ProsGreat looks; matches similarly-priced air coolers; broad case compatibility
ConsToo loud at idle; installation takes longer than air coolers
Welcome to yet another CPU cooler review! Back in 2017, we conducted three massive cooler shootouts (120mm air on Intel, 120mm air on AMD, and 240mm-280mm liquid on AMD), which provided us a great baseline to conduct one-off reviews going forward. Truth be told, cooler shootouts are incredibly time-intensive, so we're probably not going to be doing many more of them. Instead we're going to be picking out new coolers that hit the market at great pricepoints, with great new features, or ideally both!
And that brings us to the subject of today's review, the Corsair Hydro H60. Now, we know what you're thinking. If you've been in the PC mod community for while, you'll say "wasn't this released in 2011, and didn't you just say TBG is just reviewing new coolers?" Well, yes, and yes! You see, Corsair has decided that it will be sticking with model names that prove popular with users, and believe it or not, this is the third H60 cooler to be released since 2011, by our count (we may have missed some!). The way to know what you're actually getting is by looking at the model number, not the name - the model we're reviewing here is CW-9060036-WW, and it was released on March 22, 2018 (for those keeping track!). The 2011 original was CWCH60, and the 2013 release was CW-9060007-WW. This new model brings a whole bunch of improvements to the table, from a sleeker design, to LED lighting, to a much quieter fan. It's also the first sub $140 cooler from Corsair to include AMD AM4 brackets for Ryzen processors right in the box. And that's critical for this review, as we're going to be using our Ryzen 7 1700 system as our cooler testbed for the foreseeable future.
Special thanks to Corsair for providing a review sample of the Hydro H60 CW-9060036-WW (2018).
So, as we were saying, we use a Ryzen platform to test our coolers. Here are the specs of the system as configured:
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 1700 (thank you to AMD for providing this review sample)
- Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-AB350-Gaming 3
- Video Card: Sapphire Radeon R9 Fury Nitro+ 4GB
- SSD #1: Samsung 960 Evo 500GB M.2
- SSD #2: Crucial MX300 525GB 2.5"
- RAM: GeIL 2x8GB Super Luce DDR4-3000
- Case: Thermaltake View 31 RGB (thank you to Thermaltake for providing this review sample)
- Power Supply: Corsair HX750 Platinum (thank you to Corsair and Newegg for providing this review sample)
- Operating System: Windows 10 Flash Drive
This being our AMD platform, we felt we had to include an AMD-based video card, but AMD's new Vega series is a complete bust in our opinion, so we turned to our trusty Sapphire Radeon Fury Nitro. No, you shouldn't buy it today (and in fact, you can't because it's been discontinued), but it's still a potent gaming weapon, easily beating out anything you can find for under $350 today (we picked ours up for $250 a year ago, which is a sign of how the mid-priced market has suffered in the age of cryptocurrency mining). The other great thing about the Fury Nitro is that it has a zero-fan mode, which was critical to our noise testing. During all of our CPU cooler testing, it remained completely silent.
We should also call out our case of choice, the Thermaltake View 31 RGB. In addition to being quite a looker thanks to its RGB fans and tempered glass side panels, this is the perfect platform for cooler testing. If there's one thing Thermaltake understands, it's how to design a case that can actually fit any cooler on the market. And this shouldn't be a surprise, given that Thermaltake markets more coolers than any other manufacturer in the world, including some very fancy custom loop solutions.
To provide a broad view of cooler performance, we tested our Ryzen 7 1700 both at stock (where it runs at a leisurely 3.2GHz at load, with a rated TDP of just 65W), as well as overclocked to 3.8GHz using 1.27V. In terms of cooler settings, most reviews simply run coolers at maximum RPM, show the results, and on a separate page might provide noise data. Frankly, this just isn't good enough. Performance data divorced from noise data is meaningless, and it has encouraged manufacturers to "juice" the benchmarks by shipping coolers with insanely-high-speed fans. Therefore we run coolers using PWM motherboard controls. This allows them to ramp down at idle, and ramp up for a moderate and extreme loads. We used the motherboard's standard fan profile, except for one tweak: we leveled out the profile through 40°C to eliminate the constant changes in fan speeds that otherwise occur (and annoy) during idle periods as the CPU fluctuates between 30°C and 40°C.
And what about the actual tests we performed? We use three different test scenarios to benchmark our coolers. First is idle at the desktop, where we report the minimum over a five-minute span (minor OS operations can spike temperatures momentarily, but these spikes can be ignored). Second is load in the CPU-z built-in benchmark, where we report the maximum after a 5-minute run. The third is Prime95 Small FFTs, where we report the maximum after a 10-minute run. As you'll see, each of the tests we ran illustrates a distinct facet of cooler performance, allowing us (and you) to gain a better understanding not just of how coolers perform, but why they perform the way they do. Temperature data are collected using the wonderful app HWMonitor. All analysis was conducted with an ambient temperature of 70°F +/- 0.5°F. Noise data was collected with a sound meter placed right next to the case's top panel mesh vent, and all other fans in the system were shut off, including the case fans and power supply fans.
Turn to the next page to learn about installation of Corsair's latest H60!