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Zalman's CNPS9900 LED: Great Air Cooling Performance for a Price
George Ross, May 24, 2009

With the dog days of summer fast approaching it seems to be a good time to check out a good way to keep your CPU cool through the hot summer months. Let's see what Zalman's latest CPU cooler has to offer, and see if it has anything to offer over Zalman's previous flagship model the CNPS9700.

I will say that the one feature that I most looked forward to from the CNPS9900 LED is the automatic fan speed control. Hopefully the days of the adjustable fan speed controller that used to come included with Zalman's coolers are behind us.

Packaging & Contents

The CNPS9900 LED is packaged quite well and can handle the riggers of shipping. All of the accessories come on top of the cooler and are separated from it with a layer of cardboard. The cooler itself is packed inside a molded plastic container that keeps the cooler from moving around in the packaging. Since the cooler is two separate heatsinks with a fan sandwiched between them extra precaution was taken and the people at Zalman added a special plastic separator to keep the heatsinks from any damage. This plastic separator should be removed before the cooler is installed.

All of the things you need to get the CNPS9900 LED installed onto a 1366, 775, AM2+, AM2, 940, 939, or 754 motherboard come with the cooler. One of the nicer additions to the accessories was the inclusion of Zalman's own Super Thermal Grease. All in all Zalman has done a fine job with the packaging and included accessories of the CNPS9900 LED.

The installation instructions are well laid out and easy to follow with lots of illustrations. For the most part the CNPS9900 LED is installed just like the CNPS9700 the only difference is in an improved socket 775 clip and the inclusion of a socket 1366 clip which installs almost exactly like the socket 775 clip. What is nice about the new clips are two contact points that spread contact pressure more evenly and they are fitted to keep the heatsink square with the socket and allow for less movement of the heatsink after installation. The only drawback to sockets 775 and 1366 installation is the motherboard has to be removed in order to get the clip support installed.

Test Hardware
The CNPS9900 LED was tested on the 3.6GHz quad core Kentsfield setup that lays around the Hillbilly labs. Here are the rest of the particulars of the test system.

Processor Intel Core 2 Quad Q6700 @ 3.6GHz
Motherboard GIGABYTE GA-EP45C-DS3R
Memory OCZ 4GB DDR3 1600 (PC2 12800) @ 720 MHz (DDR 1440) 7-7-7-28 Dual Channel Mode
Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda ES.2 ST3250310NS 250GB 7200 RPM 32MB cache SATA 3.0Gb/s
Video Card EVGA GeForce GTX 275 @ 633MHz Core 1404MHz Shader 1134MHz (2268 DDR) Memory
182.50 Driver
Optical Disk Drive Pioneer DVR-112DBK
Power Supply FSP Blue Storm II 500W
Operating System Windows Vista Ultimate x64 SP1

CPU Temperature
The cooler was tested in an open case environment with an ambient temperature of 28 degrees Celsius. For a $20 price premium over Zalman's own CNPS9700 there is not much difference in temperatures. So the question you really have to ask yourself is automatic fan speed control worth $20?

The CNPS9900 LED is a fine CPU cooler, and it even boasts a better solution than the CNPS9700 for use with Intel processors. What's more is it has automatic fan speed control that does keep it noticeably quieter when idling. The only real downside to this cooler is its price $80. The performance of this cooler is great just not that much better than the CNPS9700 for the difference in price.

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