Zalman CNPS10X Performa CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Coelho on August 10, 2010


Hardware Secrets Golden Award

The CNPS10X Performa is another cooler from the CNPS10X family from Zalman. It has a tower heatsink with five heatpipes, and a 120 mm fan. Let's see if it performs as well as its brothers.

We have already reviewed two coolers from this family, CNPS10X Extreme and CNPS10X Flex, and they both proved to be good coolers, so we expect good performance from this one.

The CNPS10X Performa box is cardboard, with no openings or windows, as you can see in Figure 1.

Zalman CNPS10X Performa
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Figure 1: Packaging

In Figure 2, you can see the box contents: the heatsink, fan, manual, installation hardware, a case sticker, and a small bag of thermal compound.

Zalman CNPS10X Performa
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Figure 2: Accessories

In the next pages, you will see this cooler in detail.

The CNPS10X Performa

In Figure 3, we have the front of the cooler. Note the heatpipes are not in a single row, so they can get more direct airflow. The fins at the center of the heatsink have "teeth", while the other ones have smooth edges.

Zalman CNPS10X Performa
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Figure 3: Front view

In Figure 4, you see the heatsink from the side.

Zalman CNPS10X Performa
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Figure 4: Side view

In Figure 5, you see the top of the cooler.

Zalman CNPS10X Performa
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Figure 5: Top view

The CNPS10X Performa (Cont’d)

In Figure 8, you can see the base of the cooler. It is very smooth but with no mirror-like finishing.

Zalman CNPS10X Performa
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Figure 6: Base

In Figure 9, you see the fan. It has a four-pin connector, making it compatible with PWM speed control.

Zalman CNPS10X Performa
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Figure 7: Fan

The fan is attached to the heatsink using two wire clips. In Figure 8, you can take a look at the cooler with the fan in place. It comes with an extra pair of clips, so you can install a second fan (not included).

Zalman CNPS10X Performa
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Figure 8: Fan installed

The CNPS10X Performa comes with an adapter that puts a resistor in series with the power wire, reducing the fan speed. You can use it if you want to exchange a little performance for quietness. In Figure 9 you can see it, along with the small thermal compound bag.

Zalman CNPS10X Performa
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Figure 9: Thermal compound and speed reducer


In Figure 10, you can see the backplate and the base of the cooler with Intel clips in place. You just need to put the backplate in place, put the cooler over the CPU and fasten four screws in order to install the cooler.

Zalman CNPS10X Performa
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Figure 10: Backplate and clips

In Figure 11 you can see the cooler installed in our case.

Zalman CNPS10X Performa
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Figure 11: Installed in our case

How We Tested

We tested the cooler with a Core i7-860 CPU (quad-core, 2.8 GHz), which is a socket LGA1156 processor with a 95 W TDP (Thermal Design Power). In order to get higher thermal dissipation, we overclocked it to 3.3 GHz (150 MHz base clock and 22x multiplier), keeping the standard core voltage (Vcore), which was the maximum stable overclock we could make with the stock cooler. Keep in mind that we could have raised the CPU clock more, but to include the stock cooler in our comparison, we needed to use this moderate overclock.

We measured noise and temperature with the CPU idle and under full load. In order to get 100% CPU usage in all threads, we ran Prime 95 25.11 (in this version, the software uses all available threads) with the "In-place Large FFTs" option.

We compared the tested cooler to the Intel stock cooler with a copper base (included with the CPU), as well as with other coolers. Note that in the past, we tested coolers with a socket LGA775 CPU, and we retested some "old" coolers with this new methodology. This means you can find different values in older reviews than the values you will read in the next page.

Room temperature measurements were taken with a digital thermometer. The core temperature was read with the SpeedFan program (available from the CPU thermal sensors), using an arithmetic average of the core temperature readings. During the tests, the left panel of the case was open.

The sound pressure level (SPL) was measured with a digital noise meter, with its sensor placed 4" (10 cm) from the fan. We turned off the case and video board cooler fans, so they wouldn't interfere with the results. This measurement is only for comparison purposes because a precise SPL measurement needs to be made inside an acoustically insulated room with no other noise sources, which is not the case here.

Hardware Configuration

Operating System Configuration

Software Used

Error Margin

We adopted a 2 °C error margin, meaning temperature differences below 2 °C are considered irrelevant.

Our Tests

The table below presents the results of our measurements. We repeated the same test on all coolers listed below. Each measurement was taken with the CPU at idle and at full load. In the models with a fan supporting PWM, the motherboard controlled the fan speed according to core load and temperature. On coolers with an integrated fan controller, we set the fan at the minumum speed on the idle test and at full speed on the full load test.


Idle Processor

Processor at Full Load

CoolerRoom Temp.NoiseSpeedCore Temp.NoiseSpeedCore Temp.
Intel stock (socket LGA1156)14 °C44 dBA1700 rpm46 °C54 dBA2500 rpm90 °C
Cooler Master Hyper TX3 G114 °C47 dBA2050 rpm33 °C56 dBA2900 rpm62 °C
Zalman CNPS10X Extreme14 °C45 dBA1400 rpm27 °C53 dBA1950 rpm51 °C
Thermaltake Silent 115614 °C44 dBA1200 rpm38 °C49 dBA1750 rpm69 °C
Noctua NH-D1414 °C49 dBA1250 rpm27 °C49 dBA 1250 rpm53 °C
Zalman CNPS10X Performa14 °C46 dBA1500 rpm28 °C52 dBA1950 rpm54 °C

In the graph below, at full load you can see how many degrees Celsius hotter the CPU core is than the air outside the case. The lower this difference, the better is the performance of the cooler.

Zalman CNPS10X Performa

Main Specifications

The main features of the Zalman CNPS10X Performa CPU cooler include:

* Researched at on the day we published this review.


The Zalman CNPS10X cooler family is really a great team. As with the CNPS10X Extreme and the CNPS10X Flex that we have already reviewed, the CNPS10X Performa is an excellent cooler, justifying its name. It performed practically as well as the CNPS10X Extreme.

The only thing we can complain about it is that it is not a quiet cooler when our CPU is under full load. Well, this is because this cooler is not designed for silence, but for performance. Besides that, you can use the adapter that comes with it to reduce the fan speed, or you can connect it to a fan controller.

This cooler performs practically as well as the top notch cooler in this family, with a bonus: it costs less. So, the Zalman CNPS10X Performan has great performance and a great cost/performance ratio, deserving the Hardware Secrets Golden Award.

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