Corsair is a well-known memory and power supply manufacturer, but today we are testing an air cooler from them, the A50, which has a tower heatsink with three heatpipes and a 120 mm fan. Check it out!
The A50 box is made of cardpaper, with no openings or transparent window.
In Figure 2, you can see the box contents: heatsink, fan, manuals, installation hardware, and a tube of thermal compound.
In Figure 3, you can see the A50 heatsink. It uses what could be considered a very conservative design for current standards, with "only" three 8-mm U-shaped heatpipes.
In the next pages, you will see this cooler in detail.
[nextpage title=”The Corsair A50″]
In Figure 4, you see the front of the heatsink. The heatpipes are placed in two straight lines inside the heatsink.
In Figure 5, you see the side of the cooler. As you can see, the heatsink is narrow.
In Figure 6, you can check the rear side of the cooler.
[nextpage title=”The Corsair A50 (Cont’d)”]
In Figure 7, you see the top of the cooler, which has the tips of the heatpipes showing. The top fin is painted in black.
In Figure 8, you see the base of the cooler, with the heatpipes in direct contact with the CPU.
The 120 mm fan that comes with the A50 is entirely black and comes preinstalled on a plastic frame. It uses a three-pin connector, meaning it has no PWM automatic speed control.
In Figure 10, you can see the thermal compound that comes with the cooler, and a power adapter for the fan, which reduces the fan speed and, therefore, the noise level.
In Figure 11, you can see the clip and the backplate for installing the A50 on Intel processors. It is a very simple system, and you first need to install the backplate on the solder side of the motherboard. Then you need to attach the clip to the base, as shown in Figure 12. In some coolers with a similar clip design, the clip remains loose over the base. Screwing the clip to the base makes the installation easier and more reliable. Finally, put the cooler over the CPU and screw four thumbnuts. Simple, easy and reliable.
After that, you need to install the fan, which is a very easy task, because the fan comes installed on a frame, and all you need to do is to snap it to the heatsink.
In Figure 13, you can see the Corsair A50 instaled in our case, with the fan in place.
[nextpage title=”How We Tested”]
We tested the cooler with a Core i7-860 CPU (quad-core, 2.8 GHz), which is a socket LGA1156 processor with a 95 W TDP (Thermal Design Power). In order to get higher thermal dissipation, we overclocked it to 3.3 GHz (150 MHz base clock and 22x multiplier), keeping the standard core voltage (Vcore), which was the maximum stable overclock we could make with the stock cooler. Keep in mind that we could have raised the CPU clock more, but to include the stock cooler in our comparison, we needed to use this moderate overclock.
We measured noise and temperature with the CPU idle and under full load. In order to get 100% CPU usage in all threads, we ran Prime 95 25.11 (in this version, the software uses all available threads) with the "In-place Large FFTs" option.
We compared the tested cooler to the Intel stock cooler with a copper base (include
d with the CPU), as well as with other coolers. Note that in the past, we tested coolers with a socket LGA775 CPU, and we retested some "old" coolers with this new methodology. This means you can find different values in older reviews than the values you will read in the next page. Every cooler was tested with the thermal compound that accompanies it.
Room temperature measurements were taken with a digital thermometer. The core temperature was read with the SpeedFan program (available from the CPU thermal sensors), using an arithmetic average of the core temperature readings. During the tests, the left panel of the case was open.
The sound pressure level (SPL) was measured with a digital noise meter, with its sensor placed 4" (10 cm) from the fan. We turned off the case and video board cooler fans so they wouldn’t interfere with the results. This measurement is only for comparison purposes because a precise SPL measurement needs to be made inside an acoustically insulated room with no other noise sources, which is not the case here.
- Processor: Core i7-860
- Motherboard: Gigabyte P55A-UD6
- Memory: 4 GB A-Data AX3U1333GB2G8-2G (DDR3-1333/PC3-10700 with 9-9-9-25 timings), configured at 1,200 MHz
- Hard disk: Seagate Barracuda XT 2 TB
- Video card: Zotac GeForce GTS 250
- Video resolution: 1680×1050
- Video monitor: Samsung Syncmaster 2232BW Plus
- Power supply: Seventeam ST-550P-AM
- Case: 3RSystem L-1100 T.REX Cool
Operating System Configuration
- Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
We adopted a 2 °C error margin, meaning temperature differences below 2 °C are considered irrelevant.
