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.
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.
In Figure 3, you can see the CNPS8000A.
In the next pages, you will see this cooler in detail.
[nextpage title=”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.
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.
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.
[nextpage title=”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.
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.
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.
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.
After that, you just need to put the cooler in place and fasten the four available screws.
Figure 11: Installed in our case
[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 (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.
- Processor: Core i7-860
- Motherboard: Gigabyte P55A-UD6
- Memory: 4 GB A-Data AX3U1333GB2G8-2G (DDR3-1333/PC3-10700 with 9-9-9-25 timings), configured at 1,200 MHz
- Hard disk: Seagate Barracuda XT 2 TB
- Video card: Zotac GeForce GTS 250
- Video resolution: 1680×1050
- Video monitor: Samsung Syncmaster 2232BW Plus
- Power supply: Seventeam ST-550P-AM
- Case: 3RSystem L-1100 T.REX Cool
Operating System Configuration
- Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
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, we set the fan at the minumum 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|
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.
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
The main features of the Zalman CNPS8000A CPU cooler include:
- Application: Socket LGA775, 1156, 1366, AM3, AM2+, and AM2 processors
- Fins: Aluminum
- Base: Copper
- Heat-pipes: Four copper heat-pipes
- Fans: 92 mm
- Nominal fan speed: 2,800 rpm
- Fan air flow: NA
- Maximum power consumption: NA
- Nominal noise level: 32 dBA
- Weight: 11.64 oz (330 g)
- More information: https://www.zalman.com
- Average price in the US*: USD 42.00
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.
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.
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