have no doubt we'll see some improvements pretty quickly from Corsair on this front since it's such a new product, and the problems can be fixed easily with software updates.   Control of the screen comes with several preset options in iCue (including one where you can add your own gif), but iCue does not appear to offer the ability to save an altered preset or any kind of screen profiles/setups (or if they do, I haven't figured it out yet after playing with the software for a bit, but it's possible the option is just hard to find because it's... well... iCue).  This means that when alter one preset (for instance, changing its sensor to GPU), then you switch to a different preset, when you come back to the first one, it will default to its previous state, which for some reason in mine kept wanting to monitor my Corsair Dominator Platinum RAM temperatures.  No idea why RAM temps would be the default thing to display, but there it is.  iCue has improved over the years, but it can still be pretty obtuse sometimes.  At any rate, I have little doubt that Corsair will soon update the screen controls to provide more options, the ability to save screen various screen profiles (or to make the ability to save them easier to find).

 


Now for the fans:

I've always been a fan of Corsair fans (yuk yuk).  When I bought an elite Capellix cooler about a year ago, I really liked what Corsair had done to update their ML fans (twice as many LED's as well as better and quieter cooling), but I was disappointed that the only way to get those fans was through buying the elite capellix coolers - you were not able to purchase them separately on the website.  That meant that my elite capellix fans didn't really match my other ML fans.  Those extra LED's make a BIG difference.  I have been posting in the suggestion forums as well as inquiring and suggesting through other channels about making those available for purchase separately. I had thought that my suggestions went ignored, but whether or not they listened to my input, this isn't the case anymore.  The fans that come with the new coolers are an even better version than the ones that came with the elite capellix coolers (not sure if you get the even newer fans with the elite capellix coolers now or if they're still using the other ones), and you can purchase them separately.

The biggest difference in the fans (in my opinion) is that the shape of them is much better suited to radiators.  With both the ML Pro fans as well as the ML fans that came with the elite cappelix coolers, there were big spaces/gaps on the sides between the fans and the radiators where air could escape rather than being pushed (or pulled) through the rad, but Corsair apparently made some subtle design changes such that this isn't the case anymore.  There's not a *perfect* seal between the fans and rads, but it's MUCH better than it used to be.  I used to put neoprene tape between the fans and the coolers to prevent the air from leaking out the sides, which definitely made a difference in temps but was also a huge pain the butt.  I no longer feel the need to do that with the new design.  They also use Corsair's new "AirGuide" technology, something that I honestly don't know whether it makes a difference or is just a gimmick, but regardless, it's really nice to see the ML fan line updated and available for purchase separately, as I prefer ML fans to all others for pretty much every situation.  So the three main differences between the old ML pro fans and the ML Elite Premiums (as far as I can tell) is twice as many LED's, better radiator fit, and airguide technology.

Bottom line:

The new coolers are pretty... well... cool.  They're pretty expensive, but they are a premium product from Corsair, so yeah.  Despite the short tubes, I'm pretty happy with the purchase overall due to the nice-looking screen and the new fans.

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Time to get a vertical GPU mount I think. Show off your GPU better and your AIO tubes can run in a straight line behind the GPU to the bottom of the rad on the front.

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1 hour ago, Ca1ibos said:

Time to get a vertical GPU mount I think. Show off your GPU better and your AIO tubes can run in a straight line behind the GPU to the bottom of the rad on the front.

I'd love to, but I have a 3080ti, which takes up three slots, and the 5000D only has room for two slots with a vertical mount.  I'm also running a USB PCIe expansion card, which means that I can't use cablemod or whatnot to install it vertically since you can't use any of the other PCIe slots if you do that.  I've definitely thought about it, though.

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and PCIE4 and beyond can be a nightmare with risers. sometimes it works, sometimes it crashes every 5 minutes.

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how about the noise coming from the pump ? is it as bad as the capellix pump ?

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3 hours ago, Zerozaah said:

how about the noise coming from the pump ? is it as bad as the capellix pump ?

I personally haven't had any noise issues with either pump.  They both have been whisper quiet to the point where if even one fan is running at all, I haven't been able to hear them.

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The only major concern that I have with the new cooler is the lack of proper customisation. I mean, you get a really nice looking IPS screen with not-so-much tools to work with it. You get a bunch of presets, which not really match my taste, to say at least. I'd like to more options, than changing low-high and label temps colors. From the videos on YouTube I've seen, it lacks tools to fully utilize the beauty of the screen. I'm hoping for a lot of updates in the future.

By the way, can you show how a new "Turbo" preset looks like? I couldn't find it anywhere. 

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