Corsair iCUE H170i Elite LCD XT Review: Chart-Topping Performance

While the company started out selling L2 cache modules for OEMs, today Corsair sells a wide variety of components and peripherals, like the Corsair 5000X case and CX750M Power Supply. Cooling has also been a staple of the company’s lineup for a long time; most recently we tested Corsair’s iCUE H100i Elite 240mm with Intel’s i9-12900K. 

But with Raptor Lake raising the bar of cooling difficulty, Corsair has sent us its strongest AIO yet – the 420mm iCUE H170i Elite LCD XT. Can it tame Intel’s 13900K and earn a spot on our best AIO coolers list? It definitely has a size advantage, as well as a high $309.99 MSRP, but we’ll have to put it through testing to find out how it performs. First, here are the specifications from Corsair.

Cooler Specifications

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Cooler Corsair iCUE H170i Elite LCD XT
MSRP $309.99 USD
Radiator Dimensions 457 x 140 x 27 mm
Radiator Material Aluminum
Pump Speed Up to 2700RPM
Socket Compatibility Intel: LGA 1700, 1200, 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156, 1366, 2011, 2066
  AMD: AM5, AM4, AM3, sTRX4, sTR4
Base Copper
Max TDP (Our Testing) ~325W
Warranty 5 years

Packing and Included Contents 

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

420mm is far from small, and as such the Corsair iCUE H170i Elite LCD XT arrives in a package that’s almost as long as my arm.

Included with the package are the following:

  • 420 mm Radiator
  • CPU block with 2.1-inch IPS Display
  • 3x 140 mm fans
  • Mounts for all modern CPU sockets (including AM5 & LGA1700)
  • Safety and warranty information
  • Hardware lighting and PWM hub
  • Pre-applied thermal paste

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)


The installation of Corsair’s AIO is fairly simple.

1. Secure the backplate.

(Image credit: Corsair)

2. Secure the standoffs.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

3. Secure the radiator and fans to the top of the case.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

4. Secure the CPU block to the standoffs.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

5. Secure the fan control hub, then connect the CPU block and fans to it.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Features of Corsair iCUE H170i Elite LCD XT

2.1-inch 480×480 IPS Display

On top of the CPU block is a vivid 480×480 IPS display that can show the sensor readings of your choice with a variety of display themes, or be loaded with a custom background or animated GIF of your choosing.

Full Copper CPU plate

The CPU contact plate on Corsair’s iCUE H170i Elite LCD XT is made of copper and comes with thermal paste pre-installed.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Hardware RGB & PWM Hub

The H170i Elite comes with a hardware RGB & PWM hub, capable of supporting up to three additional extra fans, not including those that come with the cooler (6 devices supported in total).

27mm thick 420 mm radiator

The S36 Prisma features a 420 mm radiator that’s 27 mm (1.06 inches) thick. This isn’t the thickest (or thinnest) radiator we’ve seen, but it should be compatible with any case that supports a 420mm AIO.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

3x AF RGB Elite PWM 140mm fans

There’s more to a cooler than just the heatsink or radiator. The bundled fans have a significant impact on cooling and noise levels. Included with the iCUE H170i Elite LCD XT are three 140mm AF RGB Elite fans. The versions of these fans included with the cooler are slightly stronger than the standard AF RGB Elite fans, with a maximum speed of 1700RPM vs 1600 on the standard models. Corsair advertises powerful airflow, up to 89 CFM of peak airflow, a low-noise rating (10-33.8 dBA), and durability thanks to fluid dynamic bearings. Here are the fan’s specs:

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)
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Model AF RGB Elite PWM
Dimensions 140 x 140 x 25 mm
Fan Speed 500 – 1,700 RPM
Air Flow Up to 89 CFM
Air Pressure 2.00 mm H2O
Bearing Type Fluid Dynamic Bearing
Lighting RGB

Fan Curve tied to AIO Coolant temperature, rather than CPU temperature.

The pump and fan curves of the iCUE H170i Elite LCD XT are based on the temperature of the CPU coolant instead of the CPU. This has advantages and drawbacks, but many will appreciate how it reduces noise levels in common loads and eliminates bursty fan behavior. 

The disadvantage to this method is that semi-intensive, but sustained, workloads will cause the cooler to run just as loudly as it would in a fully unrestricted workload. The fans will also spin at higher speeds for a moderate period of time once the workload has completed, rather than instantly returning to low speeds. This happens because it takes a few moments to bring the AIO’s coolant temperatures down after a sustained workload.

