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Zalman CNPS10X Extreme Heatsink Review
Zalman CNPS10X Extreme Heatsink Review
Abstract: Zalman's CNPS10X Extreme fulfills both roles pretty well care of a cleverly integrated PWM fan speed controller in the top part of the fan shroud. Do nothing and the CNPS10X Extreme's 120mm fan will fall under BIOS control, automatically scaling fan speed from 1000RPM to 2150RPM as needed.

 Manufacturer  Category  Published  Author 
Zalman   Cooling / Heatsinks   Jan 03, 2010   Max Page  
It's easy to overlook the Zalman CNPS10X Extreme for just another CPU cooler, instead of the flexible low noise and high performance tower heatsink it is. Most heatsinks often fall into one category or the other, not both... at least not very well.

Zalman's CNPS10X Extreme fulfills both roles pretty well care of a cleverly integrated PWM fan speed controller in the top part of the fan shroud. Do nothing and the CNPS10X Extreme's 120mm fan will fall under BIOS control, automatically scaling fan speed from 1000RPM to 2150RPM as needed. Set the fan speed controller and the heatsink operates in one of three fan-duty modes, or responds to the turn of a dial to the exact fan velocity you want.

At full tilt the Zalman CNPS10X Extreme delivers performance cooling results on both Intel and AMD test platforms, as you'll see a little later in Frostytech's review. As a low noise heatsink the CNPS10X Extreme is pretty quiet (~36dBA), while still maintaining good cooling results. The CNPS10X Extreme heatsink stands 161mm tall, putting out of reach for some slim line cases, but its 130x100mm footprint is a pretty compact.

Constructed from five 6mm diameter copper heatpipes, a copper base plate and aluminum fins, the entire heatsink has been dark nickel plated for appearance sake and weighs in at a hefty 920grams. That's heavier than you'd expect just by glancing at it, but thankfully the retention brackets install easily and without the need to rip apart the PC. Zalman's CNPS10X Extreme heatsink is compatible with Intel socket 775/1156/1366 and AMD socket 754/939/AM2/AM3 processors. It's priced around $70.

Zalman CNPS10X Extreme Heatsink
heatsink specsheet
manufacturer: zalman
model no.: cnps10x extreme
materials: dark nickel plated aluminum fins, copper heatpipes, copper baseblock
fan mfg: zalman zf1125bth
fan spec: 1000-2150rpm, 12v, 0.4a
fan dim: 25x120x120mm
heatsink & fan dim: 161x131x100mm
weight: 920 grams
includes: multi-socket mounting hardware, thermal compound, fan speed controller, instructions.

Compatible with Sockets:
AMD - 754/939/940/AM2/AM2+/AM3
Intel - 775/1156/1366
Est. Pricing: $70USD ($70CDN)

By far the most unique aspect of the Zalman CNPS10X Extreme heatsink is the integrated PWM fan speed controller. It allows direct user control over the heatsink's noise output at the touch of a button. The controller comes docked at the top of the fan shroud, or can be slid out remotely located up to 80cm away via a supplied extension wire.

The integrated PWM fan speed controller uses an LED light to indicate what setting it's on: quiet duty (blue LED), medium duty (purple LED), high duty (red LED) and a manual setting (green LED) where fan speed can be fine tuned with the little wheel directly.

A bit of double sided tape is supplied with the heatsink so the controller can be stuck to the side of a case (within 80cm of the heatsink) if you want to adjust fan speeds constantly. Incidently, the round bit is not the button, it's the paddle next to it that acts as the button.

Mounting Method and Hardware

Zalman's CNPS10X Extreme heatsink can be used with socket 775/1156/1366 Intel processors, and the full range of AMD chips - socket 754/939/940/AM2/AM2+/AM3 inclusive. Every major CPU variation is covered by this one heatsink, good for those planning a transition to Core i7 in the coming months, for example.

Installation is pretty straightforward, although there are some clearance issues to be aware of. Generally speaking, the CNPS10X Extreme will fit any modern motherboard. If you're concerned about fit, the CNPS10X Extreme requires about 70mm space from the center of the CPU above and below, back and front. Zalman note that at least 165mm space above the CPU itself is needed, although the heatsink Frostytech tested is only 161mm tall.

The AMD mounting clip makes use of the stock plastic AMD heatsink retention frame. A stainless steel clip fits over the central nub on the heatsink's base cap, and without tools locks into the existing retention tabs. The heatsink should always be oriented with airflow exhausting towards the rear of the PC case if possible.

Both Intel socket 1366 and 775/1156 processors make use of a special plastic frame which is attached onto the motherboard prior to the Zalman CNPS10X Extreme installation. No tools are required for the LGA775/1156 frame, and the motherboard can stay in place. For Core i7 LGA1366 processors you'll need to remove the board to screw the bracket in from the rear. Thereafter a steel bracket locks onto the base of the CNPS10X Extreme and applies correct clamping force with spring tensioned machine screws. The system firmly holds the 920gram heatsink in place, without making it difficult to swap out processors in the future.

This heatsink will be tested on FrostyTech's Intel LGA775 and K8 version of the Mk.II synthetic thermal temperature test platform, and compared against a hundred reference LGA775 and K8 heatsinks. The whole test methodology is outlined in detail here if you'd like to know what equipment is used, and the parameters under which the tests are conducted.

° Next Page 

Table of Contents:

 1: — Zalman CNPS10X Extreme Heatsink Review
 2:  360° View - Zalman CNPS10X Extreme Heatsink Review
 3:  Acoustic Sample and Heatsink Sound Levels
 4:  AMD K8 Heatsink Temperature Comparisons
 5:  Intel LGA775 Heatsink Temperature Comparison

List all Zalman heat sinks that Frostytech tested?

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