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Corsair H115i RGB Platinum AIO CPU Cooler Review

By Christopher Coke on October 21, 2019 | Hardware Reviews | 0

So, you’ve decided to buy into the latest generation of Ryzen or maybe that 9900K you’ve had your eye on. To keep those CPUs running their best, you’re going to need a great cooler than can keep up with all those cores. Today, we’re looking at the Corsair H115i RGB Platinum, a 240mm/280mm all-in-one that promises great temps and better looks for that shiny new system. Does it live up to the demands of real-world gamers and creators? Let’s take a look and find out.

Specifications

  • Current Price: $169.99 (Corsair Store)
  • Cold Plate Material: Copper
  • Radiator Material: Aluminum
  • PWM: Yes
  • CORSAIR iCUE: Compatibility Yes
  • Radiator Dimensions: 322mm x 137mm x 27mm
  • Fan Dimensions: 140mm x 25mm
  • Fan Speed: 2000 RPM
  • Number of Fans: 2
  • Cooling Socket Support:
    • Intel 1150/1151/1155/1156
    • Intel 2011/2066
    • AMD AM3/AM2
    • AMD AM4
    • AMD TR4
  • Lighting: RGB
  • Radiator Size: 280mm
  • Fan Model: ML Series
  • Fan Airflow: 97 CFM
  • Noise Level: 37 dBA
  • Fan Static: Pressure 3.0 mm-H2O
  • Cooling Warranty: Five years

Editor’s Note: Some images included in this article were taken from a separate system build and not the test bench setup used for thermal testing. They came out much nicer and better represent what you’re likely to see. Also note that in our full system build we replaced the included ML 140 PRO fans with Corsair’s LL140s to better match the rest of the build but the original fans were used for all testing.

We’ve reviewed quite a few CPU coolers at this point but few have personally excited me so much as Corsair’s H115i RGB Platinum. If you’re already in the Corsair ecosystem like I am, keeping things under one hood in a single software suite is immediately compelling and the prospect of one more synced RGB component to spice up the inner chamber left me itching to buy. As the name implies, RGB is a big part of what makes this AIO special with dual addressable RGB fans and a 16-zone pump to craft intricate lighting effects. And believe me, the pictures you’ll see here really don’t do it justice.

The “RGB Platinum” line actually comes in two sizes, the 240mm H100i RGB Platinum and the 280mm H115i RGB Platinum. The core difference between the two is the size, with the 280mm version sporting a slightly larger radiator and 140mm fans. I opted for the 280mm for the additional cooling capacity allowed by the greater surface area and the reduced sound from having larger fans. That said, everything said here should apply to both versions except the actual thermal results.

If you’ve followed the AIO industry for any length of time, you’ll probably also be surprised to find that the H115i RGB Platinum is not an Asetek cooler. Due to patent rights, the vast majority of liquid coolers feature the same Asetek design. For the H115i RGB Platinum, Corsair have gone with CoolIT, a competing AIO design to Asetek. It’s most visible in the larger, rectangular cooling plate (which also makes it a more natural fit for larger CPUs like Threadrippers). After so many Asetek pumps, it’s downright refreshing to finally see something different from a major vendor.

Compared to the prior H100i and H115i RGB PRO models, the RGB Platinums come in at mere $10 premium, $159 and $169 respectively for the larger and smaller versions. The upgraded price nets you upgraded ML Pro series RGB fans with with a higher max speed of 2000 RPM. These fans are exceptionally quiet at normal operating speeds and, according to the specs on Corsair’s store pages, offer an additional 800 RPM over the standalone ML Pro RGB fans available for purchase. When you add onto this the added cooling capacity and wider compatibility of the CoolIT cold plate and the added customization of addressable RGB, the added $10 seems well worth it, even if you never touch the RGB.

Unboxing and Installation

Taking H115i RGB out of the box for the first time, I was immediately impressed by how flexible the tubing was. It’s well-braided but not stiff, which makes routing the tubes easier in the final steps of installation. Likewise, the fact that all but fan and radiator mounting is completely tool-free makes getting started much easier than other air and liquid coolers I’ve installed. It even comes with pre-applied thermal paste which I replaced with Arctic MX-4, standard for all of my CPU cooler reviews.

For my testing, I mounted the AIO onto an i7-8700K and followed by installing it on a Ryzen 3900X. While Ryzen was clearly easier with no need to mount a backplate, it only took several minutes to secure the pump to each. Mounting the fans to the radiator and both to the case does require a screwdriver but the process was intuitive and pain-free. I didn’t even need to use the manual.

