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Zalman CNPS 5100-Cu heatsink review


Closer look

The fins on this heatsink is somewhat similar to the fins on the CPNS6000-CU heatsink I reviewed yesterday, but with a twist. If you look at the top of the heatsink, you will see the Zalman 5200rpm fan. The fan is suppose to be very quiet, and if it's anything like the fan on the CPNS6000-CU, then I'm sure it is. Zalman has invested a lot of time in creating this heatsink & fan. It's really too bad they didn't include a chrome fan grill. I'm seeing more and more heatsink manufactures stop including a fan grill with their heatsinks. I guess I was the only person in the world that liked them :)

Ah, the core, of the heatsink :) In the middle of the heatsink where your CPU core will be at, it is very smooth. However, if you look around the outer edge you will see many imperfections. Now, I know that the outer edge won't make contact with the CPU core, but still it does look a bit sloppy. I counted 96 copper fins on the heatsink. There are a lot more fins on this heatsink, almost twice as many, than the CPNS6000-CU. I'm not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing, we will see in the tests later on in the review though.

The fan mate 1, is what Zalman calls their fan controller device. This device will allow you to manually adjust the speed of the fan from 3000RPM's to 5000RPM's. With the fan mate, you could set the fan sound to your likings. Personally, I leave mine on 5000 RPM all the time, I turn my fans up as fast as they can go, then some :)

The fan mate 1 is a fairly plain fan controller that allows you to adjust the RPM's of the fan, and it also has support for fan monitoring. The little black knob on it, is a tad too small and the device is no where near advance as the Smart Fan 2 found on the Volcano 9. It does what it's suppose to do, I guess that's all that really matters. I can see Zalman adding such features the Smart Fan 2 has, to the "Fan Mate 2" in the near future.

Zalman included a tube of thermal paste with the heatsink. I'm not sure if they make this thermal grease or if someone else did; but they should of included some name brand thermal paste such as Arctic Silver or NanoTherm. Seeing that they, specialize in cooling your CPU you would think they would give you the best thermal compound. That would however, drive the cost of the heatsink up since Arctic Silver nor NanoTherm can be bought in small quantities, for just one or two times.


I couldn't begin tell you how bad I dreaded the installation of this heatsink.. Why? Well, since this heatsink weighs so much, 454grams, it would be very dangerous to install this heatsink with a normal clip. If you used a clip, and you moved your computer around too hard your socket on your motherboard (where the clip would be attached too) would snap. So in order to install this heatsink, you actually have to bolt it to the motherboard with four bolts. Crazy huh? This is the same type design found on the Swiftech MCX462 heatsink I reviewed last year. In that review, I dreaded the installation too. However, if your remember the temperature results I had, it was well worth it. I just hope this heatsink is worth the time consuming installation as the Swiftech MCX462 was.

Zalman has included a bunch of different sized paper washers in order to accommodate all motherboards.

Once you have your motherboard out of your computer, you will need to place four washers on the four short screws that are provided. Then place the four screws in the four holes located around the socket of your motherboard. After that, you will need to place four more washers on the other side of the motherboard where the screws are sticking out.

You'll need to get your CPU ready now. Make sure you apply some thermal paste, that Zalman has provided, on to the core of you CPU. After you have done that, fasten the CPU in the socket on your motherboard.

Now, either take the four brass couplings and screw them on the four screws you just installed, or do what I did (which is a little harder) and just place the couplings on the screws that are in the heatsink, and place the heatsink on top of your CPU, as shown in the picture. Lastly you will use a screw driver, too bad they didn't provide one :), to fasten down the four screws on the heatsink. When you are screwing the screws in, make sure you use another screw driver to hold the screws on the other side of the motherboard.

Done with the hard part. Now just install the motherboard back in your case and hook all your devices back up.

Lastly, the optional installation step. I chose not to install the fan mate 1 because as I said before, I run my fans as fast as they can go :) If you want this feature, then it's a quick and easy installation. All you do is plug one end of the fan mate to the power cord of the fan, and the other end up to your motherboard fan header. That's it! You can then manually adjust the fan speed by turning the "little" knob, located on the fan mate.

  1. Introduction & Specfications
  2. Closer look & Installation
  3. Testing & Conclusion
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