Review of Zalman CNPS9900A LED cpu cooler

The Zalman CNPS9900A LED is a huge high end CPU cooler which supports a load of CPUs from both AMD and Intel.


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INTRODUCTION

The last couple of months have been busy for Zalman who have sent a few new coolers to the market. Amongst these are the CNPS10X series and CNPS9900 series.


The CNPS10X series introduced a new design for Zalman; the more classic tower type of CPU cooler. The CNPS9900A LED which I will take a look at today is based upon a concept which Zalman calls “Omega Heatpipe Design” from its similarities with the Greek letter Omega (Ω). That design was first introduced with the Zalman CNPS9300AT which I came in contact with a while back and which impressed me by its performance.



These are the specifications for the CNPS9900A LED:


Zalman CNPS9900A LED

Dimensions

94 x 131 x 152 mm

Weight

730g

Materials

Copper

Heatpipes

3 units of 6mm

Area of heat transference

5402 cm2

Compatibility

Intel: 1156, 1366, 775
AMD: 754, 939.940, AM2, AM2+, AM3

Fan

Size

120 mm

Rotation speed

800-2000 rpm

Generated noise

18-38 dbA

Power and speed control

4 pin connector, PWM regulator

Illumination

Blue LED

Other data of interest

RC33P included (voltage regulator)



The first thing that hit me when looking at the CNPS9900A LED is that it only utilizes three heat pipes. Most other high end manufacturers of big CPU coolers have gone to solutions with 5 or 6 heatpipes. This review should determine if Zalman has chosen a good path.




FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The CNPS9900A LED comes in a rather big box, which does nothing to hide the fact that this is truly a large CPU cooler. There’s an opening on the front and back sides of the box which lets us have a glimpse of the heatsink and the fan.


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The included accessories are quite plentiful. Zalman have included a manual in; a sticker with the logo of the manufacturer; a tube of the Zalman ZM-STG2 thermal grease, the RC33P adapter and all the anchorages and stuff necessary for installation on a variety of sockets.


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The RC33P is a device which allows us to regulate the turning speed of the fan by reducing the power from 12V to 7V. Of course if you have a fan controller you should use that instead because it offers more than two settings.




ZALMAN CNPS9900A LED IN DETAIL


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The Zalman CNPS9900A LED is made almost completely in copper. The unique piece made of aluminum is the upper part of the base.



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As you can see from the images above the fins on the back part of the heatsink is thicker than the front side. The reason for this is that the copper fins of the back part are the ones responsible for evacuating the heat.



It took me some time to find the two metallic legs that are anchored to the base and which hold up the fan in the middle of the two cylindrical copper fins.


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In the back part of the fan I found the label that shows the fan’s model number and its electrical characteristics. In this case Zalman has installed a 120 mm fan with PWM capabilities (between 1000 and 2000 rpm).




INSTALLATION AND TESTS OF ZALMAN CNPS9900A LED

The installation of the fan is quite easy and it took me only a couple of minutes. When installing the fan on an AMD system, you must first fasten the incorporated paper clip, whereas with Intel systems you have to also install a back plate and the fasteners for each socket. I will not go into this further here; suffice to say that the installation is easy.


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The other components I used for this review were the following:



Test equipment

Processor

AMD Phenom II X4 920
AMD Phenom II x2 550 BE

Cooling solution

Zalman CNPS9900A LED

Motherboard

Sapphire PC-AM2RD790 – CrossFireX PURE

Graphic card

Sapphire Radeon HD 4890

Soundcard

Auzen X-Fi Forte 7.1

Memory

Kingston HyperX DDR2 1066 2x2GB T1 Series

Hard disk

Samsung SP2504C (SATA II, 7200rmp, 8MB)

Power supply

Zalman ZM660-XT

Case

Cooler Master 690 PURE



I used two different processors for this review (both from AMD). I measured the CPU temperatures both in overclocked mode and with the factory settings.


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In order to measure the temperatures of the CPU I used the values from the internal sensors on the CPUs. It’s the best way to get reliable readings. In order to load to the CPUs to the maximum, I used the software OCCT 3.1.


The fan speed was automatically regulated by PWM during the test, reason why the speed oscillated between 1000 and 1600 rpm. These are the results from the test:


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As you can see from the graph above, the Zalman CNPS9900A LED is a very effective CPU cooler even though it’s not the most effective which I have tested. Even when I overclocked the CPUs, the CNPS9900A LED had no troubles what so ever to keep the processors cool.


As I said earlier, this cooler is PWM regulated. I monitored the speed during the tests and the max it reached was around 1500rpm. Even at that level the noise level was low. I turned up the fan manually to 2000rpm (max) and then the noise level was above my comfort level. However the fan moved an impressive volume of air at 2000rpm and it should be ideal to use in an overclocking session.



CONCLUSIONS

There are so many things I can say about the Zalman CNPS9900A LED, it is truly a remarkable product in terms of looks, design, size, weight, performance etc. But the one thing that really left an impression with me was its outstanding quality and finish.


When CNPS9900A LED is running it looks really nice with its blue LEDs which gives your system a nice touch provided you have a case with a side window.  Without being the highest performing CPU cooler I have tested, its overall performance is excellent. Its balance between moved volume of air, noise level and secured temperatures is impressive.



In my opinion, the Zalman CNPS9900A LED has only two negative aspects. First; it is really noisy at maximum power and second; its price around $75 is quite hefty and will exclude many consumers. The noise issue is easily solved thanks to the included accessories; you will never need to run the fan with full power. So anyone interested in this fan will have to decide if it’s worth the money. My personal conclusion is that it is worth it.


Pros:

  • Good accessories/bundle
  • Perfect finish
  • Spectacular design
  • Supports many CPUs/Sockets
  • Good balance between performance/noise


Cons:

  • Unbearable noise level above 1800 rpm
  • High price



Zalman CNPS9900A LED

Packing and accessories

1.5/1.5

Quality and finished

1.5/1.5

Yield

2.7/3

Loudness

2.7/3

Price

0.8/1

Total

9.2/10



The final score is 92 out of 100 owls, and we give the “Zalman CNPS9900A LED″ our Editor’s Choice Award.




TestSeek Labs Editor's Choice 2009 Award

 

 

Thanks goes out to Zalman for letting me review this cooler.

 

Check out the computer cooling category at TestSeek.com!

 


Author: Manuel González Fernández

Translator: Vince Emiloz Sanderson


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