Hands-on review: Corsair H5 SF Low-Profile Liquid CPU Cooler
The H5 SF serves a very specific purpose: superior cooling for small form factor cases running Mini ITX boards.
Heat pipe coolers are the most proliferate (and generally most effective) cooling options for high-performance machines, seconded by liquid and air coolers. But decreasing the surface area of the pipes exponentially reduces its effectiveness, and so heat pipe assemblies that actually do their job tend to be too tall to fit into these miniature cases.
And that’s where the H5 SF comes in. Because it doesn’t rely on the piping that the other radiators do, it fits into a much smaller space without compromising effectiveness. Granted, some heat pipe coolers do exist that cool these small machines well enough, but the H5 SF goes above and beyond all others.
Not only will it manage an intel i7’s regular operations, it can also handle a good degree of overclocking as well. It even dissipates heat from nearby chipset heatsinks. Once you get over the initial hump of installation (it can be rather time-consuming, depending on the board and case), it does its job and more. The only downside is, while the H5 SF does not come anywhere near to an abrasive buzz or whir, the gentle hum of its high-pressure 120mm fan is louder than many heat pipe alternatives.
So here’s the trade-off: you sacrifice a little quiet (really, just a little) for the ability to push the limits of your CPU in its SFF case. I know which one I would go for.