Zalman CNPS8700 LED CPU Cooler: Update of a Classic

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Weighing in at only 475g, it is significantly lighter than both of the all-copper versions of the CNPS7000 and CNPS7700 (773g and 918g respectively). The old design featured fins pressed together tightly forming the base. This has been tossed out in favor of heat pipes soldered to a copper plate base. What really makes the CNPS8700 stand out is its height. At only 67mm it's a good candidate for a low profile case. Not everyone can fit a six inch high monster in their system.

The radial design of the CNPS8700 is very pleasing to the eye and very reminicent of the CNPS7000. To distribute the light of the blue LEDs, the fan is made of translucent plastic.

The CNPS8700's base is soldered to two heatpipes snaking around the inside of the heatsink. The fins are soldered to the pipes. Each pipe connects to half of the fins.

What we always like seeing: A flat, polished copper base.

The 8700 has a very skeletal structure compared to its predecessors.

The fan is 110mm in diameter and of the double ball bearing variety, unfortunately, similar to the Zalman's previous heatsink fans. Our experiences with Zalman's fans have been far from positive as they generally have unfavorable noise characteristics and spin too fast at full speed for our liking. The fact its translucent to accentuate the effect of the blue LEDs doesn't help as clear plastic is usually more brittle and prone to resonating than plain black plastic. The fan is attached to a metal frame above the base with only two screws and the impeller of a 120mm case fan is the perfect size for a replacement.

If you find the fan intolerable, it is not too difficult to replace, although the procedure calls for some mechanical skills. The procedure should be similar to what's already been done with the 9500 (and 9700) heatsinks.

The air is directed downward by the fan through the heatsink with the radial nature of the fins distributing the flow over the components around the processor — an important feature tower heatsinks lack. The simple fact that the fins don't connect directly to the base makes the 8700 just about the best heatsink for providing airflow around the CPU. Note: The fan uses a 3-pin connector, which means if your motherboard requires a 4-pin PWM fan in order to control it, you are out of luck. You can however, use the Fan Mate 2 manual fan speed controller that Zalman provides gratis to adjust the fan's voltage to between 5V and 11V.

For interest's sake, we scrounged around the lab for the 8700's predecessors...

On the left is a CNPS7700 ALCU, which was based on the 7000, but utilized a 120mm fan instead of the earlier model's 92mm fan. This sample was modded with a fan swap for a Nexus 120. The Zalman VF900 GPU cooler in the middle is also an obvious design source for the 8700; you can see the circular heatpipe that runs through the fins. On the right is the 8700.

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