Zalman has nice cooler on their hands with the CNPS9900 MAX. The older enthusiasts can see its design heritage and at a glance have no doubt it’s a Zalman cooler. The design is nice looking with the ‘Black Pearl’ nickel plated finish, and it performs nicely as well. The CNPS9900 MAX carries a suggested price tag of $79.90. This puts the CNPS9900 MAX into the high end air category and it performed in this range as well.
Throughout testing it was holding a steady gap to the similarly priced Prolimatech Super Mega that requires a similar speed fan. In our testing the Super Mega was paired with a 2000 RPM fan and the fan on the CNPS9900 MAX has a 1700 RPM top end. Not quite apples to apples but the CNPS9900 MAX comes with a fan, is 200 grams lighter than the Super Mega without a fan, and allows for tall RAM sinks to be used due to its design. These differences are what I think will lean some users to the Zalman over a tower cooler like the Super Mega. It seems that recent tower coolers on the market all run a 40mm height between the socket to the first fin. This makes use of RAM with tall heat spreaders impossible if the cooler hangs over a RAM slot.
With the Zalman CNPS9900 MAX being 200 grams lighter than the Prolimatech Super Mega and performing somewhat close leads me to think the new Composite Heatpipes Zalman used with CNPS9900 MAX has something to do with it. I am looking forward to see what Zalman does with the new heatpipe design.
Personally, I like the overall look of the Zalman. It’s what drew me to the CNPS9700 LED so many years ago. It’s different, not some big tower cooler that looks like just like about every other tower cooler on the market. The LED lighting was done nicely by Zalman as well. The LED fan was enough that you knew it was there, but not that it would overpower a room in the dark.
I only have two complaints with the CNPS9900 MAX and they both have to do with the fan. The first is the inline power reducer. On the top end of the fan speed it only limits the fan 200 RPM. This very slight speed reduction does get the noise level down to 27dBA, and impact to performance is small. That brings me to the other issue, for a 135mm fan running flat out at 1700 RPM, 30dBA is a tad noisy. I was hoping for a little lower noise levels. With older Zalman coolers I have used in the past they came with a rheostat style controller that gave a wide range of control. With this cooler I miss that style controller, being able to throttle the fan when I’m not pushing the system and speed it up when I need it.
Overall I really like the CNPS9900 MAX; it’s a light weight cooler that performs close to heavier tower coolers and looks very nice doing it. Zalman says the cooler is available with blue or red LED fans and will carry a suggested price of $79.90. The blue LED cooler is being sold under part number CNPS9900MAX-B and the red LED version is listed under CNPS9900MAX-R. Both the red and blue coolers are covered by a one year warranty and can be found right now at Newegg for $79.99 with free shipping.
Legit Bottom Line: The Zalman CNPS9900 MAX is a continuation of a cooler design that looks as good as it performs. I look forward to see what Zalman does next with their new Composite Heatpipes.