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Corsair A500 Review: Premium Price, Curious Flaws

Corsair conjures up a new cooler without liquid, a pump, or even RGB.

Corsair A500
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

Our Verdict

The Corsair A500 offers up a polarizing grey-scale aesthetic and good (though, not great) thermal performance, with high-performance fans in an adjustable sliding frame. Unless you love its looks, there are better options available for less than this cooler’s $100 asking price.

For

  • Adjustable fans on rails for simple memory clearance
  • Simple installation

Against

  • Premium Air pricing
  • Our sample had a base milling discrepancy
  • Loud at 100% fan speed

Corsair – the company who has brought us seemingly endless options of AIO liquid cooler models for the masses, has recently introduced their first large air cooling option, the A500.  The dual-fan, monolithic heatpipe cooler is also devoid of another Corsair staple: RGB/aRGB lighting, meaning the new Corsair A500 is either a welcome change or a deal breaker, depending on which camp you defend.

Specifications

Height6.625" / 162.3mm
Width5.75" / 146.1mm
Depth4.125" / 104.8mm (6.88" / 174.8mm w/fans)
Base Height1.625" / 41.3mm
Assy. Offset0.0" (centered)
Cooling Fans(2) 120 x 25mm
Connectors(2) 4-pin PWM
Weight52.8 oz / 1497g
Intel Sockets115x, 1366, 2011x, 2066
AMD SocketsAM2, AM3, AM4, FM1
Warranty5 years
Web Price$100

Features

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Corsair ships the A500 with a quality set of mounting hardware, including nicely plated mounting studs and securing nuts as well as a very robust, laser-cut steel backplate. Cable ties are a welcome addition, as is the 2-way PWM splitter and Phillips screwdriver included in the box.

And while the A500 does ship with pre-applied thermal paste, an additional syringe of XTM50 thermal compound is provided for future re-installs of the cooler. Corsair covers the A500 with a 5-year warranty.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The most interesting feature of the A500 is its pair of non-RGB ML120 fans nested within a set of molded frames which ride on friction rails on either side of the cooler tower. Fans are pre-installed out of the box in a standard push+pull configuration, eliminating any confusion around fan and airflow direction.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The A500 features a quartet of plated heatpipes to dissipate thermal load from the base of the cooler throughout the thermal tower.  The mounting plate comes permanently affixed to the base and utilizes a pair of tension-screws to secure to the cooler’s included cross-bar frames. 

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Access to the tension screws is gained by removing the attractive, brushed-aluminum top plate bearing the Corsair logo by popping it free of cooler tower.  The center of the tower fin stack has a central cutaway to allow the Phillips screwdriver direct access through this channel to the tension screws of the base.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Corsair ships the A500 with a pre-applied patch of thermal compound in grid layout.  The four direct-contact heatpipes of the cooler are integrated into the plated mounting base. The central cutaway is also visible here, showing how the tension screws are accessed via this channel.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

We clean every cooler base of pre-installed thermal compound using alcohol wipes and cloth and later use Arctic MX-4 for all of our tests. During this process, we noticed a small irregularity of the direct-contact heatpipes along the base of the A500.  One of the heatpipes (second from the left) is slightly raised when compared with the others in our sample, which is easily seen with a steel straightedge and some backlighting.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The thermal compound contact patch shows the representation of this impact when the cooler is installed, leaving one of the direct contact heatpipes elevated just slightly to isolate it from CPU IHS contact. This also means that this single heatpipe can only ‘work’ by absorbing heat from remainder of the cooler base and the adjacent (raised) heatpipe, instead of directly removing it from the processor.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Making use of the removable top plate, installing the A500 is quite a simple task and one which does not require the cooler’s fans to be removed, which is typically a requirement with other large air coolers.  Larger memory DIMMs can be accounted for with a bit of vertical adjustment of the fans, although this may only be required with the tallest of memory sticks.

  • Conradish006
    Admin said:
    Corsair conjures up a new cooler without liquid, a pump, or even RGB.
    Wait... That's even possible?!
    Reply
  • Phaaze88
    Ahh, I remember the Gamers' Nexus review of this cooler... it was a flop.
    Priced higher than already existing big air coolers, and performs worse too.
    Go back to liquid cooling, Corsair! You're drunk!

    Well, if nothing else, folks have a more recent air cooling option now for a Corsair-only themed build...
    Reply
  • g-unit1111
    Meh. I can't imagine anyone choosing that when the vastly superior D15 is available for the same price.
    Reply
  • Phaaze88
    g-unit1111 said:
    Meh. I can't imagine anyone choosing that when the vastly superior D15 is available for the same price.
    Corsair themed build, yes?
    Reply
  • g-unit1111
    Phaaze88 said:
    Corsair themed build, yes?

    If I were doing an all Corsair build I would still use an H115i instead of a dual tower air cooler. You could use a D15 in such applications, just swap the Noctua fans for some Corsair RGB fans. I've done that before.
    Reply
  • Phaaze88
    Touche.
    Reply