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Whether you're a parent, a big brother/sister with little siblings, or an uncle/aunt with nieces or nephews, you've probably encouraged the little ones to try new things. So far be it for us to criticize Zalman for venturing away from the blooming circular design that has been a mainstay of previous CNPS coolers and trying out a new (for them) blueprint.
This time around, Zalman takes a page from its competitors who have moved to a towering, rectangular heatsink design and used it as the basis for the new CNPS10X Extreme. And if size really does matter, Zalman should have nothing to worry about. The CNPS10X is big and feels solidly constructed, but how does it fare with Intel's flagship Core i7 975? Keep reading to find out!
|Zalman CNPS10X Extreme||920g|
|Thermaltake Big Typhoon||813g|
|Thermalright True Black 120||790g|
|Zalman CNPS 9900 LED||730g|
|GlacialTech Igloo 5610 Series||373g|
When we said this was a big cooler, we really meant it. Due to its size, the Zalman CNPS10X is one of the heaviest air coolers we've ever had in our lab and weighs almost 200g more than Zalman's previous CNPS 9900 LED. That's a pretty big weight gain, which places the CNPS as one of the heftiest coolers on the market, though there are others -- both the Cooler Master V10 (1.2kg) and Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme (1.02kg), for example -- that weigh even more.
Zalman packs a ton of aluminum fins into a heatsink design measuring just under 7 inches long. Five heatpipes run through the nickel-plated fins on each side, and a 120mm blue LED fan pushes heat away.
The large, reflective copper base is also nickel-plated (and free of any obvious machine marks), which Zalman claims will result in long-term corrosion resistance. A reflective finish isn't necessarily an indication of flatness, but we didn't notice any troubling grooves or valleys.
Zalman includes an optional remote control, which allows you to adjust the fan speed with the click of a button or manually adjust the speed with a turn-dial. An LED indicator lets you know which mode you're in: Blue is low, Purple is mid, Red is high, and Green means you're in manual mode.
The remote isn't wireless, but Zalman did provide enough cable length to route the remote from the back of your case to the somewhere more convenient in the front.
At first, installation appears easy enough. This will vary a bit depending on your platform, but for a Core i7 setup, slapping the custom bracket onto your motherboard is as easy as punching a few plastic pins through the designated holes.
Where things get a little hairy is when it comes time to screw the heatsink to your motherboard. The back two screws are easy enough, but the front two are frustratingly located behind behind the fan making them difficult to reach no matter which size screwdriver you use. You can remove the fan, but reattaching it back to the heatsink after it's already installed will test your dexterity.
Today's HardwareLogic Test Bench consists of the following components.
- Intel Core i7 975
- Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD4P
- 6GB Patriot Viper DDR3-1600
- Gigabyte 9800GT 1GB Silent Cell
- Silverstone DA750 Power Supply
- Seagate 320GB Hard Drive
- Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit
- Tuniq TX-3 Thermal Compound
|Zalman CNPS10X Extreme|
The ZEROtherm Nirvana has been one of the higher performing coolers in our lab, and so we pitted Zalman's CNPS10X against the ZEROtherm in a semi-cage battle. Against the Nirvana, the Zalman didn't distance itself at idle temps, but it did edge out the Nirvana at load, boasting slightly cooler performance.
What impressed us most about the Zalman was the performance at both low and medium settings. When cranking the fan up to high, you can forget about any notion of silent computing, but running the fan at a slower (and much less noisy) speed doesn't result in a significant cooling performance hit.
|Warranty & Support|
Our RecommendationThe CNPS10X Extreme marks a departure for Zalman from what we would argue has become a tired design. We've seen the circular, copper blueprint recycled through several iterations and the new design is a nice change of pace. The first thing you'll notice is how large the CNPS10X is, followed an attractive nickel-plated finish.
We're also impressed with the wide range of platform compatibility that comes included out of the box. It doesn't matter if you're still stuck in the tech stone age with a socket 754 setup or are looking for a cooler for your upcoming Core i5 build, the CNPS10X will oblige in both cases, and every socket in between.
What we're not so keen on is the installation. Whoever thought it would be a good idea to nestle the front two screws behind the fan where they're incredibly hard to reach was sadly mistaken. The hefty price tag -- $80 street -- also rubs us the wrong way, even with performance checking in at the higher end compared to other capable air coolers.
If you can overlook the price and installation woes, you're left with an attractive cooler that gets the job done. Kudos to Zalman for including a remote control, and at low or medium, it's tough to beat the noise-to-performance ratio.
Other Reviews of Note
It'salways nice to have more than one opinion on a component before youspend your hard earned money. For one, we may see something othersmissed, or vice versa. As with all reviews published at HardwareLogic,we'll not only give you our recommendation, but also point out reviewsfrom some other great sites around the web.