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Zalman CNPS9500 integrated heatsink/fan:
Zalman CNPS9500 - 9V - 20 CFM / 33 dBA/1m
Zalman CNPS9500 - 7V - 16 CFM / 28 dBA/1m
Zalman CNPS9500 - 5V - 11 CFM / 23 dBA/1m
The 9500 at 12V was not recorded, because at 37 dBA/1m, it's simply too loud; there's no point.
Recordings of Comparable HSF:
CNPS7000 - 5V - 22 dBA/1m
CNPS7700 - 5V - 22 dBA/1m
Cooling Super Silent 4 Ultra TC, 22 dBA/1m
Arctic Cooling Freezer 4 - 7V - 20 dBA/1m
HOW TO LISTEN & COMPARE
These recordings were made with a high
resolution studio quality digital recording system. The microphone was 3" from
the edge of the fan frame at a 45° angle, facing the intake side of the fan to
avoid direct wind noise. The ambient noise during all recordings was 18 dBA or
lower. It is best to download the sound files to your computer before listening.
To set the volume to a realistic level (similar to the original), try playing this Nexus 92mm case fan @ 5V (17 dBA/1m)
recording and set the volume so that it is barely audible. Then don't
reset the volume and play the other sound files. Of course, all tone
controls and other effects should be turned off or set to neutral. For
full details on how to calibrate your sound system playback level to
get the most valid listening comparison, please see the yellow text box
entitled Listen to
the Fans on page four of the article
SPCR's Test / Sound Lab: A Short Tour.
The Zalman 9500 provides excellent cooling performance, close to the best
that we've tested, the Scythe
Ninja, and matches the Thermalright
XP-120. It provides this performance even
when airflow is reduced by undervolting the fan with the included Fanmate, a feature for which we've long applauded Zalman.
However, similar performance could be achieved at a lower noise level with
the two heatsinks mentioned above by using a quiet Nexus 120mm fan. By contrast,
the fan in the 9500 is a step backwards even from its predecessor, the Zalman
7000, which sounded nicer (if only slightly quieter) at the same voltage.
The performance of the heatsink, especially under low-airflow conditions, makes
it an prime candidate for a fan swap. This is a more
difficult procedure than a standard fan swap, but the results are likely to
be well worth the effort. It's been done with both the Zalman 7000 and the 7700 series.
The wide range of supported platforms is in keeping with most other high-end heatsinks
on the market today, and it is a valuable feature. Including installation
hardware for all major sockets reduces confusion at the store and makes it easier
for the retailer to stock the models you need.
The good airflow to the area around the CPU socket is not to be underestimated, especially for hot running CPUs. Keeping the voltage regulators on the motherboard cool is considered by Intel and AMD to be one of the key roles provided by the CPU heatsink/fan. The 9500 does this well even with low fan speed, despite its parallel-to-motherboard airflow path. Typical HS with this type of airflow have fins parallel to the motherboard that prevent any of the airflow from the fan from reaching the motherboard. The Ninja is a good example of this type of design. It is not conducive to good cooling for the voltage regulators. This is not a big deal for lower power CPUs, but definitely an issue with hotter ones. The price for poorly cooled voltage regulators is high temperatures around the CPU, reduced efficiency, and shortened motherboard life.
Compatibility may be improved over the original 7000 series, since
the bulk of the heatsink is now elevated above the socket. However, the large
size of the heatsink could still interfere with the power supply if the CPU socket is
located near the top of your motherboard. Installation is straightforward as long as you read the directions and use
the proper hardware for your motherboard, but it could take a fair amount of effort, especially if you need to remove the motherboard from
the case. Slipping the mounting bracket between the heatpipes is also more
trouble than it should have been.
All in all, the CNPS9500 is an excellent performing heatsink that rivals
the best and will be at home even in the most powerful gaming systems.
Although it is more expensive than either the Scythe Ninja or the Thermalright
XP-120, keep in mind that neither of these includes either a fan or a
fan controller. The CNPS9500 includes both of these, making it more complete
and user friendly.
* Top-notch cooling performance
* Support for all recent CPU platforms
* Excellent low-airflow performance
* Included fan controller
* Low weight for an all-copper design
* Fan could be quieter
* Too big for some cases
* Complex Installation
Much thanks to Zalman
Tech. for the CNPS9500 sample.
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