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Zalman CNPS9500 vs Asetek Microchill

Zalman CNPS9500 LED

This latest air cooler from Zalman is a beast. Within its frame it sports a 80mm fan and a figure-of-eight heatpipe design that Zalman claim is twice as effective as your average heatpipe cooler. In fact, Zalman claim that this cooler should be able to replace your watercooling system.

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Size: the CNPS9500 comes in at a little over 13cm tall off the board, a shade shorter than the Microchill. If you're in a standard sized ATX case you should be ok, but those with thinner cases will have issues installing. The heatsink is made out of copper, but Zalman have made the fins on the cooler mega-thin, so it's not too heavy. Importantly, the weight is pretty evenly distributed, so there's not really a worry of it falling off the board. In the pack, Zalman include brackets for mounting the cooler on Socket 939, 754, 478 and 775.

Noise:
Zalman include a fan controller which you can mount on the outside of your case so that you can spin the fan up and down as you require. At full pelt, the cooler is a little whinier than the Microchill, which has a larger fan size so tends to hum a bit more pleasingly, and the size of which should theoretically increase cooling prowess.

Installation

When it comes down to installing this thing, it's not really that difficult, apart from the task of disassembling your motherboard.

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First off, you need to push the screws from your motherboard socket through the holes in the retention clip. Stick the cooler on the board, then screw through the retention clip into the black socket and hey presto, the cooler is mounted.

Here's where our problem with this cooler is - look at the contact surface with the chip! The Arctic Silver tells the story - it simply isn't making a contact with the very core of the CPU. We had to get out a second cooler which we found worked ok, so you may find that the quality on the first batch of coolers is a little hit and miss. Could you lap one if you get a slightly bad fit? Undoubtedly, but with plenty of heatsinks out there that don't require it, why would you? Things don't look hopeful for the CNPS9500...

Oh, but it has got some blue LEDs.