The hardware chosen was picked to reflect that of a relatively modern computer system that an enthusiast may own. The configuration of the system is as follows:
Noctua's NT-H1 thermal compound was used for all CPU cooler testing results. In our last thermal compound roundup, we found it to be one of the best performing thermal compounds tested. Application of the thermal compound was done as recommended by the installation guide provided by the cooler manufacturer. If no method was recommended, then a pea sized amount was applied to the center of the CPU's heatspreader (with pressure from the installed cooler to spread it).
We employ an open test bed (not installed in a case). This is to remove positive/negative factors that a case can apply to coolers depending on design. Keep in mind that temperatures achieved in this article will be lower than what a user will achieve when the cooler is installed in a case. The ambient environmental temperature is maintained at 24 degrees celcius (plus/minus 1 degree celcius).
CPU temperatures are recorded using OCCT. Since the temperature of each core is recorded individually, the average of these measurements is used to represent the 'Average' measure in the results. The highest temperature recorded during testing among the individual cores is used to represent the 'Maximum' measure in the results. Stress testing measurements are conducted using OCCT's CPU Test with the Small Data Set. This is left to run for 30 minutes. Idle measurements are taken 30 minutes after the the stress test has been completed (same method as the 'Average' stress test results).
The following motherboard configuration was used:
Compared to the stock Intel cooler supplied with the i7 2700k, Corsair's A50 performed well. While running at overclocked speeds and with increased voltage, the A50 was able to maintain temperatures lower than the Intel cooler was at stock processor speed.
Starting off, the Corsair A50 cooler was purchased for $25 (Canadian and US). This squarely puts in the in low-end of the price spectrum. Value wise, the A50 allowed a 1GHz overclock for $25. While we don't know how much a 4.5GHz i7 processor costs (as one doesn't exist), it would be a safe to assume it would be more than $25 over the cost of a 2700k.
Combining the performance value perspective and the quietness compared to Intel's boxed cooler, it's a no-brainer that buying Corsair's A50 CPU Cooler is more than worth it.