Zalman CNPS9900DF CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Otto Coelho on October 26, 2012


Introduction

Hardware Secrets Silver Award

Today we are testing the Zalman CNPS9900DF CPU cooler, which has two fans (one 120 mm and one 140 mm) and three heatpipes. We already tested two other members of the CNPS9900 family, the CNPS9900 NT and the CNPS9900 Max, each of them having only one fan. Actually, the “DF” in the name of the cooler stands for “dual fan.” Let’s see if that translates into higher performance.

The CNPS9900DF box has a front window that allows you to see the front of the cooler, as seen in Figure 1.

Zalman CNPS9900DF
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Figure 1: Package

Figure 2 shows the contents of the box: the cooler itself, a tube of thermal compound, manual, power Y harness, a case sticker, and installation hardware.

Zalman CNPS9900DF
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Figure 2: Accessories

Figure 3 displays the Zalman CNPS9900DF.

Zalman CNPS9900DF
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Figure 3: The CNPS9900DF

This cooler is discussed in detail in the following pages.

The CNPS9900DF

Figure 4 illustrates the front of the heatsink, where you can see the frontal 120 mm fan (1,000 rpm) with blue LEDs. You can also get a glimpse of the tips of two heatpipes at the base of the cooler.

Zalman CNPS9900DF
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Figure 4: Front view

Figure 5 reveals the side of the cooler, where you can see the second fan, which is a 140 mm (1,400 rpm) one, also with blue LEDs.

Zalman CNPS9900DF
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Figure 5: Side view

In Figure 6, you can see the top of the cooler.

Zalman CNPS9900DF
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Figure 6: Top view

The CNPS9900DF (Cont’d)

The rear of the cooler is shown in Figure 7. You can also see the fan connectors; the front fan has a three-pin connector, while the middle one has a four-pin connector. This means that only the middle fan is PWM-compatible.

Zalman CNPS9900DF
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Figure 7: Rear view

Figure 8 illustrates the bottom of the cooler. Notice that one heatpipe goes to the front heatsink (with both tips inserted into the base), while two heatpipes are inside the rear heatsink.

Zalman CNPS9900DF
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Figure 8: Bottom view

Figure 9 shows the base of the cooler, perfectly mirrored.

Zalman CNPS9900DF
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Figure 9: Base

Installation

To install the Zalman CNPS9900DF, first prepare the backplate. You must install the four nuts in the holes that match your CPU socket, attaching it to the solder side of the motherboard. Figure 10 shows the backplate with the nuts installed in the socket LGA1155 position.

Zalman CNPS9900DF
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Figure 10: Backplate with nuts

You also must screw the two metal clips on the base of the cooler, as shown in Figure 11.

Zalman CNPS9900DF
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Figure 11: Metal clips installed

Put the cooler in, holding it with four screws. Figure 12 shows the cooler installed.

Zalman CNPS9900DF
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Figure 12: Cooler installed

Figure 13 shows the CNPS9900DF working, with the blue LEDs lit.

Zalman CNPS9900DF
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Figure 13: LEDs lit

How We Tested

We tested the cooler with a Core i5-2500K CPU (quad-core, 3.3 GHz), which is a socket LGA1155 processor with a 95 W TDP (Thermal Design Power). In order to get higher thermal dissipation, we overclocked it to 4.0 GHz (100 MHz base clock and x40 multiplier), with 1.3 V core voltage (Vcore). This CPU was able to reach 4.8 GHz with its default core voltage, but at this setting, the processor enters thermal throttling when using mainstream coolers, reducing the clock and thus the thermal dissipation. This could interfere with the temperature readings, so we chose to maintain a moderate overclocking.

We measured noise and temperature with the CPU under full load. In order to get 100% CPU usage in all cores, 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 other coolers we already tested, and to the stock cooler that comes with the Core i5-2500K CPU. Note that the results cannot be compared to measures taken on a different hardware configuration, so 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 on the next page. Every cooler was tested with the thermal compound that comes with 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 panels of the computer case were closed. The front and rear case fans were spinning at minimum speed in order to simulate the “normal” cooler use on a well-ventilated case. We assume that is the common setup used by a cooling enthusiast or overclocker.

The sound pressure level (SPL) was measured with a digital noise meter, with its sensor placed near the top opening of the case. 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 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 full speed.

