Zalman CNPS11X Extreme Review
There’s no doubt that when you’re building a gaming pc you’re going to want to have a decent CPU Cooler. Why? Because you’re going to overclock it of course! Now although the Intel stock cooler is better than it used to be, it’s still no match for even the most basic of after-market coolers. These coolers (we’re talking air cooling here) tend to range in price from around £15 to over £75.
They all cool right? Well yes, but one would hope that some of those more expensive coolers would cool that little bit better!
Here we have the new Zalman CNPS11X Extreme (wow that’s a catchy name!), costing approximately £50 at the time of the review, let’s take a look and see what you get for you’re money…
The CNPS11X came well packaged in a box that contained the cooler (inc fan) pre-assembled and a myriad of mounting hardware. This hardware allows the cooler to support the following sockets: (1155/1156, 1366, 775, AM3, AM2+, AM2).
The cooler is mid-sized (larger than a Corsair A50 but still smaller than a Noctua NH-D14(but isn’t everything?!)), it has 5 heat-pipes, a 120mm blue LED fan with a max fan speed of 1950rpm and a maximum noise level of 33dBA.
The main cooler assembly was protected by an additional plastic cover, this should also stop any of the mounting hardware from scratching/damaging the cooler. In addition to the bag of mounting hardware (see above right) the box contained the main back-plate and also a user’s manual.
|Dimensions||135(L) x 100(W) x 154(H)mm|
|Materials||Pure Copper and Aluminum|
|Fan||Ultra Quiet 120mm Blue LED PWM Fan|
|Bearing-Type||Long Life Bearing|
|Fan RPM||Low Noise Mode
|1,000 ~ 1,450 rpm ±10%||Performance
|1,000 ~ 1,950 rpm ±10%|
|Noise||Low Noise Mode
|17 ~ 24 dBA ±10%||Performance
|17 ~ 33 dBA ±10%|
The Zalman CNPS11X Extreme is one good looking cooler and makes my current cooler (a Corsair A50) look a little boring to say the least. The cooler is unusual in that it features a V-shaped dual heat sink design that allows the cooler to take on a more unusual V-shape. Also the cooler is fitted with a 120mm blue LED fan; therefore this cooler would go well with my new Antec Twelve Hundred V3 case with its six blue LED fans!
At the base of the cooler you can see the 5 heat-pipes making their way into the cooling block, this block seemed well finished, but not necessarily highly polished!
But will it cool as good as it looks and how easy is it to fit, lets’s take a look at the installation first…
The first task was to have a look at the supplied instructions, these were very good and detailed all of the steps needed to fit the cooler. After making myself aware of the fitment process it was time to install the CNPS11X into my rig.
The image below shows all of the parts required to fit the CNPS11X to an 1155 socket.
The first step is to assemble the back-plate. To do this you will need to insert the 4 supplied nuts through the back of the plate, make sure that you get the plate’s orientation correct (the back of the nuts should be recessed underneath the plate/with the plate facing smooth side up). These nuts are then held in place by the 4 plastic side caps, these caps slide over the plate arm and hold the nuts in place. Once this has been done the double-sided spacer can be stuck to the top (the side that will touch the MB/smooth side) of the back-plate.
The next step was to fit the Intel clips (others are supplied) to the base of the cooler. This required that the screws at the base of the cooler be loosened, so the clips could be slid into place and then the screws re-tightened. I must admit I found this a little odd as it felt that I was taking the cooler apart! Make sure that you fit the clips the right way up (they face down and effectively allow the cooler to be raised up). Fitting of these clips wasn’t as easy as I had hoped even after loosening the screws a couple of turns or more. But after a few minutes of pushing and twisting they slid into place and the screws could be re-tightened.
With the main assembly now complete the cooler could be fitted to the motherboard. This is just a case of removing the other side of the double-sided tape and pressing the back-plate into position on the back of the motherboard. The cooler can then be fitted from above (not forgetting the paste (I used Artic Silver 5 and not the supplied paste, this was done for consistency)). The cooler is then secured by the 4 Silver Bolts (NOT the Gold Bolts) supplied, handily Zalman have also supplied their own hex wrench to help here, which is good as it’s not that easy. This is due to the fact the the cooler can still move around and this makes lining up the first bolt that more difficult. Once one bolt was in place the other were much easier.
On the whole installation was OK but I would prefer to see Zalman using a back-plate that has the bolts in place. This allows the cooler to be slid over the bolts from above (stopping the cooler from moving around) and then the cooler can be secured with nuts instead of bolts.
As no drivers or software are required for the Zalman CNPS11X Cooler my rig was just left as was with the following setup: Windows 7 Home Premium Service Pack 1 with all appropriate drivers installed.
Performance tesing was carried out using Prime 95 to stress the CPU. Each run was timed at 30 mins and a reading was taken at the start and at the end. Tests were performed at both 4.3GHz (High Load) and 4.8GHz (Extreme Load). The maximum core temp for each of the 4 cores was recorded and then the average was calculated. The maximum fan speed during the test was also recorded using SpeedFan.
|CPU Frequency||CPU Voltage||Ambient Temperature||CPU Temp (avg cores)||Delta Temperature||Max CPU Fan Speed|
|Idle||High Load (4.3GHz)||Extreme Load (4.8GHz)|
|CPU Cooler||CPU Temp (avg cores)|
|Zalman CNSP11X Extreme||57.00|
|CPU Cooler||CPU Temp (avg cores)|
|Zalman CNSP11X Extreme||72.25|
Well as you can see from the data above the Zalman has proved to be a most capable cooler. Idling at a mere 28 degrees while sat at a Windows desktop at a super quite 929rpm fan speed is where we start; from there we see the average core temperature climb to a maximum of 57 degrees, 0.75 degrees cooler than my normal Corsair A50. At 4.8GHz the Zalman CNPS11X really begins to shine and show its true cooling capability, cooling the average core temp to 72.25, 2.5 degrees cooler than the A50.
The Zalman CNPS11X has some of the best cooling that we have seen so far, cooling my overclocked 4.8GHz 2500k to an impressive 72 degrees Celsius while running Prime95. So as far as the cooling is concerned, the Zalman is a winner. The installation was easy enough and the supplied manual did give you all the detail that you needed to know. I would have liked to see the back-plate using bolts instead of nuts as I feel this just makes final fitment easier (see Hardware Installation above). But on the whole the quality and design was top notch.
At the time of writing the cost of the Zalman CNPS11X Extreme is approximately £50, which to be honest is a good price for a cooler as well made as this and offering such an excellent level of cooling. In fact as it’s so good (yes that’s right, you’ve heard it before!) I think I’m going to keep it in my rig, I think that says it all really…