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On the first day of the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show Frostytech attended a meeting with Zalman representatives on the 35th floor of the expansive Venetian/Palazzo Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. The companies full 2010 product line was on display, and we took the opportunity to speak at length on Zalman's developments for the coming year, including an 'advanced heat pipe thermal solution' slated for Q3'10. Frostytech has been following this Korean thermal solutions manufacturer for nine years now... the first Zalman heatsink we tested was way back in April 2001, as some of you may recall. While Zalman has been an innovator for a long time, the last couple years has seen it dabble in everything from gaming headphones to 3D monitors, computer chassis ranging from the $800 CNC machined TNN-series to much more commonplace offerings. For a while the original focus of Zalman, not to mention its substantial patent portfolio, seemed to be blowing in the wind.
This year Zalman is refocusing on thermal solutions, with specific models now being manufactured in Shenzhen China as the emphasis in 2010 is on affordability. The graphics card industry is a good example of this trend right now. In any event, Zalman stressed that it will "not compromise on performance" and thus far the thermal test results have supported that ethic.
The Zalman CNPS10X Performa is one of the heatsinks now being manufactured in Shenzhen, and if my scratchy CES notes are right it's distinctive for the use of composite heatpipes (meaning multiple wick types inside the heatpipe). It's difficult to say how many other heatsinks use similar technology, firstly because the heatpipes are made by YC Tech Co., and secondly because heatsink manufacturers rarely ever state what kind of wick is used in the first place.
These structurers play a critical role in the efficiency of heatpipes, as the wick is the mechanism that brings working fluid back to the hot end of the pipe. The three main types of heatpipe wick (in order of efficiency) are sintered metal powder, grooved and metal mesh. The Zalman CNPS10X Performa heatsink uses a composite wick (if I'm reading my CES notes correctly) comprising of sintered copper around the CPU area and a grooved wick in the region where the heatpipes pass through the aluminum fins.
Zalman's CNPS10X Performa heatsink is standard in most other respects, especially to anyone familiar with the CNPS10X-series. It's equipped with a 120mm PWM fan that ranges in speed from 900RPM to 1350RPM with the RC24P PWM-resistor attached, 2000RPM under full power. The 153mm tall CNPS10X Performa weighs in at 748 grams and installs onto Intel socket 775/1156 and 1366 processors. AMD CPU support is equally broad - socket 754/939/940 right through to socket AM2/AM2+/AM3 chips. Constructed from a die-cast copper baseplate soldered to five 6mm diameter copper heatpipes that pass through a 105mm tall array of aluminum fins, the CNPS10X Performa is the very definition of tower heatsink.
At 130mm wide, the Zalman CNPS10X Performa demands a good 65mm clearance from the center of the CPU socket out. Where motherboard layout has the heatsink overhanging memory sockets, just bear in mind you've got 37mm clearance under the aluminum fins and that's it. On Intel platforms the mounting hardware allows the CNPS10X Performa to be installed in any direction, AMD users are limited by the orientation of the AMD heatsink retention cage.
Raw aluminum fins are interspaced with fifteen at the center of the heatsink that have a wavy leading/trailing edge. Logic would seem to dictate that placing these fins in the region behind the fan motor would have a muted effect, but that's a story for another day. Like many tower heatsinks Zalman have conspicuously staggered the heatpipes where they intersect the cooling fins. Heat energy is thus conducted to the aluminum where the highest airflow exists. One fan ships with the CNPS10X Performa heatsink but additional wire mounting springs are supplied if you wish to install a second fan yourself.
Mounting Method and Hardware
Zalman's CNPS10X Performa heatsink can be installed on Intel socket 775/1156/1366 processors and the full range of AMD chips from socket 754/939/940/AM2/AM2+ through to socket AM3. Every major CPU variation is covered by this one heatsink, good for those of you planning an upgrade in the near future. Installation is straightforward, although there are those pesky clearance issues to be aware of. Generally speaking, the CNPS10X Performa will fit any modern motherboard with 65-70mm clearance from the center of the CPU out. Zalman note that at least 165mm space above the CPU itself is necessary, although the heatsink Frostytech tested measured only 153mm tall.
The AMD mounting clip makes use of the stock AMD heatsink retention frame. A stainless steel clip fits over the central hub on the heatsink's base cap and locks onto the retention tabs on AMD motherboards. The heatsink should generally be oriented with airflow exhausting towards the rear of the case if that's possible. If not, the next best position is the fan exhausting up towards the power supply.
Intel socket 1366 and 775/1156 processors make use of metal clips which slot into the space between the cast aluminum base cap and copper base plate. A metal rear motherboard support plate and mounting posts are then used to hold everything in position quite firmly. Access to the back of the board is necessary to apply a rear support plate, which is always a bit of a downside with tower heatsinks.
This heatsink will be tested on FrostyTech's Intel LGA775 and AMD version of the Mk.II synthetic thermal temperature test platform, and compared against a couple hundred reference 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.
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