In the minds of most tech enthusiasts, Corsair is a brand name synonymous with computer memory. They are a major player in the high-performance memory market and have been for a long time. Corsair has since diversified its product portfolio and are also now well known for flash memory, power supplies and solid state drives. In the past couple of years, Corsair also ventured into the CPU cooler market. Since the beginning of that, they've always offered watercooling solutions in this market, which should be no surprise since Corsair usually aims for the high performance areas of the markets it's in. But more recently, air coolers are now on the menu. Today that's what we're looking at, Corsair's mainstream air cooler, the A50.
The basic construction of the A50 consists of a frame of 3 copper heatpipes which pass through and are soldered to an array of aluminum fins. Copper is a good conductor of heat, so it's used for the heat pipes, which connect the based of the heatsink to the fins. The fins are aluminum, (which I presume, as I am not well versed in metalurgy or thermal transfer) is because it's a lightweight way to add lots of surface area to dissipate heat to air.
The A50 is a direct contact heatsink. The 3 copper heatpipes pass through the base of the heatsink and are directly in contact with the heatspreader of the CPU. The base of the A50 is relatively flat, save for the small grooves between the heatpipes and the base. The theory is behind this is by having the copper heatpipes in direct contact with the processor instead of just passing through a solid base of aluminum, heat will be transfered faster away from the CPU.
Included with the A50 cooler package is a Corsair branded 120mm fan. It's a 3-pin fan, so you can't utilize your motherboard's PWM fan controllers. But Corsair does include a short 3-pin passthrough cable which will reduce the speed of the fan if you're striving for a quieter computer system. By default, the fan is rated for 61CFM of air flow, spinning at 2000rpm, while producing 31.5dBA of noise. With the passthrough cable, it changes that to 50CFM, 1600rpm and 26dBA, respectively.
Subjectively to my ears, the fan running at full speed is a light hum. It's a bit quieter than the stock Intel provided cooler (while running with higher CPU load). With the speed lowered using the passthrough cable, noise is reduced to an even lighter hum. When installed in a computer case (a solid Fractal Design R3), the noise produced is unnoticeable by my ears.
The fan is mounted to the mounting bracket using rubber knobs. This helps to insulate vibrations, thus reducing noise and potentially helping with the longevity of the fan. The rubber knobs fit into standard fan mounting holes, which would allow you to easily mount a different fan if you should choose to do so.