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Roundup: 15 affordable coolers
by Marc Prieur
Published on July 11, 2011

Zalman CNPS 5X

Zalman are famous for their quiet products and here they have produced an affordable cooler, the CNPS 5X. In tower format, it uses three heatpipes as usual. They’re in direct contact with the processor and are cooled via aluminium fins and a 92mm PWM fan. The fan comes pre-installed and is kind of sunk into the fins. The CNPS 5X comes with a multilingual installation guide and a small packet of thermal compound.
Installation
Installation on the AMD platform is simple as the AMD mounting bracket is used. Things aren’t much more complicated on the Intel platform but you do need to fix a support bracket first using the holes on the motherboard designed for socket 775/1156 before installing the cooler. The CNPS 5X is not however compatible with socket 1366. It’s very compact and doesn’t impact on the installation of memory.
Results

At 5V this Zalman is quiet but doesn’t cool the Core i7-2600K sufficiently in load. You have to increase the voltage to 7V but unfortunately the fan speed then increases rapidly and is already very noisy at this voltage. It can cool the CPU overclocked to 4.5 GHz at 12V but noise levels are then intolerable.
Assessment
The Zalman CNPS 5X is a compact cooler and can’t sufficiently cool a high end processor quietly. Fan speed has to be increased a good deal to obtain decent thermal performance and then the Zalman becomes overly noisy, betraying the brand’s reputation somewhat.

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