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ZEROtherm ZT-10D Premium CPU Cooler

While ZEROtherm is better known for the "butterfly" cooler, they bring a different attitude to the table with their latest series of CPU coolers.

@chad_sebring
Published Mon, Sep 27 2010 1:02 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:02 PM CST
Rating: 88%Manufacturer: ZEROtherm

Introduction


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ZEROtherm is a company that has been coming up with unusual concepts and designs in the pursuit of the ultimate in cooling and style. One major style was to inset the fan into the front of the fins, and they had good success with those. I also saw a fan set in the middle of the fins in a Core92 cooler. Along with the Nirvana PWM, this design uses any fan of your choice to be strapped up to cool the latest submission.

That's right; the cooler will ship to your door without a fan. Have no fear; ZEROtherm boasts this cooler can handle up to 200W of CPU load before it feels any ill effects. ZEROtherm did ship a fan along with my sample, and I was surprised to see they shipped a 43 CFM ZT-120F fan to cool the new entrant. I realize silence is a main concern for most, but a 40 CFM fan isn't typically capable of much real help in cooling a tower cooler. So, if in fact I can produce good results with said fan, it will prove that the cooler is indeed efficient.

Today I am going to be discussing the ZT-10D from ZEROtherm. This is a more typical tower style cooler, but adds style and grace along with the capabilities of the cooler. Utilizing six, "U" shaped, 8mm heatpipes running through a very dense array of aluminum fins, with good case airflow, the ZT-10D should be very capable of cooling a processor passively. If you plan to overclock, I suggest a fan. Even clocking my i7 860 to 4GHz is calculated to draw 230 Watts at full load, so if you are on extreme clocks you could saturate this cooler in a passive installation. Since they were nice enough to send the fan along, I am going to do my testing with it in place to give you a better feel for how the cooler will react in most setups.

Specifications, Availability and Pricing




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The ZT-10D comes with every inch covered in black nickel plating. The base, the pipes, the fins; they are all covered. Starting at the base, which is copper under the plating, the six, 8mm diameter heatpipes are soldered in between two halves of the base. The pipes make a few elegant bends and pass through forty-seven, 0.5mm thick, pressed on fins. These fins have a unique outer shape, and with a couple of well placed bends in the fins ZEROtherm is holding a trick or two up its sleeve. With over 8800 cm of fins surface area, I can see how this has potential to run passively, but imagine all that surface area being cooled with a fan!

As I mentioned, ZEROtherm sent a ZT-120F, and with blue LEDs to add a bit more "flash" to the very reflective ZT-10D. This fan is a 25mm deep, 120mm fan capable of 1300 RPM while pushing 43.06 CFM of air flow. The ZT-120F also ships with in line resistors to lower the fans overall speed. There is a Silent connector that is colored black and will cap the fan speed at 1000 RPM. If that is still too loud for you, and I guarantee it isn't, there is also an Ultra Silent blue connector that limits the fan to 800 RPM. Since the ZT-10D ships fan-less, you could add any fan you choose and get even better performance than what you are about to see.

Currently the ZEROtherm ZT-10D is on only one site that I was able to locate. You guessed it; that site is our normal haunt, where you will find the ZEROtherm listing for $59.99 at Newegg.com. Considering the ZT-10D is sold on the other side of the pond for roughly $46 when I converted the Won over to US dollars, yhere is a bit of a premium to get the ZEROtherm to your door. But with the right fan choice, you can either have silence or really good overclocking ability with something like a Delta fan. Keep in mind, that to get the cooler and a good fan, this venture is going to set you back somewhere around $70 to get a fully functional air cooler.

Packaging


The Package

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The bright blue and white backdrop is an eye catching layout. A large chromed looking logo "ZT-10D" sits on top of a cut out window exposing the cooler within.

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ZEROtherm shows images of most of the features found with the ZT-10D Premium; things like the base, the pipes, the plating, mounting and the included TIM. Just below them you will see a compatibility chart that is more detailed than the front was.

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The back starts off with drawings of the cooler from different angles; these placed above a stylized chart showing the ZT-10D's performance against a stock cooling solution. Designed for overclockers means this cooler should be able to handle whatever I want to dish out, although they do mention adding two optional fans to the cooler for the best performance.

