My first Zalman cooler was the CNPS 9700LED. It was in the round style that Zalman was historically know for, and it performed very well and looked good doing it. That was several years ago. Now, with a more traditional tower design Zalman is back to looking good and performing well while doing it. This is mainly due to the snazzy looking nickel coating “Black Pearl” finish paired with the blue LED fan.
Overall I am really happy with the CNPS 10X Extreme. Zalman moved out of their norm and still was able to make a nice cooler. The CNPS 10X extreme is a little on the heavy side, though. At 920g it’s no light weight, but it’s not the heaviest cooler we have looked at, either; some of this weight is due to the fan mount/shroud and fan control.
The fan is the CNPS 10X Extreme’s one down side. When running at 100% fan speed the fan is getting to where most would call it loud. In an open mesh case I’m certain you will hear the fan, and depending on where the case sits on your desk, you might need to turn the TV up a notch or two. In non mesh cases the fan shouldn’t bother you too much, but it will be noticeable. Knowing this is why I think Zalman designed the PWM Fan Mate to be remote mounted with the extension cable; they knew the end user would want to adjust the fan a lot. With it remote mounted you would not have to keep pulling the side panel off or reaching around to the back of the case to throttle the fan. If you’re worried the fan will stop working if the fan control gets accidently unplugged, don’t; the fan will go straight to 100% fan speed if unhooked from the control.
The price of the CNPS 10X Extreme CPU Cooler is $74.99 shipped on sale at Newegg or $67.99 plus shipping at Directron at the time of writing this. Normally it’s $79.99, and this puts the CNPS 10X Extreme in the same price range, or slightly higher depending on version, as the Thermaltake Ultra 120 and Noctua NH-U12P, and that is about where it performed. The fan’s sound level was the only down side to it compared to the other coolers.
Legit Bottom Line: Zalman is back in the saddle with the CNPS 10X Extreme performance-wise, now to work on quieting down that fan at full speed.