Corsair A50 CPU Cooler
Whether you are new to PCs or an enthusiast, when you hear the name Corsair your mind most likely jumps straight to RAM. However, Corsair has been branching out over the last couple of years into more than RAM. Now they have power supplies, USB drives, SSDs, cases, water cooling kits, and air coolers. Last August we looked at the Corsair A70; today we are going to look at its little sibling, the A50.
The Corsair A50 CPU Cooler has flown under the radar since it was launched, but it caught our attention this month when we noticed that it was very affordable. Amazon has this cooler for $36 shipped and that is before rebate. Earlier this month Amazon was selling this cooler for $27 and it had a $15 rebate at the time. That brought the price down to just $12 and for that price we had to get one in to see how it performs. While this rebate is no longer available we did find that some deals on this cooler are still available. For example Newegg has it listed for $35.24 shipped before a $15 rebate available (expires on 1/31/2011), which drops the $20.24. That is a price that many of us have paid for a high-end 120mm fan, so to get a quality heat sink and fan for that price is pretty impressive.
The Corsair A50 is a single 120mm fan Heatpipe Direct Touch (HDT) 3 heat pipe tower cooler. The A50 will mount up to all the Intel LGA sockets and the AMD AM2/AM3 sockets. The A50’s fan is rated at 61.2 CFM at 2000 RPM and run at 31.5 dBA. They can also be restricted with inline power resistors to be forced to run at 50.35 CFM at 1600 RPM and 26dBA each. So the cooler can be quieted down if needed. The fan itself is mounted to the cooler without spring clips, but with a rubber isolated bracket that can be easily removed by hand for installing the A50 or switching out the fan if you so choose.
- Compatible with Intel and AMD systems
- Three 8mm copper direct-contact heatpipes
- Aluminum fins
- Low-noise, low-vibration 120mm fan mounted on rubber studs
- Selectable 1,600 or 2,000RPM fan allows you to select the cooling performance you want
- Two-year warranty
- Model: CAFA50
- Heatsink dimensions: 159.5mm x 124.6mm x 81.2mm
- Cold Plate Material: Three 8mm copper direct-contact heatpipes
- Fan Specification: 120mm (x1)
- Fan Dimensions: 120mm x 25mm
- Fan speed: Selectable 1,600 or 2,000 RPM
- Air flow: 50 - 61 CFM
- Static pressure: 1.8 - 2.3 mm
- H20 Noise level: 26 - 31.5 dBA
- Socket Support: AMD AM2, AMD AM3, Intel LGA 1155, Intel LGA 1156, Intel LGA 1366, Intel LGA 775
- Box Contents
- Corsair Air Series A50 CPU Cooler
- Multi-platform mounting kit
- Thermal compound
- Quick Start Guide
Unboxing the Corsair A50
The box the A50 comes in is sturdy, and its artwork is in normal Corsair flare.
On one side is a nice image of the base and a description of the cooler in multiple languages.
On the opposite side are the A50’s specifications, again in multiple languages.
On the back of the box is a small graph showing how the A50 compares to the stock cooler for an Intel i7 965 CPU running at 3.2GHz. The graph shows a roughly 20*C improvement over stock; not bad for a $35 cooler.
Inside the box the cooler is packed in a closed cell foam cradle, and the accessories and fan are in a box to the side.
In the accessories box is everything needed to mount the cooler.
Looking closer at the Corsair A50
The Corsair A50 is a single 120mm fan Heatpipe Direct Touch (HDT) 3 heat pipe tower cooler. Standing at 159.5mm (6.25 inches) the A50 is quite tall so with narrow cases or cases with side panel fans you will need to do some measuring.
Like the A70 the A50 has 45 aluminum cooling fins on 8mm copper heatpipes.
The A50 also has a similar, yet narrower, fin profile to the A70. What is missing from the fins of the A50 is they are not dimpled like the A70, and the A50 is only setup to run a single 120mm fan. I would have liked to have seen the ability to install a second fan even though the A50 only comes with one fan.
The top of the base has grooves cut into it for the top mounting strap to sit in for both Intel and AMD configurations.
The base comes protected. The adhesive used on the protector left some residue on the base. This is why you should always clean the base no matter what with new coolers.
Like with all HDT coolers the base is flat, but not a mirror by any means. If you're thinking of lapping the base it is highly advised that you don’t. There is no telling how thin the heatpipe wall is and you could kill the cooler very easily in the process of lapping it.
The A50 comes with a 120mm fan pre-mounted to a fan mounting bracket and ready to install out of the box.
In each corner of the housing there is a rubber pad that isolates the housing from the cooler. There are clips that hold the whole assembly to the cooler. The fan is held in place with rubber mounts.
Installing the Corsair A50
The A50 comes with all that is needed to mount the cooler to AMD AM2 and AM3 sockets, as well as all Intel LGA sockets. The A50 also comes with an inline resistor to throttle the fan speed from 2000 RPM to 1600 RPM, and a tube of thermal paste.
The instructions are also quite nice. Even if you can’t read the language, or at all for that matter, the illustrations are very well done and very clear.
I will be installing the A50 on our Core i7 test system. The Intel mounting parts consist of a backing plate, top strap and screws.
