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In a Nutshell
The Corsair iCUE H115i Elite Capellix cooler is a high-end premium liquid CPU cooler with great cooling performance and state-of-the-art magnetic levitation RGB lightning technology. Provided you have enough money to spare, as well as hot processor to cool, this is certainly an AIO cooler worth buying.
- Great cooling performance
- Outstanding RGB lightning quality
- Very powerful dedicated iCUE software
- Block mask can be rotated
- Comes with RGB and FAN controller
- Loud pump
- Fairly high price
- Gets noisy at maximum fan speed
This autumn, Corsair launched a new series of AIO water cooling systems called Elite, which are equipped with LEDs based on Cappelix technology. In today’s review, we are going to examine the performance and features of one of these new coolers called iCUE H115i Elite.
Corsair is a company which offers a number of different water coolers, most of which mainly differ in the level of RGB lightning. In this sense, the most equipped so far were the RGB Platinum series coolers, in which both the water block and the included fans were equipped with individually programmable LEDs. The new Elite Cappelix series takes that lightning scheme to a new level. First and foremost, there are these famous Cappelix LEDs, which are used exclusively by Corsair on selected products. So far the only Corsair product equipped with Cappelix LEDs were Corsair’s Dominator Platinum RGB memory modules, which had LEDs that where up to 60% brighter, 60% more efficient, and required 40% less energy than classic RGB LEDs.
Corsair iCUE H115i Elite Capellix Specifications
|Supported CPU Sockets||Intel 1200, 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156, 1366, 2011, 2066|
AMD AM4, AM3, AM2, sTRX4, sTR4
|Radiator Dimensions||322mm x 137mm x 27mm|
|Pump Specifications||2.250-2.800 rpm|
|Fans||2 × 140 mm ML PRO RGB, up to 1.800 rpm|
|Cooling Warranty||Five years|
In addition to the new LEDs and the generally redesigned exterior of the water block, the new cooling system boasts another addition – the iCUE Commander Core controller, which supports the connection of up to six Corsair RGB fans. In the new series of coolers, there are three models – one with 240, one with 280, and one with 360 mm radiator. As a result, two or three fans are going to be connected to the controller in the basic version, while the others can be purchased separately if desired and can be used to further cool and decorate the housing.
The new cooling systems are compatible with all newer CPU platforms, including AMD’s Threadripper platform. It should be noted here that this cooler has a special kit for mounting it on AMD processors, primarily because the one that comes with Threadripper isn’t compatible with it. This is due to the fact that Corsair doesn’t rely upon the ubiquitous Asetek for the production of cooling, but on the company called CoolIT, hence the non-standard way of installing the cooler. This way the mechanism for mounting on Socket AM4 processors uses the standard plastic frame that is already mounted on the board.
The water block of this cooler has the shape of a rectangle, with slightly truncated corners. At the top is a plexiglass panel adorned with the Corsair’s logo, which is attached to the body of the block with four hex head screws. Within the package, Corsair also ships a variant of the board with an inverted color scheme – the much larger surface is transparent so that the LEDs are better visible. It is also possible to rotate the mask 90 degrees in case you need to rotate the block so the hoses are on the top, and if you still want the Corsair logo to be properly oriented. Of course, within the package you can also find a suitable hex key for mounting an alternative board. Inside the block is a pump that, according to Corsair, generates a flow of a maximum of 0.82 L/min, while generating noise lower than 20 dBA. The pump speed can be controlled by software, but only three predefined levels are offered – Quiet (2,300 rpm), Balanced (2,450 rpm), and Extreme (2,650 rpm).
Despite what Corsair claims, the pump isn’t exactly quiet. The sound frequency is quite high and noticeable in relation to the fan noise. Of course, the question is how sensitive you are to noise and how noisy are other components in your system, including the fans of the AIO system itself. Fans of low noise PC builds will probably want to keep the pump at Quiet level, as this setting make cooler least intrusive. Of course, the question arises as to how much changes in pump speed affect cooling performance. Well actually, there aren’t any huge differences, certainly because the difference in speed of different modes is also small. The base of the block is made out of copper and is solidly finished. The base comes with a factory-applied thermal paste which has proven to be excellent in practice – slightly better than the Noctua’s NT-H2 thermal paste which is commonly used.
The block on one side has hose fittings by means of movable joints which facilitates installation. The hoses are classic – braided with a thick black fabric, and they are long enough not to create problems when positioning the radiator. In addition to the hose, two other cables come out of the block, but Corsair paid attention to optimization, so only one cable is thicker, while the other is extremely thin. This thin cable connects to the CPU fan connector on the motherboard, and in this case it has only one wire so that the board would not bother the processor if it wasn’t cooled. The thicker cable ends with a non-standard square connector with a bunch of contacts, and it needs to be connected to the iCUE Commander Core – the included controller. The idea is to place the controller or hide it somewhere behind the motherboard bracket, for which pads with double-sided adhesive sides are included.
As we have already mentioned, the controller has six ports for connecting multiple Corsair’s RGB fans, but if necessary, it is possible to connect different ordinary fans because the fan connectors are classic (4-pin PWM). The controller is then connected to the SATA power supply and via the internal USB 2.0 port to the motherboard. The radiator of the H115i has dimensions of 322 × 137 × 27 mm and is black, and on the longer sides it is decorated with the Corsair logo. The fans that Corsair ships with this cooler are the same as the ones coming with older RGB Platinum model. The shipped fans are a part of ML PRO RGB fans, whose two letters in the name stand for “Magentic Levitation”. These are the best, and therefore the most expensive Corsair’s fans which use a shaft with magnetic levitation technology. At a maximum speed of 1,800 rpm, the 140 mm fans provide an air flow of 97 CFM and a static pressure of 3 mm H2O. The fans have a classic 4-pin PWM connector and a Corsair RGB connector for lighting configuration. The rotor and fan blades are made of milky white plastic, and the LEDs are mounted on the shaft on which the rotor rests. Thus the illumination spreads from the central part of the fan. The PWM controller in the fan supports switching off the motor when there is no PWM signal, which is also provided in the iCUE control software.
It is this software that is one of the stronger reasons why a worshipper of RGB lighting would buy this Corsair cooler and not something else. Corsair has taken the LED control system to an extremely high level – much higher than any other manufacturer. With each LED – the block has 22 Cappelix types, and each fan has eight regular ones – it is possible to control them separately and arrange the effects in layers. Combining the lightning of the AIO system with Corsair’s Vengeance Pro RGB modules represent a more advanced configuration which is possible to achieve with this cooler. Interestingly, the iCUE also supports lighting control on compatible motherboards – such as ASUS, which is another huge plus.
In terms of managing the performance of refrigerators, there are four factory profiles available, and creating custom profiles is also possible, but act exclusively on the fans. To the lovers of silent profiles we can recommend the Zero RPM profile, which will completely turn off the fans while the processor is idle state. The problem with this profile, however, is that the fans no longer look equally attractive, so we recommend choosing a Quiet profile if this is something that bothers you. The Balanced profile is slightly louder than the Quiet, and the Extreme profile is the noisiest.
More advanced or more demanding users are likely to resort to manual adjustment of the fan, and this option is not lacking. We can choose a fixed speed, a fixed power of the PWM signal (i.e. the percentage of fan speed) or we can compose our own speed curve depending on the temperature. The temperature to be used as a reference can be selected by ourselves. The software relies on the fluid temperature inside the cooler, while with manual adjusting of the fan we can choose practically all system temperatures – processors, graphics cards, memory modules if we have modules with sensors, and various sensors from the motherboard.
Another useful and unusual addition is the setting of notifications or actions that iCUE will take in case a certain coolant temperature is reached. The first action is to ramp up the fan speed to 100%. Another available action is to change the color of the LEDs to red (it can also be changed). The third option is to run a specific file, and the fourth is to shut down the computer after a certain number of seconds. It should be noted that it is possible to make your own combinations of notifications. What is certainly missing here is the ability to select the temperature that will serve as a condition for initiating an action.
We tested the Corsair iCUE H115i Elite Cappelix in combination with the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X at factory settings, and when it was overclocked to 4.1 GHz. The Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Hero board, based on the X570 chipset, was used for testing. As a reference for comparison, we used the older AIO system NZXT Kraken X52, on whose 240-millimeter radiator we mounted two Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM fans with a maximum speed of 2,000 rpm. During the test, we manually set the fan speeds on both coolers to 50 and 100%, while the pump speed remained on the Balanced profile. The load was generated by the OCCT tool in Small Data mode, but without forcing AVX instructions. In our experience, this is a slightly higher load than that generated by 3D rendering applications. If you do not subject the processor to such loads, the warm-up will be noticeably less. Temperatures were recorded using the HWInfo application.
|Corsair iCUE H115i Elite Cappelix||Kraken X52 + Noctua|
|STANDARD||100% FAN||50% FAN||100% FAN||50% FAN|
|Core Clock||3.8 GHz||3.8 GHz||3.8 GHz||3.8 GHz|
|Noise||52 dBA||41 dBA||43 dBA||38 dBA|
|Fan Speed||1800 RPM||1000 RPM||2000 RPM||1000 RPM|
|OVERCLOCKED||100% FAN||50% FAN||100% FAN||50% FAN|
|Core Clock||4,1 GHz||4,1 GHz||4,1 GHz||4,1 GHz|
|Noise||52 dBA||41 dBA||43 dBA||38 dBA|
|Fan Speed||1800 RPM||1000 RPM||2000 RPM||1000 RPM|
At a fan speed of 100%, the Corsair system had poorer performance than the reference Kraken system. The difference is only a couple of degrees, but it is there. There is also a big difference in terms of noise – Noctua’s fans are much quieter than Corsair’s. This is partly due to the fact that Corsair’s 140mm fans actually spin very fast given their diameter. For example, the speed of Noctua’s fans of the same diameter goes up to 1,500 rpm for the same purpose.
By reducing the PWM signal to 50% the fans on both systems dropped to the same speed of 1,000 rpm. Our reference system was still quieter, but the difference wasn’t now so big as was at maximum speed. Surprisingly, in this mode, the Corsair’s cooler performed slightly better than the Kraken. It should be noted here that the Corsair’s Quiet profile offered almost the same performance as if fan speed was manually adjusted to 50%. At standard processor settings under load, the fan speed was 1,100 rpm, and when overclocking – 1,150 rpm. That was still enough to keep the system completely stable.
The new Corsair water-cooled iCUE H115i Elite Cappelix impresses with its appearance, but also with its good performance. For fans of RGB lighting who are actually the primary customers of this type of cooling, the new cooler is a big plus compared to competing solutions, and it comes with Corsair’s iCUE software, which offers extremely powerful LED control. It is especially interesting that the software can control the lighting on some motherboards, which makes RGB lightning control of these motherboards meaningless. An additional plus is the inclusion of a controller for Corsair RGB fans, which facilitates the subsequent expansion of the system. If we ignore the price, which is quite high in accordance with the capabilities of this AIO system, the biggest minus is the loud pump. The fans are also quite loud in higher operating modes, but with fine-tune adjustment it is possible to completely annulate this issue, however, only at the expense of higher CPU temperatures.