We tested the Corsair A500 against peers of similar price and relative size, specifically the be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4, DeepCool Gamer Storm Assassin III and Noctua NH-U12A. All have been evaluated on our i7-5930k test bench running at 4.20 Ghz @ 1.20v paired with 16GB of DDR-2400 Crucial Ballistix on our MSI X99S XPower AC motherboard.
Note that while our cooling platform is old at this point, the CPU’s 140W TDP, combined with a healthy overclock, still gives today’s coolers a tough workout. That said, we are planning to update our cooling testbed once Intel’s latest Comet Lake-S CPUs and accompanying motherboards arrive.
Both the Corsair A500 and Noctua NH-U12A utilize a pair of 120mm fans, which does account for slightly higher thermal load temperatures than the be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 utilizing a 135mm + 120mm fan and the dual 140mm DeepCool Gamer Storm Assassin III.
Use of smaller 120mm fans by the A500 and the NH-U12A gives us higher measured fan RPM while larger fans will usually spin more slowly. Since the Dark Rock Pro 4 features two fans of different diameters, we’ve listed them separately as we did from our original coverage of this cooler.
The 2400+ RPM fans on the Corsair A500 kick up a lot of turbulence, leading to elevated decibel levels, but considering we’ve seen similar results on the Corsair H100i Pro lineup, this comes as no surprise.
Acoustic efficiency evaluates how coolers in our tests perform when we combine thermal performance and noise level, essentially building a graph of how well a cooler does work and how acoustically efficient it is during that process.
With the Corsair A500 priced right at $100, it struggles with some of its peers due to noise level and a few degrees of thermal separation. Both the Corsair A500 and the Noctual NH-U12A are priced around 10% higher than the be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 and the DeepCool Gamer Storm Assassin III, also creating more separation in our performance value chart.
Thermal imaging from our FLIR ONE Pro camera shows some notable differences of heat soak at 50% fan speed seen in the center cooler cutout vent as well as an indication of additional thermal buildup at the exhaust fan (left of the center logo). Overall, the mass of the cooling fin stack shows equalization in both photos, providing indication that the cooler is effectively distributing thermal loads evenly through the A500.
Corsair have positioned themselves in a way which allows its customers another choice that retains the triple-sail logo while alleviating the fears of liquid cooling and maintaining brand loyalty. The A500 isn’t the highest-performing cooler for big-air money, so unless you are a Corsair loyalist, it’s a difficult option to recommend considering other options available.
We also have some concerns around the irregularities in the milling of the direct-contact heatpipes as we know we aren’t the only ones to have encountered this problem. It makes us wonder if there would be marked performance improvement if this build anomaly were corrected, and we’re hopeful that Corsair will correct the issue in future retail updates.
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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...
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.
Dunno what I'm doing wrong but any pointers welcome! :disrelieved: