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Zalman CNPS12X Lower Noise Heatsink Review
Zalman CNPS12X Lower Noise Heatsink Review
Abstract: The Zalman CNPS12X heatsink marks the first forray into exposed heatpipe coolers for its Korean manufacturer. For what I can only assume are trademark reasons, Zalman term it whole direct touch heatpipe.

 Manufacturer  Category  Published  Author 
Zalman   Cooling / Heatsinks   Oct 25, 2011   Max Page  

Home > Reviews > Page: 360° View - Zalman CNPS12X Heatsink

360° View - Zalman CNPS12X Heatsink

Information on Frostytech's test methodology is available here.

The three 120mm fans spins at 1200-950RPM and draw power from a single 3-pin motherboard fan header. Each of the six composite wick copper heatpipes are 6mm in diameter and extend from the base up to the top of the 157mm tall heatsink. Each nickel plated aluminum fin measures 0.4mm thick and is spaced ~1.7mm apart. The first and middle fans look the same, the third features winglets.

Zalman's CNPS12X heatsink stands 157mm tall, the fin area is 151mm wide and the first fin elevated 33mm above the CPU socket. Heat pipes are positioned 6mm on center at the base plate and rise up through the fins with a pitch of 20mm or 17mm. The base incorporates a 13mm thick nickel plated aluminum block to distribute clamping forces.

The usable area of Zalman's CNPS12X exposed heatpipe base is 45x45mm. Looking from the top down we can see all three 120mm fans and the plastic strut which hold the two fin towers firmly in place. The translucent fans are softly illuminated with blue LEDs.

Base Finish and Flatness

Flipping a heatsink over to inspect the business end is often a simple indicator of overall cooler quality. More practically speaking, a heatsink is in many ways only as effective as the contact it makes with the processor - the flatter and smoother the better. Base finish is one of the criteria that Frostytech measure in the course of evaluating heatsinks, and it involves two distinct aspects. Surface Finish is the first; this is calculated with the aid of Surface Roughness Comparator that has a cross section of common machine surface finishes and their numerical surface roughness equivalents in microinches. The second is Surface Flatness. This is tested with an engineers straight edge or proven flat surface, in two axis.

The base of the Zalman CNPS12X heatsink is generally flat in one axis and very slightly convex in the opposite, mostly just over the center. The exposed copper heatpipes have been squished flat but for some reason Zalman do not machine the base lightly to remove the slight unevenness that typically occurs when a heatsink passes through the reflow oven to solder it in place. The heatpipes vary every so slightly against a straight edge as a result.

The nickel plating adds durability to the unit as a whole, but Frostytech generally prefers this coating to be machined away from the processor mounting surfaces for the sake of optimal thermal conductivity too. Surface roughness is at or better than ~8 microinches, which is excellent.

Next up, Frostytech heatsink sound level measurements...

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Table of Contents:

 1:  Zalman CNPS12X Lower Noise Heatsink Review
 2: — 360° View - Zalman CNPS12X Heatsink
 3:  Heatsink Sound Level Comparison
 4:  AMD Heatsink Temperature Comparisons
 5:  Intel Heatsink Temperature Comparisons

List all Zalman heat sinks that Frostytech tested?

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