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Corsair Hydro XR5 360 Cooling Capacity

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Recently, after minor upgrade/maintenance of my system, I decide to test it in order to have an idea of the cooling "performance". The result is not as expected...

I have mid-range CPU/GPU on my water-cooling loop:

  • Intel Core i5-14600KF

  • Asus TUF RTX3070

Cooling :

  • Radiators : 2x Corsair Hydro XR5 360

  • Pump+res. : EK-Quantum Kinetic TBE 200 D5 PWM

  • GPU block : EK-Quantum Vector TUF RTX 3070

  • CPU block : EK-Quantum Magnitude

  • Radiators fans : 6xNoctua NF-A12

  • Case fans (front) : 3xCorsair SP120 RGB

  • Case fans (rear) : 1xNoctua NF-S12A

All of this in Corsair iCUE 5000X case.


For testing I run FurMark for 30mins and record water temperature, ambiant temperature and power (P=GPU+CPU+pump). I did this for 1000, 1500 and 2000 RPM for radiator fan. Then I compute dT=water temp-ambiant temp, thermal resistance=dT/P and thermal conductance=P/dT. Then I compare this result with some review of other's 360mm "slim" radiator that I found on EKWB blog, Martin's Liquid Lab, xtremerigs and TechPowerUp.



The results are disappointing, the cooling performance of my system (2x360) is lower than a single 360mm radiator.

I understand that a radiator in a PC case don't perform as well as in free space because of air flow restriction. But as much as that ?

I also assume that you can't simply sum "cooling power" of 2 radiators because they interact with each other.

Are these results normal or should I look for a problem in the loop and/or fan's orientation ?

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Here you have one rad dumping heat into another  (one intake, one xhaust) which will give a slight performance impact. now keep in mind that's minor because you also have 3 intake fans bringing cooler air inside.

And between the theoretical open air bench test and the case test, there's quite a lot of difference yes. Dust filters, panels, can substantially alter performance. In your case if you still have the top filter for example, remove it. It would serve no purpose besides impeding airflow.

Also when these outlets test radiator performance, they do so with more precise tools than what we have 😛

the heat output is not exactly equal to the CPU and GPU electrical power. The water temperatures as measured by our NTC probes is very imprecise too. When testing at home, we only stack readout margins of errors on top of each other.

To get a good reading of power output, they need to have caibrated temperature probes at the radiator inlet and outlet, a flowmeter with sufficient precision and measure the water temperature difference to calculate how much has been dissipated using the volume of water that has passed per unit of time, and the value of specific heat for water.


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Thanks for your comment.

Understand that my home "test bench" is not accurate and differences between free space and case can be significant. 

I have seen some custom loop build cooling much power hungry system like i9-13900k  + RTX4090 with dual 360mm.  That's why I was wondering if my system has a problem. Also I've read on forums that a good water-cooling system should have ~10°C dT.  Maybe this was true some years ago, when TDP of GPU+CPU was not 800W...

For example this one from EK seems to have 1x240 on bottom (probably 30mm thick) + 1x360 in front (probably 45mm thick)


This system should not be very quiet under load and/or water temp should be high. 



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the dT, you set it with your fan curve more than with how much rad space you have. you could cool your rig with a single 360 if you wanted, but you better have good ear protection 🙂

it's all arbitrary values. The main thing is the warmer radiators are compared to the ambient air, the ore efficient they will be at transfering heat. 10°C dT is a good ballpark to set your fan curves.

The number of radiators, and their thickness will determine how fast your fans will work to keep those 10°C. So you'll be fine with 2x360. The only unknown is how fast your fans will run to keep your dT, and that depends on your case, on the thickness of your 360, on how restrictive your case is etc. tons of variables.

30mm rads are a bit less efficient than 45 obviously but they get the job done just as good, only with slightly faster fan speeds for the same result.

If your rig has 11°C delta between water and ambient with the fans at 2000 RPM, you have other issues than radiator capacity. More likely airflow problems or very low water flow.

Maybe post a few photos of the case, and give us some numbers, on pump speed.

the 5000X being all glass panels, it'll have worse airflow than the 5000D, but it's easy to test if the case is the problem : pop the front and top glass out and see how the temps look.

Also, again, make sure you have no dust filters on any exhaust. Only keep them on intakes.

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uff ^^

You stacked all the worst working conditions on your PC 😛

In a room corner, there's lot of heat recirculation, so the case kind of lingers in its little bubble of warmth over there.

Case specific : it's all glass panels so you will have worse airflow compared to a mesh case but you knew that and it should still work okay.

And also, your side radiator is basically choked so close to the wall, as if you had another glass panel in front of it.

I'd at least try to pull the case a good 5cm to the front and 5cm to the left to get that side rad some air and see how cooling performs. then after that, if it's still bad, try popping the glass out just for testing, maybe on the top first since that's your only heat exhaust. That's just to see how much the case affects cooling.

For the water, try to keep water flow > 100L/h to be on the safe side. On some of your tests the flow is a bit low and may lead to higher GPU temps than normal, even at 270W. You don't really need to change the pump speed as long as there's enough flow to let the blocks cool properly. Flowrate won't influence cooling as long as it's not too low.

The case placement, and the numbers you get screams "choked rads" to me.


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LeDoyen has identified the weaknesses here. 

1) Top dust filter definitely acts like a heat trap and you are adding a definite measure of resistance.  Radiator + Dust Filter + Glass Panel is a killer.  Even at 2000 rpm you are struggling to get the air out.  When the fans are blowing, dust is not coming in that way.  If you have a hazardous environment, you can throw a cover over it when not in use if really necessary.  

2) Placement in the corner - You may not have any choice on this, but it is going to create a heat bubble around the case and the intake fans will re-use the exhaust air.  If no other option, try using a small house fan on the floor or the pedestal type to gently blow some air along the wall from the front.  Even at low speed that should help move the air around the case up the wall and away.  I do this in Summer even with an ideal case placement just to get the heat away from me.  

3) Side radiator as intake - As mentioned earlier, you are dumping a fair amount of heat into the top radiator.  The theoretical heat dissipation of any given radiator is directly related to the intake air temp for that radiator.  At best, your exhaust from the side radiator is going to be 1C cooler than the water inside the top radiator.  You can't dissipate 300W with that.  That makes this more of a 1 radiator system (the side radiator) and the top is just passing water and air around.  I would change the side radiator to exhaust, yes it will throw it at the wall, but that floor fan will help push that away from the front intake.  This should have a considerable impact on your coolant delta.

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Ok thanks you for recommendation.  

I will perform some  tests with the PC in a better location soon.

I also thought that the location of the case was not optimal but I may have underestimated its impact...

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I’m having trouble deciphering their diagram. It appears to be “all fans as exhaust”. I don’t think that’s necessary. I do prefer using radiators as exhaust and dumping the bulk of the heat out of the case. While using them as intake can theoretically increase each radiator’s dissipation capacity, in reality that state is short lived. As you continue to run in a moderate to high load state, the case interior, RAM, motherboard, and most internal components will heat up. Typically your case internals go up the same as the liquid delta T. So cpu and gpu temps start off better than exhaust, but finish higher. 

I think flipping the side rad fans to exhaust solves several issues without requiring much work or reconfiguring. 

Edited by c-attack
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I've run a test (GPU stress test, 30mins) fan and pump full speed, all panel and dust filter removed and the case in a more open area:





Ambient temp was 22.4°C at the end of the test that give : dT ~= 6°C.  Approx 550W/10K cooling capacity.

Now I have to figure out how to reorganize my desk. 

Many thanks for sharing your experience. 

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