We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
Today we are testing the top-shelf CPU air cooler from Zalman, the CNPS9900 MAX, which has two circular heatsinks, three heatpipes and a 135 mm LED fan. Let’s check if its performance.
The box of the CNPS9900 MAX is made of card paper, with a transparent window that allow you to see part of the cooler, as you can see in Figure 1.
In Figure 2, you can check the accessories that come with the cooler: installation parts, manual, case sticker, thermal compound, power adapter, and an Allen wrench.
In Figure 3, you can see the CNPS9900 MAX.
In the next pages, you will see this cooler in detail.
[nextpage title=”The Zalman CNPS9900 MAX”]
In Figure 4, you see the front of the cooler. The front heatsink is shaped like the Greek letter Omega "Ω", and both ends are connected to the base of the cooler.
In Figure 5, you have a side view of the cooler. Here it is clear that there are two independet heatsinks, one smaller at the front side and another one, bigger, at the rear side. The fan is attached to the base by a metal holder. The fins are made of nickel-plated copper.
In Figure 6, you check the rear side of the cooler. The rear heatsink has two nickel-plated copper heatpipes. Each heatpipe has both ends connected to the base. We also can see the four-pin fan connector, which means the fan has PWM automatic speed control.
In Figure ,7 you see the cooler viewed from the top.
The base of the CNPS9900 MAX is also made of nickel-plated copper, with a perfect mirror-like finishing.
The installatin of the CNPS9900 MAX is simple. First, you need to attach the clips that correspond to the socket of your CPU. In Figure 9, you can see the Intel clips in place.
After that, put the backplate on the solder side of the motherboard, the cooler over the CPU, and then fasten the four available screws.
[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. 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 is not the case here.
- Processor: Core i7-860
- Motherboard: Gigabyte P55A-UD6
- Memory: 2 GB Markvision (DDR3-1333/PC3-10700 with 9-9-9-22 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, the fan was set at the minimum 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|
|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||850/1150 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|
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 CNPS9900 MAX CPU cooler include:
- Application: Socket LGA775, 1155, 1156, 1366, AM3, AM2+ and AM2 processors
- Fins: Nickel-plated copper
- Base: Nickel-plated copper
- Heat-pipes: Three nickel-plated copper heatpipes
- Fan: 135 mm
- Nominal fan speed: 1,700 rpm
- Fan air flow: NA
- Maximum power consumption: 4.8 W
- Nominal noise level: 30 dBA
- Weight: 1.66 lbs (755 g)
- More information: https://www.zalman.com
- Average price in the US*: USD 70.00
* Researched at Amazon.com on the day we published this review.[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]
The Zalman CNPS9900 MAX is a very beautiful cooler, moving apart from the ubiquitous "tower" design, giving your computer a unique looks. Its fan has discrete red LEDs (it can also come with blue LEDs), which you can barely see during day time, but it doesn’t glow too much in dark enviroments.
Besides being a very nice-looking CPU cooler, its strong point is its performance, on the same level of the best air coolers we tested to date. And, better than that, the CNPS9900 MAX was less noisy than competing products.
The Zalman CNPS9900 MAX is beautiful, relatively quiet, and has an impressive performance, deserving the Hardware Secrets Golden Award.