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Antec Kühler Vs. Corsair Hydro: Sealed Liquid CPU Coolers Compared

Which Cooler Is Right For Enthusiasts?

With middle-of-the-road performance at a low price, it’s easy to see why so many builders continue to choose proven air coolers to maximize value. On the other hand, most enthusiasts want more cooling capacity, quieter operation, or some balance of those two characteristics.

Thus, a value chart like the one above doesn't really matter to the high-end buyers willing to spend big bucks on hardware, since it’s so heavily skewed by price. A look at the previous page’s cooling and acoustic efficiency charts give us the most useful information. And clearly, power users who simply want the best low-maintenance solution will take the closed-loop liquid route.

That’s also where Corsair’s H100 shines, though its lengthy design requires a specifically-designed case. While many of those cases exist, most builders don’t pick an enclosure based on its ability to accommodate a really big radiator.

Corsair’s H80 was the runner-up in both performance and noise, followed by Antec’s low-cost Kühler H₂O 620. A less than $20 difference between them seems like a pittance by high-end hardware standards. But the percentage is significant.

We’d have no problem running the Kühler H₂O 620 in most of our systems, even though its automatic fan control methods are completely inadequate for our build. That’s because we know that its three-pin fan can also be controlled by the CPU fan headers present on a few of our motherboards. Yet, the cost of switching up to a four-pin fan to make this part more universal nudges us even closer to the price of Corsair’s better-performing Hydro H80.

It appears that Corsair really does have the proverbial “better mousetrap” in its Hydro H80 and H100. The H80 fits more cases and costs less, so it gets our general recommendation for builders who want the performance of extra-big air, without the extra-heavy motherboard-busting heat sink. Now, let's see if enthusiasts pave a broad, hard-beaten road to Corsair's house.

  • compton
    You would have a hard time convincing me that my Noctua NH-U12P SE2 was anything but quiet and effective, but I know that many prefer sealed water solutions. My opinion is that for 1155 SB processors, even overclocked ones, you're better off with a high end air cooler.
    Reply
  • soccerdocks
    comptonYou would have a hard time convincing me that my Noctua NH-U12P SE2 was anything but quiet and effective, but I know that many prefer sealed water solutions. My opinion is that for 1155 SB processors, even overclocked ones, you're better off with a high end air cooler.
    I completely agree. Pretty much the only reason to go with these sealed water coolers is to say that you water cooled your PC.
    Reply
  • gmcizzle
    Yes for SB processors, air is fine because they don't really get that hot. Now SBE, on the other hand, gets extremely hot and you need the best cooling you can get.
    Reply
  • cmcghee358
    soccerdocksI completely agree. Pretty much the only reason to go with these sealed water coolers is to say that you water cooled your PC.
    I agree 100%. And I do, in fact have an H70. And when I'm at work describing the epic beast of computers I build, and I show off some pics of mine; I always point to the H70 and go "Theres the radiator for the water cooler" /gasp!
    Reply
  • joytech22
    I still have my H50 so reading this bummed me out a little. Haha.
    Reply
  • drumsrule786
    High end air is probably better than most sealed liquid coolers except for the H100. My H50 is alright but not nearly as good as I thought it was going to be when I first got it. Next build im definitely gonna go full custom water cooling though :D
    Reply
  • aznshinobi
    These coolers are terrible cooling/value, it's sad that consumers see "Water-cooling" (IMO this is "fake" water cooling in that it's all in a closed loop) and they think it'll cool the best. However the temps speak for itself, a $50 air cooler can practically, if not beat, a $80 closed-loop WC solution with the dBA being similar. Sad.
    Reply
  • Lutfij
    did anyone else notice that the author as well as manufacturer's of these pseudo WC loops rerfer to the cpu contact plate as a cold plate...last time i checked a cold plate is what is used in a Peltier unit...:/
    Reply
  • compton
    cmcghee358I agree 100%. And I do, in fact have an H70. And when I'm at work describing the epic beast of computers I build, and I show off some pics of mine; I always point to the H70 and go "Theres the radiator for the water cooler" /gasp!
    I think that's a perfectly good reason to buy any product. I like that I have a choice. But Noctua's tower coolers look pretty sexy too.
    Reply
  • Darkerson
    Was thinking about getting the 620 for a future SB/IB build, but now Im not so sure. Anyway, thanks for the reviews!
    Reply