A lot of folks have been complaining lately of the noise that emits from a decent cooling setup. It's pretty common to have to withstand 45+ decibels of sound in order to get passable temperatures, but there may just be a new system that can help. Come join Mike "Darthtanion" Wright as he takes a look at the Zalman CNPS6000Cu HSF and find out if it can handle the load AND remain quiet.
IntroductionZalman...Though not a brand new company, they have been known for making a style of heatsink that is like no other out there. When they first came on the scene, their product line was pretty much ineffective for any real sort of Power System, so they didn't get much recognition within the tech community. But they have been working on the design a bit, and have made some refinements that bear looking into.Enter their newest line of cooler for the AMD processors; the CNPS6000Cu. Just by glancing at the packaging above, you can see what I mean by having a rather unique design. And to add to the strangeness of the unit, the fan is not even attached directly to the heatsink, but we'll get more into that aspect of it in a bit.So now that we have an idea as to what we're dealing with here, let's see what makes it tick.
Zalman 6000Cu -
About the Heatsink
I normally don't have a section about the cooler like this, but I felt it was warranted due to the unique nature of this little beast.To start off with, let's first take a look at the name of the cooler itself. While the 6000Cu is nothing more than a model number (and of course the Cu designating a copper unit), the CNPS portion deserves a little explanation. It stands for Computer Noise Prevention System, and is aimed at those who are tired of excessive noise from their processor cooling setup.Also of note is the fact that the fan used for cooling this unit is not attached to the heatsink during operation. We'll cover the exact layout a little later, but to give you an idea, it is mounted to a bracket that sits above the sink without actually being in contact with it. Sounds rather intriguing, doesn't it?The Heatsink
Probably the first thing you ask when looking at the sink is "What the Hell?"Perfectly understandable, I assure you. The heatsink design is called the "Flower Heatsink", and is constructed of numerous copper fins that are affixed to a base of copper and aluminum. We have discussed before the fact that the greater the surface area and mass, then the greater the cooling potential. The cooling surface area is figured at between 2600 - 2900 square centimeters, and the weight is a very hefty 462 grams. It is obvious that we are starting off with a very solid contender for cooling prowess here.Measurements of this behemoth are 100mm x 63mm x 65mm, but the main width is not close to the base. This will allow you to mount the sink on motherboards with small work areas around the socket since the dimensions are still small toward the base of the unit.The Base
The base of this unit is a mixture of copper and aluminum. The aluminum is used as a means to enlarge the base, but doesn't make contact with the processor core at all. All contact points are copper, so will ensure the maximum amount of cooling possible for this cooler.As seen in the picture above (sorry for the quality), the base is very smooth, and polished for a very clean contact with the core. Though the Zalman folks added a large portion of thermal compound, our testing will be done using the Arctic Silver II for the sake of consistency in out testing.Installation of Sink
The clip used to install the sink is also not attached to the unit. It simply slides down through the center of the heatsink, and is then attached to the rear lug. Notice the hole on the front of the clip (right side of clip in above picture)? That is for a special installation tool that allows you to have the heatsink firmly seated on the core before applying any pressure to the clipping mechanism. It is basically just a long handle that fits the hole on the clip. With a little downward pressure, it slides over the front lug and firmly attaches the heatsink to the processor.All in all, it was a very simple procedure to install.
Zalman 6000Cu -
The Fan/Mounting Bracket
Remember before when I told you that the fan wasn't mounted to the heatsink? Well it's now time to see just how this system works.The picture above shows how the assembly looks when it is removed from the box. It consists of a metal mounting bracket and a large fan. The fan itself measures in at 92mm x 92mm x 25mm, and will spin at a maximum speed of only 2800RPM. I was unable to find an airflow rating on the Zalman website, nor was it listed in the manual. Sound output is an ear pleasing 36dBA at maximum speed.The fan is a very low-powered unit that sucks up a very meager 3.3 watts of juice. This means that there will be no fear of ruining a fan header on the motherboard when it is hooked up. It also means that we'll be using a fan that is comparatively less powerful than other competitors. To give you an idea what we're talking about here, consider that the mighty Delta (60mm @ 6000RPM) is pulling 4.0 watts of power. The larger 7000RPM model draws 6.6 watts of power, and the 80mm 68CFM fan pulls a thirsty 7.0 watts. We'll see how it handles the stresses that we'll throw at it.What's This?
