ProsRetains the excellent performance of the previous gen H100i at lower noise levels; bracket installation is easier than with previous designs
ConsHigh static pressure fans have a whiny tone, even if they aren't particularly loud; thick hoses are hard to position during installation
Installing the Hydro H100i v2
On of the most important improvements that the H100i v2 offers is a much better installation procedure, as well as a more streamlined set of power and data connectors. We found that the H100i v2 was incredibly simple to attach, and had the Intel bracket pre-installed, making this essentially a one-step process in terms of the cooling block. Corsair has whittled down the number of connectors from USB 2.0, a 3-pin fan connector plus SATA power to just the first two. The fact that all power is drawn from the fan header (or potentially the fan header plus USB) has ramifacations for fan and pump controls, as we'll discuss on the next page.
The dual 120mm fans are about as easy to install as typical 120mm case fans, easier in fact given that you're affixing them to the radiator, which has pre-machined holes designed to accept the screws with little force applied. One thing that did cause us some concern, however, was the thickness of the radiator hoses. They were far less flexible than on the previous version of the cooler, and that meant that they tended to run right into our rear-mounted 120mm case fan. If we were to do this all over again, we'd flip the orientation of the radiator so that the hoses were in the front section of the case, although this could neccesitate flipping the radiator block as well, which would lead to the Corsair logo being upside-down. We have a feeling this might be a case of form over function, as the hoses certainly look cool, they just don't cooperate during installation. Ironically, flipping the block would also get around amother fitment issue we experienced: the USB power plug ran right into our motherboard's chipset heatsink, which you can see in our top-down photo above.
The two fans can either be plugged into a splitter that connects to the block, or they can be plugged directly into the motherboard. Both options are viable, and which you choose depends on how you'd like to control the fans. Using the cooling block to control them means you lose direct access via motherboard controls, but gain control over them via CorsairLink, allowing you to use the pre-set profiles Corsair provides.
As we mentioned in the introduction, Corsair has redesigned the radiator significantly. Our Corsair Carbide 500R case has a unique pop-up panel on top, allowing the radiator to be attached from the outside. It gives you the same kind of feeling you might have when popping the hood on a high-performance car to see the goods inside! But this feature also allows you to take a close look at the radiators themselves. On the left is the H100i, on the right is the H100i v2. At first glance, they may look identical, but in fact they are not. The H100i v2 uses fins that are more closely packed both horizontally and vertically (fitting in about 10% more fins by our estimation). And to our chagrin, we also found that the radiator's extra 3mm in thickness, which we noted in the specs on the previous page, were just enough to make it impossible to properly close the pop-up panel on the Carbide 500R when using the newer H100i v2 cooler. Who knew that cases weren't future-proof?!?
So what do we make of the tweaks in radiator design? Well, in our opinion, this was the key element of the second-gen release of the cooler. The H100i relied on very high-RPM fans to achieve class-leading performance, while the H100 v2 uses a bigger, denser radiator and lower-RPM fans with higher static pressure to achieve similar results. As you'll see on the next page, it is different, but is it better?