We did not expect this. When we first got our hands on Zalman’s CNPS9300 AT, we assumed the company had pulled a “Honey, I Shrunk the CPU Cooler” on its flagship product, the bulky CNPS9700. That’s certainly true if you consider the tale of the tape: The CNPS9300 is 80 percent smaller than its big brother, and its total thermal dissipation area has been nearly halved, from 5,490cm2 to 2,583cm2.
Logic only dictates that this cooler should perform far worse than the Zalman CNPS9700. But the built-for-silence CNPS9300 AT nearly matches its big brother’s performance—as well as that of our top cooler, Thermaltake’s DuOrb (reviewed July 2008).
It’s hard to find much innovation in the exciting world of air cooling. At some point, cooling potential is defined by a simple equation of heat pipes, fan speeds, and block materials—increase the efficiency of any of the above, and you’ll see lower temperatures.
We’ve been operating under the assumption that Zalman’s CNPS9700 is the Highlander of CPU coolers—immortal and utterly immune to the benchmarking threats posed by other, lesser devices. That’s until we ran across Thermaltake’s newest V1 cooler. As far as we can tell, the blue-lit device is the guy who brings the chain saw to a swordfight. It looks great, fits great, and outcools our reigning champion ever so slightly.
It’s a rarity in the Maximum PC Lab that a product comes in and performs without annoyance, irritation, or even the slightest bit of “we had to resort to interesting solution x to make things happy.” Enter Sytrin’s KuFormula SHF1 hard-drive cooling unit, a marvel of simplicity that looks good and cools great.
This month, memory-maker OCZ wades into the hotly contested CPU cooling arena with its blingy Tempest cooler. Though the Tempest has the signature OCZ flair, we were let down by its midrange performance and loud operation.
Scythe is a newcomer to the U.S. cooling market, and is trying to establish itself as the go-to company for monstrous heatsinks that—like Zalman’s—offer quiet cooling. We reviewed the company’s Ninja Plus cooler in July, and were impressed by its silent operation. The Mine runs just as quiet, but suffers several major flaws.
We gave the Golden Orb II a mediocre 7 verdict back in October 2005, but the Blue Orb II is bigger and much, much better. It’s a massive cooler that squats over the CPU socket like a sumo wrestler, taking up every square millimeter of space.
This cooler’s predecessor is the Big Typhoon—a great cooler, as long as your PC doesn’t have a side door. You see, that cooler is so damn big that it extends almost all the way to the door of most cases, depriving the cooler of a source of fresh air. Thermaltake recognized the issue and thus the Mini Typhoon was born.
Arctic Cooling has retired its Silencer series of VGA coolers, reportedly because their massive size was causing worldwide plastic shortages (we kid, but they were huge coolers). To replace the Silencer, Arctic Cooling just introduced the Accelero X1 (for nVidia cards) and X2 (for ATI cards).
Typically, people swap out their heatsink/fan apparatus for one that is either quieter than the stock cooler or capable of better cooling performance. Cooler Master’s Intel-only Hyper L3 doesn’t grant enough improvement on either front to warrant a switch.