The backing plate is adjustable for the socket. Simply slide the post to the notch for your socket.
The bracket for the post has notches that hold the post in place quite nicely. So no fumbling around with keeping the posts lined up while installing it on the board. The backing plate also has a full cover insulation sheet.
The top plate mounts to the cooler base with 4 screws. The groves in the base top keep everything aligned correctly.
With HDT coolers the normal way of putting a pea size drop of thermal paste on the CPU doesn’t work. The grooves in the cooler base suck up the paste and don’t allow it to spread. So you either have to do the butter method and spread the paste on the CPU or, like in the image above, put small thin lines on each pipe then install the cooler.
With the cooler installed we can attach the fan and get the system reassembled.
The A50 cleared all the board components of the Intel DX58SO motherboard. The A50 is also like most tower coolers today. If the body of the cooler hangs over a RAM slot you’re going to run into issues if you’re using RAM with tall heat spreaders over 40mm in height.
Legit Reviews Intel Core i7-930 Test System
Here are the parts that make up the Legit Reviews Core i7-930 test system:
|Intel Test Platform|
|Processor||Intel Core i7 930||Click Here|
|Motherboard||Intel DX58SO||Click Here|
|Memory||Kingston DDR3 3GB 1333MHz ValueRAM||Click Here|
|Video Card||EVGA GTS450||Click Here|
|Hard Drive||Western Digital 250gb SATA||Click Here|
|Power Supply||NZXT HALE90 750W||Click Here|
|Chassis||Cooler Master HAF 912||Click Here|
|Operating System||Windows 7 Professional (64bit)||Click Here|
To test the coolers the system will be left idle at the desktop for 30 minutes and the temp recorded. Then it will run at full load with Prime95 Blended test for 30 minutes and the temperature will be recorded. There will be 3 levels tested with our Core i7-930 clocked at a stock 2.8 GHz, a mild OC of 3.5 GHz and a high OC of 4.0 GHz. All temps will be recorded with CoreTemp, and the temp reading from all 4 cores will be averaged. The thermal paste used on all coolers will be Gelid GC Extreme.
- CoolIT Eco 240
- CoolIT Vantage ALC
- Corsair H70
- GlacialTech Alaska
- Intel retail box Cooler
- Noctua NH-C14
- Prolimatech Super Mega
- Zalman CNPS9900 MAX
Corsair A50 Temperature Testing Results
With the system running at the stock speed of 2.8GHz the A50 cools the i7 930 to a nice 58.25*C. At that temp the A50 does as advertised and beats the stock cooler by at least 20 degrees -- in our case 21.25 degrees, to be exact. Not bad for a $35 investment.
With the system running with the mild overclock at 3.5GHz the A50 is doing quite well. Running at 62.75*C the A50 only 1/4 degree behind the H70 and 2.5 degrees behind the Super Mega.
With the heat really cranked up we have the system running at 4.0GHz. The A50 is still doing very well for a budget minded cooler. Cooling the i7 930 to 75.25*C the A50 is 2.75 degrees behind the H70 and 5 degrees behind the Super Mega. Not bad for $35.
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
Over the last couple of years Corsair has been branching out to other areas besides DRAM, and excelling in those new markets. It looks like Corsair has handled the growth extremely well. You can now get a system decked out with all Corsair parts aside from optical drive, processor, and motherboard. You can go with the Power Supply, Solid-State Drive, Memory, CPU Cooler (air or water) PC Chassis and Speakers, and it’s all very well built.
With the Corsair A50 doing as well as it does and costing what it does, I feel it would make for a nice budget cooler because it will get the job done and not break the bank in the process. The documentation is very easy to follow, it was easy to install, and will fit all the popular sockets out today -- even the new Intel LGA1155 socket for 'Sandy Bridge' processors as that socket same hole pattern as the LGA1156 socket. The Corsair A50 even comes backed by a 2-year warranty, which is nice for the price you pay. Not too many things can go wrong on a HSF, but you never know one of the three 8mm heatpipes might blow up or something! :)
I can only think of one con, and it's not a deal breaker by any means. It's the 120mm fan; not too many people will be happy with a non-PWM controlled fan so the PC can control the fan speed. The stock fan is not the loudest fan I have ever had on a cooler, but it's by no means the quietest, either. The A50 does come with a speed reducer, but to get quiet when you need it and performance when you need it the reducer needs to be removed.
Currently the Corsair A50 can be found for $35.24 shipped without a rebate and that should be able to fit any one's budget. For that you get a CPU cooler that works well at stock processor clock frequencies and even higher overclocks, and for $35 it makes for a nice upgrade over stock cooling. If you search around you should be able to find a heck of a deal for this HSF if you can find it with a rebate. We were able to find the Corsair A50 with a rebate over at Newegg, which means till the end of the month you can get this cooler for $20.24 shipped. At $20.24 you get a heck of an upgrade in cooling for a minimal amount of money! For that I am giving the Corsair A50 our value award.
Legit Bottom Line: The Corsair Air Series A50 is a good performing cooler with a $35 price tag that is easy on the wallet and also carries a 2 year warranty.