Though it is formally referred to as Fan Mate and a "Adjustable Fan Speed Controller", what this little gem amounts to is a factory included Rheo-bus for a single device. You simply install it between the fan and the motherboard's header, and it allows you to adjust the fan speed by means of a very simple knob. Rotate it counter-clockwise and your fan slows down. Rotate it clockwise and it speeds up. This is how the Zalman company creates a very quiet cooling solution, by allowing you to turn down the fan speed so that it doesn't make noise. They do, however, recommend that you crank it up to max when running an overclocked system.Another nice thing about this controller is that it works with any fan with a wattage rating of less than 6 watts. So if you get the motivation to install a more powerful fan, then you can still adjust the speeds of it to create a quieter system when you're not out fragging the world.Installation of Fan Bracket
Now that the fan assembly is expanded, it is a little easier to see how it works...It is affixed directly to the case of the system by means of three of the peripheral mounting screws. Simply remove the screws (without removing any cards installed), and then put the bracket over the mounting holes. Put the screws back in, and then tighten them down like normal. Depending on where in your system the processor lives, you can just attach the bracket to whichever holes are necessary to allow for the fan to be sitting over the heatsink. These mounting holes in the bracket are also slotted, so adjustments can be made to have the unit installed properly.From there, it is a simple matter to line up the fan so that it is directly over the heatsink. It would be a good idea to double check the little arrows of the fan to make sure that the airflow is blowing down onto the sink. This will help ensure that the entire unit works as it is supposed to.Something of note is the slots that run along the edges of the bracket. If you have ideas of adding an extra fan or two to help the overall airflow of the system, then just attach them to the bracket. Or if you don't have a chipset cooler for your video card, you could just add a fan that blows directly down onto it for some added cooling. Whatever your needs, if you are wanting to get the air moving in your case, then the bracket can help in this endeavor.
Zalman 6000Cu -
TestingNow that we have some idea as to how this setup works, it's time to see how effective it is. The test system will consist of:Antec SX1030 Tower Case w/ 170-CFM airflow EPoX 8KHA+ Motherboard AMD Thunderbird 1000MHz Processor @ 1400MHz (AVIA) 512MB Crucial PC2100 DDR Memory Prolink XX-Player GeForce3 IBM GXP60 40GB Hard Drive Arctic Silver II The core voltage of the processor is set to 1.8v, and memory is set to 2.6v. Ambient air temperature was sitting at 21.6C (about 71F) and didn't fluctuate during testing. Processor speed was firmly at 1400MHz, which puts out about 76.8 watts of heat. Testing will consist of measuring the temperatures at idle, after a Quake III Arena Deathmatch, and after a continuous looping of the 3dMark2001 Demo. These are the main types of stresses that today's systems face, so we'll concentrate on them.Idle Temperatures (Degrees Celsius)
I was a little disheartened by the results, but when I stopped to think about it a bit, I realized that the fan included in the package was designed for quiet instead of sheer performance. And truth be told, I couldn't hear the thing running at all over the standard case fans that are running. So it has succeeded in its mission to bring you a silent cooler that will still keep your processor within acceptable temperature limits...even when you run it at a 40% overclock!But those who know me also realize that I like to tinker. So, I decided to set aside the quiet concept and throw on a more powerful fan. Since I just happened to have a nice little Delta 80mm x 80mm x 38mm fan sitting on the shelf, I decided to attach it to the bracket and see if the design of the heatsink could allow for better cooling. Here's what I ended up with...Slight -vs- Mighty
Now we are seeing numbers that are more in line with what the overclocker inside us is looking for. Looks like we can have the best of both worlds here. The standard fan included will do very nicely for general usage and the occasional gaming evening, and by adding a larger fan to the mix, you're ready to tackle that weekend long fragfest. And the best part of it is that you don't have to remove the heatsink to change out fans! Just remove the thumbscrew from the bracket and throw a monster in there for the party weekend, and then return it to its more docile mode when you're sitting at the house cruising the Information Super-Highway.
Zalman 6000Cu -
ConclusionSo let's wrap it up. We have a heatsink that advertises itself to be quiet as a mouse; and it accomplishes this task without doubt. We have a heatsink that has a very unique design, and will look pretty awesome sitting inside a case with a huge window bored through the side. And we have a cooler that has a retention system that isn't revolutionary, but is considerably better than a vast majority of the competition. Oh...did I mention that it is really quiet?The addition of the Rheo-bus is also a very nice touch. Sure, it's a small one, but it does it's assigned task easily and still gives enough play room to be able to accept a larger fan without burning out on you.But the fan included won't really be enough for the truly high-end PC Enthusiast. It is effective, and doesn't raise the temperatures of the test system to that dreaded 50C mark, but it does come a little close. It was nice to know, however, that it could be changed out very easily without having to remove the heatsink from the processor.Finally, there is the price. While it isn't the most expensive cooler on the market, it ranks rather high at a retail price of US$45. Of course, if you really want a quiet system, then the cost is worth it. (Did I mention that it is really quiet?)Bottom line...If you're one of those people who are just sick and tired of the constant throbbing eardrums that are the result of loud fans, then do yourself a favor and get a Zalman HSF. While a little pricey, it lives up to its reputation of being a quiet cooling solution.- ProsQUIETGood retention deviceComes with Rheo-busCool design- ConsPriceNeed to change fans for high-end coolingRating 8.5/10
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