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[nextpage title=”Introduction”]

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.

Zalman CNPS11X ExtremeFigure 1: Package

Figure 2 shows what comes with the cooler: thermal grease, manual, and installation hardware.

Zalman CNPS11X ExtremeFigure 2: Accessories

In Figure 3, you can see the Zalman CNPS11X Extreme.

Zalman CNPS11X ExtremeFigure 3: The CNPS11X Extreme

This cooler is discussed in detail in the following pages.

[nextpage title=”The CNPS11X Extreme”]

Figure 4 displays the cooler from the front side, where there is the 120 mm fan with blue LEDs.

Zalman CNPS11X ExtremeFigure 4: Front view

Figure 5 shows the side of the heatsink. Here you can see the five U-shaped heatpipes.

Zalman CNPS11X ExtremeFigure 5: Side view

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.

Zalman CNPS11X ExtremeFigure 6: Rear view

[nextpage title=”The CNPS11X Extreme (Cont’d)”]Figure 7 presents the top of the cooler, where there is a plastic cap with the name of the product.

Zalman CNPS11X ExtremeFigure 7: Top view

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.

Zalman CNPS11X ExtremeFigure 8: Without the cap

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.

Zalman CNPS11X ExtremeFigure 9: Base

[nextpage title=”Installation”]

In Figure 10, you can view the Intel clips installed on the base of the cooler. The clips for AMD systems are rather similar.

Zalman CNPS11X ExtremeFigure 10: Mounting clips for Intel CPUs

In Figure 11, you can observe the backplate that goes on the solder side of the motherboard, with the nuts already installed.

Zalman CNPS11X ExtremeFigure 11: Backplate with nuts

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.

Zalman CNPS11X ExtremeFigure 12: Installed in our system (bad performance)

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.

Zalman CNPS11X ExtremeFigure 13: Installed in our system (good performance)

[nextpage title=”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 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.

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 isn’t the case here.

Hardware Configuration

Operating System Configuration

  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit

Software Used

Error Margin

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

[nextpage title=”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, the fan was set at the minimum 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
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 Trans
former 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.

 Zalman CNPS11X Extreme

[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]

The main specifications for the Zalman CNPS11X Extreme CPU cooler include:

  • Application: Sockets 775, 1155, 1156, 1366, AM3, AM2+, and AM2 processors
  • Dimensions: 5.3 x 3.1 x 6.1 inches (135 x 80 x 154 mm) (W x L x H)
  • Fins: Nickel-plated aluminum
  • Base: Nickel-plated copper
  • Heat-pipes: Five nickel-plated copper heatpipes
  • Fan: one 120 mm fan with blue LEDs
  • Nominal fan speed: 1,950 rpm
  • Fan air flow: Not informed
  • Maximum power consumption: Not informed
  • Nominal noise level: 33 dBA
  • Weight: 1.32 lbs (600 g)
  • More information: https://www.zalman.com
  • Average price in the US*: USD 90.00

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

[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]

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.