Coolers Guide

Corsair Hydro H50 CPU Cooler review

Liquid Cooling Simplified - Corsair Hydro H50 CPU Cooler

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The Corsair H50 high-performance CPU cooler comes with two separate components, a 120mm cooling fan and the all-in-one unit that combines everything you'll need for a liquid cooling solution. This all-in-one unit includes the pump that moves the coolant around the twin tubes that connects the radiator where the heat is dispersed and the cold plate which is in contact with your CPU.

Currently, the cooler ships with only LGA1366 and 775 support (via two different backplates). If you require AMD or Lynnfield (LGA1156) support, you'll have to request for the appropriate backplate from Corsair technical support for a nominal shipping fee.

Installation instructions found on Corsair's quick start guide for the H50 are simple enough. There are five steps listed and as we inevitably found out, it's much easier on paper than doing it yourself. First, Corsair recommends installing the radiator and cooling fan to the back of the chassis. Now, our chassis, a Lian-Li Armorsuit PC-P50R came with its own rear cooling fan at the back. This was obviously not compatible with the radiator and hence it had to go first before we did anything else. Then came the screws that would secure both the Corsair's cooling fan and the radiator together to the chassis. (The cooling fan is sandwiched between the chassis rear wall and the radiator). Obviously, this means the H50 cooler is only compatible with chassis that can accommodate a 120mm rear ventilation fan. So those holding onto older chassis which normally come with an 80mm rear cooling fan are out of luck to install this unit.

As shown above, the screws do not have the most allowance. A chassis that has a thicker rear than usual will mean there won't be much of the screw left to secure the radiator. Even then, we had to screw mostly blind, since it was quite impossible to see whether the holes are aligned properly, especially for the inner screws.

The other issue that came up was that Corsair recommended that for optimal performance, the fan at the radiator should be an intake fan. Now this just means that one goes against the usual ventilation path, since in most cases, the rear chassis fan is an exhaust fan. If you now reverse it to intake, you'll have to find some other fan in your chassis to convert to an exhaust. Else, the airflow in the chassis will get rather messy and lead to an overall heat accumulation. This is easy enough if your chassis comes with many fans and vents but if that's not the case, you should perhaps reconsider, or do some internal fan switching.

Once the radiator is secured, the next step was to attach the backplate. This requires removing the motherboard from the chassis and is quite a common step for these multi-socket CPU coolers. This backplate comes with an adhesive backing that you should remove before attaching it. It's not the most secure of methods and on a few occasions during installation, the backplate came loose.

Then, you have to install the retention ring, which varied depending on your CPU socket. Here is when the backplate is likely to come loose, as you have to attach the ring to the backplate via the four screws here. You can't overdo it though else it would be too tight to fit the cold plate/pump unit.

Once that was done, it was simply a matter of placing the cold plate and pump unit through the retention ring and twisting it such that it is held in place. Now you can tighten the screws on the ring but again, be careful not to overdo it and crush your CPU.

Overall, the instructions for the installation are clear and the steps are themselves relatively simple to understand. We however found installing the radiator to be quite a chore due to the design where we had to screw unsighted. The screws could also be longer to cater to those chassis that may have a thicker rear wall. The backplate too could perhaps be more adhesive such that it does not fall off when we were trying to screw in the retention ring. All these factors meant that we took more time installing it than expected.