We Didn’t Expect This – Corsair A500 Air Cooler Review


all right everyone you might remember
back at CES 2020 we talked about Corsair getting back into the
air-cooling game with the a500 and as you can see I’m holding one right now
it’s it’s one bit cooler guys like it’s bigger than my hand it’s bigger than my
face it’s it’s not a small guy it’s big now this is a pretty interesting move by
Corsair because they’re typically used to pimping their AIO solutions but it
seems like air cooling is making a bit of a comeback because it offers good
performance lower pricing and it’s less hassle what some of you might not
remember though is that the a500 isn’t Corsair’s first air cooler in fact about
a decade ago there a50 and a70 heat sinks were launched that was targeted
towards the entry-level market and they offered pretty good price to performance
at the time fast-forward to 2020 and we’re here with the a500 now at $100
u.s. this new heatsink really isn’t a budget product about any stretch of the
imagination and it competes against some of the big boys for example the Noctua DH15 chrome Max bequiet dark Rock Pro for Andy not to a nagu 12 a all go
for about $100 – and we’re gonna be including all of those in the comparison
so of course there definitely needs to bring their a-game to the table here
also full disclosure Corsair is one of our main channel sponsors so they did
approached us earlier to make an axe bond for the a500 but we decided to test
us thoroughly beforehand I’m pretty sure you’ve seen a lot of videos covering
this cooler but we’ve actually been working really hard on updating our
testing methodologies so we’re gonna be doing things a little bit differently in
this video giving you a little bit more in-depth real-world use case scenarios
so let’s actually find out if the a500 is really worth its price point but
first a quick message from our sponsor the new Phanteks p300 enclosure is a great
value airflow focused frame thanks to the all-new mesh front panel that is a
single piece of metal for highest mesh area and durability the inside is nice
and simple plus an exhaust fan is included check out the p 308 down below
alright so opening up the package courser gives you a small tool box with
clearly labeled mounting kits for AMD and Intel platforms there’s also a full
tube of thermal compound a braided fan sputter cable and some zip ties I’ve got
vishay Corsair for at least including a screwdriver now even though Corsair
included a tube of thermal compound they’ve also pre applied some in a grid
pattern while this looks good for Intel 2066 CPUs and in DCPS we noticed that
this pattern would overhang Intel’s LGA 1151 processors moving on to the
cooler itself and honestly guys it looks pretty different since instead of using
cheap metal clips for two vents courses actually using these plastic brackets
they can just slide on and off without messing around way too much and since
the fans are just mounted with screws swapping them out is pretty easy too now
when you take out the fans and remove the top bracket you basically greeted
with a pretty basic cooler with four heat pipes that run up in two small and
individual fin erase there’s a void in the middle for easier access to the
mounting hardware but that area can also cause issues with constant linear
airflow through all the fins the heat pipe direct touch base is also a bit
ought to since Corsair says that the a500 can handle heat loads up to 250
watts but usually this type of designs used for coolers with lower ratings most
of the high in heat sinks from coolermaster deep cool be quite and not
to have more traditional bases and they look really good compared to Corsairs
offering here another issue with this type of base is it’s very hard to get a
good contact between the IHS and the cooler which becomes pretty evident when
you put a straight edge on it or after the heat sinks uninstall from your cpu
we’ve seen three a500’s now and every one has a minor base variants like this
one so it isn’t unique to just one sample alright so moving on to
installation and honestly guys it looks a lot like not to his process and I
guess that’s a good thing so installation is pretty
straightforward but there were some challenges too let’s start with the size
the a500 is basically a dual 120 millimeter fan design but what the fan
mounting system it actually takes up a lot of space especially when compared to
similar coolers like the Noctua Nhu 12a now that doesn’t cause problems with GPU
mounting but it does have an impact on memory clearance noctua doesn’t have
that since the you 12 a slightly offset towards the motherboard IO area for
higher memory kits without modifying the fan position and I think this
brilliantly designed Corsair on the other hand is a centered setup which
means that if you have a taller memory kit like their Dominator modules you
need to move the fan upwards now sure that’s super easy since it just slides
upwards but it also means a bunch of the fans airflow won’t be getting to where
it’s needed plus the increased height could cost compatibility problems with
some cases you should also take note that on aim for platform you can’t mount
this cooler of any vertical orientation not that you’d want to anyways since
that would run its airflow contrary to most difficult cases on X to 99 things
can get pretty tight too but only between the a500 and GPUs with black
plates or if you have the memory slots fully populated okay so I’m gonna move
on to testing but I also want to go over our testing methodology so I invite you
to check out our full procedure that’s available on our website and I leave a
link to that in the description down below first off we’re using Intel’s Core
I 9 10 9 8 exe at stock settings and also overclock to 4.5 gigahertz on all
course at that speed we’ve logged it sucking down just over 210 watts which
is perfect to test this cooler we’re also trying to replicate a real-world QC
8 scenario and so we decided to eliminate an open Testament set up
especially with coolers mounted in a horizontal orientation because both of
those factors can skew results and cover up poor performance so testing is done
in a closed frackle design metric line s2 that’s equipped with two intake and
one exhaust fan operating at a constant 600 rpm this whole setup is put under
very strict temperature conditions so testing only begins once the interior
case temperatures have stabilised at 25 degrees Celsius
and then the exterior room temperature or the ambient temperature is maintained
at 22 degrees Celsius another important thing to note here is that all of our
results represent the best temperature after two separate mounts since there
are variables when it comes to installing coolers so we wanted to make
sure that a bad installation doesn’t impact results finally we’re using the
Arctic MX for thermal compound for every test if you’re wondering there’s only
about a 1 degree difference between Corsairs stock compound and DMX 4 all
right so starting things off with the stock CPU speeds and the default fan
profile from our Asus x2 9 and motherboard which by the way dynamically
increases fan speeds as temperature rises and the a 500 puts in a very
respectable result it beats – you told a and dark rock Pro for by a narrow margin
but it trails lead less expensive you 14s
now unfortunately to get to that point it’s also the loudest cooler here but
also remember that under 30 decibels from about two feet away is still pretty
quiet bumping up the cooler fans to a constant thousand rpm and it becomes
pretty obvious that in the stock test Corsair relies on higher fan speeds in
order to get those lower temperatures on the other hand other heats things
actually see their temperatures reduced here two courses credit the a500
actually becomes the quietest option but you need to sacrifice temperatures to
get there now with the fans going full out at 2400 rpm Corsair is able to beat
the U 12 a but it also is beaten by a bunch of coolers that operate at lower
maximum speeds I also remember that the utopias fans are rated for a maximum
2,000 rpm which is 20% slower than the a 500 but it only losses by 3 degrees at
full speed this thing is loud guys like really really loud to a point where it
almost matches the kraken X 62 all rights now on to overclocked testing
which will really put Corsairs claim to the test and this is the reason why
we’ve named the cpu test system the Widowmaker the heat pushed out by this
old clock 1080 XE is just insane guys and the a500 couldn’t handle things
it was overwhelmed in less than 10 minutes and ended up reaching the 110
degrees CPU throttle limit another thing you guys will see him these overclocking
tests is the Nhu 14s getting closer to its thermal saturation limit and it’s
beaten by the u 12a that’s single 140 millimeter fan that was so good in stock
testing just isn’t enough now switching to acoustics yeah that’s a hard fail for
the a500 guys since it’s even working at 100% fan speed according to these
decibel readings the U 14s and u 12a were also going along at 100% but they
actually passed this test if the a500 failed in the first test it was going to
fail here as well but it only took two minutes to reach critical temperatures
guys it’s really amazing to see even not to a you talk a of waiting throttling
though I’d never run my CPU at 101 degrees in the first place now when our
full speed test I was hoping the coarser cooler to pass but
unfortunately this one was a complete fail again so at this point in testing
we wanted to try out one more thing to test out a theory about Corsairs poor
performance now sure the 1080 XE is one of the hottest one chips around
especially when it’s overclocked but according to Corsair the a500 is rated
for 250 watts and the other coolers in this comparison feature that same spec
but they spanked the a 500 pretty hard so in came B Noctua 8 well fans from the
u 12 a installed onto Corsair brackets you see the FF nerds fans of optimized
for static pressure and they’re usually used for pushing air through super dense
AIO radiator fins but this heatsink fins aren’t super close together and that
void in the middle could cause problems for airflow moment the 812 have a lower
static pressure rating but they can move a lot more air at lower rpms too so
let’s check it out at stock CPU settings at 1,000 rpm fan speed there is a
massive temperature drop when moving to the new fans but let’s move on to the
overclocked performance setting here at 100 cent fan speed Corsair is still
beaten clean but the tuned octo fans allow it to hit lower temps and
completely avoids throttling that’s pretty impressive what sort of bad news
for Corsairs fan selection so the numbers really do speak for themselves
and I guess it’s time to wrap up this video you see it’s pretty obvious that
the a500 is designed to compete against similarly priced alternatives but only
on lower T V processors as you saw from our baseline testing this cooler did
reasonably well but when you start pushing things especially when it comes
to overclocking that’s where this thing starts to fall apart overall the 8500 is
simply louder hotter running and cost is just as much as the other coolers on the
market rated for 250 watts like the u 12 a V T 15 and the DARPA Rock pro 4 and
that’s just not good enough to be competitive in this market especially
when you can buy the knocked o you 14 s along with an extra fan for about the
same price now I do have to give credit to Corsair for thinking out of the box
for implementing this slide on fan bracket mechanism it’s pure genius and
it’s coming clutch for us when we were installing coolers inside
case goes trust me I think this is by far one of the best ways to mount a fan
instead of relying on Clips it’s just an awesome feature now if you really like
the looks of this cooler and if you don’t have a lot of space in your case
for the bigger cooler side compared to like a knock to add eh 15 then maybe
just maybe but this wouldn’t be my first choice so on that note thank you so much
for watching make sure to check out some relevant content over here subscribe hit
that notification bell i’m Ebor with hurricane axe signing off and i’ll talk
to you guys in the next one

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100 thoughts on “We Didn’t Expect This – Corsair A500 Air Cooler Review

  1. Not a big fan of this cooler. For what it does it is too expensive. The cooling is barely better than my Freezer 34 eSports Duo and that costs 30€ …

  2. It's crazy doing a side by side comparison of you from back in 2016. You've transformed into a better you! Now, I wish to do the same.

  3. Great review guys!
    It's really strange (cough cough..money) how only a few big channels made a comparison between A500 and Noctua or others.
    I do think that this review, or anyway these choices, will pay you guys in long term. Earning trust of the viewers. Good work.
    I don't hate Corsair, maybe they will release a A700 that will kick a D15, and that's ok. But at the moment this cooler would be fine for 60/70 bucks, not 100.

  4. Just odd to me that Corsair made a premium cooler than doesn't work with their premium memory (dominator Platnum) Good Job Corsair!

  5. Very well thought out test methodology. Also, excellent integrity on your part, especially considering that Corsair is one of your primary sponsors. Hopefully, Corsair will take these results to heart and improve their product. The A500 is very good looking and the sliding fan mechanism is pure genius, but if Corsair is not going to improve the cooling capability, it should be $30 less expensive, to compete with coolers that have equivalent cooling capabilities. Great review!

  6. Corsair again cheaping out on manufacturing, and overcharging for pointless gimmicks and aesthetics. I'm surprised they didn't slap a bunch of RGB on this cooler.

  7. Ebert this was the best review of the new Corsair cooler. You went deeper into why it’s not performing as well as it could. And I am sure Corsair is watching. (:

  8. You should do this review again with the Noctua D15 killer known as the Zalman CNPS20 and it's half the price of corsairs a500 and cheaper then noctua D15.

  9. Can’t wait to build my next gaming pc I’m going with 5700 xt and ryzen 5 3600 combo anything I should know (this will be my 2nd build”

  10. I recently replaced my 3 year old liquid cooling with a Noctua NH-D15, because I didn't want the coolant to leak and wreck my system as happened in my previous system. I was hoping that the NH-D15 could keep the normal and max CPU workload temps within 10C of the liquid cooler on my 140w TDP CPU, but it actually beats the liquid cooler by a nominal 5C and a max CPU workload by about 15C – I was most impressed!

    I really don't trust Corsair ever since the expensive gaming mouse I got from them a couple of years ago stopped working after just a few months. (The $13 mouse I then replaced it with has worked great for over a year by comparison). For the price of their stuff, Corsair should hold up better…

  11. I don't think it's a matter of the higher static pressure rating on the Corsair fans, but the actual opposite. I kind of remember Noctua having released a static pressure at 100rpm steps from lowest speed steps on the NF-F12 years ago, then somebody online did the same test vs other fans. NF-F12 had a less steep slope, the Corsair SP120 started out with very low static pressure and only started beating the Noctua near the top of the Noctua's operating speed or even worse it was probably when the SP120 was already spinning faster. Airflow wasn't any different (this was easy to tell from specs as the 1200rpm stand alone SP120 that didn't come with the H100 was rated lower on both vs the Noctua anyway).

    Chances are even if the ML120 improved on the SP120 the same trend might still hold given how much Noctua poured into designing the A12. Can't they just come with a black frame?! They don't even need to change the color of the blades, it's the light brown frame that sticks out.

  12. Really glad to see a revamped, more scientific and controller testing methodology. Bonus points for doing so in a fairly realistic test environment.

    Was nice to see you investigate why Corsair's cooler did poorly too and test other fans.

    Tbh I don't always watch all the benchmark videos and stuff from hwc (especially on new releases for cpu/GPU, I have more than half a dozen vids every time), but that is not going to be the case anymore. This makes me want to at least give all your vids that come out in the future a chance again.

  13. I personally prefer water cooling. It's easy to slap a waterblock onto the CPU with no worries about tall RAM or small case size.

  14. You should do some testing on thermalright coolers. they're large, but cheap and cools well!
    I love mine. it's completely silent as well, which is great.

  15. Meh
    It cost more than Noctua, but perform less

    But hey, it's Corsair
    That brand might be worth something

    Just like Apple, right ??

  16. Great test. May I suggest that you include 40dB noise normalized testing to see how each cooler performs at the same noise level?

  17. It's such an Ugly cooler, i'm not surprised it performed so badly on a high TDP cpu, those fans are also Obnoxious, and so is the visuals of the brackets. Ugh…

  18. The truly impressive thing is that its been 6 years and still nobody has beaten Noctua NH-D15. It's still better than some AIOs. And when Noctua finally introduced the Chromax version of the D15, Any reason for buying another air cooler (other than price) went straight out the window. The D15 is the cooler to get if you're looking for top performance

  19. With liquid AIO cooler becoming even more affordable and compact, I can't see why anyone should opt for this massive chunks of plastic and metal anymore 🤷‍♂️

  20. what do you think about the base plate? will affect the temp? and is there any mounting issue like clashing of capacitors in the motherboard?

  21. I like the fan brackets but that's all I like about this cooler and I won't be moving off bequiet any time soon. Why put a fan on the back instead of the middle for instance? Just seems their heart isn't in it.

  22. because of the variance in the base. i won't be considering this if i decided to go air cooling. would go with the noctua cromax. its the same price and the offering from noctua seems better. also you can add the other cromax bits with different color caps.

  23. I really feel they have chosen to put the emphasis on user experience and looks when they designed this. It looks so good, and the rails are an awesome feature! But that performance is not really excusable compared to the competition… stellar video as always <3

  24. A lot of times companies/people use fans that are way too oriented toward static pressure. In my personal testing I've found that you rarely get better performance with a static pressure fan. Even with an AIO radiator an airflow fan does just about as well, provided it's mounted in push orientation. In pull orientation is where static pressure fans seem to have a major advantage as the airflow fans simply can't create enough suction, and create a lot of turbulent air noise.

    What I think would be interesting and helpful to the general PC user base would be for a tech channel to do some sort of official testing of several airflow vs static pressure fans, both as case intake/exhaust and on heatsinks/AIOs. That would help settle once and for all what situations you really want to use a static pressure fan. As I said, based on my previous testing, it is not very often.

    There's a lot of complete misinformation out there related to fans, because no one really tests them.

  25. This is not great for a mid case. Yeah, the fans can adjust for different size ram sticks but good luck getting your panel on if you do. I'll have to save it for a larger case.

  26. The problem with this cooler shows your testing method: the lag of number of heatpipes combined with the missing baseplate results in the poor performance. Der 8auer mentioned this in the beginning of his testing. In the end your test really shows the limit of just 4 heatpipes. My "Scythe Mugen 5 Rev.B" has 6 heatpipes and a baseplate, and costs "only" 45 Euros. With the cost of an additional fan, i am sure it will beat this overprized halo product, by beeing cheaper and have more high-end air cooler features then this. And to be honest: the fan mounting is absolute irrelevant. how often do you remount the CPU cooler? if you do it in a daily base…yeah, but who does this? so this feature alone does not justify the high price in the 1st place.

  27. … and the real winner is… drum rolls… be quiet! with its 1300 rpm single fan able to keep up with 1500/2000/2000+ rpm dual-setup ( wink Noctua) within a few degrees.

    The problem with the Corsair heat sink imo is that 'hole' in the middle of al the fins that create a place for a pocket of hot air that is hard to remove for any fans. Corsair should instead make the heatsink smaller but continuous and I'm sure it would have passed all these tests. Also, not having a 'squared' mounting plane can be an issue and you need to add/double the toothpaste-tim to compensate a little.

    Great tests!

  28. hey corsair! pro tip here, drop tdp rating a bit and price acording to other ~200w tdp CPU coolers and we will be fine.
    Without sliding fans there is nothing to look at:)

  29. It's hilarious Corsair slapped a $100 price tag on a CPU cooler with 4 heatpipes. That massive air void in the middle of the cooler doesn't help, either. I'm relatively certain that's only hurting airflow and heat dissipation.

  30. not so bad put huge air cooler for cpu,The problem if you want to clean the dust,to small dust inside the huge heatsink you need different brush.

  31. The Mugen 5 6 heat pipe CPU cooler is the best air cooler on the and it is cheaper than this cooler and it keeps both AMD and Intel CPUs under 35 c in torture test with prime95

  32. The effort you guys have put into this test cant be appreciated enough!!
    Also shows just how brilliantly engineered the beQuiet and Noctua coolers are.

  33. It's like LTT without that whiny annoying voice or borderline personality disorder… Thank you for helping fix the internet 🙂

  34. Almost exactly 10 years ago, Corsair made the A50 and A70 air coolers. The A50 had 3 heatpipes and 1 fan, while the A70 had 4 heatpipes and 2 fans. Now they made this A500 with 4 heatpipes and 2 fans. Does this mean there will be an A700, with 5 heatpipes and 3 fans? Do you already have one, but are waiting for the NDA to drop??

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