Pure data of my review, will do some graphs tomorrow or later this week. Or jump to the conclusion for a quick description.
Posting this in the owners thread, and the main thread. I think they should be combined, but oh well. Anyway, here we go...
Cooler mounted to the roof in an intake/push orientation (meaning the fans are intaking air from out side the case, and pushing through the radiator in to the case). Push/pull is used for the CNPS20LQ when using the 2x fans. Fans are 3ft away from my head in normal seating position.
Prime95 AVX small FFTs 15 minute runs are used for load testing. A thermometer is placed right next to the top fans to measure ambient temperature.
Core Temp is used to record temperatures of all cores, idle and load. Idle will be taken at 800RPM fan speed (as low as the Helix fans can go) 30 minutes after the Prime95 run was done. Sound readings will also be done at 800RPM.
Small line of MX-2 between 3570K die and IHS. The CPU will not be removed from the motherboard, so this will not change at all.
Small dot of MX-2 between IHS and cooler block.
First testing will be done with included factory fans, limited to 1800RPM.
1800RPM was chosen, as that is the max speed of the Helix fans from the H220. Also, anything over that is just unreasonably loud with the SP120Ls.
I will also test the SP120Ls, Helix, and Zalman fans on a quiet setting. The RPM will be different from each, but will set them so they produce the same DB rating (29Db +/- 1Db) as NF-F12s 7V at 3ft. Idle testing will be 800RPM from all sets of fans.
Then I will test with Noctua NF-F12s. These are highly regarded fans, that are very quiet and smooth sounding, while offering good air flow and high static pressure. These will be tested at 1100RPM, which is the speed they run with the LNA (Low Noise Adapter).
Only other case fan installed is a stock Fractal rear exhaust at 7V. There is no perceivable noise from this fan at sitting distance. The Twin Frozr fans on the MSI GTX-670 is manually set to 30% fan speed (lowest setting). PSU fan will not be spinning.
For sound testing numbers, I will be using the sound meter app on my Nexus 4. This isn't the most accurate way of getting true decibel readings, but since it can be used to tell whether one is louder then the other. It will be placed directly next to my keyboard on my desk, and sitting directly above the fans on top of the case, with no other ambient noise.
Intel I5 3570K IHS repasted with MX-2 running at 1.225V in BIOS, 1.224V load, 4.5Ghz
Gigabyte Z77X-UP4-TH motherboard
4x4GB Crucial Tactical Tracer 1866Mhz 9-9-9-27-2T
MSI GTX-670 PE idle
Seasonic X-650 Gold running in Hybrid mode so fan does not spin
2x Samsung SSDs behind motherboard tray
Fractal Arc Midi R2 case, drive cages removed, stock fans removed aside from rear exhaust position at 7V, all panels installed on case
Cooling And Sound Results
Zalman Stock Fan - 23C Ambient
Load 1800RPM - 3ft 38Db - 1" 52Db
68 / 75 / 77 / 76
Idle 800RPM - 3ft 28Db - 1" 39Db
35 / 41 / 38 / 40
Zalman Stock Fan Quiet Setting - 23C Ambient
Load 1000RPM - 3ft 30Db - 1" 41Db
79 / 85 / 87 / 87 (DNF, apps were crashing once 85C was hit)
Zalman NF-F12s 7v - 23C Ambient
Load 1100RPM - 3ft 28Db - 1" 42Db (fans are spaced with push/pull rather then side by side)
65 / 72 / 74 / 73
Idle 800RPM - 21Db - 1" 36Db
33 / 36 / 34 / 35
Corsair H100i SP120L Fans - 23C Ambient
Load 1800RPM - 3ft 40Db - 1" 61Db
57 / 64 / 65 / 65
Idle 800RPM - 3ft 26Db - 1" 42Db
31 / 33 / 32 / 33
Corsair H100i SP120Ls Quiet Setting - 23C Ambient
Load 1100RPM - 3ft 30Db - 1" 50Db
64 / 70 / 70 / 70
Corsair H100i NF-F12s 7v - 23C Ambient
Load 1100RPM - 3ft 29Db - 1" 50Db
63 / 69 / 69 / 69
Idle 800RPM - 3ft 22Db - 1" 41Db
29 / 33 / 30 / 33
Swiftech H220 Helix Fans - 24C Ambient
Load 1800RPM - 3ft 36Db - 1" 65Db
59 / 67 / 66 / 66
Idle 800RPM - 3ft 25Db - 1" 39Db
31 / 33 / 30 / 33
Swiftech H220 Helix Fans Quiet Setting - 23C Ambient
Load 1250RPM - 3ft 30Db - 1" 50Db
62 / 69 / 69 / 68
Swiftech H220 NF-F12s 7v - 24C Ambient
Load 1100RPM - 3ft 25Db - 1" 49Db
61 / 68 / 68 / 67
Idle 800RPM - 3ft 21Db - 1" 39Db
30 / 32 / 28 / 32
So much to talk about with the H220, don't know where to start. Guess we'll start with the cooling performance.
