Review: 4 Socket-A Heavyweight Heatsinks

Cooling
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PRODUCT Zalman CNPS 6000cu
Manufacturer Zalman
Supplier Zalman
MSP US$40 (complete with fan, fan bracket, Fanmate controller, thermal grease, etc.)
Reasons chosen
  • Designed and marketed specifically as a good performance low noise solution.
  • Unique all-copper design inspires confidence about low airflow performance.
  • Used by many low noise PC aficionado.
  • Great set of accessories.
  • Excellent finish.
  • Priced nicely for extensive package.

Zalman CNPS600CU with Fanmate, fan & fan bracket

Zalman CNPS600CU with Fanmate 1 fan speed controller, 92mm fan and fan bracket.

The CNPS (Computer Noise Prevention System) 6000CU is a natural evolution of the original model (3000?) Zalman introduced a couple of years ago. It is still unique in design, being formed of many thin copper fins that are clamped tightly together, polished to make a very flat smooth base, and the fins spread like an Oriental fan or cards held in your hands. A primary benefit of the design is the large heat dissipation area that is achieved; this is extolled for all the Zalman heatsinks. The 6000CU is considerably larger than the original, but the basic design has hardly changed.

Specifications

  • Dimensions: 95~110(L) x 63(W) x 65(H) mm
  • Dissipation Area: 2600~2900 square cm
  • Base Material: Pure Copper
  • Weight: 462 grams

Zalman CNPS600CU base

Zalman 6000CU shown with clip mounting tool -- and now familiar 1" doo-hickey

As with the other heatsinks in this roundup, the finish is excellent, the base being polished to a mirror finish. The above photo shows the slots in the fins designed to allow high airflow circulation. Note that the 6000 CU does have a slot right through the center of the fins for the clip to fit through. This does reduce the total available fin area somewhat; perhaps by ~15% (judged by precise eyeballing). But it allows more airflow, too.

Opening up the Zalman package is as fun as a Christmas stocking: there are more doodads and goodies than you'll encounter in most HSF packages. Aside from everything shown in the above photos, there also a tube of thermal grease, screws from the fan mount, and not one but two mounting clips. (See photo below.) There is even a little well-illustrated fold-out manual in English and Korean. They're serious about user-friendliness!

Zalman CNPS600CU accessories

Fanmate 1 is a nicely packaged voltage regulator with a small control knob that provides 5-11 VDC when plugged a standard motherboard fan header. RPM sensing is not lost if you're using a fan that provides the proper third wire for it (although some motherboard hardware monitoring circuits will go whacky at rotations below ~1200 RPM). It is supplied with all Zalman HS that are fan-equipped. It is a very useful tool for noise control.

Fan bracket installed

Fan bracket installed in a system.

Fan Bracket BR123 allows any 80-92 mm fan to be suspended just over the HS, any heatsink. Vibration and turbulence noise tends to be reduced compared to direct mounting to the HS. Cooling power might be affected very slightly by the larger distance between fan blades and HS. With the Zalman "flower" heatsinks, as there is no method to attach a fan directly, the bracket is a necessity. With a little creativity, you can do lots with this clever device, as John Coyle did with his, such as mounting other fans on different points of the bracket to cool other things in the PC..

The supplied 92mm fan is surprisingly noisy considering its inclusion in the CNPS package. It's rated at 36 dBA at the full 12V speed of 2800 RPM and 20 dBA at the minimum speed possible with Fanmate 1. Even at the minimum setting, it is louder than our reference Panaflo at 12V.

There was some trouble with the clip, which is really the weakest part of the 6000CU. Because it engages only one lug on each side of the socket, a lot of pressure is needed, and it is not that secure, especially when the 462 gram mass of the HS is considered. The clip mounting tool works nicely, allowing pressure to be safely applied, but the clip also seems too easily bent.

When the 6000CU sample was first received, one of the two supplied clips was used without close examination in a tower system. It worked fine that evening, but overnight, the clip slipped off the worn top lug of the socket. Less than 10 seconds after the boot beep in the morning, I had a toasted XP1700+ on my hands.

Most of the blame can be laid ton the worn lug of the workhorse motherboard, which has seen too many heatsinks come and go. For most home users this is not an issue, socket mounting lugs are worn and damaged only by reviewers, nuts and really sloppy users. But close examination of the two supplied clips showed they were not quite identical:

clips

Can you guess which is the one that slipped off?

With the motherboard out in the open on the test bench, it is easy to secure either of the 2 clips. But when mounting the HS on a motherboard that is already in a case, with the difficulties of access and not being able to see clearly around the area, I could not mount the slightly splayed clip properly. The picture on the left below is the best that be done with the slightly off clip. As you can see, it would not take much to make the clip slip off the edge of the lug. Gravity in a tower case was enough. The right image shows the other clip in place properly.

You need a bit of lateral force as you're pushing down on the clip with the tool to get the clip to engage the lug securely. That's very difficult to get with a North-South (for want of a better term) oriented socket like this one when the motherboard is already installed in a case.

one bad, one good

Let me repeat: this is an unfortunate accident. The clip can be improved, but it is very unlikely that you will have any problem with it at home. To be on the safe side, it is worth removing the PSU so you can have a good look at both sides of the socket lugs when you attach the 6000CU -- or any other HS, for that matter!

Socket-A Heatsink Roundup Intro - p.1

Thermalright SLK800 - p.2

Thermalright AX7 - p.3

Swiftech MC462A - p.5

Test Results, Data Analysis and Conclusions - p.6

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