Today we are going to benchmark the Corsair A70, a CPU air cooler with a tower heatsink, four 8-mm heatpipes, and two 120 mm fans. Let’s check it out!
The A70 box is big, in cardpaper, as you can see in Figure 1. The box resembles the one used by its little brother, the Corsair A50.
In Figure 2, you can see the A70 and the accessories that come with it: fans, manuals, installation hardware, power adapters, and a tube of thermal compound.
In Figure 3, you can see the heatsink of the A70.
In the next pages, you will see this cooler in detail.
[nextpage title=”The Corsair A70″]
In Figure 4, you see the front of the heatsink. The design is very conservative, simple, and very efficient, as we can tell by the coolers using this design we tested so far.
In Figure 5, you see the side of the heatsink, as well as the four copper heatpipes.
In Figure 6, you can check the top of the cooler, which has a black fin with the manufacturer logo.
[nextpage title=”The Corsair A70 (Cont’d)”]
In Figure 7, you can see the base of the cooler. The heatpipes make direct contact with the CPU, but the surface doesn’t have a mirror-like finishing.
In Figure 9, you can see the twin fans. They come premounted on plastic frames, making their installation a breeze. Note that they have three-pin connectors, so they don’t support PWM automatic speed control.
In Figure 9, you can see the AMD clip, two spare rubber holders for the fans, a small tube of thermal compound, a Y adapter (which allows you to connect both fans to a single motherboard header) and two adapters to reduce the speedof the fans.
Installing the Corsair A70 is as easy as it can be (considering, of couse, that your case has a hole in the motherboard tray, allowing you to access the solder side of the motherboard, otherwise you must remove the motherboard from the case). Before installing the cooler, you need to attach an H-shaped clip to its base. In Figure 10, you can check this clip in place and the backplate used with Intel CPUs.
After installing the clips, put the backplate on the solder side of the motherboard, put the cooler in place and fasten the four thumbnuts.
After that, just attach the fans to the heatsink and connect them to the motherboard.
[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 (included 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|
|Thermaltake Jing||18 °C||44 dBA||850/1150 rpm||34 °C||49 dBA||1300 rpm||60 °C|
|GlacialTech Alaska||18 °C||43 dBA||1150 rpm||36 °C||51 dBA||1600 rpm||60 °C|
|Deepcool Gamer Storm||18 °C||43 dBA||1100 rpm||35 °C||48 dBA||1600 rpm||62 °C|
|Corsair A70||26 °C||56 dBA||1900/2100 rpm||40 °C||56 dBA||1900/2100 rpm||65 °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 A70 CPU cooler include:
- Application: Socket LGA775, 1156, 1366, AM3, AM2+, and AM2 processors
- Fins: Aluminum
- Base: Aluminum, with heatpipes keeping direct contact to the CPU
- Heat-pipes: Four 8-mm copper heat-pipes
- Fan: Two, 120 mm
- Nominal fan speed: 2,000 rpm
- Fan air flow: 61 cfm
- Maximum power consumption: Not informed
- Nominal noise level: 31.5 dBA
- Weight: Not informed
- More information: https://www.corsair.com
- Average price in the US*: USD 44.00
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review. [nextpage title=”Conclusions”]
The main differences between the Corsair A70 and the A50 is the number of available heatpipes (while the A50 has three, the A70 has four 8-mm heatpipes) and the presence of a second fan on the A70. The good news is that the A70 has better performance, getting very close to the best coolers we’ve tested to date.
The installation is simple and reliable, like it happens with the A50.
The problem with the A70 is the same we found with the A50: the fans don’t have PWM automatic speed control, so they are always spinning at full speed (which means they are always making full noise). You can install the adapters that come with the cooler to reduce they speed, but then you will lose some performance. And, of course, there is no easy or practical way to install these adapters when you need silence and then remove them when you need performance, as this involves turning off the computer and opening it. But if you connect the fans to a fan controller, this problem can be easily solved.
If you want a good cooler, simple, effective and with a good cost/benefit ratio and high performance, you will be satisfied with the Corsair A70.