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[nextpage title=”Introduction”]

Today we are testing another cooler from Zalman, CNPS9900 NT. Its design is curious, with two circular heatsinks with heatpipes shaped like the Greek letter Ω (omega) with a 120 mm fan between them. But what about performance? Let’s check it out in this review.

The box resembles the one used by CNPS9700 NT (also from Zalman), with shades of green and a window where we can see part of the cooler.

Zalman CNPS9900 NTFigure 1: Box.

Inside the box we found the cooler, manual, installation hardware and a gray thermal coumpound syringe.

Zalman CNPS9900 NTFigure 2: Box contents.

In the next pages we will see Zalman CNPS9900 NT in details.

[nextpage title=”Zalman CNPS9900 NT”]

CNPS9900 NT is amazing. From a front view (Figure 3) it looks like CNPS9700 NT, which also has the round-shaped heatsink with heatpipes inside the fins, made of nickel-plated copper, giving both durability and a nice dark looks.

Zalman CNPS9900 NTFigure 3: Front view.

In a side view, however, the difference between those two coolers is clear: on the other model there is only one heatsink, while on the CNPS9900 family there are two independent heatsinks, one in front and another behind the fan.

Zalman CNPS9900 NTFigure 4: Side view.

The front heatsink has only one heatpipe (with both tips connected to the base from the cooler), but the rear heatsink (shown in Figure 5) has two heatpipes. This, and the fact this heatsink is bigger and receives the direct airflow from the fan, made this heatsink responsible for the most of the heat exchange, and we can say that the front heatsink is an auxiliary one.

Zalman CNPS9900 NTFigure 5: Rear view.

[nextpage title=”Zalman CNPS9900 NT (Cont’d)”]

In Figure 6 we can see CNPS 9900 NT from above and notice a good distance between the heatsinks. The fan is transparent and glows green when working.

Zalman CNPS9900 NTFigure 6: Top view.

In Figure 7 we can see the base of the cooler, with a perfect mirrored finishing.
Zalman CNPS9900 NTFigure 7: Base.
In Figure 8 we can see the ZM-STG2 thermal compound syringe that comes with the cooler, as well as an adapter that reduces the voltage received by the fan, which makes it spin at a lower speed and thus reducing its noise level.

Zalman CNPS9900 NTFigure 8: Accessories.

[nextpage title=”Installation”]

CNPS9900 NT supports sockets AM3, AM2+, AM2, 939 and 754 AMD processors and sockets 775, 1156 and 1366 Intel CPUs. In Figure 9 we see the AMD clip (left) and the Intel socket LGA1366 retention system (right).

Zalman CNPS9900 NTFigure 9: AMD CPUs and socket LGA1366 clips.

In Figure 10 we can see the installation hardware for sockets 775 and 1156. With socket LGA775 you must use the black backplate on the left and the frame on the right. With socket LGA1156, however, the backplate is not used and the frame is attached to the motherboard using the black nuts shown at the bottom of Figure 10. In both cases you must have access to the solder side of the motherboard.

Zalman CNPS9900 NTFigure 10: Sockets 775 and 1156 hardware.

In Figure 11 we can see CNPS9900 NT installed on our motherboard. Despite of its size, it did not interfere with any motherboard component, staying away from the memory modules and heatsink from the chipset.

Zalman CNPS9900 NTFigure 11: Installed on our motherboard.

In Figure 12 we can see the cooler installed in our case.

Zalman CNPS9900 NTFigure 12: Installed inside our case.

[nextpage title=”How We Tested”]

We are adopting the following methodology for 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 t
he 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.

Hardware Configuration

Software Configuration

  • Windows 7 Home Premium

Software Used

Error Margin

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 coolers shown on below tables. 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. ISGC-400, iCEAGE Prima Boss and Megahalems Rev. B were tested at minimum speed on idle test and at maximum speed on full load test.

