Corsair A50 and A70 Review

airman - 2010-07-30 06:51:49 in CPU Cooling
Category: CPU Cooling
Reviewed by: airman   
Reviewed on: August 26, 2010
Price: A50 $49.99 - A70 $64.99

Introduction:

Primarily known for their desktop and laptop memory, Corsair has been expanding their product lines to solid state hard drives, power supplies, as well as cases and cooling products. Corsair offers a wide range of products, from value to top end enthusiast, and many will agree that their offerings are top notch. Today in this review, I will be exploring Corsair's new "A" series of air coolers, which use a direct contact heat pipe layout and shrouded fans. These coolers are the Corsair A50 and A70, which are in the upper end price range.  I hope to see them perform well when compared against the latest heatsinks from other manufacturers. In this review, I will provide a complete evaluation of these products, including thoughts during unboxing,  assessment of their features and construction, specifications, and stress testing.

 

Closer Look:

The Corsair A50 and A70 are packaged in black cardboard boxes with high quality graphics and their respective model numbers printed on them. The left and right sides of the packages provide a short list of features and specifications of each cooler in several different languages, while the rear of the packages display a graph of performance over the stock cooler, as well as some more features and explanations. Since the A70 is slightly a bigger cooler, the box is a little bit larger than the packaging for the A50. In all pictures, I will position the A70 to the left of the A50. In separate pictures, the A70 will be in the left-most picture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The A50 and A70 are protected internally by blocks of Styrofoam and arrived safely without any damage to them. The heatsinks are packaged with all required mounting hardware, fans with built in shrouds, user's documentation, and fan plug extensions and a Y-cable with the A70. The Y-cable has two 3-pin female connectors with one 3-pin male that only requires one header to be used on the motherboard, which means both fans on the A70 can be controlled by only making one adjustment.

 

 

With the A50 and the A70 out of their boxes and everything else unpacked, I will now begin to take a closer look of the heatsinks and compare their similarities and differences. The next page will contain a closer look of the heatsinks.

Closer Look:

There are a few differences between the A50 and the A70. The A70 is physically larger, utilizes one more heatpipe, and is packaged with an extra fan. The mounting hardware seems to be the same, as do the rest of the accessories. The size difference between the two coolers is immediately noticeable with the fans attached. The A70 looks to be almost twice the width of the A50, as its body is wider and it is uses one extra 120mm fan. Comparing the sizes, the A50 is a great option for a user in need of a smaller foot print, as it should offer very similar performance to the A70.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Removing the fans/shroud assembly will display how the coolers look like by themselves. The fan assemblies are clipped onto the heatsinks and are removed by pulling back the clips on either side, releasing them. With the A70 having one extra heatpipe, it is physically wider than the A50. The length and height of the coolers are the same, and the construction and layout are otherwise identical.

 

 

Taking a look at the tops and bottoms of these two coolers also provides another visual of the size difference. The base is uses a direct contact method where the heatpipes themselves are in physical contact with the processor. This allows for one less interface for the heat to pass through when compared to other heatsinks that have a solid base that surrounds the heatpipes. The lack of the extra interface should allow for quick heat transfer and low idle temperatures. There is a protective film over both bases that prevent the base from getting scratched from handling, but warns the user to remove this film before installing the heatsink. The top fin of the A50 and A70 is painted black and has the Corsair logo stamped into it as well as a dimple pattern that only appears on the A70.

 

 

The heatpipe/fin interface is pressure fit by having the fins pressed on. The way the fins are stamped out allows a contact to be made through the entire length of the heatpipes. The more surface area of the fins in contact with the heatpipes will help out the heat transfer. This is common on all heatsinks that use heatpipes because of this property.

 

 

 

The only thing that I've found that could be better about the A50 and A70 coolers are the finish on their bases. The machining marks are extremely evident and there is no reflectivity. This may just be the way that direct contact coolers are, because I haven't seen one where the base has a high quality finish. In the world of heatsinks, having a very flat base with a high quality finish usually sets them apart from low to high end. However, you cannot judge performance just by looking at the base, so testing the coolers will show whether or not this hinders their cooling capabilities.

 

 

The fans used with the A50 and A70 are identical. They are rated at 12V, 0.18A.  The fans operate between 1600-2000RPM at 21-32dBA and move 50-61CFM. The fans are removable from their shrouds, which gives the user a choice of any other fans they would like to use with these coolers. There is already a set of rubber dampening pads on the inside of the shroud, which helps reduce noise from the fans.

 

 

Installing the coolers is relatively simple. The screws are already attached to the backplate, which go through the mounting holes on the motherboard, and the mounting bracket is secured over the base with the four provided thumbscrews. I tightened them down until I ran out of threads on the screws from the backplate.

 

Specifications:

A50 Dimensions
159.5mm x 124.6mm x 81.2mm
A70 Dimensions
159.5mm x 124.6mm x 129mm
A50 Heatpipes
3x8mm Copper, direct contact
A70 Heatpipes
4x8mm Copper, direct contact
Fan Dimensions
120mm x 25mm
Fan Speed
1600 - 2000RPM
Air Flow
50 - 61CFM
Noise Level
26 - 32dBA

 

Features:

All information provided courtesy of Corsair @ http://www.corsair.com

Testing and Setup:

Testing of the heatsink will involve applying a load simulated by Prime95 - using small FFTs in stock and overclocked scenarios. Both idle and load temperatures will be recorded. Load temperatures will be the maximum value displayed in RealTemp after running eight threads in Prime95 for one hour, and idle temperatures will be the minimum recorded value by RealTemp with no computer usage after one hour. The temperature values for each of the four cores will be averaged and displayed on the graphs below. The ambient temperature is held at a constant 25 °C throughout testing of the A50 and A70, as well as the comparison heatsinks. All the data shown in the graphs is in degrees Celsius. The included thermal paste from Corsair will be used during testing, and thermal pastes as packaged from the other coolers were used with each heatsink, respectively. The fans on both the A50 and A70 will be run at full speed for these tests.

Testing Setup:

Comparison Heatsinks:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The results here gave me a little bit of a surprise. The temperatures were quite a bit lower than I expected! Although they didn't outperform the big-name coolers that they were compared against, the A50 and A70 certainly hang close for their price points. I will wrap up this review on the next page in my conclusion.

Conclusion:

After completing the testing of both the Corsair A50 and A70, I was pleasantly surprised with their performance. Even though their design is simple, their cores are small, and their bases could have a better finish; they both did quite well for what I expected out of them. Typically with a small and lightweight body, there is less mass to retain heat. Less mass means a lower heat capacity, which can cause temperatures to climb once the heatsink loses equilibrium and cannot keep up with the heat flux from an overclocked processor. Even at 3.4ghz, I did not observe this happening. The only con that I can really think of that I could list is the poor finish on the base, but as I said I have not found any other direct contact heatpipe cooler with a perfectly smooth base. Just for this reason, I won't list that as a con. Either way, these coolers' performances certainly made up for it. For about $50 and $65 respectively for the A50 and A70, either one of these coolers would be a great choice for a new computer or an existing machine. Either would work nicely for users who want good performance without taking the plunge into the super high end coolers near the $80+ mark. The installation is simple, the footprint is small, the fans are changeable, and the price is right for their performance.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: