Page 3 - Test Results
Our test configurations are as follows:
CPU: Intel Core i7-6700K @ 4.60GHz
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z170X-UD5
Graphics: Gigabyte G1 Gaming GeForce GTX 970 4GB
Chassis: NZXT H710i
Storage: OCZ RevoDrive 350 480GB; Kingston HyperX Predator PCIe 480GB; SanDisk Extreme PRO 480GB
Power: Seasonic PRIME Ultra Titanium 850W
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 10 Pro
All tests were run in our custom built computer to best reflect real life performance. The computer remained in the same location in the same room throughout all tests. The room temperature in our testing lab was around 21c. Stock thermal paste respective to all coolers were used to rate its performance; all pastes were given a proper amount of time for them to fully settle. The fans on all heatsinks were directly connected to the motherboard's 4-pin connector. Computer was turned on and idling for at least one hour for the idling tests. High CPU load results were obtained using the Prime95 in-place large FFTs test with eight worker threads for a minimum of ten minutes or until the temperature was deemed stable.
We tested the Corsair A500 against the Noctua NH-D15 and Noctua NH-D15 chromax.black in single and dual fan configurations. The Noctua NH-D15 is one of the best, if not the best, air coolers in the market today, making it an interesting performance benchmark. In our charts, we noticed some difference between the regular NH-D15 and its chromax.black version. Possible explanations for the variances in results can be found in our Noctua NH-D15 chromax.black review. Noctua assures us all NH-D15 models sold today will have identical performance, so we will use the chromax.black version as the standard, since the regular NH-D15 used in our tests was made in 2014.
As you can see in our charts above, the Corsair A500 performed very well in our idle test. There is no significant difference between all the coolers and its varying configurations, because the processor in its idle state is not generating a whole lot of heat in the first place. Since the idle test is not a good indicator of a CPU cooler's true performance potential, let us look ahead into the load test results.
In the load test, the test processor, my Intel Core i7-6700K overclocked to 4.60GHz, generates quite a bit of heat that will push any cooler to the limits. The Corsair A500 came in 2c behind the NH-D15 chromax.black in dual fan configuration. This result is very good, considering it is benchmarked against the best air cooler in the market today. This automatically puts the Corsair A500 in the league of the best. The gap in performance makes sense because the A500 has four heatpipes compared to NH-D15's six, about 0.1m less surface area, and features 120mm fans instead of 140mm. Furthermore, the NH-D15's split radiator design with a fan in the middle likely moved air across the fins more efficiently than the A500's conventional push/pull configuration.
While this is very subjective, I am quite a picky person on noise. On a scale from 0 to 10 where 0 is silent and 10 is the loudest, I would rate the Corsair A500 equipped with two ML120 fans to be at 6.5/10 acoustically running at full speed. Seriously, this is one of the loudest coolers I have heard in a long time, and the pair of Corsair fans at 2500 RPM is no joke. I did a frequency sweep and found a peak at 580Hz, which is very audible to the human ear. However, when my computer is idling or under nominal loads -- where it is spending most of the doing -- the PWM fan slowed down was almost inaudible at 1.0/10. Unfortunately, I found yet another problem. When the fan speed drops below a certain threshold, there will be chirping and ticking noises, which is very annoying. For a 0 RPM rated fan, this is unacceptable. Overall, in terms of sound emissions, the Corsair A500 is a poor choice for quiet PC enthusiasts.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware; Installation
3. Test Results