Zalman CNPS8900 Extreme
Zalman has been producing CPU coolers for as long as I can remember. Their typical style has been the all-copper “flower” style heatsinks in various configurations and options. The flower style coolers have their advantages with providing airflow to the VRM’s and MosFETs on your motherboard. Traditional tower-style coolers lack the downward airflow to help cool these components.
Their latest “flower” style offering is the CNPS (short for Computer Noise Prevention System) 8900 series. This comes in two variants – the Quiet and the Extreme, which we’ll be looking at here today.
The Zalman CNPS 8900 Extreme is billed as a quiet low-profile CPU cooler that fits just about every single modern socket from both Intel and AMD, from Pentium 4’s and Athlon’s to i7’s and even the new Llano APUs. The Zalman CNPS8900 Extreme is also affordable at $50.90 shipped.
Zalman CNPS8900 Extreme Features:
- Powerful Cooling Performance: Two heatpipes and aluminum fins are designed for maximum cooling while switching noise free, down-blowing 110mm fan minimizes noise and cools not only the CPU but also provides powerful peripheral cooling.
- Direct Touch Heatpipe (DTH) Base: DTH technology transfers the CPU’s heat directly to heatpipes, thereby minimizing heat resistance and maximizing cooling performance.
- Slim Profile: The CPU cooler’s height is 60mm and designed to be installed in ATX cases as well as slim or LP (low profile) cases.
- Ultra Quiet 110mm PWM Fan: Switching noise eliminated 110mm fan is incorporated for ultra-quiet operation.
Specifications of the Zalman CNPS 8900 Extreme:
- Intel LGA1155/1156/1366/775
- AMD FM1/AM3+/AM3/AM2+/AM2
- Fins: Aluminum
- Base: Copper
Unboxing the Zalman CNPS8900 Extreme
The cooler comes packaged in a nice full-color display box that shows the cooler nicely as well as the model and some basic info.
The rear of the box shows a picture of the cooler as well as several key features in several different languages.
One side of the box shows another picture of the cooler and gives specifications and socket compatibility. It’s nice having all that info readily available if you’re standing in the store trying to decide on a cooler for your rig.
Once you’ve opened the box you’ll find a bag of hardware, retention brackets for both Intel and AMD sockets, an installation booklet, a Zalman case badge, a JST-to-Molex fan cable adapter and a single motherboard backplate that fits both Intel and AMD sockets.
The cooler itself is under the accessories and encased in a nice sturdy clear plastic clamshell.
Looking Closer at the Zalman CNPS8900 Extreme
The cooler itself is the typical copper-plated flower-style setup that Zalman has made for a long time. One of the major differences here though is the addition of a pair of long 6mm heatpipes.
Flipping the cooler over you’ll notice the copper base and the pair of HDT (Heatpipe-Direct Touch) heatpipes running through the center. You’ll also notice the short length of multi-colored wire for the fan. It’s a shame that they left the 4-pin JST connector on and make you use an adaptor to get to the standard 4-pin fan header that every motherboard uses. Also it would have been a nice touch to have the cable(s) sleeved as well for aesthetic reasons. You’ll also noticed that the base is machined and flat, although not mirror polished.
If you remove the two screws holding the fan to the cooler you’ll notice the unique spiral shape underneath the fan. This is to help Airflow move through the fins at the very base.
The fan itself is a clear plastic 110mm dual ball bearing PWM model. It’s shows as being 12V and rated for 0.4A. This fan will run from 1,250 to 2,800 RPM ±10% with a sound pressure rating of 19.5 to 35 dBA ±10%.
Installing the Zalman CNPS8900 Extreme
The first step is to prepare the backplate for the cooler. The threaded nuts simple set inside the proper holes for your socket on the backplate.
Next you slide on the plastic cover until it snaps over the threaded nut. This holds the threaded nut securely in place for cooler installation.
Once the plastic retainer is snapped into place you’ll have what you see above.
Once you’ve got all 4 threaded nuts and plastic clips installed you’ll have something that looks like this.
The final step is to mount the appropriate brackets to the cooler itself. This is accomplished with the 4 included screws.
One thing to note here is that the mounting plates have a fair amount of play. If you just go and tighten all 4 screws you may find that the holes do not line up properly with the threaded inserts. I found that if you hold one bracket all the way towards the cooler and the other all the way away from it it’ll line up fairly well.
