Zalman CNPS9900 Max Reviewairman - December 30, 2010
Category: CPU Cooling
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Zalman is one manufacturer of computer cooling solutions that I remember the most from years ago. I remember seeing its unique products all over the web and locally in stores during the ancient days where the early Pentium 4 and the AMD Athlon chips ruled the market - such as the copper flower and early CNPS heatsinks. I also have strong memories of Zalman's video card coolers and its love of copper as the main building block for these cooling setups. Founded in 1999, the Korean company now offers all sorts of computer products, starting with low noise and noiseless heatsinks and GPU coolers, then continuing to broader markets that include audio products, solid state hard drives and docking stations, power supplies, and even 3D monitors. Today, in this review, I will be testing the Zalman CNPS9900 MAX heatsink. It boasts an all nickel plated copper construction, and of course has the CNPS (Computer Noise Prevention System) in the model name. The heatpipes are said to be improved thanks to its internal construction, which possesses a certain composite groove structure that increases the heat transfer rate by 50%. If that is true, this will be a powerful heatsink! I am looking forward to seeing how it performs in comparison to other heatsinks of the same caliber.
The CNPS9900 MAX is packaged in an attractive black box with the Zalman logo in the upper right corner and the CNPS9900 MAX name just beneath it. There is a window that allows the new owner to see the heatsink inside before tearing open the box. A few of the key features are listed at the bottom of the box, such as the ultra quiet 135mm red LED fan, socket compatibilities, and others that will be discussed later in this review. The rear of the box goes into a little more detail about the features listed on the front of the box. One of the things that I noticed was that this heatsink is claimed to have 300W of cooling power! That's quite a bit. If that is true, it should fair very well under a loaded, overclocked i7 processor. It also mentions that the heatsink is "Black-Pearl" nickel plated. Plating with "black" nickel gives the heatsink darker luster that I think is unique. There isn't anything said on the right side of the box, but on the left side of the box there is some explanation about the composite heatpipes used in its construction. It has grooves on the interior of each heatpipe along with sintered walls, which is said to accelerate the effectiveness of the internal "wick". It almost tempts me to cut one open to check it out! But alas, I couldn't just destroy a perfectly good heatsink for that reason.
The radial fins on the CNPS9900 MAX remind me a lot of Zalman's style. Many of the company's heatsinks have this look, even dating back years ago. Its "Copper Flower", back in the day of the Athlon XP, was a very simple heatsink that was all copper in construction, and only consisted of the base and radial fins coming off it. I do like the look of copper, and I wish that Zalman might have left some part of the CNPS9900 MAX unplated since it is all copper! Nevertheless, Zalman's unique style has me interested in how this one will perform. The mounting system is quite simple, as it uses the same backplate for both AMD and Intel processors, only two different sets of clips for AMD or Intel, along with screws and other mounting hardware. The included user's manual is straight forward and easy to understand.
With the heatsink unpackaged, it's time to get started on the rest of the review.