Zalman CNPS9900 Max Reviewairman -
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The Zalman CNPS9900 MAX is a very strong performer, and brings a lot of attractive features to the table. It is relatively compact compared to other high end heatsinks, has a mirror-polished base, and is lightweight. Not only does it come close to the top performing Noctua NH-D14, but it does so with one less fan and with about 200g less mass. Going into more detail, even though it only uses three heatpipes, the design and usage of them makes them as effective as six since they loop back into the base. Not only do the heatpipes act as six, their internal construction with the micro-engineered axial grooves is said to increase performance by an additional 50%. If this is accurate, this certainly assisted the CNPS9900 MAX in performing as well as it did.
The 135mm fan at full speed did leave a little bit left to be desired on the noise aspect of the cooler. Running the fan with the included 7V adapter did help a little bit, but the cooling power suffered by a couple of degrees. Earlier Zalman coolers were supplied with a rheostat controller, giving the user the ability to more easily control the noise and performance levels based on the situation. The installation wasn't what I will consider a pain, but if the user chooses to install the heatsink with the motherboard still in the case, the angles required to reach and tighten the base screws may make the task a little difficult to achieve. I had to remove the video card to access these. If the supplied hex key could have been about two inches longer to clear the fins, the screws would have been a little easier to fasten.
Though it is a tad loud, this doesn't change my overall thoughts of it. The CNPS9900 MAX is lightweight and compact, and leaves plenty of room on the inside of the case, easily clearing motherboard components. The red LED (also available in blue) adds a nice, but not overpowering glow. As I mentioned, the LEDs on my motherboard are brighter than the one in the cooler. The nickel plating on the heatsink adds a nice look, and shouldn't noticeably affect the cooling performance though it masks the luster of copper. The plating is also supposed to help prevent oxidation and corrosion of the copper, which would worsen the overall performance after extensive usage. The CNPS9900 MAX is supplied with a one year manufacturer warranty from Zalman, but I don't suspect anyone would need to take advantage of that - minus the possibility of the fan malfunctioning.
Overall, the Zalman CNPS9900 MAX is a good choice for the best of both worlds. It is relatively small, significantly lighter than other heatsinks amongst its performance, and offers a different look compared to other large tower coolers. My thumbs go up to Zalman for this cooler, and I can only expect Zalman to continue offering great products for the coming years!
- Unique design
- Solid performance
- Rounded construction significantly improves motherboard component clearance
- Noise levels aren't very adjustable (in-line reducer only decreases fan speed by 200RPM)
- In-case installation a little difficult with the supplied hex key