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Part 2: Little Water, Big Air--Corsair H50 Versus Rosewill FORT120


Rosewill provides a powerful air-cooling apparatus in its FORT120, made more appealing by the device’s multi-socket compatibility. We even tested it against the motherboard used in our $1,300 system to make sure Don’s issue didn’t affect this model, and the FORT120 appears to be the perfect fit.

Of course, appearances won’t tell the whole story, as the FORT120 is very noisy. We thought we’d rid ourselves of elevated noise levels with the retirement of Pentium D retail-boxed coolers. That noisy fan can be replaced, but don’t be surprised if the performance level approximates that of the Cogage True Spirit when a similarly-capable fan is used.

At the other end of the noise scale is Corsair’s H50. Almost as quiet as the Cogage True Spirit, it also provides nearly as much cooling performance in our open-air test bench. The H50’s somewhat remote radiator could be advantageous in especially hot systems if its rear-mounted fan is used as an intake, an installation method so effective that it has been adopted by many boutique builders. Cases with lid-mounted exhaust are designed to compensate for the change in rear fan orientation.

At only $80, it’s difficult to exclude the H50 from our recommendations, but its performance level is not what we'd consider exceptional, either. We’d choose it for situations where a 120 mm semi-remote radiator fits, but a 6.25” air-cooling tower doesn’t, or whenever additional space it required around the CPU socket. Otherwise the big air coolers provide better overall value. The $50 FORT120’s performance advantage is offset by its far higher noise levels compared to the $40 True Spirit.

Anyone who really needs the added cooling of Rosewill’s FORT120 under peak loads can try to adjust their motherboard’s automatic fan control to minimize its noise output most of the time. Those who can live with slightly higher temperatures will find a better price on the always-quiet Cogage True Spirit.

Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.