Zalman CNPS9900 LED CPU Cooler

Posted by on Monday, July 6, 2009 - 5:54am

overviewThe CNPS line takes chances in idea and design, especially when it comes to the new CNPS9900 cooler. Not that I am not a fan of the typical flower design we have seen from Zalman, but there is a time when one must move forward. With the competitive nature of the market, this is most definitely true with cooling technology. The new cooler keeps the usual heat pipes we're accustomed to seeing, but the fins surrounding the pipes are now split in half, resulting in two half coolers with a PWM controller in between them. But is this semi-new look enough to be fitted in your plans for your next rig build? We shall see.

 

Introduction

When it comes to cooling and cases, Zalman is one of the most recognized players in the game today. Their patented CNPS flower design is one of the most unique and efficient coolers in a closed environment on the market today. High performance and quiet noise levels make them ideal HTPC coolers. In addition, cases are an area where Zalman excels. Their GS and GT models have been favorite of mine from they were first introduced. Quality and durability are hallmarks of these cases. However, it has been a while since we've seen a new cooler from Zalman. It's time to review their newest one to the market.

The CNPS line takes chances in idea and design, especially when it comes to the new CNPS9900 cooler. Not that I am not a fan of the typical flower design we have seen from Zalman, but there is a time when one must move forward. With the competitive nature of the market, this is most definitely true with cooling technology. The new cooler keeps the usual heat pipes we're accustomed to seeing, but the fins surrounding the pipes are now split in half, resulting in two half coolers with a PWM controller in between them. But is this semi-new look enough to be fitted in your plans for your next rig build? We shall see.

What Zalman has to say about the CNPS 9900 LED

Dual Heatsink Design, Ultra-thin 0.2mm fins for minimized weight and significantly reduced airflow resistance.

Packaging and contents

The 9900 retail box is very typical of Zalman and the way they market all their standing flower coolers, which is in a well-dressed, very informative box, letting the consumer know all about the cooler. All this information is located on the sides and back of the box. The front has a small window that teases you with a glimpse of the cooler inside.

The rest of the items in the box besides the cooler are pretty typical of a highend cooler. Included are mounting hardware for sockets from Intel 775 and 1366 to AMD AM2, AM3, 939 and 754. Zalman makes it really clear what bracket is which in the manual and I recommend glancing over it before attempting to mount the cooler to your motherboard.

Specifications

Dimensions 94(L) x 131(W) x 152(H) mm
Weight 730g
Base Material Pure Copper
Dissipation Area 5,402§²
Bearing Type 2 Ball-Bearing
Speed 1,000rpm ~ 2,000rpm ¡¾ 10 %
Noise Level 19.5dBA ~ 38.0dBA ¡¾ 10%
Control Method PWM Control, Auto Restart

Features

 
  Does not generate noise or vibration in Silent Mode.
 
  100% copper heatsink with aerodynamically optimized ¡°tunnel¡± design for maximum cooling efficiency.
 
  Patented heatpipe design for cooling performance of up to 6 heatpipes with the use of just 3.
 
  Ultra-thin 0.2mm fins for minimized weight and significantly reduced airflow resistance.
 
  Compatible with all Intel Socket 1366/775 and all AMD Socket AM2+/AM2/754/939/940 based Single, Dual, and Quad Core CPUs.
 
  Ultra quiet 120mm PWM LED fan for automatic fan speed control according to the CPU's temperature.

Closer look

Like we stated earlier, the Zalman CNPS9900 LED differs from the older 8700, 9300, 9500 and 9700 we have seen in the past. The new cooler uses a single fan in a push-pull configuration to perform as well as it does. You may wonder how can you use a single fan to achieve a push-pull effect. Well, the fan is mounted between two rows of fins. Air is pulled across the first set of fins and then air is pushed across the second set of fins. That is basically how the 9900 LED works and it works pretty well.

Before we get into detail about the cosmetics of the cooler, let me tell you about the one important statistic. Weight is one of the determining factors when buying a new cooler and we are happy to say that the CNPS 9900 is not as heavy as some fans we have tested lately. At 730 grams with the fan attached, you have nothing to worry about when attempting to use this cooler in a horizonal position. At 152mm tall and 130mm wide you should not have any issues with securing the cooler panel to the case after installation.Yet, I would research to make sure there are no width issues with your motherboard and memory.

Below we see the make up of the CNPS 9900 in all its coppery goodness. In the introduction, we told you that the cooler is made up of two arrays of fins supported by a total of four heat pipes. What I found unique about the two sections of fins is the set that the fan blows across is a few millimeter thicker than the other set. The reason for this is unclear to me, but it does look pretty cool.

The fan that cools the CNPS 9900 measures a industry standard 120mm. When powered on the fan will give off a nice blue glow that will essence the interior of any case. According to Zalman the fan spinning between 1000-2000 RPM based on the PWN feature. The PWN feature is a godsend when it comes to this cooler because at full spin it is pretty loud.

Lastly, we have the base of the cooler. You can tell by my not so photography skills there are some signs of machine lines on the surface of the base. This is something that I have seen in a few Zalman coolers, but it never seems to hurt the performance of the cooler at all.

Installation

The installation of this cooler is not bad but not the easiest when mounting on Intel-based motherboards. We figured out that no matter what case or motherboard you built your rig around, the motherboard needs to removed. This is because a backplate, along with a set of small screws, have to be inserted in order to complete the process.

The entire mounting process is described in the guide but we saw that there are two ways of attaching the cooler to your motherboard. The first method is secure the top plastic bracket to the motherboard and then slide the cooler underneath. The method I decided to use was to place the cooler on the CPU and then secure the plastic bracket in place. If you use this method, you just have to be careful and make sure the cooler base is perfectly aligned.

Note: The Zalman comes with a small plastic shield that protects the cooler during shipping. Make sure it is removed before powering the system.

Testing Hardware: Motherboard: Asrock X58 SuperComputer
Processor: Intel Core i7 920 @ 3.6 @ 1.4v
Ram: Patriot DDR3 PC12800 6GB Tri-Channel
Video Card: Sapphire HD3870 Toxic
HDD: Seagate 7200.11
Power: Thermaltake Tough Power XT
Case: NA
Cooling: Zalman CNPS 9900 LED
OS: Windows XP SP3
Thermal compound: Arctic Silver 5

Competition:
Stock AMD Cooler
Thermalright T.R.U.E.
Evercool Transformer 4

Testing of the CNPS 9900 LED

Over time, we've found that we have been able to get a better overclock on our i7 920 at a very decent voltage of 1.4. We used this for the testing of the Transformer 4. During testing, we allow the system to sit idle for one hour and then measure the temperature. Afterward, we then load OCCT and ran a 30 minute bench session with priority set at high and recorded the temps at the end. Each core was recorded for more detail of performance.

Results

When it came down to testing the Zalman cooler, we set full speed on the fan as well as a lower setting just to see what differences there would be. Boy, was there some big differences in the two settings. At max spin (2150RPM according to the ASrock software), we saw the cooler perform slightly better than the Thermalright cooler, but not without cost. At max rotation the fan was pretty loud. In fact, it got to the point where I would not think many would enjoy it at all. It clearly would be the loudest fan in any setup, I've heard.

Idle Temps

Load Temps

When we slowed the fan down to 1300RPM a more respectable RPM setting the fan was just barely audible, the performance suffered to the point that it was no competition for the Thermalright T.R.U.E. We saw a drop off that resulted in the Zalman getting beat by at least two degrees on all four cores. Still, the Zalman is a very good cooler and such be considered by many looking for a new cooler.

Conclusion

The Zalman CNPS 9900 LED is definitely one of the best coolers to come from the Zalman camp. It was refreshing to see them take the classic flower design and add a new twist to it. We were amazed they took a single fan and accomplished a push-pull configuration that does not take up alot of room like the Evercool Transformer 4 we recently reviewed. We were able to mount the cooler in various directions and it never interfered with the ram or North Bridge cooler. The cooler is absolutely good looking as well. I would say it is one of the best looking coolers out there. The copper really comes alive when power is given to the system and the blue glow is bought to life.

Performance is also on the side of the CNPS 9900. At max fan speed, we saw the cooler outperform the Thermalright T.R.U.E. However, the achievement came at the cost of quietness. We were not happy with the noise that came from the fan at this level. The noise level to performance ratio was not on the side of this cooler. Yet, even at a more respectable fan speed of 1300RPM, the CNPS 9900 just got beat by the Thermalright cooler by just a couple of degrees. Even with these numbers, I would still recommend this cooler to anyone looking for a performer.

The 9900 is somewhat expensive as it can be found online from anywhere between $65 and $75. At this price point, it's rubbing fan blades with the Proimatech Megahalems, Noctua NH-U12P, Coolermaster V8 and Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme. Though this is good company as all these offer very good cooling performance..

 

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