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Zalman CNPS9500 AT Socket 775 Low Noise Heatsink Review
Zalman CNPS9500 AT Socket 775 Low Noise Heatsink Review
  84%   
Abstract: Like all heatsinks produced by Zalman, it's intended to operate quietly and efficiently without much noise.

 Company link  Category  Published  Author 
Zalman   Cooling / Heatsinks   Nov 12, 2006   Max Page  
Home > Reviews > Page Title: Acoustic Comparisons and Base Surface Quality

Acoustic Samples: Listen to this Heatsink!

When the Zalman CNPS9500 AT heatsink powers up to its full speed of 2650RPM after about 5 seconds of running in its quietest mode, noise levels become audible (53.5 dBA) but not exceedingly loud. The 4-pin PWM fan will do this whenever it is connected to a 3-pin motherboard fan header. When a motherboard with a PWM CPU fan header is used, the BIOS takes control of the fans' speed and scales it as temperatures in the CPU rise.

Nothing quite compares to listening to the actual noise created by a heatsink in operation. To do that, click on the little headphones icon below and play the sample MP3 files for the heatsink running with its fan at full speed.

FrostyTech Acoustic Sampling Chamber - Full Speed
Standard Waveform view of a 10 second recording. Click on the headphones icon to listen to an MP3 recording of this heatsink in operation. The fan is rotating at 2600 RPM

Sound Level Measurements: Which Heatsink is Quietest?

Listening to the actual noise a heatsink makes allows you to hear what pure numbers alone cannot get across. To further emphasize FrostyTech's reliance on cold hard facts when evaluating a heatsink, we also take noise level measurements with a sound level meter.

FrostyTech Heatsink Noise Level Measurements
Noise level Decibel measurements of each heatsinks' fan in operation are taken with the aid of a sound level meter and sound isolating enclosure. The values may be higher than the mfgr's listed specs, but are directly comparable to one another. Measurements are made on the dB (A) scale, lower values are best. Information on Frostytech's test methodology is available here.
Manufacturer: Model No.: Fan* Speed: Noise Level (dBA): CPU** Platform

Verax Quattro 1 low 30.9 dB Intel/AMD
Zalman CNPS7700-Cu low 35.1 dB Intel/AMD
Thermalfly F1-IACSHA low 35.4 dB Intel/AMD
Intel Stock Pentium Dlow 40.5 dB Intel
Coolermaster Hyper48 43.6 dB Intel/AMD
Zalman CNPS7000B-CUhigh 44.9 dB Intel/AMD
Scythe Shogunhigh 45.9 dB Intel/AMD
Intel Stock Pentium D high 47.5 dB Intel
Spire SP601B3 48.9 dB Intel/AMD
Zalman CNPS9500 LED high 50.3 dB Intel/AMD
Gigabyte 3D-Rocket 50.7 dB Intel/AMD
Zalman CNPS7700-Cu high 50.7 dB Intel/AMD
OCZ Tempest 51.6 dB Intel/AMD
Apack Zerotherm BTF80 51.9 dB Intel/AMD
Apack Zerotherm BTF90 52.1 dB Intel/AMD
Zalman CNPS9500 AT 53.3 dB Intel
Thermalright Ultra 120 53.7 dB Intel/AMD
Verax Quattro 1 high 55.4 dB Intel/AMD
Zalman FS-C77 56.5 dB Intel/AMD
Gigabyte 3D Rocket-Pro high 56.7 dB Intel/AMD
Zalman CNPS8000 high 57.4 dB Intel/AMD
EKL V8 high 57.5 dB Intel/AMD
Sunon Watrubo 57.5 dB Intel
Antazone AS-C1000 57.6 dB Intel/AMD
Noctua NH-U9 58.4 dB Intel/AMD
Coolermaster Aquagate Mini high 59.2 dB Intel/AMD
Thermalfly F1-IACSHA high 60.4 dB Intel/AMD
Gigabyte 3D Cooler-Pro high 62.5 dB Intel/AMD
Gigabyte 3D Cooler-Ultra high 63.0 dB Intel/AMD
Gigabyte GH-PCU23-VE high 65.6 dB Intel/AMD
ASUS Starice high 67.4 dB Intel/AMD
Gigabyte G-Power Pro high 71.9 dB Intel/AMD
Noise Level (dBA)

*Unless noted, for reference heatsinks with variable-speed fans only the 'high speed' (12V) fan noise measurement is included in the comparison sheet; more detailed results for the low fan speed (~5V) tests reside in each specific heatsink review. ** 'AMD' denotes compatibility with socket 754/939/940 & AM2 processors where applicable. 'Intel' denotes compatibility with socket 775 platform.

With its 92mm fan spinning at the full 2650RPM, the Zalman CNPS9500 AT heatsink produces about 53.5 dBA noise. When it is connected to a PWM compatible motherboard, noise levels are reduced to as low as ~35 dBA. Frostytech was unable to produce results consistent with a fan speed of 1300RPM by reducing fan voltage (standard 3-pin fan speed controller), so the low speed fan measurements have been omitted from the official results. By way of comparison, other CNPS9500-class heatsinks generally make as little as 36 dBA when running at 1300RPM. Our attempts to adjust the PWM fan speed down resulted in noise levels of 27.5 dBA - indicating fan speed below minimum design criteria.

Surface Finish and Flatness

Surface finish is an important factor that we all look for when holding a new heatsink. Flipping a cooler over to see how well the base has been machined is a quick way to judge the attention to detail that was put into making it. The following test involves the use of a Surface Roughness Comparator, which offers a concise cross section common machine surface finishes.

The Zalman CNPS9500 AT heatsink has a surface roughness of approximately 12 microinches, which is considered very good. Next, let's see how this heatsink handles the heat compared to a selection of other heatsinks!



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Table of Contents:

 1:  Zalman CNPS9500 AT Socket 775 Low Noise Heatsink Review
 2:  360° View - Zalman CNPS9500 AT Low Noise Heatsink
 3: — Acoustic Comparisons and Base Surface Quality
 4:  Final Heatsink Temperature Comparisons

List all Zalman heat sinks that Frostytech tested?

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