Comprehensive Software Suite

Corsair’s iCUE software provides comprehensive customization for its coolers, components and peripherals. I was pleasantly surprised to see my motherboard’s RGB options detected by the software, allowing easy control over all system RGB functions. This is due to cooperation between the two companies that was first announced in 2020 (opens in new tab). Other motherboard brands are not currently supported by iCue.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

The software allows for in-depth controls of the cooler’s LEDs. You can change the settings for each individual LED on the included AF RGB Elite fans.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

You are also able to change what is shown on the CPU block’s small screen via the software. You can set it to show the time, coolant temperature, or another sensor of your choice. The background can be changed from a variety of customizable presets, or you can also upload an image or GIF file.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Testing Methodology

While it was fairly easy with previous CPU generations for coolers to keep the flagship i9 processor well under TJ max (the maximum temperature a CPU can sustain without throttling) in tough workloads, this is no longer realistically possible on current generation CPUs (and the 13900K specifically) without extreme cooling (or enabling power limits).

While in the past a CPU hitting its peak temperature was cause for concern, enthusiasts are going to have to learn to accept high temperatures as “normal” while running demanding workloads with Raptor Lake and Ryzen 7000 CPUs. Modern AMD and Intel CPUs are designed to run fairly hot without any problems – up to 95 degrees Celsius and for AMD Ryzen 7000 CPUs and up to 100 C for Intel’s Core i9-13900K. Similar behavior has been standard in laptops for years due to cooling limitations in tight spaces.

Furthermore, Intel’s Core i9-13900K supports Adaptive Boost Technology (ABT) which allows Core i9 processors to dynamically boost to higher all-core frequencies based on available thermal headroom and electrical conditions. This allows multi-core loads to operate at up to 5.5 GHz if the necessary amount of thermal dissipation is there. This feature works in a way that actively seeks high temperatures: If the chip sees that it is running underneath the 100-degree C threshold, it will increase its performance and power consumption until it reaches the safe 100 C limit, thus maintaining higher clocks (and providing better performance) for longer periods.

The increased cooling challenges posed by Raptor Lake mean that we’ve had to change some of the ways we test coolers. Some coolers were able to pass Cinebench R23 multicore testing with Intel’s 12th Gen i9-12900K when power limits were removed (although only the strongest models were able to pass that test). Most liquid coolers and all air coolers I’ve tested “failed” that test because the CPU reached TJ max in this scenario.

With Raptor Lake’s 13900K, not a single cooler tested has been able to keep the CPU under TJ max in this test – because as we pointed out, the chip is designed to dial up performance and power until it reaches that thermal result. For these intense loads, we’ll test performance by comparing the total amount of watts cooled and noise levels.

I’ll be testing Intel’s i9-13900K CPU using Asus’ TUF Gaming Z690 Gaming Plus WIFI motherboard and Cooler Master’s HAF 700 Berserker PC case, with case fans limited to 35% speeds. The motherboard’s default fan curve is used for the CPU Cooler’s fans.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

In addition to testing Cinebench without power limits enforced, we’ll also be showing results when the CPU’s power consumption is limited to a more reasonable 200W. We’ll also show results at 125W for those who prefer whisper-quiet cooling, at the cost of some performance. For both of these results, we’ll show traditional delta over ambient temperature results.

We’ll provide noise level measurements recorded using a PSPL25 Sound Meter for all three power levels tested to compare how much noise each cooler makes in different scenarios. We expect most coolers to run quietly at 125W.

LGA1700 Socket Bending

Note there are many factors other than the CPU cooler that can influence your cooling performance, including the case you use and the fans installed in it. A system’s motherboard can also influence this, especially if it suffers from bending, which results in poor cooler contact with the CPU.

In order to prevent bending from impacting our cooling results, we’ve installed Thermalright’s LGA 1700 contact frame into our testing rig. If your motherboard is affected by bending, your thermal results will be worse than those shown below. Not all motherboards are affected equally by this issue. I tested Raptor Lake CPUs in two motherboards. And while one of them showed significant thermal improvements after installing Thermalright’s LGA1700 contact frame, the other motherboard showed no difference in temperatures whatsoever! Check out our review of the contact frame for more information.