With the same fans on all three coolers (the Noctua NF-F12s), the H220 leads the H100i by 2C over ambient, and 7C over the Zalman. When comparing the three at the same noise level, the H220 is still 1C cooler then the H100i, and vastly cooler then the Zalman (more to discus on this later).
Now, when we look at the performance of them with the included fans, at the same speed (1800RPM), the picture changes. Here the H100i beats the H220 by 1C over ambient, and 12C over the Zalman. I can see a couple of reasons for this.
First, the biggest reason that I can think of, is the fans performance in a restrictive environment. Each fan is designed a different way, and some fans are better then others when they are "blocked" from where they are trying to get the air to pull through. The Arc Midi R2 case has a pretty thick fan filter in the top panel, and not much room between the fan and filter. The Noctua NF-F12s and SP120Ls don't seem to be effected by this as much as the Zalman and Helix fans.
Before I got this case, I had a NZXT Phantom 630, which had practically no restriction behind the fans. In that case, the Zalman with its stock fan turned down had no trouble at all keeping temps under 75C. The difference in performance was also much smaller compared to the H100i.
The second reason, is even though they are spinning at the same speed, the Zalman and SP120L fans are much louder then the Helix fans. They are able to do more at the same speed, but at the expense of more noise.
With an AIO cooler there are three main components to be compared. The block/pump unit, the rad, and the fans. Clearly, the H220 has the best block/pump and rad of all the AIO coolers. The fans that come with it just don't cool as well as some other options out there. They are pretty quiet (though not as quiet or nearly as smooth sounding as the NF-F12s), look nice, and are PWM controlled though.
If you put the H220 up against the H100i with the same set of fans, or where both are making the same amount of noise, the H220 is the better performer. But if you just want straight cooling performance, don't care so much about noise, and don't want to spend more money on other fans, then the H100i is very slightly better.
However, the major point to the H220, is the expandability of it. Ive already ordered an other radiator, new tubing, and have a block ready to cool my GTX 670. This will continue to cut down on noise, and also improve cooling performance.
On to build quality and installation.
There is a very heft weight to this unit that other AIOs don't have. Especially the block/pump. The rad of my unit was spotless with no bent fins, and all the air bubbles escaped from the pump in a matter of seconds.
Negative points. The tubing was very dirty/stained. Its "gunked" in to the outside of the tubing, and effects the look of it. My unit also came with the pin for the blue PWM wire of the pump being bent, and not making good contact. This took me a while to figure out why it was running full speed all the time. After fiddling with the wire a bit, and installing it in a way that puts tension on it, it now works.
The mounting of the block/pump could be much easier. The included back plate has four little foam squares that don't do anything but make it harder to instal. They are sticky, but so small when you try to thread the screws through, it pushes it right off. So you have to either hold the back plate with one hand, and try to hold the block/pump and screw it in with the other, or prop something against the back plate while you mount it.
Also, because the radiator has swivel barbs, and the res built in, its longer then most 240mm radiators. It was a very tight fit in the top of my Arc Midi R2 case. The radiator is 29mm thick instead of 25mm thick like the H100i and most other 240mm AIO coolers. This means that cases with 50mm of space from the top to the motherboard may not fit (depends on your motherboard).
To close this up, overall I'm very happy with this kit. Its a great way to for first timers to get their feet wet with water cooling, and is a great bargain for enthusiasts who don't want to blow a ton of money on a full custom kit all at once. After having many custom kits before, I can tell it would take at least double the money to get a custom kit that would perform noticeably better then this.
Id also trust it to last a very long time, and Swiftech's customer support is top notch. They have been in the water cooling game for a long time, and really know what they are doing.
Expect an H320 to be released soon as well, with a 3x120mm radiator. I believe a white version may be coming as well. You can also check their site for extra fittings, tubing, PWM splitters, rads, and Hydrx 2 coolant for expanding it.
H220 gets a full recommendation from me.