Zalman has for years had coolers that were a very nice balance of unique style and performance. The CNPS11X is no different; it has unique looks with solid performance, and does it quietly. The overall looks of the CNPS11X are nice. The Black Pearl nickel plating and blue LED fan gives the cooler some flare while not being overbearing.
The new V or triangle design is definitely different for a tower cooler, which something that sets it apart from the crowd. Like the old barrel style coolers this can be spotted from across the room and you can know who made it.
Also, the way the cooler is set back offset on the socket will help users with tall RAM by pulling the fan away from the RAM slots.
The bulk of the performance, I think, comes from Zalman’s Composite Heatpipes. The new heatpipe design did well with the CNPS9900 Max, and the CNPS11X outperformed its sibling in all the tests. The CNPS11X did well at stock settings; it really didn’t start to shine until the system was overclocked. At 3.5GHz the CNPS11X was at the top of the charts, and at 4GHz it was tied with the Prolimatech Super Mega and not far behind the Antec Kuhler 920 on “Extreme”. The CNPS11X was quieter than both, and even more so on low. The even match performance-wise for the CNPS11X was the Xigmatek Aegir. The two coolers ran neck and neck through all the testing. Both are solid performing and quiet coolers, but the CNPS11X has a little more flare to it.
The CNPS11X can be found normally for $89.99, but its curently on sale for $79.99 and also has a $10 rebate to get the price down to $69.99 with free shipping from Newegg. The standard $90 price tag puts the CNPS11X into the high-end air category, and that is right where it performed. With the rebate it makes the CNPS11X very attractive. The CNPS11X performed close to the $120 Antec Kuhler and the $65 (without fan) Prolimatech Super Mega; so a $70 price tag isn’t too far out of line for a solid performing cooler with some flair to it. With out the rebate it might be a little hard on the wallet as compared to something like the $60 Xigmatek Aegir, but the Aegir doesn’t have the flare that some want in their systems.
Legit Bottom Line: Zalman’s CNPS11X is a solid performing, good looking, and quiet CPU cooler that comes with a 1 year warranty. Its $90 price tag may be a little steep for some, but with the current rebate it is nicely priced at $69.99 and free shipping.