Zalman CNPS7X CPU Cooler Review

I was finally able to ditch my crappy old Alienware when I built a Core i7 2600K system from scratch.

I initially built it using the stock Intel cooler that comes with the i7 CPU, but after load testing it with Prime95, I saw an appalling 84°C being reported, at just the stock 3.4 GHz. So I knew I had to upgrade the cooler.

I know the best air coolers use 120mm or 140mm fans, but I didn't want a huge cooler. I found this review of the Zalman CNPS 7X cooler, which uses a 92mm fan:

Hardware Secrets Zalman CNPS7X Review

The 7X performed almost as well as the best 120mm coolers. This was the one I wanted.

Zalman CNPS 7X installed on my Asus P8Z68-V Pro motherboard:

Zalman CNPS7X CPU Cooler

Installation of the 7X was a mixed bag. On one hand, the nylon bracket uses the same push pin design as the stock Intel cooler to make it easy to secure to the motherboard without needing access to the underside. So it is a good design for mounting on an already-installed motherboard. But mounting the cooler to the bracket is awkward on the Asus P8Z68-V Pro motherboard. The bracket's top lug touches the blue motherboard heatsink. So I unscrewed the small bent retaining tab from the cooler's retaining bracket and placed it on the lug before installing the nylon bracket to the motherboard. The awkward part was trying to position the loose tab to line it up with the cooler's retaining bracket so I could put the screw back on. After dropping the screw a couple of times, I was finally able to get the screw on the tab and tighten it up.

Here are the figures for the computer running at the stock 3.4 GHz and overclocked to 4.4 GHz:

Speed Cooler Windows 7 Idle Prime95 (100% Load)
3.4 GHz Intel Stock 30-38°C 84°C
3.4 GHz Zalman CNPS 7X 27-34°C 57°C
3.4 GHz Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus 27-34°C 54°C
4.4 GHz Zalman CNPS 7X 27-34°C 67°C

I also threw in a figure for a second computer I built with an i7 2600 CPU on an Intel DH67BL motherboard. I used the popular Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus on this build. Note that the 120mm fan Hyper 212 performed 3°C better than the 92mm fan 7X. At $25, the Cooler Master is a far better value than the $45 Zalman; but the 120mm coolers are really big, so I am happy with the performance of the 92mm 7X.

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