Today we are going to review another CPU cooler from Zalman, CNPS9700 NT. Its design is very different from the ones we are used to see, with three 8-shaped heatpipes, nickel-plated looks and a 110-mm fan. Let’s check if its performance beats coolers based on the "tower" design.
Besides CNPS9700 NT Zalman also offers NPS9700 LED, which has as main difference the absence of the nickel-plated looks, with a plain copper color on its fins, heatpipes and base. The CNPS9500 series have a similar design, but being a little smaller, with a 92-mm fan.
CNPS9700 NT box looks nice in green shades. It is possible to see the fan and part of the heatsink from a plastic transparent window.
Inside the box we found the cooler, a user manual, installing hardware, a gray thermal compound tube and a case sticker.
In Figure 3 you can have a general view of CNPS9700 NT. It does not look like any other cooler we have already reviewed. Fins, heatpipes and base are made of pure copper, but nickel-plated for a dark metal looks just like Zalman CNPS10X Extreme we reviewed some weeks ago.
The 110-mm fan is mounted inside the heatsink, attached to the cooler base by two metallic holders.
[nextpage title=”Introduction (Cont’d)”]
In Figure 5 we can see the shape from the heatpipes, which looks like the number eight. There are three heatpipes working as if there were six of them. The copper fins are attached to the heatpipes.
In a side view we can see how big the cooler is. We can also notice that the fan really stays inside the fins.
All the tips from the heatpipes are connected to the cooler base. In Figure 7, you can see that all the parts are nickel-plated. The base top plate is the only aluminum part available on this cooler.
CNPS9700 NT base has a perfect mirror finishing.
Besides the cooler unique design, the thermal compound that comes with it is also unusual, coming in a little glass bottle. It is very liquid and must be applyed with a brush, as you can see in Figure 9.
CNPS9700 NT installation on AMD CPUs is very simple: you just need to attach it to the existing motherboard frame using the clip shown in Figure 10.
For Intel socket LGA775 processors you must install the frame and clip shown in Figure 11. Note that CNPS9700 NT does not fit sockets 1156 and 1366, unless you buy the optional clips for these sockets.
Figure 11: Socket LGA775 installation hardware.
This frame must be installed on the component side of the motherbard, using the backplate on the solder side. So, unless your case has an opening on the motherboard tray, it is necessary to remove the motherboard from the case in order to install this cooler.
After that CNPS9700 NT must be attached to the frame using two screws.
Figure 13: Installed on the motherboard.
In Figure 14, you can see the cooler installed in the case. It looks very cool and, even being a big cooler, does not interfere with components from the motherboard.
Figure 14: Installed inside theo0 case.
Finally in Figure 15 we can see the green glow of the fan LED. According to the product homepage, however, this LED would be blue on CNPS9700 NT and green on CNPS9700 LED.
[nextpage title=”How We Tested”]
We are adopting the following metodology on our CPU cooler reviews.
First, we chose the CPU with the highest TDP (Thermal Design Power) we had available, a Core 2 Extreme QX6850, which has a 130 W TDP. The choice for a CPU with a high TDP is obvious. To measure the efficiency of the tested cooler, we need a processor that gets very hot. This CPU works by default at 3.0 GHz, but we overclocked it to 3.33 GHz, in order to heat it as much as possible.
We took noise and temperature measurements with the CPU idle and under full load. In order to achieve 100% CPU load on the four processing cores we ran Prime95 with the "In-place Large FFTs" option, and three instances of the StressCPU program, all at the same time.
We also compared the reviewed cooler to the Intel stock cooler (with copper base), which comes with the processor we used, and also with some other coolers we have tested using the same methodology.
Temperature measurements were taken with a digital thermometer, with the sensor touching the base of the cooler, and also with the core temperature reading (given by the CPU thermal sensor) from the from the SpeedFan program, using an arithmetic average of the four core temperature readings.
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 video board cooler so it wouldn’t interfere with the results, but this measurement is only for comparative 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 2 Extreme QX6850
- Motherboard: Gigabyte EP45-UD3L
- Memory: 2 GB Corsair XMS2 DHX TWIN2X2048-6400C4DHX G (DDR2-800/PC2-6400 with timings 4-4-4-12), running at 800 MHz
- Hard drive: 500 GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 (ST3500320AS, SATA-300, 7200 rpm, 32 MB buffer)
- Video card: PNY Verto Geforce 9600 GT
- Video resolution: 1680×1050
- Video monitor: Samsung Syncmaster 2232BW Plus
- Power supply required: Seventeam ST-550P-AM
- Case: 3RSystem K100
- Windows XP Professional installed on FAT32 partition
- Service Pack 3
- Intel Inf driver version: 188.8.131.529
- NVIDIA video driver version: 182.08
We adopted a 2 °C error margin, i.e., temperature differences below 2 °C are considered irrelevant.
[nextpage title=”Our Tests”]
On the tables below you can see our results. We ran the same tests with the Intel stock cooler, Thermaltake BigTyp 14Pro, Akasa Nero, Cooler Master V10, Thermaltake TMG IA1, Zalman CNPS10X Extreme, Thermaltake ISGC-100, Noctua NH-U12P, Noctua NH-C12P, Thermaltake ISGC-200, Scythe Kabuto, Arctic Cooling Alpine 11 Pro, Thermaltake ISGC-300, SilverStone NT06-E and Zalman CNPS9700 NT. Each test ran with the CPU idle and the with the CPU fully loaded. On BigTyp 14Pro, TMG IA1, NH-U12P and ISGC-300 the tests were done with the fan at full speed and at minimum speed. The other coolers were connected directly to the motherboard and it controls the fan speed based on CPU load level and temperature on PWM models.