One major design issue with this cooler is accessing the 4 mounting screws. As you can see your screwdriver will need to be at quite the angle to contact the screw. It was somewhat difficult installing it into the massive NZXT Switch 810 so I’d imagine that any smaller cases would be close to impossible with the motherboard installed.
You can see here that the cooler is very low profile and doesn’t come into contact with anything on this standard ATX motherboard.
One thing to be aware of is that the edges of the cooler may prohibit use of a RAM slot. You can clearly see here that the cooler is covering the very first slot on this board. Luckily this board recommends installing 2 DIMMs into slots B and D rather than A and C. Running 4 sticks with this cooler however is out of the question without some low-profile sticks.
Test System & Temperature Results
Here are the parts that make up our Intel Core i5-2500K LGA1155 test system:
|Processor||Intel Core i5-2500K||Price|
|Motherboard||Biostar TPX67E (B3)|
|Memory||Mushkin Blackline DDR3-1600 8GB||Price|
|Video Card||Sapphire Radeon HD 4870||Price|
|Hard Drive||Western Digital Caviar Blue 160GB||Price|
|Power Supply||Ultra X3 800W|
|Chassis||NZXT Switch 810 – Black||Price|
|Operating System||Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit||Price|
Here are the GPU-Z details of the system that shows the settings of our system:
The system will be left to idle for 30 minutes and the temperature of each core will be recorded. It will then to 5 passes on the Very High setting with the Intel Burn Test tool and the temperatures will be recorded again. The test room is kept at a constant 72º/22.2ºC. The CPU will be run at its base clock of 3.3GHz and with an overclock of 4.0GHz. Temps on each core will be monitored with CPUID’s HW Monitor and the temps of the 4 cores will be averaged to get the final reading. The thermal paste used on all coolers is Arctic Silver’s Alumina and the CPU and cooler will be cleaned with Arctic Silver’s 2-part Arcti-Clean solution.
CPU Coolers tested:
- Intel retail box cooler
- Corsair H50
- Zalman CNPS 8900 Extreme
At stock speeds you can see the Zalman CNPS 8900 Extreme performs very well. It’s just a few degrees shy of the Corsair H50 and a full 24ºC better than Intel’s stock cooling solution. The PWM function of the CNPS 8900 Extreme keeps the fan speeds in check automatically which is a nice touch. At idle the fan is near silent and under full load at stock speeds it’s noticeable but not crazy noisy.
With an overclock of 4.0GHz the cooler is perfectly able to keep up with the i5-2500K. The gap between it and the H50 widened slightly to 5.5ºC under full load. Notice the Intel stock cooler wasn’t even able to handle the heat at these speeds and the CPU kept throttling down to reduce temps. Under full load at these temps the fan on the Zalman CNPS 8900 Extreme is loud to say the least. The H50 stock fan is loud but the Zalman unit makes the Corsair fan sound like a hummingbird.
Final Thoughts & Conclusions
Zalman is a company that has been around for a long time and has come out with a wide range of cooling products. The CNPS8900 Extreme is their latest low-profile offering and also the latest offering in the Case Noise Prevention System (CNPS) series. The cooler is copper plated and comes with a clear unlit fan and will look good in any case.
The flower-style of this cooler allows airflow to your heatsinks for your VRM’s and MosFET’s to help adequately cool these often-overlooked items.
The biggest gripe with this cooler is its mounting method. Although the backplate assembles quickly and easily, actually mounting the cooler to the motherboard can be a real pain due to the large size of it. Mounting the CNPS8900 Extreme on the motherboard before you install the board into your case is HIGHLY recommended.
The Zalman CNPS8900 Extreme performed very well even with a 4.0 GHz overclock on our i5-2500K. It was only a few degrees shy of Corsair’s H50 and well outperformed the stock cooling solution from Intel. This product is listed under Zalman’s CNPS category for Case Noise Prevention System, however the fan at anything over idle speed is very loud. The CNPS8900 Extreme can be found online for $50.90 shipped, putting it in the upper midrange of coolers price-wise.
Legit Bottom Line: Zalman’s CNPS 8900 Extreme does a very good job of cooling and looks good doing it. The price is attractive as well at only $50, but the searing noise from the fan makes it suitable for low-power HTPC systems or a server that’s kept out of earshot.