Zalman CNPS8000

Aug 14th, 2006 | By

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Zalman CNPS8000

: 08/14/06 – 04:36:13 PM


: Cooling

Page 1 : Index


$54.95 (MSRP)

If you haven't heard of Zalman's CNPS line of coolers, you must have been hiding under a rock the past few years. If you haven't even heard of Zalman, get help. Zalman's ingenious cooling solutions are world-renowned for being both efficient and effective. Always an adopter of new technology, Zalman has outfitted the latest revisions of the CNPS line of CPU coolers with heatpipes.

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can be considered the little brother of the high-performing, and huge, CNPS9500 that Simon reviewed. This low-profile cooler should be finely suited for those of us with cases with low clearance above the CPU area. Smaller coolers usually cannot perform as well as taller tower-type coolers which have a greater surface area to their advantage. However, maybe the CNPS8000's heatpipes will compensate for the lack of surface area… only testing will tell.

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Page 2 : Package

You might have heard the old adage "big things come in small packages". The converse is true in this case as the small cooler came in a big package! The box, in Zalman's traditional blue color, is elegantly designed. The top features a plastic carrying handle accompanied by an advertising statement and the model name.

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The front face of the box features some identifying information as well as a clear window to allow a glimpse of the cooler itself. The fan and the fins are visible. The lower portion of the face includes some compatibility information.

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The sides are identical and have the same advertising statements as the top and the front.

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Turning the box over to the back reveals another view of the cooler. This time, we catch a glimpse of the base and the heatpipes.

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Towards the top, a feature and specification listing can be found.

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Before tearing open the package, let's take a quick and detailed look at the specifications.

Page 3 : Specifications

Zalman's website provides a wealth of information regarding the CNPS8000.

I have taken the liberty of copying it exactly from Zalman:

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As the compatibility chart shows, the CNPS8000 can be installed in most modern AMD and Intel systems. Be aware that the new AMD socket AM2 is not explicitly supported according to the chart. However, in practice, the socket 939 mounting mechanism may be similar enough for it to work… no guarantees though.

Moving on to the cooler's specifications, we see that its dimensions are fairly small and its weight is very low compared to some of the monstrous coolers out there. The cooler is constructed with a combination of aluminum and copper. The numerous fins make up a massive surface area of 2815cm² and the integrated fan is a 92mm double ball-bearing variant capable of being controlled by the included FanMate 2 fan controller.

Time to see the physical manifestation of these specifications.

Page 4 : Package Contents

Opening the package reveals the cooler protected by a plastic cage. The other contents, including the fan controller and mounting hardware, are also protected by the cage.

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Freeing the cooler from the cage, its small stature becomes immediately apparent.

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One of the most prominent features of the cooler is the large 92mm fan that is embedded amidst numerous fins. We can also see that the heatpipes are utilized very well, intersecting the fins at several soldered junctions. Also, this side shows both the beginnings and ends of the four heatpipes. There is also a plastic shroud advertising a cut-out of Zalman's name, below which the model name is engraved.

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Making a second appearance on this side is the plastic shroud. Apart from that, this side features the ubiquitous three-conductor cable that terminates in the usual three-pin fan connector plug. Also, this side is where the heatpipes change altitude by curving up from the copper base to the fins.

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Looking down on the cooler, we can see that the 2-ball bearing fan bears Zalman's CNPS name. Note that the plastic shrouds are not physically attached to the fins at the top; they are connected below the fins by means of a plastic substructure.

Before moving on to installation, let's take a quick look at the base of the cooler. The finish of the base normally gives some insight into what kind of performance we can expect from the cooler.

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Though it doesn't sport a mirror finish, the base is quite smooth and flat.

Page 5 : Installation

The included manual helped somewhat during installation.

For the socket 939 installation, Zalman has engineered the CNPS8000 to fit on the stock retention module. This seems like a good idea but, in practice, I would have preferred a custom mounting system.

I will be installing the CNPS8000 on the EPoX EP-9U1697 GLI motherboard.

First step in installation involves the two retention clips. Lock them together, using the engraved arrows as aids, and onto the cooler's base.

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The retention clips' arrows will be hidden underneath the arrows engraved on the copper base itself.

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At this point, make sure the clips are secure. Prepare the clean CPU for installation by evenly spreading some thermal compound on it.

Get ready for the difficult part. First, clip the side without the lever onto the retention module and then tilt the cooler down and clip the levered side down. This requires a great deal of force as the cooler actually presses down on the retention module's plastic frame. Double-check to make sure the cooler is secure. I had problems with the levered clip popping off during testing, releasing the cooler's contact with the CPU; fortunately, the computer shut itself down due to the increased temperature and no damage was incurred.

Initially, I thought this was a flaw but according to Zalman, this is the way the cooler was engineered. Consider it a tradeoff due to the small size of the cooler.

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Once installed, the cooler seemed stable. However, the installation requires a delicate balance involving twisting, turning, and all sorts of acrobatics to make sure the fins, heatpipe-ends, and curved part of the heatpipes don't damage anything. The fins and heatpipe-ends actually touch the retention module. The curved part of the heatpipes gets awfully close to any memory installed in the slot closest to the socket.

In any case, installation is a pain. The question is, is the performance worth the difficult installation? Let's find out.

Page 6 : Performance

The testing setup will consist of the following:

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CPU: AMD Athlon 64 3000+ Venice @ 265×9 (2385MHz), 1.400V, Cool'n'Quiet Disabled
Motherboard: EPoX EP-9U1697 GLI
Memory: Corsair ValueSelect DDR400 1GB dual channel kit (2x512MB)
PSU: Antec SmartPower 2.0 400W
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 160GB SATA II
Optical: Samsung Writemaster DVD±RW
Video Card: eVGA e-GeForce 6600GT PCI-E x16

Case: Thermaltake Mozart Media LAB

CPU Coolers:

  • Zalman CNPS8000

  • Arctic Cooling Freezer 64 Pro
  • AMD Stock HSF

    Temperature Measurement: Lavalys Everest Ultimate 2006[/quote]
    As I mentioned in the installation section, the cooler detached itself from the CPU after a few hours once and thus, I did not want to take the risk to run a full testing, complete with different thermal compounds. Therefore, I will be using Arctic Silver Lumière as the thermal interface material since it cures in less than an hour. All tests will be repeated three times and the average temperature will be reported.

    To start the tests, I installed each cooler on the motherboard, outside the case, and ran Prime95 for 1 hour. Then, I let the computer idle for an hour before measuring the CPU's idle temperature. Following that, I proceeded to run Prime95 for a full 2 hours before measuring the load temperature.

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    As the results show, the CNPS8000 more or less matched the Freezer 64 Pro. Both coolers were a big improvement over the AMD stock unit.

    Then, I installed the setup in the case to simulate a real operating environment and repeated the aforementioned testing strategy. Note that the Arctic Cooling Freezer 64 Pro would not fit in the case and thus, it has no results.

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    The temperatures are slightly higher than outside the case, but this is to be expected. The CNPS8000 once again bests the AMD stock cooler by a respectable margin.

    Finally, I tested the CNPS8000 with the included FanMate 2 fan controller.

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    Running at full speed, the CNPS8000 is slightly quieter than the AMD stock cooler but not as quiet as the Freezer 64 Pro. At the lowest speed, it is very quiet. The difference in temperature between the two speeds is not that great – maybe 2 or 3 degrees at most. Therefore, I recommend running the cooler at the lowest speed as the performance difference is minimal.

    That wraps up the testing.

    Page 7 : Conclusion

    With its four heatpipes, numerous fins, and a large 92mm fan,
    Zalman's CNPS8000
    is a full-size cooler disguised as a small one. At less than half the height, its performance matches even the legendary Arctic Cooling Freezer 64 Pro!

    Though an awesome little cooler, the CNPS8000 is not without its faults. For one, the price is atrociously high, over double that of competing coolers. Also, installation is a pain in the derrière. If space is not a concern, get a larger and cheaper cooler, which will, in all likelihood, be easier to install.

    In the end, the CNPS8000 pulls itself together thanks to its awesome performance, quiet operation, and Zalman's good name.

    All things considered, I would recommend the Zalman CNPS8000 only to those who absolutely need a
    cooler, such as HTPC enthusiasts. The CNPS8000 is not for the mainstream user.

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    Great, competent performance
    Low-profile, best suited for HTPC cases
    Very quiet, especially when used with the included FanMate 2 controller


    Quirky installation

    Overclockers Online would like to thank Zalman for making this review possible.

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