[nextpage title=”Our Tests”]
The table below presents the results of our measurements. We repeated the same test on all coolers listed below. Each measurement was taken with the CPU at idle and at full load. In the models with a fan supporting PWM, the motherboard controlled the fan speed according to core load and temperature. On coolers with an integrated fan controller, the fan was set at the minimum speed on the idle test and at full speed on the full load test.
Processor at Full Load
|Cooler||Room Temp.||Noise||Speed||Core Temp.||Noise||Speed||Core Temp.|
|Intel stock (socket LGA1156)||14 °C||44 dBA||1700 rpm||46 °C||54 dBA||2500 rpm||90 °C|
|Cooler Master Hyper TX3 G1||14 °C||47 dBA||2050 rpm||33 °C||56 dBA||2900 rpm||62 °C|
|Zalman CNPS10X Extreme||14 °C||45 dBA||1400 rpm||27 °C||53 dBA||1950 rpm||51 °C|
|Thermaltake Silent 1156||14 °C||44 dBA||1200 rpm||38 °C||49 dBA||1750 rpm||69 °C|
|Noctua NH-D14||14 °C||49 dBA||1250 rpm||27 °C||49 dBA||1250 rpm||53 °C|
|Zalman CNPS10X Performa||14 °C||46 dBA||1500 rpm||28 °C||52 dBA||1950 rpm||54 °C|
|Prolimatech Megahalems||14 °C||40 dBA||750 rpm||27 °C||60 dBA||2550 rpm||50 °C|
|Thermaltake Frio||14 °C||46 dBA||1450 rpm||27 °C||60 dBA||2500 rpm||50 °C|
|Prolimatech Samuel 17||14 °C||40 dBA||750 rpm||40 °C||60 dBA||2550 rpm||63 °C|
|Zalman CNPS8000A||18 °C||43 dBA||1400 rpm||39 °C||54 dBA||2500 rpm||70 °C|
|Spire TherMax Eclipse II||14 °C||55 dBA||2200 rpm||28 °C||55 dBA||2200 rpm||53 °C|
|Scythe Ninja3||17 °C||39 dBA||700 rpm||32 °C||55 dBA||1800 rpm||57 °C|
|Corsair A50||18 °C||52 dBA||1900 rpm||33 °C||52 dBA||1900 rpm||60 °C|
In the graph below, at full load you can see how many degrees Celsius hotter the CPU core is than the air outside the case. The lower this difference, the better is the performance of the cooler.
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
The main features of the Corsair A50 CPU cooler include:
- Application: Socket LGA775, 1156, 1366, AM3, AM2+, and AM2 processors
- Fins: Aluminum
- Base: Aluminum, with heatpipes in direct contact to the CPU
- Heat-pipes: Three 8-mm copper heat-pipes
- Fans: 120 mm, ball bearing
- Nominal fan speed: 2,000 rpm
- Fan air flow: 61 cfm
- Maximum power consumption: 2.16 W
- Nominal noise level: 31.5 dBA
- Weight: not informed
- More information: https://www.corsair.com
- Average price in the US*: USD 40.00
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.
Simple and effective. This is the best description for the Corsair A50. Its design is very usual and conservative for current standards, and our first thought was "what a common cooler". As its price is close to most mainstream coolers, we thought it would perform like a mainstream product. However, its performance was more like a top-shelf cooler: it kept our CPU just six degrees Celsius hotter than the best CPU cooler we reviewed to date.
The installation is smart, simple and reliable. The only issue we found was the lack of a PWM-controlled fan, so the fan will always spin at its maximum speed and, if you need silence sometimes, you will need to connect it to a fan controller.
The Corsair A50 CPU cooler has great performance, simple installation, good looks and an attractive price tag, bringing an excellent cost/benefit ratio to the average user, and thus deserving the Hardware Secrets Silver Award.