Zalman CNPS5X-SZ CPU Cooler

Posted by on Sunday, January 30, 2011 - 3:37am

zalman cnps5xZalman being an innovator of top notch products for a number of years now, such as cases and cooling; lately solid state drives, too. Zalman seems to really taking things to a new level as time goes on, thinking outside the box a little. We will be taking a look at a product from which got Zalman to where it is at today: CPU heatsinks. The CNPS5X-SZ is the latest model cooler from Zalman. Not aimed at getting your newly acquired processor to extreme levels, but to cool the modestly built PC... Ok, a modest PC with a slight overclock. The new CNPS5X heavily resemble past Zalman coolers in design and appearance, but can it cool the processors of today? We will see.

Introduction to the Zalman CNPS5X-SZ CPU Cooler

Many of you that read through the pages here at Pro-Clockers know that overclocking and pushing your equipment to the max isn’t the only reason manufacturers produce these wonderful products we get to review for you. Overclocking is only a very small portion of the DIY computing world, as many simply build their own rig for a stable, cost effective, yet still powerful system. So with that being said, what you'll see on the following pages may not be what one would classify as 'enthusiast grade'. Here at Pro-Clockers we also like to take a look at products that is tuned more for the "standard" PC user, so this next review item may not necessarily get your rig to extreme levels. However, the goal of it is not to achieve that, but be more in line with what that standard user would be interested in purchasing.

Zalman being an innovator of top notch products for a number of years now, such as cases and cooling; lately solid state drives, too. Zalman seems to really taking things to a new level as time goes on, thinking outside the box a little. We will be taking a look at a product from which got Zalman to where it is at today: CPU heatsinks. The CNPS5X-SZ is the latest model cooler from Zalman. Not aimed at getting your newly acquired processor to extreme levels, but to cool the modestly built PC... Ok, a modest PC with a slight overclock. The new CNPS5X heavily resemble past Zalman coolers in design and appearance, but can it cool the processors of today? We will see.


Specifications

Dimensions

127(L) x 64(W) x 134(H)mm

Weight

320g

Materials

Pure Copper, Aluminum

Fan RPM

1,400 ~ 2,800rpm ± 10%

Noise

20 ~ 32dBA ± 15%

Fan Bearing

Hydraulic

Input Voltage

12V

Function

PWM Control, Auto Restart

Compatability Intel: LGA 1155 / 1156 / 775
AMD: AM3 / AM2+ / AM2 / 940 / 939 / 754

Closer look

You'll notice that the CNPS5X is a smaller tower, and one that doesn’t exactly follow the typical tower design. We normally see tower style coolers as being a taller, rectangular-shaped coolers with a vertical array of fins; all supported by a few heat pipes. Which yes, that is the CNPS5X to a point: a tower of fins and a few heat pipes, but more on that later. The CNPS5X stands just over five inches tall and weighs in at 320g, or not even 3/4s of a pound.

The fin arrangement on the CNPS5X employs two concepts. The first usage of two groups of eight fins at the base and top of the two center heatpipes, that sit behind the cooler’s fan. A second group makes up the bulk of the cooler and consists of 38 fins. It extends out the rear of the cooler and expanding around the sides, utilizing all three heatpipes, which creates a sort of ducting for the fan. The fins aren’t very densely pack, allowing for air to move across with less restrictions.

Not mentioned on Zalman’s website, but based on comparisons we believe the three heatpipes of the CNPS5X are 6mm in diameter, which is pretty common with many other heatpipe heatsinks. All three pipes each begins at the top of the cooler, traveling down one side, making a U-shape turn at the base, and traveling up the other side. At the ‘U’ bend is where the pipes are soldered to the base, as well as the aluminum top plate where the mount is fastened to.

We found the base of the CNPS5X a little bit on the awkward side, with it's ever-so-thin sheet of copper laid across the flatten curvature if the heat pipes. Many will come to the conclusion that the base of the cooler is going to perform poorly, though we think that will not be the case as the heat pipes come in direct contact with the copper base, providing better heat absorption and equalized heat transfer between the all three pipes.

The fan that comes with the CNPS5X is rated at 1400 to 2800 RPM, with a maximum noise production of only 32 dBA.


Installation photos



Included accessories: Motherboard mounting bracket, retaining push-pins, small packet Zalman ZM-STG2M thermal compound.


Depending on the socket the cooler is to be used on (1155/1156 or 775) the plastic insert must be turned to the right indicator.


Plastic mounting bracket fitted to the motherboard, with plastic retention pins installed.


Screws on each side must be loosen in order to mount and center the cooler on motherboard.


Installation complete. [Editor's Note: Given the design of the mounting system, you can rotate the heatsink 180º if you prefer to have the rear case fan blowing in cool air, as apposed to exhausting.]


Stress Testing

For our testing we will be using the following procedures and parameters to acquire the necessary data:

  1. Thermal compound used is Arctic Silver 5
  2. Idle temperatures are recorded after the system has been allowed to idle for thirty minutes from the point Windows has finished loading.
  3. Load temperatures are recorded by running LinX for twenty-five minutes on all available threads.
  4. Real Temp is used for the recording of all temperature sensor reading.
  5. PWM function is disabled via BIOS to allow the fans to run at full speed.
  6. CPU model and the overclock speed used for testing are outlined below in "Test Hardware".

Test Hardware:
Motherboard:  Gigabyte P67-UD4
Processor: Intel Core i5 2500K Overclocked to 4.5GHz @1.35V
Ram: Patriot Sector 5 1333 4GB Dual Channel (9-9-9-24)
Video Card: ASUS Radeon HD 5870
HDD: Hitachi 1TB
Power: Thermaltake Tough Power XT 850 (Sponsored by Thermaltake)
Case: Corsair 600T
Cooling: Zalman CNPS5X
OS: Microsoft Windows 7 64-bit
Thermal compound: Arctic Silver 5

Testing Results

We tested the Zalman CNPS5X up against our everyday cooler, the Scythe Yasya. Granted, these two coolers aren't in the same performance class, since the Yasya is aimed at the mid-range overclocker that is looking for more than a few extra megahertz. The CNPS5X did an admirable job at keeping our overclocked i5 2500K @ 4.5GHz at bay. Admittedly they are a few degrees higher than we'd like to run for long periods of time at load, but you must keep in mind that it was all done by a budget cooler. [Editor's Note: I think it's fair to say that with the cooler flipped around and receiving cool intake air, that we could expect to see a 4C drop in those core temps, and no less than 2C at the very least. Tis quite respectable I think.] 


Conclusion

The Zalman CNPS5X is definitely a step up from the stock boxed CPU cooler. We are aware that some individuals have achieved decent overclocks using the stock cooler, especially on the new second generation i5/i7 processor. However, this is done by individuals with luck on their side by being able to use lower voltages. Our test CPU is not one of those lucky ones, as it takes quite a bit of voltage to get a decent overclock. There is simply no way we would have trusted the stock cooler with our processor running 1.35 volts. The CNPS5X-SZ had no issues with cooling that same CPU, even when a very generous overclock and added voltage were thrown at it. Even nicer is the fact, despite being set to 100% fan speed, it remained quiet throughout the entire testing process. Looking on the web we found the cooler to be costing consumers between $25-$30 making the cooler one of the "best bang for the buck" coolers out there.

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