|Cooler||Room Temp.||Noise||Fan Speed||Base Temp.||Core Temp.|
|Intel stock||14 °C||44 dBA||1000 rpm||31 °C||42 °C|
|BigTyp 14Pro (min. speed)||17 °C||47 dBA||880 rpm||29 °C||36 °C|
|BigTyp 14Pro (max. speed)||17 °C||59 dBA||1500 rpm||26 °C||34 °C|
|Akasa Nero||18 °C||41 dBA||500 rpm||26 °C||35 °|
|Cooler Master V10||14 °C||44 dBA||1200 rpm||21 °C||26 °C|
|TMG IA1 (max. speed)||16 °C||47 dBA||1500 rpm||22 °C||30 °C|
|TMG IA1 (min. speed)||16 °C||57 dBA||2250 rpm||21 °C||30 °C|
|Zalman CNPS10X Extreme||16 °C||44 dBA||1200 rpm||21 °C||29 °C|
|Thermaltake ISGC-100||18 °C||44 dBA||1450 rpm||35 °C||49 °C|
|Noctua NH-U12P (low speed)||15 °C||42 dBA||1000 rpm||20 °C||30 °C|
|Noctua NH-U12P||15 °C||46 dBA||1400 rpm||20 °C||28 °C|
|Noctua NH-C12P||17 °C||46 dBA||1400 rpm||23 °C||28 °C|
|Thermaltake ISGC-200||21 °C||43 dBA||1100 rpm||31 °C||35 °C|
|Schythe Kabuto||22 °C||42 dBA||800 rpm||29 °C||34 °C|
|Arctic Cooling Alpine 11 Pro||20 °C||43 dBA||1500 rpm||32 °C||39 °C|
|ISGC-300 (min. speed)||18 °C||42 dBA||800 rpm||26 °C||30 °C|
|ISGC-300 (max. speed)||18 °C||46 dBA||1400 rpm||24 °C||26 °C|
|SilverStone NT06-E||21 °C||66 dBA||2600 rpm||30 °C||41 °C|
|Zalman CNPS9700 NT||22 °C||48 dBA||1700 rpm||28 °C||35 °C|
CPU Fully Loaded
|Fan Speed||Base Temp.||Core Temp.|
|Intel stock||14 °C||48 dBA||1740 rpm||42 °C||100 °C|
|BigTyp 14Pro (min. speed)||17 °C||47 dBA||880 rpm||43 °C||77 °C|
|BigTyp 14Pro (max. speed)||17 °C||59 dBA||1500 rpm||35 °C||70 °C|
|Akasa Nero||18 °C||48 dBA||1500 rpm||34 °C||68 °C|
|Cooler Master V10||14 °C||54 dBA||1900 rpm||24 °C||52 °C|
|TMG IA1 (max. speed)||16 °C||47 dBA||1500 rpm||27 °C||63 °C|
|TMG IA1 (min. speed)||16 °C||57 dBA||2250 rpm||25 °C||60 °C|
|Zalman CNPS10X Extreme||16 °C||51 dBA||1900 rpm||24 °C||50 °C|
|Thermaltake ISG-100||18 °C||50 dBA||1800 rpm||58 °C||93 °C|
|Noctua NH-U12P (low speed)||15 °C||42 dBA||1000 rpm||28 °C||59 °C|
|Noctua NH-U12P||15 °C||46 dBA||1400 rpm||25 °C||54 °C|
|Noctua NH-C12P||17 °C||46 dBA||1400 rpm||37 °C||76 °C|
|Thermaltake ISGC-200||21 °C||48 dBA||1900 rpm||42 °C||68 °C|
|Scythe Kabuto||22 °C||47 dBA||1200 rpm||38 °C||63 °C|
|Arctic Cooling Alpine 11 Pro||20 °C||51 dBA||2300 rpm||49 °C||85 °C|
|ISGC-300 (min. speed)||18 °C||42 dBA||800 rpm||36 °C||64 °C|
|ISGC-300 (max. speed)||18 °C||46 dBA||1400 rpm||31 °C||56 °C|
|SilverStone NT06-E||21 °C||66 dBA||2600 rpm||39 °C||96 °C|
|Zalman CNPS9700 NT||22 °C||56 dBA||2600 rpm||34 °C||63 °C|
On the graph below you can see the temperature difference between the cooler base and the room temperature with the CPU idle and fully loaded. The values shown are in degrees Celsius. Remember that the lower the number the better is cooling performance.
The next graph will give you an idea on how many degrees Celsius the CPU core was hotter than room temperature during the tests.
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
Zalman CNPS9700 NT main features are:
- Application: Socket LGA775, AM3, AM2+, AM2, 939 and 754 processors.
- Fins: Copper.
- Base: Copper.
- Heat-pipes: Three 8-shaped copper heat-pipes.
- Fan: 110 mm.
- Nominal fan speed: 1,250 to 2,800 rpm.
- Fan air flow: not informed.
- Maximum power consumption: 4.8 W.
- Nominal noise level: 35 dBA.
- Weight: 1.68 lbs (764 g).
- More information: https://www.zalman.com
- Average price in the US*: USD 59.00
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.
The cooling performance achieved by CNPS9700 NT was on the same level of the best coolers we tested with this methodology. It kept our CPU temperature in acceptable values even in the worst conditions. The noise level was reasonable, not inaudible but also not annoying. It is in the same price range of its competitors.
What is really unique about this cooler is its looks: it is very different from most coolers, with a nice and appealing looks. Into a case with a transparent side window it will surely catch the eye, avoiding the sameness of tower coolers. If silence is your priority there are better options, but if you are looking for a cooler that looks "cool", this model is one of the best chioces available.
CNPS9700 NT deserves the Hardware Secrets Golden Award seal.
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