Can Low-Cost Coolers Compete?
Zalman’s CNPS9700 has held the top spot in the air-cooling category of our cooler charts for the past 18 months now. This makes it a reference against which all new products tested in this comparison are measured. Since the Zalman isn’t exactly a bargain at a price of nearly $80, many buyers choose less expensive alternatives - often regretting their choice later. In the fourth part of our CPU Cooler Charts 2008, we take a look at six new coolers. We’ve also included Zalman’s new CNPS9700 LED to see if it can still keep up with the newer models.
We got a good deal of reader feedback asking us for our opinion on Xigmatek’s products, which can often be found at much lower prices than competing coolers. For this reason we decided to include the company’s two most popular models, the HDT-S1283 and the XP-S964, in our comparison.
Previous installments of this series:
- CPU Cooler Charts 2008, Part 1 - Losing your Cool?
- CPU Cooler Charts 2008, Part 2 - Junk or Jewel?
- CPU Cooler Charts 2008, Part 3 - Are Box Coolers any Good?
|3R System||Antazone||Arctic Cooling|
If you are interested in our test methodology and how we rate the products, feel free to read up on these points here:
Zalman CNPS9700 LED: The Reference Cooler
Although the Zalman CNPS9700 LED has been on the market for more than a year and a half, it has established itself as a reference against which all of the other candidates are measured.
This cooler consists of three heatpipes in a figure-eight that are covered with copper cooling fins. Both ends of the heatpipes are located next to the heatsink’s base, ensuring efficient heat transfer to the cooling fins.
The Zalman CNPS9700 need not fear the newer coolers in this review. Thanks to its good cooling efficiency, even our quad-core processor never exceeded a temperature of 65.5 °C. On the down side, the CNPS9700 LED needed to run at 2,500 rpm to keep the CPU this cool, making it pretty loud. This is where the included Fanmate 2 fan control comes in handy. Once we reduced the fan speed to 1,150 rpm, the fan stayed pleasantly quiet, effectively cooling our CPU to a constant temperature of 76.5 °C, which we still consider acceptable.
The cooler is easy to install. If you’re using an LGA775-based platform, you have to remove the motherboard in order to install the retention module. This has been the case with all Zalman coolers ever since the 7000 series with the exception of the 8700 series. On the plus side, this retention module can also be used for water cooling solutions. The cooler is mounted on the retention module with two screws.
|Temperature||65.5 °C||35 °C|
|Noise||39.7 dB(A)||36.5 dB(A)|
|Fan Speed||2,500 RPM||1,050 RPM|
Tom's Hardware Performance Results
Weight and Fan Speed