Zalman CNPS20X CPU Cooler Review (Page 1)

Zalman CNPS20X CPU Cooler Review

Zalman's CNPS20X CPU air cooler gets put on our new test bench to see what it's capable of achieving. Join us.

| Jun 15, 2020 at 8:50 am CDT
Rating: 92%Manufacturer: ZalmanModel: cnps20x

Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing


When it comes to aftermarket cooling for a CPU, certain companies hold a special place in our hearts. Zalman is one of them, as they were the ones who produced the CNPS9500 we went to first for additional CPU cooling on our Athlon XP 3200+, and the VF700 that was strapped to our X800 GTO. In those days, the copper flower designs were all the rage, as they offered a ton of area for the centralized fans to cool, and performed admirably. However, time moved on, and Zalman was left to rethink how they wanted to attack the aftermarket CPU cooler segment.

Zalman took a look at the standard tower design next but was still doing things that made their towers unique. Coolers like the CNPS10X in any flavor, the 11X, and the 14X all flood back. All takes on a tower design, and the CNPS14X being the first of their dual-tower configurations! While the CNPS14X was a decent performer in its day, by today's standards, the cooler is lacking. However, if you are going to virtually disappear from the market, when your name hits the news again, you better be ready to come out swinging! With whatever you offer if you want to turn heads and gain the respect of the masses.

Zalman has done precisely that! They have gone back to the drawing board from stem to stern, rethinking all aspects of what makes a great air cooler, and delivering something that came with much hype, long before the sample ever hit our labs! Gone are the days of off-the-wall shapes, trying way too hard to be different; instead, we are looking at a cooler you would likely never imagine coming from the likes of Zalman.

To say we are a bit excited to see what these new CPU coolers have to offer is an understatement. We feel that when finished reading this review, if you are into big air coolers for your CPU, you may have to ponder this against the likes of Noctua, be quiet, Corsair, and the other huge players in our current market!

Zalman CNPS20X CPU Cooler Review 01 |

The CNPS20X is the cooler we have on hand, and its specifications can be seen in the chart we borrowed from the Zalman product page. The first thing we get into is compatibility. In this section, we see that Intel LGA2066, 2011-V3, 2011, and 115X CPU sockets are supported. Even though there is no mention of LGA1200 support, it uses LGA115X, so Zalman has you covered. AMD support includes AM4, AM3+, and AM3 processors, which covers most of what is still in use for this camp.

The next group of specifications deal with the tower, showing the 140mm width, 170mm thickness, and the 165mm height, along with the 140mm by 140mm fans dimensions, and the 26mm of thickness. We then move onto the 1300 grams of weight, which seems like a lot, but is less than the A500, and closer to what the D14 and D15 weight, although both are some 80- grams lighter. Next, we get into the material choices, where pure copper and pure aluminum are mentioned. The copper is used in some of the fins, the six 6mm diameter heat pipes, and as the base material; before they are plated. Aluminum is used in the fin array, above and below the copper fin section.

This dual-tower design has two fin arrays, designed with corrugated fins, fifteen aluminum at the bottom, fifteen copper in the middle, and another fifteen on top, for forty-five fins per tower. Using corrugated fins, channels the airflow through the tower, without the need to close off the sides of the cooler, and in this instance, there are 350 channels for air to flow through in this 4D Stereoscopic arrangement of fins. Surface area is also an added benefit to this design, where Zalman is proud to display the 15,242 cubic centimeters that the CNPS20X delivers, which is also why Zalman has no issue with rating the TDP of this cooler at 300W!

The rest of what we see in the chart covers the specifications of the fans. While the dimensions were listed earlier in the chart, know that there are two 140mm fans for the CNPS20X. We see mentions of the fluid dynamic bearing, a speed range of 800 to 1500 RPM, a 29 dB(A) noise rating, 61 CFM per fan, and 1.1 mmH2O of pressure. These fans are built to last for 100,000 hours, and they sip 3.36W for the fans and 1.5W for the LEDs. Each fan comes with two leads. One is the 4-pin PWM connection to power the fans, and the other is a 3-pin 5V addressable LED cable.

However, in all of that, we do not see that this is a dual-blade impeller designed to correct the airflow through the fan while increasing CFM. It is almost like having a 90mm fan inside of a 140mm fan, both rotating together. We also know that the traditional fan frame is not found here, but instead use of a "spider leg" design, which minimizes noise and vibration, while offering a fair bit of aesthetic appeal with the unique LED illumination.

While not mentioned anywhere, and we had to dig at the Zalman website to find the information, as to the warranty of the CNPS20X, it is covered for just a single year from the date of purchase. Also, note that proof of purchase is required should you seek support for it!

If the hype is to be believed, and this CNPS20X is on par with something along the lines of the dual-tower Noctua offerings, we have to assume that the price will also be on par with those coolers. A Quick look at amazon proves this accurate, as we found the CNPS20X from Zalman listed at $99.99. While we do not have an initial issue with the price if performance is top-notch, we have quite a bit to cover with the CNPS20X and will hold our opinion in the cost factor for the end.

We will say that it is double the cost of some of the coolers in our new charts, and Zalman has set the bar pretty high already with that price! Can Zalman hang with the big dogs at the top of our charts? Stick around and find out, as Zalman might surprise you!

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* Prices last scanned on 7/9/2020 at 3:20 pm CDT - prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.


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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