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An Image of the included cooler tops this side with a note that the included color may vary due to model changes. Does this show promise of other versions of this cooler yet to come? The bottom half is covered with a specifications chart. They do leave out that the ZT-10D weighs in at around 890 grams. With a fan that is almost 1000 grams total.

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The body of the cooler is shipped inside of a high density foam "sleeve" of sorts. At the bottom of the box, you will find a finger hole to use to pull up the white box full of hardware from the bottom of the packaging. The cooler arrived in great shape; the secure fit in the foam was sufficient to say the least.

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The clear, nine blade, ZT-10F with blue LEDs comes in a packaging that goes right along with the ZT-10D packaging. With a Fluid Dynamic bearing noise should be kept at bay, and ZEROtherm also states this fact as well.

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On the back you will find images of the fan and all the included parts that go along with it. Below the images there is a chart with all the information about the fans specifications one would need to see to make an educated buying decision.

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Inside the fan sits in a plastic tray with two compartments. One holds the fan with the wiring wrapped around the outside of the fan, keeping both separated from the included hardware. With this fan you get the black Silent connection and the blue Ultra Silent connection, a 3-pin to 4-pin Molex adapter, screws, and rubber fan mounts.

The ZEROtherm ZT-10D Premium CPU Cooler




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Covered from head to toe in black nickel plating, it gives the ZT-10D a dark appearance that contrasts nicely against the more silver looking heat pipes. This assembly of forty-seven thick fins and six 8mm heat pipes should offer some good heat transfer from the processor.

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The side of the cooler is rounded in shape with two little tricks. One is bending over the ends of the fins to help keep the air flow inside the cooler. The second feature I like is that they do leave a section of it open. This allows for a colder inflow of air, especially once a second fan is pulling air. With six pipes needing room to pass through the fins, you can see they are almost as wide as the body of fins is.

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Inside the cooler each fin has two additional bends in the middle of them. They are cut on a slight angle and act as both spacers to help support the fins, while also helping drive some of the air flow to the center of the cooler behind the dead spot of the fan.

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The shape of the fins is much more apparent in this shot. I like the rounded sides, especially if I was going to run this cooler passively. The stylized design, arrangement of the heatpipes, and the stamped features and "ZT" logo make for an attractive cooler to stare in at. If you are putting fans on the ZT-10D, the rounded sides actually add spacing to allow the fans to be more efficient, in turn making the ZT-10D more efficient.

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The base of the cooler doesn't have much of a pre-cooler, but as you will soon see it isn't really needed to perform with most other coolers on the market. Surrounding the base is the pre-installed mounting for both AMD and Intel.

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The base of the ZT-10D is quite wide to hold 64mm worth of heatpipes, so not this entire surface is going to make contact with the processor. With the soldered in pipe design, the base will heat evenly and the outer pipes will still function well, unlike some of the Direct Touch Coolers. Even after the plating, the base does show the milling marks. Other than that, the surface is level against the razors edge.

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I went ahead and strapped on the blue LED fan that ZEROtherm sent along. I do like how solid these rubber fan clips secure the fans during use, but they can be tough to get them to slide in the tight channel provided. Another thing I notice is that the 120 mm fan almost doesn't cover the full set of fins, just as an idea of the amount of surface area that is built into the ZT-10D.

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Looking in at the front, there is a nice amount of that surface area covered by this fan. Keep in mind, adding one fan puts the total weight at almost 1000 grams; adding another will make for close to 1100 grams. Weight isn't an issue with these mounting designs, though. When they are tightened to the motherboard, there is no movement of this cooler.

Accessories and Documentation




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Inside the white box of hardware I found two large metal plates. The one on the left is an upper replacement to attach to the base of the cooler. This is for the AMD users where your socket leaves most coolers set in the wrong orientation. With a couple of screws and thirty seconds or so, you can orient the ZT-10D correctly, blowing at the rear of the case. The plate on the right is the universal back plate for both AMD and Intel processors.

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Inside one of the bags packed in the hardware box you will find this assortment. There are AMD clips on both sides that use the four screws at the bottom to mount to the plate that is on the cooler. The instructions don't show these installed. I will guess to say it is a way to adapt the cooler to work with the plastic ring on the motherboard still in place. There is a set of nuts to tighten the threaded rods onto the motherboard once they are run through the back plate. That leaves the set of four foam washers to isolate the cooler from the motherboard.

