Zalman CNPS8000: A Worthy Successor?

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July 30, 2006 by Devon Cooke

Zalman CNPS8000
Socket 775 / K8 CPU Heatsink
Market Price

For several years, Zalman has relied on its circular "flower" design to bring some very unusual — and successful — heatsinks to market. The CNPS7000 was untouchable when it was first released and is still a respectable heatsink, despite the fact that it doesn't have heatpipes. More recently, the CNPS9500 has found considerable success in the high end market and is notable as much for its design elegance as its excellent performance.

The CNPS8000 marks a departure from Zalman's traditional design. It is surprisingly conventional for a modern heatsink, with four heatpipes to transfer heat from a copper base to a bed of aluminum fins and a proprietary fan to provide airflow.

The motivating force behind the CNPS8000 seems to have been size; Zalman lists compatibility with "Slim and Low Profile" computers as the first feature. However, it's a little unclear why Zalman needed to produce such a heatsink. At 62mm, it is no shorter than the CNPS7000 — a design that has already proven itself for Zalman and is available for about US$20. The CNPS8000 will need to provide significantly better performance than its predecessor if it is to provide better value for money.

The retail box is large, and displays the heatsink prominently through a clear window.

The window is part of this plastic sheath that protects the heatsink during transit.

As with all of Zalman's recent heatsinks, the CNPS8000 ships with a Fanmate2 fan controller that allows the fan voltage to be set between 5~11V. The fan controller is one of Zalman's biggest claims to fame, and is one of the reasons why Zalman has acquired a reputation for selling quiet equipment. That aside, there's nothing too unusual in the package: A manual, a Zalman sticker, some thermal interface material, mounting clips, and the heatsink itself.

The included Fanmate2 makes slowing down the stock fan simple.

Zalman CNPS8000: Feature Highlights (from the product web page)
Feature & Brief Our Comment
Compatible with Slim and Low Profile Computer Enclosures.
Aimed at the HTPC and SFF markets where tight dimensions are most common.
Noiseless and vibration-free operation in Silent Mode.
It has a fan; therefore, it's hard to believe it's literally noiseless. We'll settle for very quiet.
Optimum performance and quick heat dispersion achieved with the use of 4 heatpipes.
Not uncommon these days.
Optimized fin design for lightness and higher performance.
Marketing speak at its finest. Nothing is being said here.
Ultra quiet 92mm fan.
Can it improve on Zalman's past fans?
Compatible with Intel Pentium D (Socket 775), Intel Pentium 4 (Socket 775), AMD Athlon 64 X2 (Socket 939), and AMD Sempron / AMD64 (Socket 754/939/940).
Supports current systems, but not Socket 478 or Socket A. AM2 is not listed but should be compatible.
FAN MATE 2 included for manual adjustment of fan speed.
Fan control is almost a necessity for quiet performance; we are happy to see it here.

Zalman CNPS8000: Specifications (from the product web page)
108(L) x 108(W) x 62.5(H) mm
350 g
Pure Copper and Pure Aluminum
Dissipation Area
2,815 cm2
Thermal Resistance
Silent Mode: 0.20 °C/W
Low-Noise Mode:
0.13 °C/W
Bearing Type
2-Ball Bearing
Silent Mode: 1,400 RPM ± 10%
Low-Noise Mode:
2,600 RPM ± 10%
Noise Level
Silent Mode: 18.0 dBA ± 10 %
Low-Noise Mode:
30.0 dBA ± 10 %

Several strengths and weaknesses can be gleaned just by reading the specifications. The CNPS8000 is quite small and light. We are sceptical about the performance figures as even the best heatsinks struggle to break 0.20 °C/W. We have never tested a heatsink that reached 0.13 °C/W. Adding to the confusion is the way that Zalman states the performance figures. According to their spec sheet, we are supposed to believe that the heatsink performs better in Silent Mode. We have assumed that this is an error, and have reversed the figures to restore some plausibility to the figures.

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