Testing Configuration

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CPU Intel Core i9-13900K
Comparison Air Coolers Tested Cougar Forza 50
  DeepCool AG400
  DeepCool AG620
  Iceberg Thermal IceSLEET G6 Stealth
  SilverStone Hydrogon D120 ARGB
  Thermalright Assassin X 120 R SE
  Thermalright AXP120-X67
Comparison AIO Coolers Tested Arctic Liquid Freezer II 360
  Corsair iCUE H170i Elite LCD XT
  DeepCool LT720
  Enermax AquaFusion ADV 360
  Fractal Celsius+ S36 Prisma
  MSI MAG CoreLiquid P360
  SilverStone VIDA 240 Slim
Motherboard Asus TUF Gaming Z690 Plus Wifi DDR5 
RAM Kingston Fury DDR5-6000
GPU Intel ARC A770 LE
Case Cooler Master HAF 700 Berserker
Monitor LG 45GR95QE
PSU Cooler Master XG Plus 850 Platinum PSU

 MORE: How to Buy the Right CPU Cooler

MORE: How to Check CPU Temperature

MORE: All CPU Cooling Content

No Power Limits Cinebench Results

With Intel’s i9-13900K pushing speeds of 5.5 GHz or higher, even the strongest of coolers hit TJ Max while running Cinebench R23 and other demanding scenarios. As the 13900K is designed to aim for its top safe temperature, we’ll be comparing the overall benchmark score and the CPU’s clock speeds instead.

The results below are for a 10-minute testing run. But to be sure that was sufficiently long to tax the cooler, we also retested both Thermalright’s Assassin X 120 R SE and DeepCool’s LT720 with a 30-minute Cinebench test. The results didn’t change much at all with the longer test: The average clock speeds maintained dropped by 29 MHz on DeepCool’s LT720 and 31 MHz on Thermalright’s Assassin X 120 R SE. That’s an incredibly small 0.6% difference in clock speeds maintained, a margin of error difference that tells us that the 10-minute tests are indeed long enough to properly test the coolers.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Because of the difficulty of cooling the i9-13900K in this workload, we feel the best way to compare coolers here is to record the average power consumption of the CPU. As Cinebench R23’s multi-core benchmark will push coolers to their limits, it’s also a great test for recording the worst-case scenario of fan noise levels.

Looking at noise levels, you’ll see Corsair’s cooler reached 52.6 dBA in this test. This does place it on the louder end of the results shown here, but it’s still in the range of what I consider an acceptable noise level.

You might notice that our noise charts start at 36 decibels, which is the noise floor of our testing environment. This makes 36dB our baseline measurement, as we’re unable to measure noise levels below this threshold. Keep in mind that noise measurements are logarithmic, meaning the differences between the noise levels of the coolers will be more perceptible than these graphs would suggest.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

When it comes to total cooling capacity, Corsair’s iCUE H170i Elite LCD XT achieved the best result we’ve ever seen paired with Intel’s i9-13900K – cooling on average over 325W in Cinebench testing.

200W Cinebench Results

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Looking at CPU temperatures when restricting power consumption to a more reasonable 200W, Corsair’s iCUE H170i Elite LCD XT maintains its lead over all other coolers tested in comparison – if only by a single degree.

However, the acoustic results are not as impressive due to the unique way in which Corsair’s AIOs operate, tying coolant temperature to fan speed rather than CPU temperature. This causes a sustained 200W load to run just as loudly as a 300W+ load.

It’s important to note here that in shorter term loads of the same wattage, Corsair’s AIO will run much quieter than competing coolers for the first minute or two, whereas other coolers will reach their peak noise levels sooner.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

125W Cinebench Results

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

The lowest power limit I test at is 125W, mainly because this is also the lowest level where I can reliably measure noise using Cooler Master’s HAF 700 Berserker. Lower power consumption causes the noise of the CPU cooler to fall below the noise created by the system fans (even while restricted to 35% speed).

In this scenario, Corsair’s cooler was tied with the best 360mm AIOs we have tested for best overall CPU temperature. While the cooler was not noisy in any sense of the word, the acoustic levels at the end of testing were louder than the competition again because steady, sustained loads cause the AIOs coolant temperature to rise. In common bursty tasks, the cooler will run much quieter.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)


Corsair’s iCUE H170i Elite LCD XT is the strongest AIO we’ve tested with Intel’s i9-13900K, cooling over 325W in our most intensive thermal tests. Unlike other coolers, the noise level of Corsair’s cooler is tied to the CPU coolant temp, resulting in quieter operation during most common tasks and the elimination of bursty fan behavior, but noisier operation under the kinds of sustained loads that we use for testing.

There’s no question. The Corsair iCUE H170i Elite LCD XT is one of the best coolers currently available. It’s also quite expensive at $310. But if you don’t mind going without the display, the company also sells an iCUE H170i Elite Capellix XT (opens in new tab) that the company says features the same radiator and pump for the same cooling performance at a lower $240 price. That’s still no small amount of money. But if your cooling needs are extreme enough to warrant a 420 mm radiator, you can probably afford to spend a bit extra on keeping your powerful CPU as cool as it can be under load.

 MORE: How to Buy the Right CPU Cooler

MORE: How to Check CPU Temperature

MORE: All CPU Cooling Content

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