Zalman's new 9700 bigboy heatsink/fan

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March 22, 2007 by Nick Geraedts with Mike Chin

Zalman CNPS9700 LED
CPU Heatsink/Fan
Market Price

When we reviewed the Zalman CNPS9500 CPU heatsink some 18 months ago, we lauded its innovative design. The 9500 managed to combine the clamped-multiple-thin-fins element of their earlier "flower" design, a multiple heatpipe tower, and a very well integrated frameless fan into a visually striking and clever product. The performance matched the swish appearance and technology; the stiff >$70 price tag was the only serious downside.

A little over a year later, Zalman introduced the CNPS9700, the obvious big brother to the 9500. It is slightly bigger all around, and has a 110mm fan instead of the 92mm fan of the previous model. The progression is reminiscent of the earlier 7000 and 7700 models, which were more conventional blow-down designs with 92mm and 120mm fan, respectively.

The new bigger model, we surmise, is meant to be a slightly better performer or perhaps slightly quieter at the same performance. Bigger heatsink area, bigger fan: It seems like a reasonable proposition. What about price? Well, market competition has driven the price of the earlier 9500 down to around $50, and the 9700, at $65~$75, is already a bit lower than the starting price of the 9500, which is a good thing.


As usual, excessive use of plastic mars the Zalman package. Their defense will be that not only does it help to sell the product from retailers' shelves, the tough plastic helps to protect the products in transit, thereby reducing the need for shock padding in the shipping cartons.

A mostly plastic package.

Zalman provides many useful parts and accessories:
Installation parts for use on all current desktop CPU socket types from AMD and Intel: AM2, 939, 754, 940, 775; a well-illustrated user's manual, thermal interface material, and the Fanmate 2 fan speed controller.


We take the information on the left side of the table below from the company's marketing materials. It's good to know what they are promising, boasting or claiming about their products. Our comments on the right column are sometimes cheeky, because the marketingspeak sometimes deserves cheekiness.

Zalman CNPS9700 Feature Highlights (from Zalman's product page)
Feature & Brief Our Comment
100% copper heatsink with aerodynamically optimized "tunnel" design for maximum cooling efficiency.
Copper is heavy, but a good conductor. The "tunnel" worked for the 9500; we'll see how it fares here.
Innovative and patented, curved heatpipe design for a heat transfer capacity of up to six heatpipes with the use of just three.
Same as with the 9500.
Compatible with all single and dual core CPUs for Intel Socket 775 and AMD Socket AM2/754/939/940.
Compatibility is good. The less hassle the better.
0.2mm ultra-slim fins for minimized weight and reduced airflow resistance.
764g isn't really "minimized weight". 450g is the offical max for AMD A64 socket motherboards. 550g is the new official maximum for Intel ATX boards, 900g is for their BTX boards.
Ultra quiet CNPS 110mm LED fan.
We'll see soon enough.
Adjustable fan speed controller (FAN MATE 2) included. A nice addition to all their HSF for years now.

For the specifications table, information about the 9500 was also added for ease of comparison.

Zalman CNPS9700 / 9500 Specifications (from Zalman's product pages)
Model 9700 9500
90×124×142mm (LxWxH)
85x112x125mm (LxWxH)
Dissipation Area 5,490 cm2 3,698 cm2
Base Material
Pure Copper and Aluminum
Pure Copper and Aluminum
Intel LGA775 (SocketT)
AMD Socket AM2
AMD Socket 940
AMD Socket 939
AMD Socket 754
Intel LGA775 (SocketT)
AMD Socket AM2
AMD Socket 940
AMD Socket 939
AMD Socket 754
Fan Speed
1250 - 2800 RPM +/-10%
1250 - 2600 RPM +/-10%
19.5 - 35 dBA (no distance specified )
18.0 - 27.5 dBA (no distance specified )
Bearing Type 2 Ball-Bearing 2 Ball-Bearing

It's interesting to note several key differences:

  • The 9700 is 234g heavier. That's fairly significant, but probably OK given the sturdy and secure mounting system.
  • The 9700's heat dissipation area (which counts both sides of the fins) is nearly 50% larger. This should be significant.
  • It looks like at the same minimum 1250 rpm, the 110mm fan in the 9700 will be 1.5 dBA louder. But if you take into account the larger blade area of the 110mm fan (vs the 92mm fan of the 9500), the airflow will be ~27% greater.

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