CoolerRoom Temp.NoiseSpeedCore Temp.Temp. Diff.
Cooler Master Hyper TX318 °C50 dBA2850 rpm69 °C51 °C
Corsair A7023 °C51 dBA2000 rpm66 °C43 °C
Corsair H10026 °C62 dBA2000 rpm64 °C38 °C
EVGA Superclock26 °C57 dBA2550 rpm67 °C41 °C
NZXT HAVIK 14020 °C46 dBA 1250 rpm65 °C45 °C
Thermalright True Spirit 12026 °C42 dBA1500 rpm82 °C56 °C
Zalman CNPS12X26 °C43 dBA1200 rpm71 °C45 °C
Zalman CNPS9900 Max20 °C51 dBA1700 rpm62 °C42 °C
Titan Fenrir Siberia Edition22 °C50 dBA2400 rpm65 °C43 °C
SilenX EFZ-120HA518 °C44 dBA1500 rpm70 °C52 °C
Noctua NH-L1220 °C44 dBA1450 rpm70 °C50 °C
Zalman CNPS8900 Extreme21 °C53 dBA2550 rpm71 °C50 °C
Gamer Storm Assassin15 °C48 dBA1450 rpm58 °C43 °C
Deepcool Gammaxx 40015 °C44 dBA1500 rpm60 °C45 °C
Cooler Master TPC 81223 °C51 dBA2350 rpm66 °C43 °C
Deepcool Gammaxx 30018 °C43 dBA1650 rpm74 °C56 °C
Intel stock cooler18 °C41 dBA2000 rpm97 °C79 °C
Xigmatek Praeton19 °C52 dBA2900 rpm83 °C64 °C
Noctua NH-U12P SE218 °C42 dBA1300 rpm69 °C51 °C
Deepcool Frostwin24 °C46 dBA1650 rpm78 °C54 °C
Thermaltake Frio Advanced13 °C56 dBA2000 rpm62 °C49 °C
Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk Edition9 °C48 dBA2100 rpm53 °C44 °C
Thermaltake Frio Extreme21 °C53 dBA1750 rpm59 °C38 °C
Noctua NH-U9B SE212 °C44 dBA1700 rpm64 °C52 °C
Thermaltake WATER2.0 Pro15 °C54 dBA2000 rpm52 °C37 °C
Deepcool Fiend Shark18 °C45 dBA1500 rpm74 °C56 °C
Arctic Freezer i3013 °C42 dBA1350 rpm63 °C50 °C
Spire TME III8 °C46 dBA1700 rpm70 °C62 °C
Thermaltake WATER2.0 Performer11 °C54 dBA2000 rpm49 °C38 °C
Arctic Alpine 11 PLUS11 °C45 dBA2000 rpm82 °C71 °C
be quiet! Dark Rock 210 °C41 dBA1300 rpm58 °C48 °C
Phanteks PH-TC14CS16 °C47 dBA1300 rpm58 °C42 °C
Phanteks PH-TC14PE16 °C48 dBA1300 rpm57 °C41 °C
SilverStone HE01 (Q)19 °C44 dBA1150 rpm63 °C44 °C
SilverStone HE01 (P)20 °C57 dBA2050 rpm62 °C42 °C
Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme (S)17 °C44 dBA1250 rpm52 °C35 °C
Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme (E)17 °C53 dBA1900 rpm50 °C33 °C
Deepcool Neptwin11 °C46 dBA1500 rpm56 °C45 °C
SilverStone HE0219 °C49 dBA2000 rpm64 °C45 °C
Zalman CNPS9900DF23 °C45 dBA1400 rpm68 °C45 °C

In the graph below, 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 CNPS9900DF

In the graph below, you can see how many decibels of noise each cooler makes.

Zalman CNPS9900DF

Main Specifications

The main specifications for the Zalman CNPS9900DF CPU cooler include:

Conclusions

The Zalman CNPS9900DF is a great looking, quiet, very well-made, good performance CPU cooler, keeping the good name of the CNPS family.

The only flaw is the fact that it didn’t perform as well as its “older brother,” the CNPS9900 Max. With two fans, one would expect a better performance, but it didn’t happen. However, the difference was very small, and one can say that both coolers have almost the same performance level.

For all the qualities shown, the Zalman CNPS9900DF receives our Silver Award.

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Zalman-CNPS9900DF-CPU-Cooler-Review/1652


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