[nextpage title=”Introduction”]

Today we are testing the Zalman CNPS9900DF CPU cooler, which has two fans (one 120 mm and one 140 mm) and three heatpipes. We already tested two other members of the CNPS9900 family, the CNPS9900 NT and the CNPS9900 Max, each of them having only one fan. Actually, the “DF” in the name of the cooler stands for “dual fan.” Let’s see if that translates into higher performance.

The CNPS9900DF box has a front window that allows you to see the front of the cooler, as seen in Figure 1.

Zalman CNPS9900DFFigure 1: Package

Figure 2 shows the contents of the box: the cooler itself, a tube of thermal compound, manual, power Y harness, a case sticker, and installation hardware.

Zalman CNPS9900DFFigure 2: Accessories

Figure 3 displays the Zalman CNPS9900DF.

Zalman CNPS9900DFFigure 3: The CNPS9900DF

This cooler is discussed in detail in the following pages.

[nextpage title=”The CNPS9900DF”]

Figure 4 illustrates the front of the heatsink, where you can see the frontal 120 mm fan (1,000 rpm) with blue LEDs. You can also get a glimpse of the tips of two heatpipes at the base of the cooler.

Zalman CNPS9900DFFigure 4: Front view

Figure 5 reveals the side of the cooler, where you can see the second fan, which is a 140 mm (1,400 rpm) one, also with blue LEDs.

Zalman CNPS9900DFFigure 5: Side view

In Figure 6, you can see the top of the cooler.

Zalman CNPS9900DFFigure 6: Top view

[nextpage title=”The CNPS9900DF (Cont’d)”]

The rear of the cooler is shown in Figure 7. You can also see the fan connectors; the front fan has a three-pin connector, while the middle one has a four-pin connector. This means that only the middle fan is PWM-compatible.

Zalman CNPS9900DFFigure 7: Rear view

Figure 8 illustrates the bottom of the cooler. Notice that one heatpipe goes to the front heatsink (with both tips inserted into the base), while two heatpipes are inside the rear heatsink.

Zalman CNPS9900DFFigure 8: Bottom view

Figure 9 shows the base of the cooler, perfectly mirrored.

Zalman CNPS9900DFFigure 9: Base

[nextpage title=”Installation”]

To install the Zalman CNPS9900DF, first prepare the backplate. You must install the four nuts in the holes that match your CPU socket, attaching it to the solder side of the motherboard. Figure 10 shows the backplate with the nuts installed in the socket LGA1155 position.

Zalman CNPS9900DFFigure 10: Backplate with nuts

You also must screw the two metal clips on the base of the cooler, as shown in Figure 11.

Zalman CNPS9900DFFigure 11: Metal clips installed

Put the cooler in, holding it with four screws. Figure 12 shows the cooler installed.

Zalman CNPS9900DFFigure 12: Cooler installed

Figure 13 shows the CNPS9900DF working, with the blue LEDs lit.

Zalman CNPS9900DFFigure 13: LEDs lit

[nextpage title=”How We Tested”]

We tested the cooler with a Core i5-2500K CPU (quad-core, 3.3 GHz), which is a socket LGA1155 processor with a 95 W TDP (Thermal Design Power). In order to get higher thermal dissipation, we overclocked it to 4.0 GHz (100 MHz base clock and x40 multiplier), with 1.3 V core voltage (Vcore). This CPU was able to reach 4.8 GHz with its default core voltage, but at this setting, the processor enters thermal throttling when using mainstream coolers, reducing the clock and thus the thermal dissipation. This could interfere with the temperature readings, so we chose to maintain a moderate overclocking.

We measured noise and temperature with the CPU under full load. In order to get 100% CPU usage in all cores, 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 other coolers we already tested, and to the stock cooler that comes with the Core i5-2500K CPU. Note that the results cannot be compared to measures taken on a different hardware configuration, so 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 on the next page. Every cooler was tested with the thermal compound that comes with it.

Room temperature measurements were taken with a digital thermometer. The core temperature was read with t
he SpeedFan program (available from the CPU thermal sensors), using an arithmetic average of the core temperature readings.

During the tests, the panels of the computer case were closed. The front and rear case fans were spinning at minimum speed in order to simulate the “normal” cooler use on a well-ventilated case. We assume that is the common setup used by a cooling enthusiast or overclocker.

The sound pressure level (SPL) was measured with a digital noise meter, with its sensor placed near the top opening of the case. 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.

Hardware Configuration

Operating System Configuration

  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit SP1

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 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 full speed.

