Released just in time for the launch of Intel’s 12th generation CPUs, Corsair’s H150i Elite LCD cooler is the first to come with the fixings for the new LGA Socket 1700.
Compatible with both Intel and AMD CPUs, Corsair’s new cooler is a big beasty. With three 120mm fans and a radiator almost 400mm long it takes up plenty of real estate in your case. It’s so big that I took the plunge and upgraded the test rig case to a Corsair 7000D Airflow with an almost cathedral-like interior space. But if you want to maximise your CPU cooling without going for a bespoke water-cooling solution one of these 360mm AIO coolers are your best bet.
The debate still rages as to which method of consumer CPU cooling is best (ignoring enthusiasts’ water-cooled loops). Some still say that air-cooled is best, I’d tend to agree when up against a 2x120mm AIO. But when you start looking at three 120mm fans and the radiator to match, the line starts to blur.
For starters, an AIO cooler looks tidier in the case than a thumping great lump sitting on the motherboard. Aesthetics aside, the water block/pump unit sits comparatively flush over the CPU and generally allows for better airflow through the case. It could also be argued that an AIO water block puts the motherboard under less stress, not having a large heatsink and fan hanging off it.
For this test, I used an Asus TUF Gaming Z690-Plus WIFI motherboard paired with a top-of-the-range Intel Core i9-12900K. This was all installed within the aforementioned Corsair 7000D Airflow tower case.
The Corsair H150i Elite LCD is essentially the same tried and tested design at their H150i Elite Capellix liquid CPU cooler. They are so similar that the Capellix Socket 1700 upgrade kit fit the H150i Elite LCD review sample that was shipped to me without the standoffs for the new Intel 12th generation Core CPUs.
The big deal with the H150i Elite LCD is the 2.1” 480×480 600 nits LCD screen that sits atop the water block. And it is a very cool feature, indeed.
Opening the box and you are confronted with the huge radiator and RGB water block connected by two 380mm flexible hoses. There’s also a mess of cables, the Commander CORE RGB & PWM Fan Controller, and the three ML120 RGB ELITE PWM fans.
The kit also comes with the backplates and standoffs for Intel 1700, 1200, 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156, 1366, 2011, 2066 socket arrangements as well as those for AMD AM4, AM3, AM2, sTRX4, sTR4, and all the screws for fixing the fans and radiator in place. What it doesn’t come with is a decent set of instructions.
Fortunately, there are plenty of videos, including those on Corsair’s YouTube channel showing how to install the cooler. There’s a quick start guide that can be downloaded from the Corsair website. Also, once you’ve unpacked the box, the components look a lot less overwhelming.
Probably the most important thing to bear in mind with this cooler is the size of the radiator and how you are going to accommodate it. If you have a cute little case or even a moderately-sized mini tower with a stack of hard drives plus a DVD drive, you may be in trouble.
Most cases state that they are compatible with 360mm AIO coolers. Be mindful that the 360mm refers to the 3x120mm fans, and that the H150i radiator is actually 397mm long. The radiator itself is 27mm thick with another 25mm for the fans. You may find yourself having to clear out your hard drive cages and removing your DVD drive to fit it all in.
The radiator comes with long flexible water pipes so it can be mounted at the front or top of even the largest cases. If you have a small case that can accommodate the radiator and fan, the pipes will bend nicely to fit your build as well.
The water block comes with thermal compound factory-applied. I suggest, at least for the first installation, that you use this compound. If you remove the water block later on, you will need to clean the thermal paste off and reapply some more.
For the Intel assembly, the standoffs do rattle about until the water block is tightened down. It’s like they are designed for a thicker motherboard. I’m told that this is normal, but I don’t like it as I’ve always had the standoff screw into the backplate flush with the motherboard. I’m not saying that this is right or that you should do this, but I placed some nylon washers on the back of the motherboard, between the backplate and the board so the standoffs were secure. You just have to be careful screwing the water block down ensuring the screws are thumb-tight and no more.