< td align="center">39 °C

CPU Idle

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) 17 °C 47 dBA 880 rpm 29 °C 36 °C
BigTyp 14Pro (max) 17 °C 59 dBA 1500 rpm 26 °C 34 °C
Akasa Nero 18 °C 41 dBA 500 rpm 26 °C 35 °C
Cooler Master V10 14 °C 44 dBA 1200 rpm 21 °C 26 °C
TMG IA1 (max) 16 °C 47 dBA 1500 rpm 22 °C 30 °C
TMG IA1 (min) 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) 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
ISGC-300 (min) 18 °C 42 dBA 800 rpm 26 °C 30 °C
ISGC-300 (max) 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
Scythe Mugen-2 17 °C 41 dBA 700 rpm 25 °C 30 °C
ISGC-400 (min) 17 °C 44 dBA 850 rpm 24 °C 30 °C
Cooler Master Vortex 752 20 °C 48 dBA 1700 rpm 32 °C 44 °C
iCEAGE Prima Boss (min) 22 °C 42 dBA 1000 rpm 29 °C 36 °C
Evercool Buffalo 17 °C 51 dBA 1850 rpm 22 °C 29 °C
Scythe Big Shuriken 20 °C 42 dBA 900 rpm 31 °C 39 °C
Cooler Master Hyper TX3 21 °C 44 dBA 1700 rpm 30 °C 39 °C
Titan Skalli 20 °C 43 dBA 1200 rpm 27 °C 34 °C
Prolimatech Megahalems Rev. B 21 °C 40 dBA 800 rpm 28 °C 32 °C
Zalman CNPS9900 NT 23 °C 45 dBA 900 rpm 30 °C 34 °C

CPU Fully Loaded

Cooler Room Temp. Noise Fan Speed Base Temp. Core Temp.
Intel stock 14 °C 48 dBA 1740 rpm 42 °C 100 °C
BigTyp 14Pro (min) 17 °C 47 dBA 880 rpm 43 °C 77 °C
BigTyp 14Pro (max) 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) 16 °C 47 dBA 1500 rpm 27 °C 63 °C
TMG IA1 (min) 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) 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) 18 °C 42 dBA 800 rpm 36 °C 64 °C
ISGC-300 (max) 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
Scythe Mugen-2 17 °C 46 dBA 1300 rpm 28 °C 54 °C
ISGC-400 (max) 17 °C 47 dBA 1400 rpm 36 °C 69 °C
Cooler Master Vortex 752 20 °C 55 dBA 2300 rpm 48 °C 92 °C
iCEAGE Prima Boss (max) 22 °C 53 dBA 2000 rpm 35 °C 59 °C
Evercool Buffalo 17 °C 51 dBA 1850 rpm 32 °C 67 °C
Scythe Big Shuriken 20 °C 50 dBA 1500 rpm 51 °C 85 °C
Cooler Master Hyper TX3 21 °C 53 dBA 2700 rpm 39 °C 66 °C
Titan Skalli 20 °C 47 dBA 1550 rpm 37 °C 69 °C
Prolimatech Megahalems Rev. B 21 °C 61 dBA 2600 rpm 30 °C 51 °C
Zalman CNPS9900 NT 23 °C 56 dBA 2000 rpm 34 °C 54 °C

The next graph shows how many degrees Celsius the CPU core was hotter than room temperature during our idle tests.

Zalman CNPS9900 NT 

The next graph gives you an idea on how many degrees Celsius the CPU core was hotter than room temperature during our full load tests.

 Zalman CNPS9900 NT

[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]

Zalman CNPS9900 NT main features are:

  • Application: Sockets 1366, 1156, 775, AM3, AM2+, AM2, 939 and 754 processors.
  • Fins: Copper (nickel-plated).
  • Base: Copper.
  • Heat-pipes: Three Ω-shape copper heat-pipes.
  • Fan: 120 mm.
  • Nominal fan speed: 2,000 rpm.
  • Fan air flow: Not informed.
  • Maximum power consumption: 9.6 W.
  • Nominal noise level: 38 dBA.
  • Weight: 1,61 lbs (730 g).
  • More information: https://www.zalman.com
  • Average price in the US*: USD 60.00

* Researched on www.newegg.com on the day this review was published.

[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]

Zalman CNPS9900 NT has done very well in our tests. Its performance was on the same level as the best coolers we reviewed to date.

An intriguing detail was the fact that its fan has PWM control, but it did not work, and the fan was forever spinning at its minimum speed. So when we tested it with our CPU fully loaded we decided to connect it to another fan connector on the motherboard with no PWM pin. This way during this test the fan worked at its full speed. This may have given a little advantage to CNPS9900 NT compared to other coolers where the fan did not reached its maximum speed. We didn’t discover the cause of the problem, if it was a problem with our motherboard or if the reviewed sample was defective.

Anyway, besides its great performance, CNPS9900 NT has a great looks, differing from the sameness of the coolers based on the tower design. It will surely claim for attention at LAN parties if you install it on a computer with a transparent side window. The green glow of the fan is weak but is also a plus.

Installation was tricky, but not too
difficult. It demands you to remove the motherboard from the case, even if the motherboard tray has a hole to give up access to the solder side of the motherboard, because you need to hold the cooler in place while you screw the frame to the motherboard and this task can be very hard to do with the motherboard installed inside the case.

Zalman CNPS9900 NT is not inexpensive, but its price is compatible with other top-shelf coolers.

For all those characteristics, Zalman CNPS9900 NT deserves the Hardware Secrets Golden Award.