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In another bag you will find the rest of the installation kit. There are the thumb screws with tensioning springs to go on top of the threaded rods at the right. There is also another set of foam washers, and four steel washers. To mount those fans, you will use the eight black rubber fan mounts, which leaves the pair of screws that are used for the optional mounting top plate.

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The instructions include an easy to follow parts list with all of them listed by number with a description of the component. Taking that along with you for the rest of the installation, the instructions are pretty easy to follow and include good depictions in the associated images of what to do.

Test System & Testing Results


Test System & Test Results

TweakTown uses a different method for testing CPU heatsinks which allows for an even playing field across all product tests. We feel that by using the same ambient temperature and strict lab-like testing procedures we are able to accurately compare one product to another. More information on our testing procedure can be found in the T.E.C.C. article here.

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Test results were achieved with the fan applied to the cooler. In most situations running the ZT-10D passively is achievable, especially if you aren't overclocking for the stars. Even so, with a low CFM fan, the ZT-10D takes a spot in the top ten here. Imagine what a noisy 2000 RPM fan could get you!

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In the load testing the ZT-10D jumps a spot to seventh, and keep it in mind that this is done with only one 43 CFM fan. If I was going to get one of these, I would do a push-pull setup with a set of powerful fans and let the ZT-10D handle its business.

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The ZT-120F performs admirably in the sound pressure testing. At idle, you can see it offers Noctua-like silence in operation and just a bit less CFM than that same fan. Of course, these levels are going to be different on your cooler dependant on which fans you choose to install.

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Silence was the key factor in this fan choice. ZEROtherm sending me this fan to cool the ZT-10D Premium was a bold move. It proves that you can have silence, and still get above average performance while delivering it in a sleek and sexy shape. I would venture to say that had they chosen something in the 100CFM range to test a push-pull configuration, the ZT-10D may be in contention for the lead, but this is only my speculation, and I did not do the testing to prove it. Let's just call it an educated guess.

Final Thoughts




The ZT-10D is easy on the eyes with the rounded lines and black nickel plating. The installation is pretty simple, and all the hardware locks solidly into place. It has the option for AMD users to be able to rotate the cooler no matter how their socket is aligned. It feels "beefy" in your hands, with all six of the 8mm heat pipes and 8800 cm worth of 0.5mm thick aluminum fins. It does come fan-less, but that leaves you with the option for high CFM, or lower CFM and quieter operation; with LEDs or without. For those of you who run at stock clocks and want a simple attractive cooling solution, run the ZT-10D passive. Everything I see in this cooler impresses me in the sheer amount or mass of it, and the attention to detail to things such as cooler orientation for AMD users is something I don't see often enough.

I was able to achieve really impressive results with the fan they included for me to test with. Now, I didn't lower the fan speed with the two fan adapters as I wanted to show the performance as a reference to what fan or fans you choose to include with your purchase. Considering I was able to operate in near silence, and still keep in the top ten performing temperature levels, the ZT-10D could very well be the new BARAM cooler of yesteryear. Meaning that as it sits, you may pass it up, but throw a couple of good fans on this cooler and you have a heat eating monster of a cooler. If we had the award I would give this cooler the "sleeper award", as it is very unassuming at first glance when still packed up in the box.

With only one hit in the U.S. for sales, and locating four or five e-tailers over the pond, availability is quite limited currently. Although the score is going to show a hit in the Availability section, don't let the overall number fool you! With pricing set at $59.99 at Newegg.com, it surpasses the magic $50 mark. For that initial investment you get a very attractive cooling solution, but at this point it is still a passive cooler. Keep that in mind for your purchase, as you can add a pair for as little as say $15 to $20 more and have a great air cooling solution, or keep the price a bit less by grabbing only one. The pricing is what I would expect from a cooler that makes it into the top ten of our testing, but I really would want a fan either shipped in the box from ZEROtherm or if I had to buy one. While the cooler has the ability to cooler processors passively, I would only suggest you do so on a processor that is running stock or maybe a slight overclock if you are running on an AMD. As for the Intel side, I think they are a bit too warm to actually pull off too much of an overclock.

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After a year of gaming, Chad caught the OC bug. With overclocking comes the need for better cooling, and Chad has had many air and water setups. With a few years of abusing computer parts, he decided to take his chances and try to get a review job. As an avid overclocker, Chad is always looking for the next leg up in RAM, cooling, as well as peripherals.

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