CNPS10X Extreme: Zalman's Extreme Makeover

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These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. Be aware that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn't hear it from one meter, chances are we couldn't record it either!

The recording starts with 10 second segments of room ambiance, then the fan at various levels. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don't change the volume setting again.


The CNPS10X Extreme is much needed model for Zalman. By finally employing a tower heatpipe design, Zalman is back in competition with the top CPU cooler manufacturers of today. While it is not the best performing model, it is excellent, and a good first step in their quest for cooling glory. Performance aside, the heatsink comes with mounting hardware for LGA1156/1366, a nifty fan speed controller with LED indicators, and a surprisingly good fan that performs well, and once undervolted, exhibits very smooth acoustics.

Admittedly, the CNPS10X is relatively inefficient — whether you consider weight or price. Weighing in at 820 grams for the heatsink alone, it is the heaviest cooler we've tested in recent memory. The Prolimatech Megahalems comes closes at 790 grams but that cooler is the current top performer in our database. Like many Zalman heatsinks, CNPS10X is fairly expensive at US$80. Still, unlike many high performance coolers, it comes with an integrated fan, and the fan is quite good, as is the integrated fan speed controller. These help to justify the price for buyers seeking a complete, high performance CPU cooling package.

Zalman CNPS10X Extreme

* Surprisingly good fan
* Great high airflow performance
* Very good low noise performance
* LGA1156/1366 compatibility
* Good fan speed controller

* Not as good with low airflow
* Heavy/Tall
* Price
* Inflexible AMD mounting

Our thanks to Zalman for the CNPS10X Extreme heatsink sample.

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