Cooler Room Temp. Noise Speed Core Temp. Temp. Diff.
Cooler Master Hyper TX3 18 °C 50 dBA 2850 rpm 69 °C 51 °C
Corsair A70 23 °C 51 dBA 2000 rpm 66 °C 43 °C
Corsair H100 26 °C 62 dBA 2000 rpm 64 °C 38 °C
EVGA Superclock 26 °C 57 dBA 2550 rpm 67 °C 41 °C
NZXT HAVIK 140 20 °C 46 dBA 1250 rpm 65 °C 45 °C
Thermalright True Spirit 120 26 °C 42 dBA 1500 rpm 82 °C 56 °C
Zalman CNPS12X 26 °C 43 dBA 1200 rpm 71 °C 45 °C
Zalman CNPS9900 Max 20 °C 51 dBA 1700 rpm 62 °C 42 °C
Titan Fenrir Siberia Edition 22 °C 50 dBA 2400 rpm 65 °C 43 °C
SilenX EFZ-120HA5 18 °C 44 dBA 1500 rpm 70 °C 52 °C
Noctua NH-L12 20 °C 44 dBA 1450 rpm 70 °C 50 °C
Zalman CNPS8900 Extreme 21 °C 53 dBA 2550 rpm 71 °C 50 °C
Gamer Storm Assassin 15 °C 48 dBA 1450 rpm 58 °C 43 °C
Deepcool Gammaxx 400 15 °C 44 dBA 1500 rpm 60 °C 45 °C
Cooler Master TPC 812 23 °C 51 dBA 2350 rpm 66 °C 43 °C
Deepcool Gammaxx 300 18 °C 43 dBA 1650 rpm 74 °C 56 °C
Intel stock cooler 18 °C 41 dBA 2000 rpm 97 °C 79 °C
Xigmatek Praeton 19 °C 52 dBA 2900 rpm 83 °C 64 °C
Noctua NH-U12P SE2 18 °C 42 dBA 1300 rpm 69 °C 51 °C
Deepcool Frostwin 24 °C 46 dBA 1650 rpm 78 °C 54 °C
Thermaltake Frio Advanced 13 °C 56 dBA 2000 rpm 62 °C 49 °C
Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk Edition 9 °C 48 dBA 2100 rpm 53 °C 44 °C
Thermaltake Frio Extreme 21 °C 53 dBA 1750 rpm 59 °C 38 °C
Noctua NH-U9B SE2 12 °C 44 dBA 1700 rpm 64 °C 52 °C
Thermaltake WATER2.0 Pro 15 °C 54 dBA 2000 rpm 52 °C 37 °C
Deepcool Fiend Shark 18 °C 45 dBA 1500 rpm 74 °C 56 °C
Arctic Freezer i30 13 °C 42 dBA 1350 rpm 63 °C 50 °C
Spire TME III 8 °C 46 dBA 1700 rpm 70 °C 62 °C
Thermaltake WATER2.0 Performer 11 °C 54 dBA 2000 rpm 49 °C 38 °C
Arctic Alpine 11 PLUS 11 °C 45 dBA 2000 rpm 82 °C 71 °C
be quiet! Dark Rock 2 10 °C 41 dBA 1300 rpm 58 °C 48 °C
Phanteks PH-TC14CS 16 °C 47 dBA 1300 rpm 58 °C 42 °C
Phanteks PH-TC14PE 16 °C 48 dBA 1300 rpm 57 °C 41 °C
SilverStone HE01 (Q) 19 °C 44 dBA 1150 rpm 63 °C 44 °C
SilverStone HE01 (P) 20 °C 57 dBA 2050 rpm 62 °C 42 °C
Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme (S) 17 °C 44 dBA 1250 rpm 52 °C 35 °C
Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme (E) 17 °C 53 dBA 1900 rpm 50 °C 33 °C
Deepcool Neptwin 11 °C 46 dBA 1500 rpm 56 °C 45 °C
SilverStone HE02 19 °C 49 dBA 2000 rpm 64 °C 45 °C
Zalman CNPS9900DF 23 °C 45 dBA 1400 rpm 68 °C 45 °C

In the graph below, 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 CNPS9900DF

In the graph below, you can see how many decibels of noise each cooler makes.

Zalman CNPS9900DF

[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]

The main specifications for the Zalman CNPS9900DF CPU cooler include:

  • Application: Sockets LGA775, LGA1155, LGA1156, LGA1366, LGA2011, AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, and FM2
  • Dimensions: 3.9 x 5.5 x 6.1 inches (100 x 140 x 154 mm) (W x L x H)
  • Fins: Nickel-plated Copper
  • Base: Nickel-plated copper
  • Heat-pipes: Three 6-mm copper heatpipes
  • Fan: 120 mm / 140 mm
  • Nominal fan speed: 1,000 rpm / 1,400 rpm
  • Fan air flow: Not informed
  • Power consumption: Not informed
  • Nominal noise level: 19 dBA / 27 dBA
  • Weight: 1.87 Lbs (850 g)
  • More information: https://www.zalman.com/
  • MSRP in the U.S.: USD 90.00

[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]

The Zalman CNPS9900DF is a great looking, quiet, very well-made, good performance CPU cooler, keeping the good name of the CNPS family.

The only flaw is the fact that it didn’t perform as well as its “older brother,” the CNPS9900 Max. With two fans, one would expect a better performance, but it didn’t happen. However, the difference was very small, and one can say that both coolers have almost the same performance level.

For all the qualities shown, the Zalman CNPS9900DF receives our Silver Award.