Zalman CNPS6000-Cu Fan Heatsink Review
We normally only get a glimpse into the amount of work and effort that goes into making a heatsink. Often, manufacturers will send over a short data sheet that enables us to draw comparisons during testing, but other than that, the proof is entirely in the pudding. If a heatsink works well, brings a benefit to the user (performance, low noise, small size, etc.), and looks good, it usually fairs the fires of our test bed and subsequent review well. However, the main thing we always look at first is the base of the heatsink - is it machined? Is it raw? Is it partially finished? Is it just plain good?
Of all the Zalman heatsinks we have ever seen, base finish has always been superb. This isn't much of a surprise considering the heatsinks are all machined, but it is reassuring in the face of mass-produced extruded heatsinks. While we're normally content to leave things at that when we talk about the effort a company puts into its products, COMDEX this year brought us the chance to add a few more bits of insight into Zalman. The name Zalman is in fact a play on the Korean equivalent of "Good Man".
At COMDEX I had the opportunity to meet the man behind Zalman, Mr. Sang-Cheol Lee. Zalman had a small booth in the Korean pavilion displaying several of their newest heatsink models for the Athlon, and Pentium 4 processors. They have a small photo report about the whole event [here] in fact.
The one heatsink in their display that most caught my attention was a prototype cooler for the socket 478 Pentium 4 which made use of an 80mm fan. I was surprised to learn just how expensive it was to produce this one prototype of the upcoming CNPS5300 model.
Low Noise = CNPS
The company has coined 'CNPS' to convey the noise prevention properties which serve as a foundation for their coolers - I'm sure a great many of you will agree, quiet is good. To try and achieve this goal, Mr. Lee invented a new way to make heatsinks and patented the idea. The method he thought up uses many individual fins which are designed in such a way that when they are inserted into a hydraulic vise, and compressed, the segments are in intimate contact at the base, and spread out unilaterally at the top. The resulting heatsinks look like a fan, or a flower somewhat. Two bolts and small aluminum blocks are used to hold the fins securely in place, and the base is machined to produce a razor smooth for the processor to mount against. Heck, you can often read the writing from the core of an Athlon on the base of these heatsinks in just the left over thermal compound!
The very first models, the CNPS2005, 3000, 3100 and 3100G all used an 80mm fan which mounted to the tops of the slot bays. Later variations like the CNPS5000 bolted onto the motherboard directly and used an integrated fan for more compact solutions. This heatsink, the CNPS6000-Cu follows suit with the earlier versions and uses a slot bay mounting fan, although it a bit more advanced than the first versions were.
Noise Reduction System
The easiest way to improve the performance is to improve the speed and airflow the fan generates. This is not the best way to make a heatsink better, but it is the easiest, and most common method. To this effect, computers all over the world, especially those with Athlon processors have become very noisy. In most situations we are apt to grin and bear it - tucking the computer under a table or putting the head phones on.
In some situations however, quiet computers are really necessary. For example, if a computer is on 24/7 in someone's room or you work in a sound studio, lots of noise is just not going to cut it.
"CNPS" is an acronym for "Computer Noise Prevention System" and to achieve that result the CNPS6000-Cu comes with something called the FanMate 1 - a fan rheostat.
Turn the wheel one way and the current going to the large 92mm fan is lowered - the fan changes from quiet, to super-quiet. Of course, this also lowers the amount of air moving down to the heatsink.
The Fan Mate 1 is rated to handle fans drawing 6W or less, and will output from between 12V to 5V depending on where the potentiometer (speed dial) is set. The unit itself is quite small measuring 59 x 23 x 18mm and can control one fan via a three-pin power connector.
On the maximum setting (loudest noise, fastest RPM)) the Fan Mate 1 offers a slight amount of resistance so the fan will not spin quite as fast as if it were not there (the difference is about 5%).
On the lowest setting (quietest noise, lowest RPM) the fan should be running essentially silently, and in our tests it did. Even those horribly noise Delta fans become quiet which is ever the testament to the usefulness of this little black box.
Some motherboards will set of alarms or refuse to boot if it seems as though the fan is spinning to slowly - something that would be determined by the Fan Mate 1 setting.
The unique construction of the CNPS6000 is shown in this picture of the central portion. In the manufacturing process, 56 individual copper fins are punched out from a thin sheet and then tightly compressed together and secured with some stainless steel bolts and finally milled perfectly flat.
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