Zalman CNPS5500 -Introduction
Over the past few years, overclocking has gone from being an insane past-time, only practiced by a handful of informed people, to an "art" that is the hobby of thousands of people all over the world. Whole websites and communities have been formed with their main goal being to teach people how to overclock their computers as well as to evaluate the latest cooling solutions on the market as they come out. People have gone to pretty crazy measures to ensure the cool running of their processor. These include water-cooling, vapor-phase cooling, and even, liquid nitrogen cooling! However, these extreme cooling methods are not widely used yet. This is because, firstly, they are difficult to install, and secondly, they are often too expensive for the average user. For this reason, air-cooling is the most common cooling method used in computers at the moment. In the past, the only heatsinks available that were worth a second look were the ones from Alpha. In recent years, we have seen new heatsink manufacturers pop up all over the place. Most boasting a unique, innovative design method, fighting for a place in an already crowded market. Today we are looking at a new heatsink/fan unit from Zalman
, called the CNPS5500-Cu. Zalman is a Korean company that was founded in 1999, and since the introduction of their CNPS (Computer Noise Prevention System) range of coolers, they have received much praise for being able to create heatsink/fan units that are high performing, yet virtually silent. Can they continue their trend with the CNPS5500-Cu? Read on to find out!Specifications- Heatsink
Weight (g): 540Dimensions (mm): 74(L) x 86(W) x 84(H)Dissipating Area (cm2): 1800Dissipating Material: Pure CopperThermal Resistance: Silent Mode - 0.36 Normal Mode - 0.30- Fan
Bearing Type: Two ballSpeed (RPM): Silent Mode - 1500RPM Normal Mode - 2800RPMNoise (dB): Silent Mode - 20 Normal Mode - 30- Fan Mate 1
Weight (g): 20Dimensions (mm): 200(L) x 23(W) x 21(H)Out Voltage (V): 5V ~ 11VMaximum Capacity: 60W
Zalman CNPS5500 -Taking A Closer Look- Package Contents
The CNPS5500-Cu comes packaged with a syringe of thermal compound, a user's manual and a "Fan Mate 1" device. The fan mate is a baybus-like gadget that allows you to control the amount of power being sent to the fan. Obviously, the lower the power, the slower the fan will rotate, thus creating less noise. That said though, a slower fan means that less air is being pushed over the heatsink which results in decreased performance. Whichever way you look at it, the fan mate is a nice addition for people that are looking for complete silence while they work at their computer, rather than optimal cooling performance.The User's Manual is written in both Korean and English, and includes full specifications on the unit as well as instructions with diagrams on how to install it. The manual is a handy addition to the package because it saves you the time of messing around with the heatsink, trying to work out the correct way to install it. Like most stock compound, the thermal compound that came with the CNPS5500-Cu gave rather poor performance. This is why all of our tests were conducted using Arctic Silver II. While the stock compound is adequate for the average user that doesn't intend on overclocking their PC, due to the fact that the majority of people who read this website are overclockers, I recommend that you purchase a third party thermal compound for optimal performance.- The Heatsink
Firstly, the CNPS5500-Cu is designed for Socket 478 Pentium 4 processors and is made of pure copper. The advantage of using copper over other materials such as aluminium is that it dissipates heat much better. The disadvantage though, is that a copper heatsink usually costs much more than one that is made of aluminium, depending on its size. The CNPS5500-Cu heatsink is quite large, with dimensions of 74mm(L) x 86mm(W) x 84mm(H), weighing in at a mammoth 540g. This is very heavy compared to most of the other heatsinks I've tested in the past, and if you don't take enough care while installing it, there is a good chance that you can crush your processor. Another problem associated with a heavy heatsink is that during shipping, if it is pre-installed into the PC there is a possibility that the whole heatsink will fall off in-transit. If you decide to purchase this heatsink with a full system, make sure that you ask the reseller to ship it off to you separately so you can install it yourself. This is because resellers do not usually accept responsibility for damage incurred during shipping.Zalman has used their trademark FHS (Flower HeatSink) design with the CNPS5500. One of the advantages of this design is that because it feautres thin fins and a vortex shape, air can easily pass through it without vibration. This in turn reduces the noise level. The other advantage of having so many thin fins is that more fins results in an increased surface area and thus allows for better heat dissipation. As you can see in the above image, the area on the base of the heatsink that sits on the top of the processor is a small oval shape. Due to the fact that the heatspreader on the Pentium 4 processor is square and slightly larger than the base of the CNPS5500-Cu heatsink, there will be parts of the heatspreader left uncovered. I was quite disappointed that this was overlooked because it can result in hot/cold spots on the processor and thus reduced it's effectiveness.
Zalman CNPS5500 -- The Fan
The fan included with the heatsink is rated at 2800RPM and produces a noise level of 30dB. As mentioned earlier, included with the package is a device called the "Fan Mate 1
". The fan mate plugs into the fan's power connector, and then into the motherboard. When the knob on the fan mate is turned down to the lowest level, the fan rotates at 1500RPM. This is called "Silent Mode". When the knob is turned to the maximum level, it runs at 2800RPM and is called "Normal Mode". I found the fan to be extremely quiet, even when running at "Normal Mode". So much so that I couldn't even hear it over the sound of my hard drive. It is slightly quieter than my stock Intel heatsink/fan unit, however, the difference is barely noticeable.Installation
The unit is fairly easy to install. All you need to do is line it up over the heatsink retention device that should have come with your motherboard and slightly push down until it clips in. A fair bit of force is required but make sure you are gentle because the heatsink is very heavy and I doubt you will be happy if you crush the processor that is underneath. One of the ways that Zalman compensates for the unit being so heavy is that they have placed a flexible piece of metal in between the top of the heatsink and fan. This pushes the heatsink up towards the fan when pressure is applied to the base. It is hard to explain exactly what this does in text, but the end result makes it much harder for you to crush your processor while installing the heatsink and ensures a firm contact between the heatspreader and heatsink.
Zalman CNPS5500 -TestingProcessor
: Intel Pentium 4 2GHzMotherboard
: Abit BD7-RAIDMemory
: OCZ 256MB PC2100 DDR SDRAMVideo Card
: Prolink Pixelview GeForce3 XX-PlayerHard Disk
: Quantum Fireball Plus LM 15GB 7200RPMCase
: Lian-Li PC65Operating System
: Windows 2000 ProfessionalSoftware Used
: Winbond Hardware DoctorTo measure temperatures and fan speed, I used Winbond's Hardware Doctor application. I measured idle and full load temperatures in "Normal" and "Silent" mode. I then compared these results to my stock Intel heatsink/fan unit that comes with the Pentium 4 processor. Idle
- Zalman CNPS5500 "Normal Mode"
- Zalman CNPS5500 "Silent Mode"
- Stock IntelLoad
- Zalman CNPS5500 "Normal Mode"
- Zalman CNPS5500 "Silent Mode"
- Stock Intel
For those of you that do not know how to interpret the above information, I have set it out in two easy-to-read graphs.
As you can see from the above results, the CNPS5500's performance is nothing special. When idle, the Stock Intel heatsink/fan outperformed the CNPS5500 (Normal) by 2.5 degrees, and the CNPS5500 (Silent) by 3 degrees. When at full load, the CNPS5500 (Normal) managed to move slightly ahead of the Stock Intel unit by 1.5 degrees and the CNPS5500 (Silent) by 4.5 degrees. While there isn't much difference between the two units, I must say I was expecting its performance to be slightly better than that. Another thing worth noting is that at both "Normal" and "Silent" modes, the CNPS5500 was very quiet, however, I didn't notice too much difference between the two. For optimal performance and a more than tolerable noise level, I recommend leaving it at the "Normal" setting. The stock Intel heatsink/fan unit ran slightly louder than the CNPS5500 but as I stated earlier, the difference isn't really noticeable.
Zalman CNPS5500 -Conclusion
Overall, I wasn't too happy with the performance of the Zalman CNPS5500 heatsink/fan unit. It was outperformed by the stock Intel unit at idle temperatures, and only managed to move a few degrees ahead of it under full load. That said, installation was very simple and the "Fan Mate 1" gadget is a nice addition for those of you that need complete silence while working at your PC.The Zalman CNPS5500-Cu has a RRP (Recommended Retail Price) of AU$99, which is definitely far from cheap. Considering the fact that the CNPS5500 barely differs from the stock Intel unit in both performance and noise output, I find it very hard to recommend this product. The bottom line is, the performance of the Zalman CNPS5500-Cu does not justify the AU$99 price tag, and if you already own a stock Intel heatsink/fan unit (should have come with your processor), I recommend that you keep it and save the money.- Pros
Virtually SilentEasy InstallationFan Speed Controller- Cons
Performance was nothing specialHeavyHigh priceRating - 5.5/10