Zalman CNPS8000A CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Coelho on September 20, 2010


Introduction

Hardware Secrets Bronze Award

Today we are testing another low-profile CPU cooler, the Zalman CNPS8000A, which has four heatpipes and a 92 mm fan. Will it perform like a tower cooler? Let's check it out.

The CNPS8000A box is small, with a transparent window that allow you to see its black 92 mm fan.

Zalman CNPS8000A
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Figure 1: Packaging

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

Zalman CNPS8000A
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Figure 2: Box contents

In Figure 3, you can see the CNPS8000A.

Zalman CNPS8000A
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Figure 3: CNPS8000A

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

The CNPS8000A

In Figure 4, you see the front of the cooler. The four heatpipes are close to each other at the base, and spread at the top of the heatsink.

Zalman CNPS8000A
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Figure 4: Front view

In Figure 5, you see the cooler from the side. Since both the fins and the heatpipes are in direct contact with the base, the heat is transferred not only using the heatpipes, but also directly.

Zalman CNPS8000A
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Figure 5: Side view

In Figure 6, you see the rear side of the cooler. The fan uses a three-pin connector, meaning that the fan doesn't have PWM speed control. Remember, however, that this CPU cooler comes with a Fan Mate 2 speed controller, so you can set the fan speed manually.

Zalman CNPS8000A
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Figure 6: Rear view

The CNPS8000A (Cont’d)

In Figure 7, you see the top of the cooler. This design also helps to cool the components near the CPU, like the chipset and voltage regulator circuit.

Zalman CNPS8000A
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Figure 7: Top view

In Figure 8, you can see the base of the cooler. Note how the base is made of pure copper, being smooth but without a mirror-like looks.

Zalman CNPS8000A
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Figure 8: Base

Installation

Before installing the cooler, you must prepare the backplate, attaching four nuts in the available holes, according to the kind of socket used by your CPU.

Zalman CNPS8000A
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Figure 9: Backplate with nuts installed

The next step is to attach the correct clip set to the base of the cooler. There is one set for Intel socket LGA775, 1156, and 1366 CPUs (shown installed in Figure 10), and another set for AMD socket AM2, AM2+ and AM3 CPUs.

Zalman CNPS8000A
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Figure 10: Clips installed

After that, you just need to put the cooler in place and fasten the four available screws.

Zalman CNPS8000A
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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

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

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 CNPS8000A

Main Specifications

The main features of the Zalman CNPS8000A CPU cooler include:

* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.

Conclusions

Some time ago, high-performance computers had to use huge cases, and small cases were seen as a signal of a "weak" computer. Nowadays, however,  Home Teather PCs (HTPCs) are getting more and more common, and high-performance computers can be easily built using SFF (small form factor) cases, making this old notion "wrong". It is good to see that there are nice options for cooling the CPU in this kind of computer.

The CNPS800A is not a top performer, but it has a simple installation, reasonable noise level, being a relatively inexpensive cooler for someone who needs to replace the stock cooler with something with better performance. Because of that, it receives the Hardware Secrets Bronze Award.

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Zalman-CNPS8000A-CPU-Cooler-Review/1079


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