I would like to thank Eric of Zalman USA for providing us with this review sample.
Zalman has brought many revolutionary cooling accessories to the market over the years, ranging from fanless watercooling to all-copper CPU/GPU coolers. They even have their own line of power supplies, fan controllers, and headphones. When we hear Zalman we usually think "quiet". But lately through a line of all-copper high performance heatsinks their name is also associated with overclocking.
The CNPS 9500 LED is the first Zalman CPU cooler I have seen come in a box. The box it comes in has graphics depicting how the cooler works, and a performance graph showing how it compares against other coolers.
Above you can see that the cooler itself is easily visible from the outside, if you are shopping in a store, this makes it easier to compare the cooler to other heatsinks, size wise.
Here is the performance comparison graph.
Listed on the box are the manufacturer's specifications for the cooler.
Here we can see some of the graphics images showing different aspects of the cooler.
The cooler itself and a box of accessories are all that’s in the box. The cooler is nicely protected inside its hard plastic shell, and the accessories are nicely stored and organized into bags in the box.
The cooler supports many sockets, there are mounting accessories provided for 478 / 784 / 939 / 940 and LGA775. I will mount it on a Socket 775 system, because the Prescott core which I will use to test is known for its leaky 90nm process and its high TDP.
Here I have laid out all the provided mounting accessories.
Above are the mounting accessories for 478 and LGA775 platforms, the two black screws are vital for almost all the mounting techniques.
This is the provided thermal grease. Later on in the review I will show you a comparison for the provided grease verse Arctic Silver 5.
One thing I like about Zalman, is that with every Zalman product I have ever owned, it always comes with a case badge sticker. I like collecting these stickers and showing them off on my monitor next to my other stickers like the Pentium 4.
Below I will demonstrate how easy it is to install the CNPS 9500 LED on an LGA775 motherboard.
The first step is attaching the brackets, the one on the back lines up with one on the front which are easily attached with four screws.
The mounting bracket just barely missed the motherboard's capacitators.
Next you place the cooler on the CPU after applying thermal paste. Then you lay down the 775 metal mounting clip, and screw the screws in using the multi-angle Allen ranch.
After we mount, I undid the mount to discover that the mounting was successful and resulted in good contact.
The CNPS 9500 LED is an ALL copper heatsink design, which is great compared to traditional aluminum/copper-aluminum heatsinks. Copper has better heat conductivity than aluminum and thus makes a better heatsink material. While this cooler seems to be huge, it is really not all that monstrous. Its circular design has the same radius as the Zalman 7000 series heatsink coolers.
The CNPS 9500 LED also features a figure-eight heat pipe design where three heat pipes are made to act as six. What’s so good about heat pipes? Well heat pipes are phase change coolers at heart, they transfer heat up because inside they have a wick. Once the wick is heated, it vaporizes and moves the heat further up. When the heat moves up (aka. away from the CPU), it is then spread across fins, and a fan blows on these fins with little effort and removes the heat.
Above are the Front/Back/Side views of the CNPS 9500 LED.
The base was hard to photograph because it was very well lapped, but not polished. This means that you can't get a clear reflection, but you still get very good contact.
What you can see in those pictures is the heat pipe configuration. Starting at the base, heat travel through them. Once at the top in a type of vortex/firgure-8 configuration, heat is transferred to the fins.
Above is where the magic takes place. The heat is transferred to the fins.
Zalman is also known for its one-of-a-kind fins. These fins are 100% copper, and each is punched with the Zalman name. These fins are very lightweight, thin, and have a large surface area. Those conditions are great for heatsinks because air moves easily around it while absorbing the heat.
Above you can see the fan attached vs. the fan removed. As you can see, the fan doesn’t have to move 30+ CFM and it can still be VERY effective, because it is basically embedded into the copper design and the air has to go through the fins either way.
The fan provided with the cooler is great and perfect for the cooler. It has blue LEDs built in, and is very quiet. It is around 18db at 1350 RPM and around 27db at 2600 RPM.
With the Fan Mate speed controller, you can adjust to the wanted RPM/noise level without a hassle.
||Intel Pentium 4 (561)
||ABIT AS8 w/ vmods
||2x 256 MB Windbond BH-5
||74GB WD Raptor SATA
||Antec NeoPower 480W
||Server 2003 EE, Prime 95, SuperPi
To test, I let the computer sit for three minutes then I record idle temperature, next I run SuperPi 16m and Prime 95 for 5 minutes sequentially, I then record load temperature. Testing was done at stock speeds, and overclocked speeds of 4GHz, 4.32GHz, and 4.5GHz.
First off here’s the promised TIM (Thermal Interface Material) comparison:
The Stock TIM isn't all too bad, but using some AS5 can give you some better results. Keep in mind that the AS5 has not set in, both the Stock and AS5 were applied and benched the first time I turned the computer on.
Seen above is the line up for size of the heatsinks, and a picture of the water cooling assembly. Featured in the picture are as follows: Cooler Master Hyper-6, Zalman CNPS 9500 LED, Gigabyte G-Power, Intel Stock Cooler, and the water cooling is the Cooler Master R80.
As you can see the Intel Stock cooler and the Gigabyte G-Power were out of the game at 4GHz Load, while the Zalman CNPS 9500LED was 1°C to 10°C lower at times compared to the rest of the competition. Where we really see the Zalman and the R80 compete is at the high TDP. At 4.32GHz you can actually see the Zalman CNPS 9500LED losing out to the R80 by as much as 3°C. But when we bump up to more wattage, the Zalman becomes the victor in being the only cooler to keep my processor stable at load at 4.5GHz.
Over 70c I would see some instability with the coolers, but the Zalman CNPS9500LED never ventured that high. This special ability of the Zalman CNPS 9500LED could be used instead of watercooling to even cool high powered TECs.
- The CNPS 9500LED is by far one of the most expensive air coolers on the market, retailing ~$75 USD its a give and take situation. Basically if you want a 1-10°C improvement over $50 coolers then it is a good deal because water cooling which is even more expensive will give you about 5-10°C cooler than the CNPS 9500LED and cost you around $200.
- Great Temperatures
- Great for Overclocking
- Easy to Install
- Quiet Fan
- Variable Fan Controller
- Expensive for Air Cooling
- A little bulgy but I didn’t have any problems
- Goes over the recommend maximum socket weight of 450g.
||This cooler really can hold its own ground. Its revolutionary heat pipe to fins design is its great secret in cooling power. Its fan is quiet, and the provided fan controller makes it easy to control the speed and noise of the fan.|
The Pure-Copper design is sturdy and high quality. I didn’t have any problems with mounting this in my Lian-Li case or in my Tsunami, because the cooler can be mounted in many different ways. The cooler's main competition in my review was the Cooler Master R80 water cooling kit, which goes for about $80, and gives you worse performance in most cases, plus it cost more. All in all I would say this in my personal favorite top three Air coolers.