Compact heat exchangers (HXs) have gained attention in recent years in various fields such as solar and nuclear power generation, oil and gas, and refrigeration due to their low cost, high power density, and robustness in high-pressure and/or high-temperature environments. However, the large difference between a compact HX's overall dimensions (∼m) and the much smaller scale of its channels (∼mm) makes it challenging to model the entire HX at once, due to computational limitations. In this work, we treat the channeled region of a compact HX as a porous medium (PM) to circumvent the need to model/mesh each individual channel. This allows us to simulate the entire HX, including both the header and channeled regions while maintaining the computational cost at a practical level. Although the porous medium approach has been used to model heat exchangers, its validity is still questionable because (1) the resistance coefficients are heavily data-based and thus difficult to be applied to new heat exchangers and (2) the validation has been focused on matching the overall pressure drop in the channel region, which does not address whether such model can predict detailed pressure and velocity field. For the first time, this work addresses under what circumstances and with what uncertainty does the PM approach work for hydrodynamics modeling in compact HXs. By answering these questions, we introduce the PM approach as a powerful tool for HX hydrodynamics modeling that can predict not only the overall pressure drop but also the detailed pressure and velocity distributions.