The picture above shows the AIO being installed in my R9 3900X system, which also had an array of RGB fans to contend with, on top of the two from the H115i. It well illustrates the kind of wire mess you may be looking at in a new system build, though.

The only challenging part of the process was managing the wires. The pump head features an array of wires for connecting the fans, connecting the pump to the motherboard, and tethering to the system over USB. The pump connects with a micro-USB header, which isn’t ideal but it’s also on the adjacent side of the rest of the wires which looks a bit messier than if were positioned near the other wires. Thankfully, connecting the fans is very easy thanks to built-in splitters for easy control based on CPU temps. You also don’t need Corsair’s Lighting Node Pro to control the RGB effects since all of that is handled internally by the pump.

Adding the H115i RGB Platinum to an existing system should be fairly easy. In my test bench, which didn’t have the loose wires in the system build picture above, routing the wires was fairly care-free.

Once you’re installed, you can control the performance and lighting of the AIO using Corsair’s iCUE software.

Let’s see how it performed.

Performance Testing

Test system: i7-8700k at 3.7GHz (4.7GHz Turbo), ASUS X370 Maximus X Hero Motherboard, ADATA XPG Spectrix D41 DRAM 32GB 3200MHz, GTX-1080Ti (SLI), 1TB Samsung 970 PRO, 1TB WD Black, 12TB HDD Mass Storage, Corsair HX-1050 1050-watt PSU, Fractal Define R6 TG case.

Our cooler testing takes a close look at comparative idle temperatures and load temperatures in an environment with a controlled ambient temperature of 22 degrees celsius. Coolers are set on their highest performance mode. Load temperatures are gathered after running Prime95 for twenty minutes, giving the liquid the chance to warm up. Our temperatures are also normalized to show the temperature increase over ambient to remove that as a factor.

Performance Testing and Conclusions

As you can tell from the performance results, the Corsair H115i RGB Platinum is quite the capable cooler. It managed to outperform all of the other CPUs it was compared against, including the 360mm NZXT Kraken X72. The margins are small but noteworthy as our tests are run to measure the efficiency of each cooler after the liquid has warmed up. The H115i RGB Platinum held strong, leveling out with a peak 2C less than its closest competition.

In real world scenarios, my CPU rarely broke 60C on the H115i’s balanced mode. When rendering 4K video in Adobe Premiere Pro, it did exceed the Prime95 test and reach 67C. Again, this is on the balanced mode which keeps the fans from becoming bothersome during the render. On the highest cooling setting, I was able to push this down to 63C at the expense of much higher noise. (Note: these temps were not after keeping the CPU under load for extended periods of time but were after the computer had been used normally for more than an hour).

When it comes to noise, the H115i impresses. On a balanced profile in normal use, it’s exceptionally quiet; substantially less than my other case fans which weren’t being filtered through a heavy radiator. When it ramps up to the full 2000 RPM it can become quite noisy but this is rarely necessary (though was definitely the case when running the benchmark assessment). While gaming, balanced mode is absolutely sufficient and keeps the cooler quite enough to stream alongside. 

And, of course, there is the RGB. It’s gorgeous. The 16-zone ring around the pump head is vibrant and flows smoothly, really adding a dose of flash to the center of your system. It’s the perfect partner to a set of RGB RAM or to act as a centerpiece all its own. Both the head and each fan is individually customizable inside iCUE and easily syncs with each of your additional Corsair components or accessories. In the picture above, you can see the cooler surrounded by LL120 and 140mm fans. With only a little playing, I was able to create a thunderstorm effect white white and blue flashes. I could just as easily pass colors from one end of the system to another or even have use the lighting to display system information like my CPU temperature status.

At only $10 more than the H100i/H115i RGB Pro models, the RGB Platinum models are an easy recommendation to make. Not only was the H115i a top performer against my other AIOs but it also ran quieter in day-to-day tasks. That it also looks stellar is just icing on the cake.

Pros

  • Excellent cooling performance
  • Quieter in day-to-day use
  • Fans can ramp up for extra cooling when you need it most
  • Easy installation on either Intel or AMD
  • Beautiful RGB Lighting

Cons

  • Fans can be rather loud at max RPM
  • Like all RGB, lots of wires
The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purpose of review.


GameByNight

Christopher Coke

Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight