Zalman CNPS11X Extreme CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Coelho on May 9, 2011
This time we are testing the Zalman CNPS11X Extreme CPU cooler. It has a V-shaped heatsink, one 120 mm fan and five heatpipes. Let's check its performance.
The CNPS11X Extreme box is relatively small, in black shades, as you see in Figure 1.
Figure 2 shows what comes with the cooler: thermal grease, manual, and installation hardware.
In Figure 3, you can see the Zalman CNPS11X Extreme.
This cooler is discussed in detail in the following pages.
Figure 4 displays the cooler from the front side, where there is the 120 mm fan with blue LEDs.
Figure 5 shows the side of the heatsink. Here you can see the five U-shaped heatpipes.
Figure 6 illustrates the back side of the cooler. At the center, there is a plastic piece that seems to split the heatsink in two.
Figure 7 presents the top of the cooler, where there is a plastic cap with the name of the product.
Removing that cap and the fan, you can see that actually there are two independent heatsinks. Each one is small and is connected to all five heatpipes. The fan pushes the air into the empty space between the heatsinks.
Figure 9 reveals the base of the CNPS11X Extreme. Like other Zalman coolers, this base is made of nickel-plated copper and has a perfectly mirrored surface.
In Figure 10, you can view the Intel clips installed on the base of the cooler. The clips for AMD systems are rather similar.
In Figure 11, you can observe the backplate that goes on the solder side of the motherboard, with the nuts already installed.
At the first time, we installed the CNPS11X Extreme on the position shown in Figure 12. But when we ran the tests, the performance was so poor that we removed the cooler to check installation. We detected that, on this position, one heatpipe was touching the heatsink of the chipset, avoiding contact between the CPU and the cooler with proper pressure.
So, we remounted the cooler on the position shown in Figure 13. This way, the cooler was properly mounted, and we could make the performance tests.
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 with the "In-place Large FFTs" option. (In this version, the software uses all available threads.)
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. Every cooler was tested with the thermal compound that accompanies it.
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.
Operating System Configuration
We adopted a 2 °C error margin, meaning temperature differences below 2 °C are considered irrelevant.
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, the fan was set at the minimum speed on the idle test and at full speed on the full load test.
Processor at Full Load
|Cooler||Room Temp.||Noise||Speed||Core Temp.||Noise||Speed||Core Temp.|
|Intel stock (socket LGA1156)||14 °C||44 dBA||1700 rpm||46 °C||54 dBA||2500 rpm||90 °C|
|Cooler Master Hyper TX3 G1||14 °C||47 dBA||2050 rpm||33 °C||56 dBA||2900 rpm||62 °C|
|Zalman CNPS10X Extreme||14 °C||45 dBA||1400 rpm||27 °C||53 dBA||1950 rpm||51 °C|
|Thermaltake Silent 1156||14 °C||44 dBA||1200 rpm||38 °C||49 dBA||1750 rpm||69 °C|
|Noctua NH-D14||14 °C||49 dBA||1250 rpm||27 °C||49 dBA||1250 rpm||53 °C|
|Zalman CNPS10X Performa||14 °C||46 dBA||1500 rpm||28 °C||52 dBA||1950 rpm||54 °C|
|Prolimatech Megahalems||14 °C||40 dBA||750 rpm||27 °C||60 dBA||2550 rpm||50 °C|
|Thermaltake Frio||14 °C||46 dBA||1450 rpm||27 °C||60 dBA||2500 rpm||50 °C|
|Prolimatech Samuel 17||14 °C||40 dBA||750 rpm||40 °C||60 dBA||2550 rpm||63 °C|
|Zalman CNPS8000A||18 °C||43 dBA||1400 rpm||39 °C||54 dBA||2500 rpm||70 °C|
|Spire TherMax Eclipse II||14 °C||55 dBA||2200 rpm||28 °C||55 dBA||2200 rpm||53 °C|
|Scythe Ninja3||17 °C||39 dBA||700 rpm||32 °C||55 dBA||1800 rpm||57 °C|
|Corsair A50||18 °C||52 dBA||1900 rpm||33 °C||52 dBA||1900 rpm||60 °C|
|Thermaltake Jing||18 °C||44 dBA||850 rpm||34 °C||49 dBA||1300 rpm||60 °C|
|GlacialTech Alaska||18 °C||43 dBA||1150 rpm||36 °C||51 dBA||1600 rpm||60 °C|
|Deepcool Gamer Storm||18 °C||43 dBA||1100 rpm||35 °C||48 dBA||1600 rpm||62 °C|
|Corsair A70||26 °C||56 dBA||1900 rpm||40 °C||56 dBA||1900 rpm||65 °C|
|Deepcool Ice Blade Pro||23 °C||45 dBA||1200 rpm||38 °C||52 dBA||1500 rpm||64 °C|
|AC Freezer 7 Pro Rev. 2||23 °C||47 dBA||1750 rpm||44 °C||51 dBA||2100 rpm||77 °C|
|Corsair H70||27 °C||60 dBA||1900 rpm||37 °C||60 dBA||1900 rpm||61 °C|
|Zalman CNPS9900 Max||27 °C||55 dBA||1600 rpm||38 °C||58 dBA||1750 rpm||63 °C|
|Arctic Cooling Freezer 11 LP||25 °C||45 dBA||1700 rpm||51 °C||49 dBA||1950 rpm||91 °C|
|CoolIT Vantage||26 °C||60 dBA||2500 rpm||37 °C||60 dBA||2500 rpm||62 °C|
|Deepcool Ice Matrix 600||25 °C||46 dBA||1100 rpm||41 °C||53 dBA||1300 rpm||69 °C|
|Titan Hati||26 °C||46 dBA||1500 rpm||40 °C||57 dBA||2450 rpm||68 °C|
|Arctic Cooling Freezer 13||27 °C||49 dBA||1950 rpm||41 °C||53 dBA||2300 rpm||70 °C|
|Noctua NH-C14||26 °C||52 dBA||1300 rpm||37 °C||52 dBA||1300 rpm||61 °C|
|Intel XTS100H||26 °C||49 dBA||1200 rpm||42 °C||64 dBA||2600 rpm||68 °C|
|Zalman CNPS5X SZ||23 °C||52 dBA||2250 rpm||38 °C||57 dBA||2950 rpm||69 °C|
|Thermaltake SlimX3||21 °C||50 dBA||2700 rpm||46 °C||50 dBA||2750 rpm||99 °C|
|Cooler Master Hyper 101||21 °C||50 dBA||2600 rpm||38 °C||57 dBA||3300 rpm||71 °C|
|Antec Kühler H2O 620||19 °C||52 dBA||1400 rpm||34 °C||55 dBA||1400 rpm||58 °C|
|Arctic Cooling Freezer 13 Pro||20 °C||46 dBA||1100 rpm||36 °C||49 dBA||1300 rpm||62 °C|
|GlacialTech Siberia||22 °C||49 dBA||1400 rpm||34 °C||49 dBA||1400 rpm||61 °C|
|Evercool Transformer 3||18 °C||46 dBA||1800 rpm||33 °C||51 dBA||2250 rpm||65 °C|
|Zalman CNPS11X Extreme||20 °C||51 dBA||1850 rpm||34 °C||56 dBA||2050 rpm||61 °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.
The main specifications for the Zalman CNPS11X Extreme CPU cooler include:
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.
The Zalman CNPS11X Extreme was made to be a lighweight high-end CPU cooler. However, there is a contradiction between those two statements because an air cooler must be heavy to be powerful. So, the CNPS11X Extreme didn't show the same performance level as the huge top-shelf coolers with which we are comparing it.
In general, this cooler is a good one. It looks nice, mainly when turned on, with the blue LEDs in the fan. The installation procedure is sturdy and relatively simple (it uses the same system found on other high-end coolers from Zalman, like the Zalman CNPS9900 MAX). When it comes to noise, the CNPS11X Extreme is not really quiet, but it's not as loud as the real high-end coolers. The price tag is high for the performance it offers.
In short, the Zalman CNPS11X Extreme has more style than performance, thus receiving the Hardware Secrets Bronze Award.