The LCD is a separate unit, clipped onto the water block. This means that it can be removed and placed out of the way during installation. Also, if it develops a fault, it can be easily replaced.
I installed the fans as per Corsair’s recommendations to the underside of the radiator, exhausting air through it, up and out of the case. The Corsair 7000D Airflow case has three fans at the front blowing air in and one exhausting to the rear as standard. I prefer cases to be under positive pressure, so the installation of a couple more 120mm fans is on the cards. But, for now, at least it is not sucking dust in from the top.
The fans have two connectors, one a PWM for fan speed and the other for the RGB lighting. These are plugged into the Commander CORE RGB & PWM Fan Controller, which in turn is connected to a SATA power socket and a USB 2.0 header on the motherboard. The pump is also connected to the Commander Core as well as a USB 2.0 header on the motherboard. If you’ve only one USB 2.0 socket on your board, the kit comes with a Y-splitter. There’s also a tacho cable that needs to be connected to the CPU_Fan header on the motherboard.
There’s a lot of cabling, but when you break it down it’s not that complex. The hardest part is finding the best place to locate the Commander Core unit. The location is important, as the controller has the capacity for up to six RGB fans, so you can add more to your case at a later date if you desire.
The Corsair H150i Elite LCD uses Corsair’s universal iCue software for both RGB and LCD control, as well as system monitoring. The iCue software is free and downloadable from the Corsair website. The software also integrates with some other vendors’ equipment allowing synchronisation of RGB lighting displays. My Asus TUF Gaming Z690-Plus WIFI motherboard uses Asus’s proprietary Asus Aura RGB system, of which there is a plugin for enabling it to work with Corsair’s iCue software.
The iCue software has a dashboard displaying temperatures and fan speeds of all the PC’s main components, the CPU, GPU, and, of course, the cooler, itself. The software also allows fan speeds to be adjusted using either one of the default settings: quiet, balanced, extreme, zero, or variable. Alerts can be triggered if the coolant temperature gets hot, triggering RGB LEDs, fan speed and even a PC shutdown should the temperature cross a threshold.
There are many preconfigured RGB lighting designs that can be customised to taste. All the RGB components can be controlled by a single scene setting, synchronising them together, or set individually. The H150i Elite LCD screen can also be customised within the iCue software.
The display can be set to show data from one or two of the many sensors in the PC, such as coolant temperature, CPU package temperatures, GPU temperatures, and CPU load. There’s even a clock. There are a few preset screen displays that can be changed with the click of a button.
The LCD screen can also be customised with an animated gif, either from one of the included files or one of your own. I set up an Xbox gif with a pulsating green RGB display, jokingly branding my PC with Microsoft’s gaming ecosystem.
With the fans set to balanced and the pump set to extreme, the Intel Core i9-12900K CPU package temperature idled at about 30 degrees. This was with a light overclock afforded by the TUF Gaming motherboard’s one-touch AI overclock function. Under 100% load, the CPU maxed out at 86 degrees but averaged about 76 degrees.
The Corsair ML120 RGB Elite fans run from 450 RPM to 2000 RPM and have an airflow of betweeen 14.86-58.10 CFM. Corsair states that each fan has a sound level of 10-30.4 dBA. The fans during normal use are inaudible when set to balanced. Under load, they are a little bit louder. Set to the extreme setting, the fans are pretty loud, but I’ve heard louder.
Corsair H150i Elite LCD is the ultimate all-in-one cooler. There are bigger AIO coolers, but you’d be hard pushed to find a case larger enough to accommodate one. As a self-contained alternative to messing about with a bespoke liquid-cooling solution, you’ll likely not be able to do much better. What initially appears to be a confusing box of components turns out to be very easy to install, if you have the right case.
The CPU temperatures are kept in check and the fans are not too loud. The customisable RGB lighting sets things off nicely and the LCD screen on the water block adds something special to your PC build. All in all, the Corsair H150i Elite LCD is an easily recommended and very fancy cooling solution for AMD and Intel CPUs.