Zalman's latest approach to air cooling is to pound away at the problem of heat building with three -- yes, THREE -- 120mm Long Life Bearing fans with blue LEDs. The triple fan configuration comes standard on Zalman's new CNPS12X, a hulk-sized air cooler measuring 151mm (L) x 132mm (W) x 154mm (H) weighing 1kg, or just over 2.2 pounds.
Just five months ago, we reviewed Zalman’s superb CNPS9900Max, which marked a return to the circle-of-fins look that has marked the big Z’s best-performing CPU coolers of the past half-decade or so. The CNPS9900Max resuscitated our faith in Zalman’s heatsinks, which had dwindled in the wake of skyscraper-style coolers and Zalman’s disappointing CNPS10X Extreme, a cooler that was larger and more expensive than its more effective competitors. Now Zalman gives us the CNPS11X, with yet another new cooling-fin configuration.
We were ready to write Zalman off for good. Its much-beloved 9000-series copper heatsinks (culminating in the CNPS9900, which received a Kick Ass award in March 2009) were blown away by the advent of skyscraper-style coolers like the Thermalright Ultra-120. Zalman’s attempt at a skyscraper-style cooler, the CNPS 10X, was a bust, aesthetically and thermally. But now, Zalman’s returned to what it knows best: circular copper arrays surrounding a central fan. The CNPS9900 Max looks like a darker version of the CNPS9900. In this age of dual-fan skyscraper behemoths, can Zalman catch up?
The Zalman CNPS line (especially the long-lived 9000 series) is known for its distinctive copper-finned air coolers, which are nearly always organized in a circular pattern around the fan. This arrangement worked well for a long time, with the CNPS9700 and 9900 garnering rave reviews in these pages. But all the top-performing coolers we’ve tested recently (July’s Thermalright U120-eXtreme and August’s Noctua U12P) have had one thing in common: a skyscraper formfactor, whereby a tall stack of closely packed cooling fins jut upward, with one or more 12cm fans strapped to the side. Now, Zalman is getting in on the game with its latest CNPS cooler, the 10X Extreme, which takes the skyscraper-and-12cm-fan design and adds variable-speed fan control.
The Zalman CNPS 10X Extreme sports five heat pipes running through a closely packed array of black nickel-plated fins. It’s a great look, and proves that Zalman doesn’t just do copper well. The fan remote can be slotted into the plastic cowl at the top of the heatsink or, more usefully, be routed to the outside of your case with the included extension wire. The fan has three auto-speed settings: low (up to 1,500rpm), mid (up to 1,950rpm) and high (up to 2,150rpm), and one manual dial, for fine-tuning between 1,000rpm and 2,150rpm.
Unveiled just this week, Zalman’s new CNPS10X cooler is the first CPU cooler with a removable remote.
The CNPS10X rocks a total of five heatpipes in order to conduct heat away from the processor, all of which feeds into a huge group of fins. These fins are kept cool by a sizable, high-CFM fan.
And, of course, there’s the remote, which will let you adjust the speed of the fan, or lock it into auto mode. The remote can be plugged into the heatsink itself, or work via extension cable. The remote features two LEDs, a surface button and a wheel for all of your speed adjusting needs.
The CNPS10X will be available in several different colors, but no word on when it’ll arrive or how much it’ll cost.
Zalman has attracted more than a few fans of air cooling (pun only slightly intended) with its CNPS line of high-end heatsink/fan combos, and the company's newest entry -- the CNPS 10X Extreme -- trades in its signature circular heatpipe design in favor of a block design.
The new cooler supports a variety of sockets, including Intel's 775, 1366, and upcoming 1156, and AMD's AM3, AM2+, AM2, 754, 939, and 940. The nickel-plated cooler also comes with what Zalman says is the "world's first RPM controllable PWM fan speed controller," which overrides the motherboard's PWM signal for manual fan speed control, or can alter the signal for low, medium, or high. Best of all, Zalman says the PWM mate can be installed on the case's exterior, when far too often that isn't the case.
Five heatpipes run up through the 10X, which checks in at a hefty 920g. Other specs include aluminum fins, copper base, and noise levels between 20 - 30dBA.
No word yet on availability or price, though you can spy a handful of pics here.
When Zalman told us its new CNPS9900 LED was the best CPU air cooler ever, we took the news with a grain of salt. For more than a year, the company’s CNPS9700 LED had been our top air cooler, until Thermaltake’s DuOrb usurped Zalman’s place at the top of the heap in our July 2008 issue. Can the CNPS9900 retake the cooling throne for Zalman?
In a word, yes. This copper-finned monster outperforms the Thermaltake DuOrb across the board, keeping our test bed’s CPU an average of three degrees cooler than the DuOrb was able to at both idle and full burn, making it the best CPU air cooler we’ve ever tested.
We were apprehensive when we first saw Zalman’s Z-Machine LQ1000 case. From the outside, the chassis looks like a combination of the company’s Fatal1ty FC-ZE1 case (reviewed February 2007) and its Reserator XT external water cooler (reviewed December 2007). But this case isn’t simply a slapped-together hybrid of two products. Zalman packs a number of improvements into the LQ1000.
The LQ1000 abandons the frustrating billion-screw design of its predecessor, the FC-ZE1, for a thumb-screwed side panel. The case’s drive bays use the same tool-free design as the FC-ZE1, but the mounting mechanisms for the case’s four 5.25-inch bays are all tool-free as well.
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).
Rarely do you see a 22-inch display float near the price points of superior 24-inch panels. It’s just unheard of, for a smaller display would have to offer some kind of fantastic upgrade over what we typically find in this size classification to be worth the additional cost. How about an extra dimension?
Zalman’s ZM-M220W is the company’s first 3D display and it’s every bit as expensive as some of the best midrange monitors we’ve tested. We appreciate Zalman’s attempt at breaking through the fourth wall using a 3D technology that’s far cheaper than what we’ve seen on similar displays. But we would still trade this extra dimension for a better-looking picture in a heartbeat.
Check out our full review of Zalman's 3D display after the jump!