Small Water Versus Big Air, Part 3: Cooling Questions Answered

Corsair H50 Fan Configurations

Corsair’s H50 radiator mounts in the traditional exhaust fan location of most cases, yet Corsair insists on configuring it as an intake. Doing so allows the radiator to receive cooler outside air, but subverts the conventional airflow design of traditional ATX cases. Our biggest concern was the effect this might have on case and chipset temperatures, since inverting the fan prevents air from following its traditional front-to-rear path. Today’s test includes readings for both configurations.

Normally located between the power supply and rear fan, the Silverstone KL03’s horizontal brace had to be removed to make room for the tank on top of the H50’s radiator. We closed the system after we took the above photo and hung an air-temperature sensor between the graphics card and RAM.

The H50 was first tested with its original 1,680 RPM fan, then, during a second test, with Rosewill’s more powerful 2,400 RPM fan. The second test equalized noise and airflow when other samples were compared.

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    Top Comments
  • skora
    Thanks for listening to the feedback and doing follow ups like this TS. Really gives the community a reason to become involved knowing our unanswered questions get addressed.
    13
  • Annisman
    Ditched my Domino A.L.C. for a Xigmatek Thor's Hammer with 2 X Scythe fans. Strapped it on a Core i7 920, bumped it to 4.0Ghz and never looked back.
    13
  • Other Comments
  • Annisman
    Ditched my Domino A.L.C. for a Xigmatek Thor's Hammer with 2 X Scythe fans. Strapped it on a Core i7 920, bumped it to 4.0Ghz and never looked back.
    13
  • burnley14
    Interesting. This is good to know for a future build, since cheap water cooling was always a temptation for me.
    1
  • tkgclimb
    I was looking at water, then I decided if I really want to do this I'm going to have to spend at least 200 if i want a good, effective, upgradeable system. So I'm going to get the megahalem or the thermalright TRUE extreme. and stay with some sick air.
    8
  • rpmrush
    Air is still a better value unless you value noise or lack there of.
    Water offers lower noise @ a slightly less extreme overclock, but who runs 4.0Ghz plus everyday.
    -1
  • apache_lives
    still using my old thermaltake big typhoon with a few mods - sealed the gaps on the sides for more air pressure and using a 12cm "thick" fan from a dell tower (crazy) and the same type fan to extract air - works a treat :D

    kinda proves that when your going water cooling, do it PROPERLY not a pre made kit

    if i was to do water cooling, i would go all the way with a modded car radiator, drum for a water sump and a few powerful decent sized pumps to start off with to keep everything sweet, none of this "barely better then stock" bs.
    -5
  • Anonymous
    The corsair h50 is NOT a water cooling solution. Not even close. At best, call it an "optimized" air cooler. The only situation where you would want one is if you need to install a cooler in a tight space. Otherwise, it's higher cost really ruins any value it has.
    3
  • The_Blood_Raven
    Get a Swiftech H220 in there and it will beat the air coolers pretty well, besides that there are no out of the box water cooling setups that can actually beat high end air coolers by anything meaningful.


    Good article though, your best articles are when you take the time to answer these odd questions that are commonly asked by the enthusiast.
    5
  • Onus
    As many times as I see bottom-PSU cases like the Antec 300 recommended in builds in the Forum, the lingering question for me becomes, "Suppose I do have a bottom-psu top-panel-fan case. Would that make a difference?" Or, is there ANY situation where the cooling performance of this type of liquid cooler is actually superior to a big air cooler?
    2
  • skora
    Thanks for listening to the feedback and doing follow ups like this TS. Really gives the community a reason to become involved knowing our unanswered questions get addressed.
    13
  • Onus
    ^Absolutely.
    2
  • thodgson
    It would be good to see a comparison of the H50 with a push-pull fan setup.

    I have an old-style Antec SLK-B case with a side-port fan (intake) that blows air into and through two push-pull 1500 RPM fans with the H50 radiator sandwiched in-between; these fans blow out, not in. The temp drop from a single fan to dual fans is around 7c degrees.

    The biggest advantage of the H50 is noise, or lack thereof. My Tenma sound meter records less than 30db within 1ft of the case. Can't say that for any of the other HSFs I've tried (mostly stock).
    0
  • zodiacfml
    still prefer the liquid cooler as it reduces the need for an exhaust fan, only I should have to match it to a powerful processor for good use of it.
    0
  • vinshon
    i have the thermaltake v9 case with 230x230 large top exhause fan, and psu is at the bottom of the case, would the h50 do better for me?
    0
  • FSC
    Otherwise fine article but who would use 250w consuming freak CPU in their computer in everyday life? I'd love to see the results of using stocks-speed instead over clocking.
    -6
  • MU_Engineer
    rpmrushAir is still a better value unless you value noise or lack there of.Water offers lower noise @ a slightly less extreme overclock, but who runs 4.0Ghz plus everyday.


    Air can be very quiet, but it requires that you keep fan speeds low. A good 120 mm fan running at 1000 rpm or less is just about inaudible, but such low speeds mean you can't overclock a whole lot. I'd guess based on my experience that you wouldn't want to pump more than about 150-160 W through a decent 120 mm tower heatsink like the ones used in the review if you keep the fans
    -1
  • theLaminator
    @vinshon
    IMO you should be able to build a custom water setup in that case. Custom water will cool much better than the h50 anyday. Will it cost more than the h50? Yes but if you're gonna do water do water, these little prebuilt kits really don't cut it when comes to shedding heat or noise levels
    4
  • doomtomb
    theLaminator@vinshonIMO you should be able to build a custom water setup in that case. Custom water will cool much better than the h50 anyday. Will it cost more than the h50? Yes but if you're gonna do water do water, these little prebuilt kits really don't cut it when comes to shedding heat or noise levels

    Yep, I started out with a little pre-built kit but now I use a custom built loop to cool my CPU and northbridge/southbridge. Keeps the temp way way down on both. I have a 780i and the northbridge & southbridge have terrible stock cooling and the CPU is a quad core overclocked to 3.75GHz and it still stays icy cold.
    2
  • radium69
    Cooler Master Hyper Z 600 with dual scythe ultra kaze 38mm x 120mm. Nuff said'
    -1
  • thackstonns
    yeah i would like to see you guys do some loop testing with some danger den stuff. I have a custom loop with an old ehiem pump, danger den waterblock, and a dual 120mm heatercore, and it stomps temps. I reach the limit of the cpu way before I tax the loop.
    1
  • scooterlibby
    I just ditched the Domino when a "self-contained" pump burst and spewed coolant all over the VGA's, motherboard, and PSU. It was a nifty little thing, but the Zalman 9700 replacement I got seems to cool better and cost a lot less. Having tried both big air and little water, I really don't see the benefit of little water. If you want liquid, just go full out with "big water" in my humble opinion.
    4