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Corsair iCUE H115i RGB PRO XT AIO CPU Cooler Review

By Christopher Coke on February 10, 2020 | Hardware Reviews | 0

So, you’ve just put together your new gaming rig and need something to keep your CPU cool and running its best. What do you do? If you want the best performance for the cost and the lowest noise, a good all-in-one liquid cooler is the answer. Today, we’re looking at the brand new iCUE H115i RGB PRO XT from Corsair. Featuring the CoolIT design found on their Platinum series and 16 zones of customizable RGB, should this be your next AIO?     

Specifications

  • Current Price: $119.99 (240mm), $139.99 (280mm, tested), $159.99 (360mm)
  • Cooling Warranty: Five years
  • Cold Plate: Material Copper
  • Radiator Material: Aluminum
  • PWM: Yes
  • CORSAIR iCUE Compatibility: Yes
  • Radiator Dimensions 277mm x 120mm x 27mm
  • Fan Dimensions: 120mm x 25mm
  • Fan Speed: 2400 RPM
  • Number of Fans: 2-3 (depending on model)
  • Cooling Socket Support:
    • Intel 1150/1151/1155/1156
    • Intel 2011/2066
    • AMD AM3/AM2
    • AMD AM4
    • AMD TR4
  • Lighting: RGB
  • Radiator Size: 240mm, 280mm, 360mm (depending on model)
  • Fan Model: ML Series
  • Fan Airflow: 75 CFM
  • Noise Level: 37 dBA
  • Fan Static Pressure: 4.2 mm-H2O

Overview

Corsair’s iCUE H115i RGB PRO XT is the latest all-in-one cooler was revealed at CES 2020 and is the latest all-in-one CPU cooler being offered by the company. It’s an interesting offering because it brings the CoolIT pump design with it into the PRO line, which offered improved thermals compared to prior Asetek generations. Asetek, as you may know, is the most common kind of pump used in all-in-one coolers, so it’s good to see a competing design gain (well, regain) some traction. The larger surface area, pictured below, also means that the H115i RGB PRO XT should be a better fit for a larger CPUs, like Threadrippers.

The new RGB PRO XT coolers come in three versions: 240mm (H100i), 280mm (H115i), and 360mm (H150i). The version we were sent for testing is the 280mm variant, which compares directly against the H115i RGB Platinum I reviewed back in October. The two coolers are very similar, so I’m quite interested to see how they compare.

Each version of the cooler comes with a set of ML120 fans. MLs, or magnetic levitation, fans are noteworthy because they’re known for moving a lot of air without generating the level of noise you would expect for that CFM. Operating over PWM, they’re able to be controlled by your motherboard and can ramp all the way to 2400 RPM with a maximum airflow of 75 CFM. Their static pressure is 4.2 mmH20 making them a good fit for use on a radiator. Because of the use of magnetism in their rotation, the total noise level caps out at 37dBA. The H115i PRO XT also brings with it Zero RPM mode, which allows the fans to completely stop when the radiator alone is sufficient to keep things cool.

The H115i PRO RGB XT is also fully RGB enabled and is customizable through Corsair’s iCUE software. There are 16 zones of illumination on the pump head alone and each is capable of displaying a seamless flow of color. It’s also very easy to synchronize your different Corsair components, even creating lighting patterns that trade off between your different iCUE enabled devices. It really is quite eye-catching and makes for a great centerpiece to your system.

Like the previous RGB Platinum I reviewed, the fit and finish is excellent. I love the piano black trim around the pump head and how it reflects the other illumination in my case. The tubing is flexible and well-braided; I had not trouble routing it in a way that worked for my overall setup. I also really like the classy Corsair stamp on the side of the radiator. The entire unit is really well done and made to take center-stage atop your CPU.

Installation

The H115i RGB PRO XT comes ready to fit most major socket types, including Threadripper. Installation is identical to the Platinum versions and is the easiest I’ve encountered. If you’re on Intel, you’ll need to install a backplate and four stand-offs to attach the pump head. Ryzen is even easier as it attaches to the stock bracket built into the motherboard and simply needs to be hooked and tightened down.

Here’s a video showing how it’s done:

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 Discussion and Conclusions

I have to say: it’s a good time to be buying into the AIO market. Slowly but surely, it seems like every major release we’ve found is edging temperatures down even further. The H115i RGB PRO XT delivered our best idle temp for so far and tied the NZXT Z73 for the best load temperature, despite being a 280mm instead of 360mm. I only wish I had the 360mm on hand to test against!

Still, compared against the H115i RGB Platinum, I saw a little improvement! One degree Celsius isn’t the kind of jump that would have me throwing the Platinum to the side if I’d recently bought into it, but holistically, this is a good thing to see.

Prime95 is a synthetic test that really put CPUs through the ringer and drives temperatures up. In normal gaming scenarios, I rarely run on the Extreme Mode I tested here and was still able to maintain an average temperature of 42-43C above ambient. If left on Balanced, as I tend to do, Prime95 pushes temperatures slightly higher to a delta of 45C. These are all acceptable results, so there’s little reason to turn to Extreme Mode unless you’re overclocking and generating extra heat.

When it comes to noise, the ML fans do a great job. In Zero RPM mode, they’ll simply stay turned off below 40C, which is most of the time I’m using the PC for work or web browsing. On balanced mode, they stay well below their maximum RPM the majority of the time, making an already reasonable fan quieter still.

Overall, I’m very impressed with the Corsair iCUE H115i RGB PRO XT CPU Cooler. If you don’t need RGB fans for your radiator, this is a great way to get a bit of an edge over the H115i RGB Platinum without spending extra money. Likewise, if you’re already within the Corsair ecosystem, the integration with iCUE makes life all-around easier. For the cost, this is a great choice for new builders and gamers in search of upgraded cooling.

The product described in this review was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.

9.0Amazing
Pros
  • Runs cool and quiet
  • Larger surface area on the cold plate
  • iCUE integration for easy monitoring and control RGB fit for a showcase PC
Cons
  • I’m wracking my brain - but there’s not a lot to dislike about this one. This is a well-done cooler that is a good value for the money.


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