Zalman CNPS9500 LED heatsink/fan

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Installation hardware is included for sockets 478, 775 and K8. A backplate is included for use with motherboards that do not already have one. A heatsink retention module is also included for use with Socket 775 systems. As usual, Zalman has a nicely illustrated instruction sheet, as well as a good animated flash version of the installation on the product web page.

Socket 478 systems can take advantage of the stock heatsink retention module, thanks to two aluminum yoke-shaped anchors that lock into place. They are similar but not identical to those used with the Zalman 7000 and 7700 series of heatsinks, and work in a similar way. The difference? The 9500 anchors are lower profile and use a finer thread for the screw hole.

In front, the clips for the CNPS9500. Behind, the clips for the CNPS7000.
Both the height and the screw thread are different.

Once the proper hardware has been attached to the motherboard, installation is pretty much the same for all platforms. A retention clip is placed over a "hub" in the center of the heatsink, and the two ends of the clip are screwed to the hardware that has been attached to the motherboard. The screws for each platform are different, so pay attention to the instruction manual. They also have a hexagonal head, so the included Allen key must be used to tighten them. Because the fins overhang the screws, it is easiest to use the ball-shaped end of the Allen key which lets the shaft of the key be at a slight angle to the head of the screw.

The mounting bracket fits over the hub in the center of the base.

The orientation of the CNPS9500 can be changed depending on whether the clip is installed through the heatpipes or between them. The proper orientation should direct the airflow of the integrated fan towards the rear of the case. For our socket 478 motherboard, the proper configuration required the clip to be positioned between the heatpipes. This task was quite difficult. It took us about 10 minutes of fiddling to maneuver it into position without using force. The bracket must be slipped in between the heatpipes sideways and then rotated to horizontal position so that it fits over the center hub. The problem is that the bracket almost always catches on either the hub or the heatpipes above it when it is rotated. A small adjustment in production would probably eliminate this annoyance. NOTE: Later attempts at doing this proved more successfully. The trick is to apply a little force as you rotate the clip, jiggling the piece as you rotate it.

Installing the clip between the heatpipes is a finicky task.

Mounting the clip this way is a cinch.

The heatsink should be installed outside the case if possible. It is probably impossible to install it inside a case, as the fins hang over the screw and requires access to the sides of the motherboard in order to be tightened.

The heatsink is also quite large; it hung over the top edge of our test motherboard. This may cause compatibility problems in cases where the gap between power supply and the top edge of the motherboard is small. Obviously, boards that position the CPU socket closer to the center of the board will not have this problem, although if the socket is too low, the heatsink could interfere with video cards that have a large heatsink.

The fins hang over the edge of our test board.

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